Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Postage going up Jan. 1

The USPS continues its slide into oblivion, announcing a hike in first-class postage for January 1. Happy New Year, everyone.

Did they miss Economics 101? When sales are falling, do you really raise prices?

The price of a first-class stamp (first ounce) is planned to go up two cents ($0.02), from $0.44 to $0.46. The price for each additional ounce will increase $0.01, becoming $0.18 for each ounce over the first. And postcards? The new price will be $0.30 (and that's to put on the postcard you bought elsewhere - the one with the picture on it).

One of the things the Post Office never mentions is the wages of its employees. Just how much does a mail carrier earn? How much does a window clerk earn? Or the person who stuffs the mail into the backs of the post office boxes?

Back in 1989 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I remember being outraged when told that a male window clerk, who appeared to me to be stoned because he couldn't count out ten postal cards that I was trying to purchase, earned $33,000/year. I told the acting postmaster to go down to 7-11 and hire away the girl behind the counter for $6.50/hour.

Of course, the acting postmaster couldn't do that. And she couldn't fire the window clerk, either. The union is too strong.

I like postal workers; don't get me wrong. But what does a carrier earn for driving a little truck around and putting mail in mailboxes? I'm almost afraid to guess...

In general, here's what the USPS has to say about compensation and benefits:

"In addition to highly competitive basic pay rates, most Postal Service employees also receive regular salary increases, overtime pay, night shift differential, and Sunday premium pay. Overtime is paid at one and one-half times the applicable hourly rate for work in excess of 8 hours per day, or 40 hours within a workweek. Night shift differential is paid at a specified dollar rate for all hours worked between 6pm and 6am. Sunday premium is paid at 25 percent for work scheduled on Sunday."

What's not clear from this (on the USPS site) is whether an employee gets over-time pay for more than 8 hours in a single day, even if the employee doesn't hit 40 hours in the week. My guess? Yes, since the explanation is ambiguous.

And a night differential for evening work? Why??? Just hire people who will work nights at the regular rate! Again, the powerful unions must have controlled that.

And a Sunday premium of 25%? Same deal. Hire people who will work Sundays at regular pay rates! Oh, I forgot... the union rules...

1 comment:

Another Lawyer said...

Unions stand for much more than you can't fire a stoner. Unions also have supported random drug testing of employees. Your bad rap on unions is date.

Unions do not have much power these days at all. If they did union members would enjoy healthcare benefits, child care, vacations, mandatory breaks, etc, universally. There are not many union shops that enjoy all of these.

And I might add, what exactly is the problem with normal people (not the wealthy) getting paid more for their jobs, and the corporations getting less. Why isn't everyone for that?