Sunday, April 19, 2020

Cashing in on USPS Overtime: Why Many Postal Workers Earn More Than Their Bosses

A U.S. Postal Service employee recently received triple the annual pay of fellow mail handlers by working 4,578 hours during a single year.

That’s the equivalent of clocking in for more than 12 ½ hours a day, 365 days a year. Or 11 eight-hours shift per week.

The hard-working mail handler was apparently the USPS’s highest-paid front-line employee during Fiscal Year 2018, earning $181,253, according to an Inspector General’s report released a few days ago.

The typical full-time career mail handler earned $26 an hour and averaged about 8 hours of overtime per week, according to USPS data.

Mr. or Ms. Eager Beaver Mail Handler clearly out-earned the boss: The highest-paid front-line postal supervisor that year earned a paltry $152,489 by working a mere 3,567 hours (averaging 69 hours per week) in Distribution Operations.

“The average pay of supervisors was higher than craft pay,” the report noted. “However, when comparing total pay (including base salary plus overtime), craft employees can earn more than their first-line supervisors.”

The average annual pay for supervisors was $69,631, 27% higher than the average for craft positions, according to the report. (I believe these numbers are base pay without overtime, not total pay, but the report doesn't make that clear.)

But 3,362 craft employees – including almost 1,000 carriers and nearly as many clerks and mail handlers – had total earnings that surpassed $100,000.

A postal expert and former USPS employee tells me that some of these $100,000-plus craft employees probably "involve situations where the employees filed grievances because they were improperly denied overtime opportunities. Unfortunately USPS (in my experience) doesn't provide supervisors and managers with the tools they need to manage OT. The end result is large grievance settlements."

(Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan's base pay that year was $290,565 FY2018. Tsk, tsk, if the Postal Service operated like "a real business," she would have made at least 20 times as much as the highest-paid front-line employees and supervisors.)

One reason craft employees can earn more than their supervisors is that they receive up to two times their normal hourly pay for overtime, “whereas first-line supervisors are paid straight time for hours worked above their normal schedule.”

Noting that postal supervisors have an annual attrition rate of only 1%, the OIG’s report didn’t recommend any changes in how supervisors are compensated.

But I suspect that attrition rate was calculated without including postal workers who switched from supervisor back to craft positions. I know of several people who gave up supervisor positions because they had been earning more as a letter carrier.

Or because the minimal extra pay for being a supervisor wasn’t worth the bureaucratic headaches.

For further reading:

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Just wondering how many of those hours were spent actually working.
Many ot hounds spend many hours sleeping on the clock in order to
"work" that many hours of OT. Some even leave, go home, sleep, eat etc
and come back hours later to clock out. This is why the PO is going
out of business. Managers, supervisors hide and have no idea what their
employees are doing. What a fiasco the po is. Time to clean house.

Anonymous said...

Factually correct, but the timing couldn't be more wrong - Poor choice of topics at a difficult time.

Now is not the time to criticize the earnings of a particular set of USPS Employees.

However, in keeping with this source of info.

Anonymous said...

Poor timing for this article. This is not the time or circumstance to question the earnings of Postal Employees.

However, poor timing in keeping with this source

Anonymous said...

Mail Handlers do not earn double time for overtime per their contract they only earn 1-1/2 times there regular pay. Do your research before writing your articles.

Anonymous said...

They deserve more than the bosses. My Maintenance department has 6 managers and 6 supervisors for 100 employees. Craft jobs have been cut since the 2008 recession, but the Management and Supervisors positions haven't been cut at all and in some cases have increased. I understand the need to lean down the workforce but it should be done across the board not just focusing on the so called overpaid craft employee. We are the people out on the workroom floor getting the job done everyday.

Anonymous said...

A Mail Handler is the lowest level of postal workers, and if a manager allowed anyone to work that many hours in a year is insane. That office could have hired two or three people for that much money, and gotten more work done. I wonder how that supervisor even got that much money, when having a 204B or another supervisor would have been cheaper. These are several examples of how poor management is costing the Post Office so much...it is NOT all about the prefunding, which postal employees always allude to.

