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Let’s Think Now About Future Employees
By Dee Perez
NAPS New York Area Vice President
Welcome to primetime, summer-associated headaches. Summer has arrived and mail plants and associate offices find themselves short-staffed in all functions. Even though the USPS is trying to hire employees to avoid these staffing shortfalls, it’s unavoidable because our processes and mindset are broken and outdated with regard to hiring.
The first thing the agency needs to fix is changing the length of time it takes for a new employee to join the workforce; four to six weeks is ridiculously long. These new employees want to start working in a couple weeks.
At one time, the USPS and OPM hired through a civil service exam. It then was changed to avoid hiring new career employees in order to minimize costs. When you started as a PTF, you were guaranteed a career position. New craft employees rarely are as dedicated as you were back then. For many, this job is just a layover until something better comes along.
Why did the USPS set a hiring cap? I’m not privy to this decision made by our “Company,” which we all understand is a “Service”—not a company. Although leadership thinks it’s a company, let’s allow them to continue with this illusion.
Acting and thinking like a company, while really being a service, create two, vastly different scenarios. It’s like trying to insert a square peg in a round hole.
My point is the USPS no longer fishes from the vast ocean of available career-minded employees. They now fish out of a pond. Why? In one word: Amazon.
Amazon has reeled in potential USPS employees at a staggering rate. The company currently employs 1.3 million workers and hires 170,000 workers a quarter for the holiday season. One out of every 153 American workers is employed by Amazon.
Whatever is left in the current pond that used to be a vast ocean of available hires is drying rapidly and may never return if the USPS doesn’t start thinking outside its outdated, postal-box mentality processes concerning hiring. The USPS has to change the bait with which it is fishing in order to attract new, career-minded employees. In a few more years, more and more baby boomers will be retired; with its outdated hiring process, the USPS is wasting time and money.
What’s the USPS’ solution? Require a letter carrier be on the street eight hours a day. How long do you think that person will last before they start costing you sick leave, claim injuries or resign? Who’s going to want this job? Not today’s youth!
We are a service to the entire nation. It’s time to pay regional cost-of-living wages, just as the USPS already does in certain areas and categories of employees. In my area, the unemployment rate is 2.7%. We can’t find people who want this job. In some parts of the country, mail is being delivered at 11 p.m. and Customer Service supervisors are working over 100 hours a week.
There are offices rotating mail delivery because they don’t have employees to deliver every route or open a window. The current hiring system is busted and does not work. We no longer can fish in a pond owned by Amazon with the same old bait we’ve used for decades.
Here are highlights from a Zoom meeting emailed to me:
Leadership: “I know the process.”
Supervisor: “If I can’t fix it with the process, then what’s the point in having a process?”
Leadership: “I need actionable and trackable.”
Supervisor: “I can’t provide that when I don’t have the employees to fix it.” Another leader interrupts and changes the conversation.
Enjoy the summer of stress! And don’t forget your homework: Sign a new member—including postmasters—weekly!