Thursday, December 6, 2018

USPS Workers Are Overpaid and Should Lose Collective-Bargaining Rights, Trump Panel Says

Claiming that U.S. Postal Service employees are paid much better than workers at FedEx and UPS, a presidential task force wants to de-fang the postal labor unions.

"USPS employees enjoy a pay and benefits premium over their private sector counterparts, although the size of this premium is likely falling,” the Trump-appointed Task Force on the United States Postal System said in a report released Tuesday.

“Based on Treasury [Department] staff analysis of 10-K filings, in 2017, total per-employee cost at the USPS was $85,800, compared to $76,200 and $53,900 at UPS and FedEx, respectively.”

(A Dead Tree Edition analysis of a USPS report largely corroborates the claim about Postal Service compensation: Average base pay for postal employees in Fiscal Year 2017 was $25.23 per hour, which works out to nearly $53,000 annually. Benefits and overtime added about $31,000 per full-time equivalent employee.) 

The panel recommended that “the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act be amended to apply to the USPS and its employees,” which would ban collective bargaining for postal workers’ compensation. The vast majority of USPS employees are represented by one of nine labor unions or two management associations.

Not in the mainstream media
The anti-collective bargaining proposal, which has gone mostly unnoticed by the mainstream media, “would enable the USPS to address the costs and complications with its current labor system, and allow for better workforce planning and cost control within its rapidly evolving business model,” the panel’s report says.

“USPS employees should not be afforded protections and rights not enjoyed by other federal employees."

The Postal Service spends 76% of its budget on compensation and benefits, which the panel said is “a much higher share of . . . costs when compared against other private courier companies.” That’s despite postal officials achieving “limited labor reforms” in recent years.

“Postal salaries have risen at slower rates than those in the private sector, collective bargaining agreements have gradually transferred a portion of health premiums from the USPS to individual workers, and the USPS has been able to lower the number of employees, from a high of over 905,000 in 1999 to around 634,000 in 2018, relying more heavily on non-career employees.”

But the panel noted that the postal workforce has actually increased by about 4% in the past three years because of the rapid expansion of package deliveries.

 “Given the expected growth in package delivery services, personnel costs are expected to continue to increase in future years, offsetting the increase in the corresponding revenue,.” the panel wrote. It didn’t address the extent to which productivity gains or package-delivery price hikes could reverse that unfavorable trend.

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