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Postal Service starts hiring freeze for administrative jobs

By Ed O'Keefe

By Ed O'Keefe

Updated, 4:35 p.m.: The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service is freezing hiring and promotions for all administrative positions at post offices, field offices and its Washington headquarters until further notice as it tries to stave off further losses from slumping revenues and mail volume.

The decision impacts about 8,000 positions, including administrative, marketing and legal jobs and 2,000 vacancies for postmasters that manage post offices, USPS said. The average salary for the jobs ranged from around $65,000 to $70,000. The freeze does not impact delivery, customer service or transportation jobs. Officials did not rule out eliminating the frozen positions entirely.

"This is about managing the size of the organization and making sure we match resources to workload," said Tony Vegliante, USPS executive vice president for human resources. "As the organization shrinks, it all shrinks, not just the part that delivers the mail."

Bob Rapoza, president of the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, said the decision means letter carriers and clerks are temporarily filling vacant postmaster and supervisor jobs, taking them away from processing mail deliveries.

"Freezing the management positions that are part of moving the mail just makes no operational sense," Rapoza said. "We’re not going to save money in the long term and it’ll certainly deteriorate service in the short term."

The freeze should save USPS up to $30 million per quarter and is part of $3.5 billion in cost cuts before the end of the Postal Service's fiscal year, Sept. 30. The mail agency has cut about 200,000 positions in the last decade through attrition, with more than half of the cuts made in the last four years.

The freeze was announced last week the day before lawmakers said they will block efforts to end Saturday mail deliveries. But the decision is more about saving money and adjusting the size of the Postal Service workforce, Vegliante said.

"It’s an ongoing process, probably something we should be doing everyday," he said.

Despite the hiring freeze, the Postal Service announced Monday that Paul Vogel, its former head of international business, will become the agency's third in command as president of mailing and shipping services. He replaces Robert F. Bernstock, who left USPS in June amid an investigation into no-bid contracts he awarded to former business associates.

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This post has been updated since it was first published.

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 2, 2010; 4:35 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Workplace Issues  
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The USPS is already bloated with managers who can't, or won't do their jobs. The supervisors at our local PO have failed to correct 1) mail held without a request), forwarded mail not forwarded, 3) incorrect forms requested when mailing.

Posted by: pjohn2 | August 2, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

The USPS is still around?? I thought they closed up years ago, when private business showed the country how to effectively run a delivery service.

Posted by: thatsright2 | August 2, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness, they have Managers who have never handled mail but yet they can sit on their butts and tell the carriers what to do,,start with management! Finally someone who knows what they are doing!!

Posted by: shadon1 | August 2, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

What private companies are you referring to? Last I read, UPS and FedEx were having their own financial problems, DHL went out of business in the US. As for a lot of those companies, they still rely on the postal service for delivery at the last leg of shipment because either they don't deliver to the address or they find it is less expensive to use the postal service.
Yeah, UPS did take a huge chunk of parcel delivery, but some of that is coming back. People are learning that, while UPS can handle heavier parcels, they also do things like charging fuel surcharges whenever the cost of fuel goes up. Plus, not all parcels fall into that heavier category.
Privatization can be beneficial in a lot of areas, but it is not the only answer when you see there are a lot of private businesses going belly up, or shipping jobs overseas.

Posted by: jimh02 | August 3, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

The executives at Postal Headquarters are so out of touch with the employees they manage they don't have a clue who provides customer service in many of the Post Offices in the country. Postmasters of the rural community offices are the "customer service", clerk, custodian, or whatever needs to be done in the office. How can customer service not be impacted when the office is managed by an employee who is assigned on a temporary basis and is given no additional training - then expected to perform miracles?? If the positions need frozen then someone from the huge staff at headquarters should fill them and save money - after all maybe they should earn their 6 figure salaries. **By the way if you would do some research you will find many of these postmasters in rural offices don't make any where close to 65 - 70 thousand a year...try 9.45 an hour for a 6 day a week job - doing all of the above! The public has a very distorted view of all Postal employees. The 65 to 70 thousand a year is not the norm!

Posted by: scratchsbird | August 3, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The Post Office is getting rid of secretaries, who they renamed Administrative Assistant (the little people). $60 - 70 thousand is not where the big bucks are being spent. They need to start with management and their enormous benefits.

Posted by: 0811 | August 4, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Gee, so the managers finally realized the Golden Goose can't survive with so many of them taking their bonuses an perks like no other Fed agency. Well, as the incompetent big wigs retire and their pensions and life time health care fall on the public, maybe then they will lift this freeze, if there really is one.

Posted by: jta515 | August 4, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Customer service has been hurting for a long time. That is one of the reasons for the condition of the Postal poor "service". Postal Headquarters has been out of touch just like much of government with the customer and their employees. I know the Postal Service can rebound if we began to put the customer and employees first. Change some of the rules that govern the Postal Service. Have an attitude change in the way we approach this company as a customer, employee or manager. Eliminate waste and greed. Communicate and LISTEN to the employees and customers about what is or is not working. Be flexible in your daily operations. Hope you can change course!

Posted by: karlegreene | August 6, 2010 11:48 AM | Report abuse

The postal service can waste time and money like no one i know. As an employee, I am constantly appalled at the ridiculous solutions to problems that they come up with. Our office is told what to do by the regional office so why do we even have a postmaster? If they would quit trying to deliver the mail into rocket science, and quit trying to squeeze the savings from the bottom up, it would greatly enhance their opportunity for future success and longevity but they have the foxes guarding the hen house and getting rid of management will NEVER happen.

Posted by: tueller230 | August 7, 2010 8:07 AM | Report abuse

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