Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Postal Service Trial of '100 Percent Street Time' Fails

The U.S. Postal Service recently experimented with “100 Percent Street Time” – assigning some carriers only to prep mail and others only to deliver – then abandoned the project because it didn’t save money. But the concept is not completely dead.

Yesterday’s Dead Tree Edition article, 8 Reasons USPS Productivity Is Declining: The Employees Speak Out, erred when it stated that nothing more has been heard “about a 2010 USPS proposal to have some carriers making deliveries all day."

In fact, in a report with the nap-inducing title of City Delivery Route Optimization Pilot Initiative, the USPS Office of Inspector General revealed two weeks ago that the Postal Service canceled a months-long 100 Percent Street Time experiment on June 30.

The OIG agreed with the cancellation because "there is an unfavorable business case for proceeding with the pilot. For the eight sites we reviewed during the pilot, office and street workhours increased with no efficiency improvements."

Workhour savings did not occur
“Area and district officials stated that workhour savings did not occur due to the learning curve for carriers casing multiple routes,” the OIG report said. “In both phases [the first in areas served by Flats Sequencing System machines, the second in non-FSS areas], casers received assistance from deliverers to complete casing duties timely.”

“Our review found an increase in carrier street workhours and overtime, amounting to no savings in both phases of the pilot. Management expected to expand street time by creating full-time street assignments and anticipated more consistent delivery times through reductions in overtime and delivery inconsistencies associated with splitting routes among several carriers in the unit.”

“Management stated that increased workhours and overtime were due to carrier sick leave, increases in office time, errors in Carrier Optimal Route adjustments, vacant routes, and some carriers protesting the concept by deliberately performing less efficiently, and lack of management oversight at the unit level.”

“Carriers filed grievances for out-of-schedule premium pay due to time worked outside of their regularly scheduled workday, which may result in additional pay to these carriers.”

More labor flexibility needed
“There is potential for the pilot concept to achieve significant savings if the Postal Service had more workforce flexibility built into the labor agreement,” citing one district where the experiment saved $611,000 on an annualized basis because of an unusually flexible workforce.

“The Postal Service could maximize workhour savings by using part-time letter carriers for office assignments and full-time carriers for street assignments.”

With that concept, part-time casers would start work at 6 a.m. and spend an average of 3 hours and 15 minutes casing mail for several carrier routes. After that, they might help carriers make deliveries. “Deliverers” would start work between 8:40 and 9 a.m., load up their trucks, and spend an average of 7½ hours making deliveries.

The concept raises some questions, some of which Dead Tree Edition asked back in 2010, such as:
  • Who can case a route more efficiently, a person who delivers the route regularly or a specialized caser who has never seen the route? 
  • Other than requiring fewer delivery vehicles, how would the concept save money? In other words, how would divvying up the work differently actually change the number of hours required to do the work? (There might be savings from using more part-time carriers, but that doesn't require splitting the roles of caser and deliverer.)
  • Do postal officials think deliverers on walking routes would be able to handle a full shift on the street without their productivity suffereing? How about on peak-volume days when that “average” of 7 ½ hours might become 10 or more? 
  • How would other USPS operations (such as processing and distribution centers) be affected if mail has to be at the delivery units by 6 a.m.? How would service be affected?

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

A new P/T carrier is just as successful casing a route never seen before as a more highly paid full time carrier who has never seen a route before. It would be more beneficial to completely eliminate ALL walking and park and loop routes in favor of mounted delivery. People dislike change but it still happens.

Anonymous said...

Obviously those who come up with this brilliant idea has never carried. Why would anyone want to "JUST deliver"? That's a lot of unnecessary wear and tear on the body. And really, a start time of 8:40 or 9am? That's fine as long as it's daylight savings. And the ideal thing would be start earlier so that they are not on the streets after 5pm or dark. Also, earlier means avoiding some of the hottest temps if it's summer. What a bunch of idiots there are coming up with these ideas, just to justify "THEIR" jobs.

Anonymous said...

As a postal clerk I've watched carriers work for many years, they are some of the most hard working and dedicated employees the postal service has employed .If you want to save money ... ask the carriers. They know what works and what doesn't.

Anonymous said...

This concept was tried some years ago with the Router Program. The routers stayed in the office and cased the 3rd class mail for the carriers. They were assigned 5 routes and cased those routes on a regular basis. The routers were scheduled for 10 am initially. Then as the needs of the service dictated they were asked to come in earlier and earlier to case the first class mail and on occassion deliver mail. The router program eventually died. So its looks like they have resurrected that concept. And once again, it apparently has died.

Anonymous said...

