A damning indictment of the US Postal Service’s inefficiency

Amid all the brouhaha over the US Postal Service, with Democrats alleging (farcically) that President Trump is trying to “defund” it and/or use it to prevent successful postal voting, we learn that much of the fuss is politically motivated.  To any businessman with common sense, the measures implemented by the new Postmaster-General don’t seem “political” at all, as we pointed out recently.  Instead, they’re vitally necessary to get rid of multi-billion-dollar abuses and inefficiencies.

One such abuse, overtime, is highlighted in a new report.

The U.S. Postal Service has racked up billions of dollars in excessive overtime from its workers over the last several years, even as its employee numbers have gone up and its mail delivery has declined, according to a new audit likely to raise questions about congressional Democrats’ demands for a bailout.

Overtime pay has become so predominant at America’s premier mail delivery service that more than 4,000 postal workers last year actually earned more in OT pay than their base pay, a 429% increase in highly compensated overtime earners since 2014, the agency’s internal watchdog reported this week.

The situation exists in part because postal employees are allowed to determine their own overtime hours without needing prior management approval, and management does not always keep accurate payroll records, the audit report concluded.

. . .

The audit paints a picture of a postal service that is highly dysfunctional: Managers don’t keep good records, staffing levels aren’t maintained at authorized levels, and workers decide for themselves when they can charge overtime.

. . .

The audit revealed just how costly this OT tab has become: The annual bill for overtime charged by postal employees grew 35% from $3.7 billion in 2014 to $5 billion last year. Over the course of those five years, workers charged for an average of more than 100 million OT hours per year, the report said. Overtime, according to the IG, now accounts for between 13% and 16% of USPS’ total costs.

. . .

Investigators flagged the massive growth in postal workers who earned 2x and 3x through overtime pay, citing some specific examples ranging from postmen to mechanics whose inflated paychecks raised questions about whether employees could really have worked as many hours as they charged.

“A mail handler in the Northeast Area earned $141,153 in total overtime pay by working 3,329 regular overtime hours, which resulted in $205,018 in total pay” the report noted. “This was equivalent to more than three times the amount of this employee’s base salary. For perspective, this amount of overtime would have required this employee to work an average of 17-hour days, consisting of eight regular workhours and about nine overtime hours every day for 365 days a year.

Despite such remarkable findings, the Postal Service said it is not sure whether it should try to work to reduce massively rising overtime.

There’s more at the link.

Do note the last sentence in the excerpt above.  That’s not from the Postmaster-General, who’s trying to get a handle on an agency that’s clearly administratively out of control.  It comes from the general management of the agency, which doesn’t see the need for reform.  After all, they can always turn to Congress for another bailout!

I found the example of the “mail handler in the Northeast Area” particularly egregious.  If he’d worked that many hours over so long a period, his personal relationships would be in ruins, his health would be broken, and he’d have collapsed from the stress of seven-days-per-week maximum effort.  I’d say it’s physically impossible for him to work as long and as hard as he claimed (unless he slept underneath the sorting table for most of his duty shift).

I wish I could find a job like that.  It’ll pay a lot better than writing books, I can tell you!



  1. This sort of thing is endemic in the federal government. Older employees who worked the graveyard shift for certain agencies will cheerfully tell you about times when they'd get together and just rack out for awhile–and, if they overslept past end of shift, would charge it to overtime.

  2. A "mailhandler" is a person who works on the dock (loading/unloading trucks, etc.) and *reads* tags on mail pouches and sacks to sort them to the right truck, etc. BUT.. that's on the dock. Mailhandlers read *only* on the dock. Mailhandlers CAN work in the main office… but are then forbidden to do anything requiring literacy (that's the province of a different union). So inside they can dump mail onto a sorting belt, but cannot help sort it. They can move equipment around, and.. that's about it. Is it insane? Yes. And the carriers have their own union, too. So one office might have to deal with three unions.

    $200,000+ for pretending to be illiterate at least some of the time?

  3. I looked at getting a job as a rural route carrier. I was only guaranteed 8 hours on Saturday, but I was on call every day of the week. The HR who explained this actually said that if I wasn't called by 0830 the rest of the day was mine. I asked if I would be paid for that and the answer was no. I asked if there were provisions for holidays or vacations as a RR carrier, the answer was no. I might get hired up to a city carrier in as little as a year because our area is growing fast. So give up planning my life for a minimum of a year and for only 8 hours of pay a week, I can't take any other job, would have to give up my volunteer activities and no provision to spend vacation or other time with my family.

    If you are at the top of the seniority chain, this must be sweet, but I have doubts about who is being attracted to such a job. Only the truly desperate. T

  4. 2 points-

    1- My old man worked in he 1980s/90s Postal system and did fine, but I'll be damned if he ever broke 50K a year, this in a major city.

    He also never took a sick day in 20 years there, banking over 2000 hours of sick leave to be cashed out at retirement to escape the city life.

    3 months before he retired, they changed the rules on him, allowing a max sick leave cash out of something like 100 hours. He was specifically named as the impetus. To hell with the USPS.

    2- I currently work a rotational schedule OCONUS, consisting of 2 weeks on; 2 off… Although in practice, with travel, it's more like 11 days off and 3 unpaid travel days.

    In the 2 weeks at work, I routinely do between 190-220 hours, with only 20 hours above the schedule being chargeable as overtime (I am scheduled to work 150 hours in those 2 weeks and can do up to 170 before hitting the magical OT cap, the rest is unpaid but utterly necessary).

    I take a day off when I get home before I hit my second job or head to the volunteer fire department to play nozzle jockey.

    Long hours are easily manageable, provided one is a workaholic (or has a minor case of diagnosed PTSD which renders sleep mostly impossible).

  5. I told Pelosi, who claimed that the USPS would be "Election Central" this year, that if she TRULY trusted the USPS with our ballots, she'd have no trouble mailing me a $100.00 bill with a self-addressed stamped envelope. I swore on my mother's grave that I'd mail the bill back to her. I just checked my mailbox… Nothing but junk mail… …half if it in Spanish…

    …I'm still waiting…

  6. @Peteforester – If you want the reason by Pelosi is so involved in getting the Post Office to handle mail-in voting, this might be the reason.
    A top Democratic operative says voter fraud, especially with mail-in ballots, is no myth.

    And he knows this because he's been doing it, on a grand scale, for decades.
    Mail-in ballots have become the latest flashpoint in the 2020 elections. While President Trump and the GOP warn of widespread manipulation of the absentee vote that will swell with COVID polling restrictions, many Democrats and their media allies have dismissed such concerns as unfounded.

    But the political insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he fears prosecution, said fraud is more the rule than the exception. His dirty work has taken him through the weeds of municipal and federal elections in Paterson, Atlantic City, Camden, Newark, Hoboken and Hudson County and his fingerprints can be found in local legislative, mayoral and congressional races across the Garden State. Some of the biggest names and highest office holders in New Jersey have benefited from his tricks, according to campaign records The Post reviewed.

    "An election that is swayed by 500 votes, 1,000 votes – it can make a difference," the tipster said. "It could be enough to flip states."


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