D. Eadward Tree said...

Regarding timing: There's never a bad time for truth. And the timing was the OIG's. Dead Tree Edition merely reported what it said.

Regarding overtime pay: The OIG report said "up to two times their normal hourly pay" not that it's always 2x. Dead Tree Edition quoted that without making a comment because, though standard OT is paid at 1.5X, "penalty OT" is paid at 2X. That being said, penalty OT seems to be rare for mail handlers -- much less common than for some of the other crafts.

Unknown said...

There is NO overtime rate above time-and-a-half. There is a Sunday premium. I’m a maintenance electronics technician. The job requires such a background of knowledge that my job application in 1998 ran eighty pages. Since there are multiple Unions representing various different segments of the workforce, there is little uniformity in the contracts that are reached with each by the USPS. Please do better research before denigrating postal workers and besmirching the reputation of the most trusted federal agency of the entire federal government.

Anonymous said...

Who is managing an office like this, that allows that much overtime? Any qualified manager would surely hire more people to staff that office. Three mail handlers working eight hours each would do far more work than one person working 12 hour shifts seven days a week. Letting a supervisor double his pay in overtime is a waste, also. Hire another supervisor, let T-7 clerks do some supervisory work, or use a 204B.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of postal workers making far more money than their base pay...if the Post Office wants to save money, they sure do not show they know how to manage money. The biggest point to consider is not how certain workers make over $100,000, but the fact that the Post Office has far too many in management positions, and as managers, they cannot do any of the sorting or delivery work, all they can do is observe and micro manage. There are probably 50,000 in management that could be eliminated, and the mail would still be processed, probably better without those people. The savings would be over $5 billion in salaries alone. Management is not protected by any real unions, so this could be done fairly easily. The last time they had a management reorganization was over 25 years ago, and things have been going downhill since.

Anonymous said...

You can have the best quality of soldiers in the world but poor officers and you will loose every battle. If you have above average officers and very poor soldiers they will make them into an organization that will win any war. Always been that way and always will. Time for so many to quit scapegoating workers. The PO has a National Hq filled with managers who haven't seen the work floor in years or decades. A Area level, a District Level, and a Local Office Level. The Area level or District level is useless and not needed. The National puts out numbers, etc for staffing and just about everything which is regurgitated down to the Local Office where a Postmaster and/or Plant Manager spend many hours per week on telecoms being told by people passing on directions hundreds of miles away on what to do in their office. Time to clean the management house, quit promoting from within only, do away with a level or two of unneeded waste and return decision making to each local office to operate as needed.

Anonymous said...

Some supervisors & managers set certain people up for penalty overtime when not needed and you see that employee either sleeping in their vehicles or just hanging out in break rooms.

where other employees come and go when they please and management is adjusting their clock rings for them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We wonder why we are broke?

Jo said...

I know in my craft, we are maxed out at 60 hours total a week, and that is very rare. Can't work anymore than that due to federal law. OT personal get two hours of OT a day, four days a week, and on rare occasion work 8 hours on their day off...if there's work.
I wonder if the IG is looking into why someone is working 69 hours a week?
I agree, the managers they hire aren't qualified to manage and appear to have no training in time or fiscal management. Within the last couple of years, the people they have been hiring as managers are people that don't want to do the physical work. They want to sit behind a desk. We have two 204b's that weren't even career employees when they started supervising.
Also no mention that retirement pay is based solely on base pay, no OT. So a craft worker may be being paid for lots of additional hours at work , while the supervisor is at home, but when they retire, the supervisor's pension will always be higher than the craft worker.

Anonymous said...

Truth is that cliques, nepotism and cronyism is what runs the USPS. I have been first hand witness in several stations in three different U.S cities of how nepotism sets up what hours are required to perform a job. You have a huge number of letter carriers that live outside of their means and know that with the current model the USPS basically gives them a blank check to work as many hours as they are willing to milk from the time clock. All three of these cities had cliques of friends and families that covered union, management, and craft all working the system as if it were their own lemonade stand.

The only solution is to eliminate a day or two of mail delivery and make package deliveries a seven day a week thing. These USPS destroying selfish cliques can come in on Sunday if they want some overtime and the USPS would save 3-4 Billion a year in operating cost by eliminating Saturday deliveries alone.