Typical idiocy from upper management. have carriers run the units, oh like 204bs, that would eliminate 1000s of lower ads kissing jobs, you would see the grievances drop by 75% there is SAVINGS right there!!! Eliminate the 100 msp on the routes and eliminate pivoting, you want production treat a carrier like a human being nit the number that your computer program spits out... then and only then will you see a strong forward moving postal service again. we don't need congress to destroy us, we will do it from within very fine.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like this concept failed because carriers wanted it to fail. The carriers initiated a work slow down and all started calling in sick. Postal managers do not know how to manage, especially facing work slow downs and sick outs. So they declare the trial a failure even though it's the system used by all the competitors. What a sad state of affairs.....

Anonymous said...

Which competitors are you talking about? Name one company that requires a delivery person to make 600 plus stops a day???
It failed because it was stupid.

SteveO said...

Steve0 - The usps will never succeed in having mail delivered,by one carrier, efficiently and consistantly, for 8 hours a day. It is impossible. The longer any warm blooded creature runs the slower they get! If Usain Bolt can't do it and Secretariat couldn't do it then Cliff Claven can't do it!

Anonymous said...

Dumbest thing I've read all day

Anonymous said...

Eliminate a day of delivery. Save 3 billion a year. Boom youve made a difference for the good of the company.

Anonymous said...

Sour Apples much?

Anonymous said...

The idea makes sense. Save 2hrs/RT per day office time. That would eliminate one in five routes. The USPS has over 230,000 delivery routes. That would be approximately 46,000 vehicles off the road. That's a HUGE savings in vehicle expense. Big plus for the environment too. FedEx and UPS drivers don't spend over 3 hours a day in the office.

Bill D said...

I've worked for the PO for 17 years. The idea that I or anyone else in my unit is willing to have a work slow down or intentionally try to cause the PO to fail is an insult. It seems to me that someone that can suggest such a thing is doing so for personall reasons and should look honestly at themselves and thier own work ethic.

Anonymous said...

Amen you'll never see a pm or a sup work ten hrs on the street walking in the 100 degree heat or ice or anything for that matter!

Anonymous said...

I believe I read someplace that the average age for letter carrier craft is over 50 year old. Yeah, lets cut delivery one day so they are carrying more volume, and then lets put them on the street for 7 1/2 hours. Can you say 0 sick leave left upon retirement???

sickofthis said...

Anyone saying that carriers will actually slow down on purpose,is either a manager,or doesn't have a clue how the PO is run.I've been a carrier for over 28 years,and I can honestly say that I CANNOT do the job as fast as I once could,but I give a fair days work for a fair days pay.A persons body can only take so much,and will eventually start to break down.This job is a marathon not a race.Treat people with some respect,listen to what they have to say,and you might see some improved productivity.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"A new P/T carrier is just as successful casing a route never seen before as a more highly paid full time carrier who has never seen a route before. It would be more beneficial to completely eliminate ALL walking and park and loop routes in favor of mounted delivery. People dislike change but it still happens.

September 6, 2012 3:11 AM"

You have obviously never cased and carried a route. It is always easier to case a route once you have actually carried it. Whenever I've changed routes, the second day is always the turning point in casing efficiency, because I have a better idea of the relationship from one part of the route to another which makes it easier to find the proper cell when sorting mail. It then gets a little bit easier each day until the case is mastered.

Anonymous said...

This idea sounds interesting, it seems like the Postal Service was protecting jobs and trying to save money by reducing the number of vehicles by 20%. The managers at the pilot sites claimed the employees sabotaged the trial with increased sick leave and "deliberately performing less efficiently" ie-Work Slowdown. The irony of this test is that now instead of just losing 1 vehicle out of 5, they'll probably lose 1 driver out of 6 as Saturday delivery is assured to be eliminated. Would you rather lose vehicles or people?

Anonymous said...

Msp's are a waste of time and the union guys are always telling me to slow down.if the post office wants to return to solvency they must get rid of government interference and find managers that actually know how to run a buisness.The postal service is ill.instead of cure the gov. only uses a bandaide to cover a cancer that is they themselves the government


Anonymous said...

receiArOnce again let's blame carriers for "underperforming" and "sabotage"! Give me a break! The pressure on carriers to make the numbers doesn't just happen to so-called underperforming carriers but to ALL carriers. I can't count the number of times that I've had to defend myself to number crunching idiots that MISmanage this place! You can be the best, most accurate, most efficient, and most dedicated carrier but it doesn't matter! Computers know best! Why morale is at an all time low! I've decided 30 years is enough, always wanting to work at least 5 more years. I feel for the newbies coming to this toxic environment. And best of luck to my hard-working brother and sister carriers!

Anonymous said...

