U.S. Postal Service management has repeatedly told Congress that it needs greater labor flexibility to reduce costs. Despite increased automation and workforce reductions, labor continues to account for 80 percent of the USPS’s cost structure.
As we’ve pointed out, the USPS has a serious union problem. One issue is that collective bargaining agreements make it difficult for the USPS to hire part-time workers. Hiring workers who can work less than 8-hour shifts would give managers needed flexibility to address seasonal and weekly fluctuations in workload.
The Postal Service has fewer part-time employees than any other international postal operation. Currently only 13 percent of its workforce is part-time. Meanwhile, Deutsche Post employs a 40 percent part-time staff, while the United Kingdom’s Royal Mail employs 22 percent. Local competitors also have a higher percentage of part-time employees. For example, UPS employs a 53 percent part-time workforce and FedEx remains around 40 percent. Generally speaking, the Postal Service is behind the average American private sector firm, which employs a 30 percent part-time labor workforce.
Postal employees earn more than their observable attributes suggest they should…postal employees earn 15 percent to 20 percent more per hour than comparable workers in the private sector. Postal employees receive substantially more employer contributions to their health care plans relative to the private sector (74percent) than federal employees in public administration (22 percent), and have about the same increased odds of enjoying an employer provided pension.