S. Postal Service
U. S. Postal Service Overview
Section 1—Postal Organization
The Postal Service is the largest civilian
organization in the United States. With more than 800,000 full-time
career employees and 100,000 part-time employees and an annual
budget of more than $60 billion, the Postal Service delivers over
200 billion pieces of mail every year.
USPS has headquarters in Washington, D.C.,
but maintains postal facilities throughout the United States,
including nearly 38,000 post offices. The Postal Service is governed
by a nine-member Board of Governors, whose members are appointed
by the President with Senate confirmation. The nine Governors
then select a Postmaster General, who becomes a member of the
Board. Those ten select a Deputy Postmaster General, who also
serves on the Board.
The nine Governors of the Postal Service are
appointed for staggered nine-year terms and can be removed only
for cause. In addition, no more than five Governors may belong
to the same political party. The Postmaster General serves at
the pleasure of the Governors for an indefinite period and is
the Chief Executive Officer of the Postal Service. The Deputy
Postmaster General serves at the pleasure of the Postmaster General
and the Board.
The Board directs the exercise of the powers
of the Postal Service, directs and controls its expenditures,
reviews its practices, conducts long-range planning, and sets
policies on all postal matters. The Board takes up matters such
as service standards, capital investments and facilities projects
exceeding $10 million. It also approves officer compensation.
Following are the current members of the
Board of Governors:
|Robert F. Rider
|S. David Fineman
|LeGree S. Daniels
|Albert V. Casey
|Alan C. Kessler
|Ned R. McWherter
|John F. Walsh
|John E. “Jack” Potter
||PMG & CEO
There are two general divisions within the
Postal Service, each headed by a vice president. One division
is composed of processing and distribution sites, such as bulk
mail centers and the second is composed of 90 customer service
districts managing all the post offices.
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The Postal Service announced in November 2002
that it had been overfunding its Civil Service Retirement System
(CSRS) account for 30 years and owed $5 billion, instead of $32
billion, to the fund. If Congress approves a change in the Postal
Service’s funding payment schedule, it will have to pay
$2.9 billion less into the CSRS fund for 2002 and $2.6 billion
less for the next several years than it thought it would. The
post office’s financing formula includes 30-year and 15-year
amortization schedules aimed at covering retirement costs linked
to postal employee pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs).
Postmaster General John E. Potter said the reduction in pension
contributions would be used to pay down the debt and keep postal
rates steady until 2006.
A review team led by the Office of Personnel
Management (OPM) discovered that the USPS had been overpaying
the billions of dollars. It found the statutory formula that sets
the rate for pension payments was out of whack, in part because
of higher-than-anticipated yields on pension investments. The
Postal Service paid $152.1 billion into CSRS to cover annuities
for postal workers and was due to pay $91.5 billion more in future
payments, under the formula. That figure, it turned out, was $71
billion higher than the amount needed to cover the cost of future
postal retirements, officials said.
The Postal Service subsequently announced
that it had a surplus of $27 billion. Potter stressed that the
agency would continue to cut costs, consolidate mail-handling
plants and urge Congress to permit more flexibility in the processing
and pricing of mail.
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Section 2—Labor Unions and
An overwhelming majority of postal employees
belong to either labor unions or one of the management or supervisory
organizations. The 1970 Postal Reorganization Act authorized collective
bargaining on wages and working conditions under laws applying
to the private sector and provided for binding arbitration if
an impasse persists 180 days after the start of bargaining. The
ability of many postal employees to bargain over their pay rates
is a right that is not enjoyed by other federal employees, although
postal workers, like other federal employees, are still barred
Four large postal unions represent most postal
workers and negotiate for them during collective bargaining. They
- The American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO, representing 366,000
- The National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, representing
315,000 postal workers.
- The National Rural Letter Carriers Association, representing
96,000 postal workers.
- The National Postal Mail Handlers Union, representing 50,000
In addition to the four major unions, there
are smaller unions representing postal inspectors and postal nurses.
Three management associations represent postal
supervisors and postmasters. These associations cannot bargain
over pay issues like the unions but they do negotiate over other
working conditions. The associations are:
- The National Association of Postal Supervisors. NAPS represents
35,000 active and retired supervisors and managers.
- The National Association of Postmasters of the United States.
NAPUS represents 40,000 active and retired postmasters.
- The National League of Postmasters. The League represents
27,000 active and retired postmasters.
