Rural Carriers, USPS to Discuss Pay Calculations

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Rural postal carriers will meet with the U.S. Postal Service today to address charges that the agency cheated rural carriers out of fair pay.

Union leaders filed three national grievances with the USPS last month after thousands of rural carriers nationwide complained to the union that a two-week mail count ending in March showed suspiciously low numbers of bulk rate mail, magazines and catalogs.

Rural carriers, unlike hourly paid city carriers, are paid by the number of pieces and type of mail they deliver, as well as the time it takes to process it. The union represents about 119,000 rural carriers nationwide.

Union members and leaders speculate that USPS management is intentionally interfering with the flow of mail to lower the count so that carriers would not have to be paid as much.

During national mail counts, every piece of mail delivered, along with every mailbox, mile driven, mail picked up, loaded or sorted is recorded and plugged into a formula that determines how many hours a week it takes to do that route.

Neither carriers nor union officials could prove that some types of mail were held up during the count to lower the numbers, but many carriers are suspicious. They say there was less non-date-stamped mail, such as bulk rate letters and catalogs, during the mail count.

Reportedly, the USPS denies manipulating the mail and said workers are disgruntled because they are losing pay due to plummeting mail volume.

Meanwhile, the national office of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union said April 3 that membership has voted to ratify the terms of the 2000 National Agreement between the union and the postal service.

In February, the USPS and the NPMHU announced a tentative agreement on a four-year contract.

The agreement calls for a general wage increase over four years that approximates the increase for the American Postal Workers Union in an arbitration award announced last December. That decision called for a 1.2 percent general wage increase retroactive to Nov. 28, 2000, a 1.8 percent general wage increase effective Nov. 17, 2001, and a 1.4 percent general wage increase effective Nov. 16 of this year.

In addition, mail handlers will receive a fourth wage increase, effective Nov. 15, 2003, of 1.2 percent.

The contract covers the period since the expiration of the last contract in November 2000 and runs through Nov. 20, 2004.

The agreement affects 60,584 mail handlers.


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