Anonymous said...

In reading these comments, it looks like a bunch of overpaid union workers complain about everyone else but their fellow workers who go home or sleep in their vehicles while on the clock. The union has ruined USPS, so look in the mirror folks.

Unknown said...

You're wrong I received double time plenty of times.

Anonymous said...

As a 30 year retired city letter carrier in Massachusetts, 3 day mail delivery(Monday,Wednesday,Friday) with parcel delivery 7 days would work. USPS has always been top heavy with management. In 1980 management was notorious for covering false work hours for relatives, golf buddies, and drinking pals and it still continues.

Unknown said...

All of you complaining about the post office never worked a day in the life of a mail carrier working in rain sleet hail snow and any other hazardous conditions that may arrive 100 degree weather day after day in the summer months so until you can know how that feels and then say we are over payed come try it for a week guarentee you'll have a change of heart in a instant and don't worry your vehicle has no air in the 90 degree heat so good luck

Jo said...

I know of no one in our district that go home or sleep in their vehicles while on the clock. Our scanners track stationary time. As far as overpaid, UPS and FEDEX pay similarly. Yes, the union is a symptom of the problem. but one of many symptoms.

My wager is if this administration gets it's way, the plan for the PO is to let it go bankrupt. All collective bargaining contracts will be null and void. It will revert to how it was prior to 1971. Employees will be like any other federal employee under the GS or WG system. where in those scales, who knows? Will probably give FEDEX, UPS, Amazon sweetheart deals on the most valuable aspects of the PO.

Anonymous said...

As a retired maintenance worker in a large plant facility and working every shift and days off combination. I can tell you about all the extreme waste and mismanagement that goes on behind the scenes the public and most carriers and small offices are totally unaware of that goes on constantly.That includes enormous wastes of materials and manpower. If it ran anywhere near as efficiently as say a manufacturing plant.Which I also worked before USPS. They would have more money than they would know what to do with.These are in my opinion where the house needs a good cleaning out.Best or worst kept secret depending on point of view in the USPS.

Unknown said...

It appears that the only reason the USPS is losing money is strictly because of the unions. Abolish the union, then you will abolish the losses.

Unknown said...

Your dopey

Anonymous said...

I am custodian for the past two months came from the carrier craft. Took a pay cut no big deal cause I eliminated a commute. Well I am being mandated to work six days a week (58 hours). Checks have been in the $3850 range on pace to make more in a year than I ever made as a carrier (25 years). Don't want all the hours but due to some custodian work hour rules supervisor is trying to avoid a grievance. I am not the only one in the office being worked to death. Well I am not really being worked to death there is a lot of clock watching throughout the day. SMH

Newsboy said...

Odd but you seem to be focusing on the trees and not the forest. Yes, it's very possible, most likely probably that the highest paid employees are doing something mildly nefarious. Or, as you point out, getting some sort of grievance pay. But in the end, this isn't why the postal service is in trouble, it's one of many problems and it goes back to, once again, our country's leaders misusing and abusing the postal service. Just like they misuse and abuse every other sort of public service from teachers to firefighters to the clerk in the county clerk's office.

And honestly, DeadTree, considering what the heck the postal service is going thought right now, I would expect better of you.

D. Eadward Tree said...

Several commenters view this article as being critical of postal employees and/or the U.S. Postal Service. Nope. It's a straightforward reporting of facts, except for the aside about corporate CEOs making so much more than the Postmaster General. That was a swipe at corporate pay practices and at the laws that govern USPS pay, not a criticism of the USPS or its employees.

As other commenters have noted, there are possibly legitimate reasons for such high OT pay -- such as settling grievances, covering vacation positions, and adjusting to spikes in mail volume. And, as others have noted, there are possibly more nefarious reasons, such as poor management or favoritism. As with almost everything involving the Postal Service, I expect it's a combination of good, of bad, and of people trying to do right thing but not having the tools or training necessary to do so.

Anonymous said...

There is no V time (double time) in the mailhandler contract. Management would rather pay overtime than hire more workers. If you live in a high cost of living area you can't even find people to take the job due to low wages. The people that are working need the overtime to survive.