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Section 3—Postal Pay General
There are two general types of salary structures
used by the postal service, as well as a specialized structure
for rural letter carriers.
The two general salary structures are:
- PS-Postal Service salary structure. Applicable to bargaining
unit personnel (clerks, carriers, etc.) except rural letter
carriers, mailhandlers, nurses, and postal police officers.
- EAS-Executive and Administrative Salary structure. Applicable
to executives, professionals, supervisors, postmasters, and
technical, administrative and clerical non-bargaining employees.
Salary grades in the schedule range from EAS-1 through EAS-26.
Postmasters whose offices are open less than 40 hours per week
are on a separate schedule.
The pay period for all employees begins on
Saturday and covers a 2-week period ending on Friday. Employees
are paid every 2 weeks following the end of the pay period.
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Section 4—Postal Employee
Postal employees generally receive the same
benefits as other federal employees with a few exceptions.
career employees, like federal career employees, are covered by
one of three retirement systems administered by OPM: the Federal
Employees Retirement System (FERS), the Civil Service Retirement
System (CSRS) and by CSRS Offset. FERS is a retirement system
with both defined benefit and defined contribution components.
Under FERS, employees receive retirement benefits from a federal
retirement annuity, Social Security, and the Thrift Savings Plan.
The FERS annuity benefit, while also based on an employee’s
high-three average salary and years of service, produces a smaller
benefit than CSRS does. CSRS is a defined benefit retirement system.
Annuity benefits are based on an employee’s high-three average
salary and years of service. CSRS Offset is similar to CSRS but
requires Social Security contributions. Upon Social Security eligibility,
the CSRS annuity is reduced by any Social Security benefit resulting
from periods of CSRS Offset service, to produce a benefit equivalent
to what would have been received under CSRS.
Postal Service participates in the Federal Employees Health Benefits
Program and all postal employees can receive health insurance
coverage through that plan with the cost split between the Postal
Service and the worker. For most federal employees the split is
determined by Congress. However, postal unions negotiate the actual
split as part of the collective bargaining agreements, so postal
workers often pay a different amount than other federal workers,
and postal workers from different unions may pay different amounts.
Postal employees should review the health benefits section of
the Almanac for complete information on how the FEHBP works, premium
amounts and plan contact information.
Postal Service offers life insurance coverage through the Federal
Employees Life Insurance Program. However, while other federal
employees must pay part of the cost of the basic coverage, the
Postal Service pays the entire premium amount for its active employees.
There are additional options for purchasing more insurance through
the FEGLI program. Postal employees should review the life insurance
section in the Almanac for more details.
Flexible Spending Accounts—Employees
can use Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to pay for certain health
care and dependent care expenses with contributions made through
pretax payroll deductions. FSAs were first offered in 1992 to
certain non-bargaining unit employees and now include all employees.
Employees experience tax savings as well, which vary according
to the individual’s contribution amounts and marginal tax
Thrift Savings Plan—Postal
employees may participate in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), which
is administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.
The rules for TSP participation differ depending on the employee’s
retirement system. For FERS employees, the Postal Service contributes
one percent of basic pay to TSP, fully matches employee contributions
up to 3 percent of basic pay, and matches one-half of employee
contributions from 3 to 5 percent of basic pay. The Postal Service
does not match CSRS or CSRS-Offset employee contributions to the
employees are provided both sick and annual leave at the same
rate as other federal sector employees. However, postal employees
have a higher annual leave carryover limit than their federal
sector counterparts. Earned annual leave may be donated to other
career or transitional Postal Service employees who have exhausted
their own leave and have a serious health problem. The Postal
Service allows the use of 80 hours of accrued sick leave for dependent
care under a policy available to all career employees.
Family and Medical Leave—Postal
employees are covered by the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act,
which provides time off for employees who are dealing with serious
health conditions. The law provides that eligible employees can
take up to 12 workweeks of leave within a Postal Service leave
year for the following: birth or adoption of a child, taking in
a child for foster care, caring for a family member with a serious
health condition, or dealing with the employee’s own serious
health condition. Time taken for family and medical leave can
be taken as annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay or a combination
Service observes the 10 designated federal holidays each year.
They are: New Year’s Day, January 1; Martin Luther King
Jr.’s Birthday, third Monday in January; Presidents’
Day, third Monday in February; Memorial Day, last Monday in May;
Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, first Monday in September;
Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Veterans Day, November
11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day,
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For More Information about
United States Postal Service workplace practices and policies, see
the 2003 edition of the Federal