Amid all the brouhaha over the US Postal Service, with Democrats alleging (farcically) that President Trump is trying to "defund" it and/or use it to prevent successful postal voting, we learn that much of the fuss is politically motivated. To any businessman with common sense, the measures implemented by the new Postmaster-General don't seem "political" at all, as we pointed out recently. Instead, they're vitally necessary to get rid of multi-billion-dollar abuses and inefficiencies.
One such abuse, overtime, is highlighted in a new report.
The U.S. Postal Service has racked up billions of dollars in excessive overtime from its workers over the last several years, even as its employee numbers have gone up and its mail delivery has declined, according to a new audit likely to raise questions about congressional Democrats' demands for a bailout.
Overtime pay has become so predominant at America's premier mail delivery service that more than 4,000 postal workers last year actually earned more in OT pay than their base pay, a 429% increase in highly compensated overtime earners since 2014, the agency's internal watchdog reported this week.
The situation exists in part because postal employees are allowed to determine their own overtime hours without needing prior management approval, and management does not always keep accurate payroll records, the audit report concluded.
. . .
The audit paints a picture of a postal service that is highly dysfunctional: Managers don't keep good records, staffing levels aren't maintained at authorized levels, and workers decide for themselves when they can charge overtime.
. . .
The audit revealed just how costly this OT tab has become: The annual bill for overtime charged by postal employees grew 35% from $3.7 billion in 2014 to $5 billion last year. Over the course of those five years, workers charged for an average of more than 100 million OT hours per year, the report said. Overtime, according to the IG, now accounts for between 13% and 16% of USPS' total costs.
. . .
Investigators flagged the massive growth in postal workers who earned 2x and 3x through overtime pay, citing some specific examples ranging from postmen to mechanics whose inflated paychecks raised questions about whether employees could really have worked as many hours as they charged.
"A mail handler in the Northeast Area earned $141,153 in total overtime pay by working 3,329 regular overtime hours, which resulted in $205,018 in total pay" the report noted. "This was equivalent to more than three times the amount of this employee's base salary. For perspective, this amount of overtime would have required this employee to work an average of 17-hour days, consisting of eight regular workhours and about nine overtime hours every day for 365 days a year.
Despite such remarkable findings, the Postal Service said it is not sure whether it should try to work to reduce massively rising overtime.
There's more at the link.
Do note the last sentence in the excerpt above. That's not from the Postmaster-General, who's trying to get a handle on an agency that's clearly administratively out of control. It comes from the general management of the agency, which doesn't see the need for reform. After all, they can always turn to Congress for another bailout!
I found the example of the "mail handler in the Northeast Area" particularly egregious. If he'd worked that many hours over so long a period, his personal relationships would be in ruins, his health would be broken, and he'd have collapsed from the stress of seven-days-per-week maximum effort. I'd say it's physically impossible for him to work as long and as hard as he claimed (unless he slept underneath the sorting table for most of his duty shift).
I wish I could find a job like that. It'll pay a lot better than writing books, I can tell you!