A Postal Service report on the first anniversary of its 10-year operating plan cites the conversion of non-career employees to career status as having added “stability” to its operations.
The USPS for years had increased the share of what it calls “pre-career” employees within its overall workforce as a cost-saving measure, since those employees do not qualify for the full range of benefits to career employees. However, the report said the postal agency “has experienced years of high workforce turnover in our pre-career workforce, as well as availability issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The conversion of close to 63,000 pre-career into career positions has contributed to our objective of stabilizing workplace availability nationally.”
Although the report did not go into detail, a series of outside studies had raised concerns about reliance on non-career workers rather than career employees. For example, a 2020 IG report said that turnover in the prior two years averaged 38.5 percent, largely due to complaints about inflexible schedules, the levels of pay and benefits and a lack of advancement opportunities.
Also, a 2020 GAO report cited the added costs for both recruitment and training of new employees due to that level of turnover, while a GAO report last year said that non-career employees suffer workplace injuries at higher rates because they are more likely to make mistakes that lead to injury than career employees.
The Postal Service’s new report also said it was able to hire 40,000 seasonal employees last fall for the peak holiday mailing period and that “to manage peak workload, we reduced the number of hours that employees worked over 8 hours per day and over 50 hours per week, encouraged employees to take leave prior to peak, and enabled flexible overtime during peak season.”
The report also said the USPS successfully placed employees affected by several types of restructuring carried out under the operational plan, that “service performance has improved and stabilized across all product categories,” and that it is on track to break even in fiscal 2023 after many years of financial losses.
The most recent annual report, covering fiscal 2021, showed a gain in career positions of some 20,000 during the year and a drop of some 12,000 non-career positions, bringing the totals to about 517,000 and 137,000, respectively.