The U.S. Postal Service is hiring 28,000 seasonal employees ahead of the surge in end-of-year holiday letters and packages for facilities in Michigan and across the country.
For what is called the “peak season,” the Postal Service plans to add 250 processing machines as well as an additional 1,000 truck drivers, letter carriers and processing team members.
Even with a bump in staffing, said Maceo Cosper, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 300 in central Michigan, the Postal Service doesn’t always add enough positions for the workload.
“We have chronic staffing issues in the Postal Service,” he said. “It is not that we don’t have the mechanism to hire temporary workers for peak season; we’ve always been able to do that. Unfortunately, it seems like mismanagement on a widespread scale.”
The Postal Service has said thousands of temporary workers eventually convert to full-time status, with a regular salary, a 401(k) and health, retirement and life-insurance benefits.
The union is in the second year of a four-year contract. In negotiations, Cosper said, the union made demands for workplace safety and steps to alleviate high-stress working conditions. Despite that, he said, the high volume of peak-season work can be exhausting – and dangerous.
“Mandatory seven/twelves – people are being overworked,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of repetitive-motion injuries. It’s physical work, but it’s also just being on your feet for 12 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Postmaster Louis DeJoy has introduced a 10-year plan to put the Postal Service on a stronger financial footing. Part of it consolidates small-town post offices in a central location with a hub-and-spoke design, but Cosper is concerned it could eliminate jobs and slow delivery times.
Peter Rachleff, a labor historian and co-executive director of the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul, Minnesota, follows trends at the Postal Service and other major employers. In his view, DeJoy’s expansion needs to be managed so that it benefits both the agency and its union workers.
“The Gen-X’ers who are organizing realize that there is no such thing as ‘the pendulum,’ which will swing back in their favor,” he said. “The only way to make a better future for themselves is by organizing and pushing.”
For more information, or to apply for Postal Service jobs, look online at www.usps.com/hiring.