“Annually, approximately 5 percent of employees are eligible and expected to retire. It would not make sense to replace them with full-time employees if demand is moving in a direction better suited to a part-time workforce,” the USPS says in its “Action Plan for the Future” that was released today. Most of the news-media coverage of the ambitious plan for righting the Postal Service’s finances deals with the no-surprise initiatives, like trying to eliminate Saturday deliveries.
The shift to a more part-time workforce, however, slipped under the radar even though it’s a departure from recent practice. The number of non-career postal employees decreased by nearly 13% in Fiscal Year 2009.
“There is limited remaining opportunity to reduce part-time, temporary, and overtime work hours,” the Postal Service presentation said.
“Over the next 10 years, over 300,000 employees — more than half the current workforce — will be eligible to retire. This will provide an opportunity to make the workforce even more efficient by increasing use of flexible and part-time employees.”
The plan indicates that, while replacing retirees with part-timers, the USPS will also seek “more flexible work rules through the collective bargaining process.” And just in case collective bargaining doesn’t work, the USPS will also ask Congress to require that arbitrators take the Postal Service’s financial condition into account before issuing any decisions.
With 87% of its workforce being full-timers, the U.S. Postal Service has difficulty varying its staffing levels (and costs) to deal with seasonal variation.
“When benchmarked against other large posts, the Postal Service employs the most full-time workers as a percentage of the total workforce.” For example, 40% of the German postal system's employees are part-timers.
For more information:
- “Ensuring a Viable Postal Service for America: An Action Plan for the Future”: The Postal Service has created a Web site with a variety of information, including today's presentation, news release, and a background paper.
- Mail Volumes Have Declined Faster Than The Postal Workforce, But That Might Change: Details on FY 2009 decreases in the Postal Service's workforce.