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New rural carriers will get paid 10 percent to 20 percent less than others

Jul. 5, 2012 - 03:04PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Newly hired rural letter carriers will make 10 percent to 20 percent less than current carriers earn under a new labor pact that will affect 111,000 career and non-career U.S. Postal Service employees.

The labor pact, which takes effect immediately and runs through May 2015, includes a 3.5 percent wage increase and cost-of-living boosts, but it will require employees to pay more for their health insurance. For new full-time carriers, the lower-tier wage scale will be more than 10 percent below that of current employees, USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said in an email.

For new part-time rural carriers, he said, the pay difference will be more than 20 percent

“However, the agreement does not go as far as the Postal Service believes is necessary to overcome our financial challenges,” Saunders said.

Terms of the labor pact between the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and the Postal Service were set by a three-member arbitration board decision Tuesday.

The part-timers, officially known as rural carriers associates, act as substitutes for full-timers.

Under the agreement, part-timers hired since the previous contract expired in November 2010 will now be subject to the new lower pay scale if they become full-time carriers and will thus take a pay cut, Joey Johnson, a union-appointed member of the board, wrote in a partial dissent to the full panel’s decision.

“To penalize this group of current employees is patently unfair,” Johnson said.

Saunders could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday on how many part-time carriers could fall in that category. In creating a two-tier wage system, the arbitration panel followed a precedent set by the American Postal Workers Union’s labor contract last year.

The move signals a strong likelihood that arbitrators will impose two-tier compensation systems on two other postal unions due for new contracts: the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, which represent more than 240,000 postal employees.

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