|Branch 193 San Jose, California||
" Remember to take pride in the work you perform
and give a fair day's work for a fair day's pay."
- Ernie Arranaga, Branch 193 President
Resources for new members
Welcome to the NALC
By joining your union, you have taken the first and most important step toward protecting your job and securing the future of letter carriers and the United States Postal Service. Below you will find information to help you learn more about your union and your rights and benefits as a city letter carrier.
Structure of the NALC and how it works for you
The NALC’s structure is designed to provide the best possible representation and support for its members.
The grievance procedure
The grievance procedure is how your contractual rights are enforced.
The National Agreement
|Carrying the Mail|
A Career in Public Service
|What is the function of a Letter Carrier?|
A letter carrier is a worker employed by the United States Postal Service (USPS), a U.S. government-owned corporation. A letter carrier is thus a government worker, serving the public directly, and enjoying the recognition, appreciation and trust of the citizens whose mail they carry.
Letter carriers are ambassadors of the federal government—for many Americans, the face of their letter carrier is the face of government. Unlike many other government employees, the letter carrier’s job brings them into personal contact daily with members of the community. How the carrier acts helps determine how citizens view the Postal Service.
Free communication—the freedom to easily exchange ideas and information—is a central foundation of our democracy. Every day, the mail links individuals and organizations throughout the country, binding our large and diverse nation together. Letter carriers fulfill a crucial function by safely and efficiently moving that mail.
|What are a carrier's duties?|
|Most letter carriers
engaged in city delivery sort, bundle and then deliver mail addressed to
homes and businesses on an assigned route. The average city carrier
arrives at the post office at about 7 a.m. They must deal with the day’s
mail, which has already been divided for each letter carrier route. The
mail consists of letters, circulars, magazines, catalogs and small
packages. The carrier’s first task is to "case" any mail that has not
arrived at the post office already arranged in delivery sequence—putting
it into slots in a sorting case arranged by address.
After casing the mail, the carrier either places it in trays in delivery order or bundles it with rubber bands. Then the carrier can begin their route, delivering and collecting mail. Most carriers deliver mail from Postal Service vehicles and carry all of the day’s mail with them. Other city carriers deliver on foot. Their bundles of mail are transported by truck to relay boxes along the route. A letter carrier carries a maximum of 35 pounds in a shoulder satchel, delivering one load of mail and then picking up more at the relay box, until the entire route is delivered. Some carriers roll satchel carts to deliver the mail; they can handle more weight at one time.
Except for a half-hour lunch break and two 10-minute rest breaks, the carrier works steadily until all of the mail is delivered. While out on the route, the carrier works independently, without direct supervision. The average route has over 500 delivery stops, although this figure varies widely depending on the route’s location and volume of mail. Routes in small towns, for example, would have fewer stops than those in an area with many large buildings. City carriers delivering on routes whose customers regularly receive large amounts of mail would not have as many stops as those working on routes with a low volume of mail.
While out on the route, the carrier must do more than simply put mail in mailboxes. Some types of mail require special handling. For example, carriers must get signatures to confirm delivery of such items as registered, certified and insured mail. The carrier also collects postage-due and cash-on-delivery (COD) fees. If a customer is not at home, the carrier leaves a notice indicating where the special mail or parcel can be picked up.
When all the mail is delivered, the carrier returns tothe post office to turn in the mail collected from street letter boxes, homes and businesses, along with any receipts and money. Once they have punched out on the post office time clock, the working day is over. Letter carrier routes should be set up so that office work and mail delivery can be completed in eight hours—usually split between two to three hours of office time and five to six hours of delivery time. Many mail carrier routes, however, frequently require overtime work.
Not every city letter carrier delivers mail door-to-door. Some have specialized jobs such as delivering parcels exclusively or only collecting mail from letter boxes. Others are routers, and case mail all day in the post office. Relay drivers take sorted mail out to relay boxes, where other carriers pick it up and deliver to the appropriate address.
|What are the wages and benefits?|
wages and benefits have been achieved through collective bargaining by
their union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). All
city carriers are free to become members of the NALC, and more than nine
out of ten choose to join.