I carried mail for 20 years before going into mgt because I was injured and could no longer carry mail. I always tried to be the kind of boss I wanted. I never believed the "numbers" because I know that they are wrong. I take ice water out to my carriers in the summer and have hot beverages for them when they come in in the winter. 90% of my carriers are hard working people who care about their customers and our service. Oh, wait, it is supposed to be a business now, service is out. Upper mgt ties the hands of lower mgt. I am not allowed to make ANY decisions. I have to check with the MPOO to call someone in on their day off, if someone is going to be out after 5:00pm and run and print MANY useless redundant reports. I carried when the router program was in and it was stupid then as it is stupid now. Yes, we need to make wise financial decisions, but we also need to not pay healthcare/retirement costs for employees that aren't even born yet.Upper mgt. needs to remember our name United States Postal SERVICE, and let us go back to doing that. Giving our customers the best service possible.

Anonymous said...

I've always said it's like Chinese water torture working in this place any more. We are in as FSS office and had our routes readjusted so our office lost 6 routes, OT skyrocketed cause the routes were overburdened. We got back 2 routes and an auxillary rt but we are are still can't make the numbers they say we should be making. Now we have 18 MSP's. It's the heavy season now and there is no more meat on the bone. When I was route walked the mail was lite
and I was forced to cross all lawns, so now with the increase in volume it takes you longer to deliver the mail. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to know that it takes more time to deliver
32 feet of mail than 20 feet. IMHO

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the major problem with delivery service of mail is on the city delivery side and not the rural delivery side? Duh oh yeah city carriers are paid by the hour. How stupid do you have to be to realize that to improve service and save money you have to go with the good system that works and get rid of the system that does not work.

Anonymous said...

I believe this initiative had the potential to save millions($) as one district demonstrated. No company can succeed with it's entire vehicle fleet sitting idle in parking lots 18 hours a day. Some said they're tired, yet these same employees have no problem delivering 7 hrs a day when they're being compensated at time and a half. The next time there's a pilot, test or initiative; don't call in sick, don't slow down. Put forth a good effort and give it a chance. Remember, there's millions of unemployed Americans who are willing to do our job for 1/3 the pay we receive.

Anonymous said...

This same system was used several years ago and was known as the router system. Unfortunately it did not work then and lo and behold will not work now. Basically the router cases at least five routes. So if that router comes in at 6:00 am to case and does not finish casing the last route out of his five until the end of his shift at 2:30 p.m. then the "street" carrier has to wait until his route has been cased and then if a router calls in sick the routes are not cased until the "street" carrier comes in which puts them way behind and they will be working 10-12 hours a day. Vacation time is even worse and the routers are gone on vacation and the "street" carrier who does not know the case cannot case mail at the same speed as someone who knows the route. Also a lot of the "router" ended up with repetitive injuries from "casing" all day long. Most carriers like to case their own mail as everyone has a different casing style and it is harder to deliver a route when your mail is not cased in your style. Carrying mail all day for 7 1/2 hours plus everyday leads to additional injuries as people are not "pack mules" and additional factors come in to play, IE; weather, dogs, fatigue. etc. The router system caused more problems than it solved and it is not surprising that management would scream foul that the carriers did not cooperate and caused the experiment to fail. That is a typical answer from anyone in management when the "grand Idea" of the day does not work, just blame the carrier, it has to be his or her fault and not the fault of the "grand Idea" of the day.

Dave said...

The answer is staring them right in the face. We rural carriers are allowed to set up the mail in the manner that lets us deliver the mail the most efficiently. I can case my DPS, pulling out mis-sorts and removals, so that when I get to a customers house I just grab and go. We also case our FSS,( I know...). As I have told trainees through the years, do as much as you can inside the office, to make it as easy as you can on the street. I can't for the life of me understand why city carriers are forced to do so much sorting of their mail outside in the elements. Look how much less time it takes rurals to do all the mail every day. Most days all the rurals are back by 1:00PM. Pay a city carrier for the day and tell him he can go home when he is done, and watch how magically most routes are done in 6-7 hours a day.

Anonymous said...

I too am a rural carrier, and most of the city carriers I've talked to said they would love to be on the evaluated system. But, their union won't allow it. We have trouble in our office with the distribution clerks slowing down. Maybe they should be paid on the evaluated system too, we would be out of the office much sooner.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to this clerk for the vote of confidence. We have to much arguing between the true working class of the Postal Service. Most management has no clue. They may have carried mail in the past, it has changed drastically from the past. The workers know what works for the best because we work in the real world not the make-believe world of numbers. We are people not machines. No 2 days are the same. The truth is shown in our clock-rings.

buster2020 said...

Anonymous your the only one commenting their is live outside of your home and things to do other then sit in front of your computer and rip the working class citizen