The NALC negotiates a National Agreement on behalf of all letter carriers that guarantees their wages, benefits, working conditions, and rights on the job. The Agreement contains job security provisions, a grievance procedure to ensure fair treatment, holiday and leave benefits, and many other worker protections.
All letter carriers begin their employment with the postal service as part-time flexible (PTF) employees, working a variable schedule. Some PTFs work fewer than 40 hours per week; others may work lots of overtime. Normally, after a few years, carriers become full-time regulars with a fixed 40-hour-per-week schedule. How long someone remains a PTF varies tremendously depending on the community the carrier serves—some become full-time workers after a few weeks, others wait 10 years or more. Because the mail is delivered six days a week, some carriers have to work on Saturday. These carriers have another day off during the week.
Due to NALC’s collective bargaining achievements, a newly-hired letter carrier earned $17.66 per hour as of November 26, 2005. The National Agreement also provides a regular schedule of salary increases. In approximately 12½ years, a carrier reaches the top of the salary schedule, which stood at $23.05 per hour as of November 26, 2005. Cost-of-living (COLA) adjustments help protect carrier earnings from inflation. All carriers earn time-and-one-half for overtime work (in some circumstances, double-time), and full-time regulars earn premium pay for work performed on holidays.
Letter carriers enjoy secure retirement plans administered by the U.S. government, along with health benefits and life insurance.
The job of a rural letter carrier job is organized differently than that of a city carrier. A different union, the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association, has negotiated a contract for rural carriers. Anyone wishing more information about working as a rural carrier should contact:
|What are the qualifications?|
In order to become a letter carrier, you must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen or have permanent resident alien status, and possess a current driver’s license. Every candidate must pass a physical examination and take a standardized test (USPS Exam 473) which evaluates reading and memory skills. A sample clerk-carrier test can be found in most public libraries. USPS publication 60-A, Test 473 - Orientation Guide for Major Entry Level Jobs includes sample test questions.
Carriers must be honest and reliable because they are responsible for the safe passage of the mail. Good interpersonal skills are needed, as the job demands constant interaction with the public. Carriers answer questions, handle complaints and explain Postal Service products and services to their customers. They must be able to cope with the stress caused by a high volume of work.
Letter carriers must enjoy working outside. They need to be generally healthy, with considerable endurance. An average carrier spends five to six hours every day working in the open, often walking several miles under extreme weather conditions. They should also have the strength to load and unload parcels weighing up to 70 pounds.
|How do you apply?|
Each local post office is responsible for hiring its letter carriers and other postal employees; there is no central location for applications.
To apply, contact your local post office to find out the date and time of the next written test in your area. The USPS website provides additional information about the employment process, including a schedule of exams by state.
After taking the test and receiving a score, you will be placed on a register of eligible applicants. The register is ranked according to test scores, so the better your score, the greater your chances of being hired. If you are not satisfied with your test result, you may retake the test. Only your highest score will be placed on the register.
If a letter carrier position becomes open, the local postmaster picks the successful applicant from the top three scores on the register. Before being hired, the selected candidate then must pass a physical examination.
In recent years, the demand for letter carrier jobs has far exceeded the number of openings—especially in larger metropolitan areas. Competition is keen. Interested applicants must be prepared to wait at least one to two years before being offered a position as a letter carrier. Because of the high demand, the average age of a newly-hired letter carrier is over 30. Your local post office can advise you of the prospects of obtaining a letter carrier job in your area.
Duties and Requirements of a Letter Carrier
|Lifting/Carrying||10 Pounds||70 Pounds||8 or More Hours|
|Sitting||4 or More Hours|
|Standing||6 or More Hours|
|Walking||6 or More Hours|
|Climbing||2 or More Hours|
|Kneeling||2 or More Hours|
|Bending/Stooping||2 or More Hours|
|Twisting||4 or More Hours|
|Pushing/Pulling||2 or More Hours|
|Simple Grasping||8 or More Hours|
|Fine Manipulation||8 or More Hours|
|Reaching Above Shoulder||2 or More Hours|
|Driving a Vehicle||6 or More Hours|
|Temperature Extremes||All types weather||8 or More Hours|
|High Humidity||6 or More Hours|
|Fumes/Dust||3 or More Hours|
Carrier may be required to work up to 10 or 12 hours
per day or longer as service needs require.
Carrier may be required to lift up to 70 lbs from floor to waist height or higher.
LETTER CARRIER DESCRIPTION
As a letter carrier, there are many physical duties and requirements. After the carriers tour of duty begins he/she must inspect their postal vehicle and then retrieve letter and flat mail from the mail distribution case. This mail may weigh from mere ounces to 10 or more pounds. This mail must be lifted and transported by the carrier to their route case for sorting. At the carriers case there are trays and tubs of mail that have been distributed to their route by a distribution clerk. The carriers day begins by loading their case ledge with as much mail as possible. In order to do this the carrier must bend and lift trays and/or tubs of mail off of the floor surrounding their case and place same on their case ledge for sorting as needed. These tubs or trays of mail can weigh 30 or more pounds. The carrier then begins casing this mail into their "U" shaped route case, which is setup in route delivery sequence. On average days this may take from approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours of continuous standing, twisting, turning, and reaching above the shoulder.
The USPS handbook entitled City Delivery Carriers'--Duties and
Responsibilities, states that "the accurate and speedy routing of mail is one of
the most important duties of a carrier; you must be proficient at this task". After casing all available mail for their route the carrier must retrieve
their parcel hamper which is a wheeled container filled with large and small
parcels that may weigh up to 70 lbs. The carrier rolls this hamper to their case
where the carrier then pulls the route down in delivery sequence and places this
trays or tubs and then into their parcel hamper. After this has been completed the carrier must clock onto street time, roll their hamper of mail outside, pick up their DPS Letter trays & proceed to their postal truck and load this mail into their truck or vehicle for street delivery. All mail tubs, trays, and parcels must be lifted by the carrier from their parcel hamper and placed in their vehicle. Loaded mail trays and tubs can weigh as much as 35 pounds or more. All of these duties requires continuous twisting, turning, bending, lifting, and stooping.
STREET & DELIVERY DUTIES:
After completing their office duties and loading their vehicle the carriers street duties begin which may last up 6 hours or much longer. The vast majority of mail routes are park and loop routes, which consists of parking and "looping" mail delivery up one side of the street and then back down the other side carrying their mail in their hands and via a satchel normally hanging over their shoulder filled with up to 35 lbs. of additional mail and parcels. The carrier returns to their vehicle when completing each park and loop. He then moves the vehicle to the next park and loop point. These "park and loops" can subject the carrier to all types of terrain from concrete to sand to mud, from hilly to flat grounds, rugged rock filled paths, or normal downtown street sidewalks. Naturally, the carrier performs all of these street duties in all types of weather. Their park and loops may expose them to walking on snow or ice covered terrain, as well as rain soaked ground cover.
The carrier is required to be able to lift up to 70 pounds - in the office or while on the street. Street duties require constant bending, twisting, stooping, lifting and climbing of stairs or hills in all types of weather. All of these duties exposes the carriers body to constant pressure upon feet and knees and upper and lower body.
Why should I join the Union?
The National Association of Letter Carriers is the sole representative of city delivery letter carriers in the United States. Since it was founded in 1889, the union has defended the rights of letter carriers before abusive supervisors, unfair administrations and indifferent Congresses. The NALC is the only force fighting to protect your interests as a city delivery letter carrier. But most of all, the NALC is hundreds of thousands of letter carriers like you, united to protect the quality of their jobs and the integrity of the United States Postal Service.
Since 1889, the NALC has helped win every pay increase and improvement in benefits letter carriers have gained. Before 1970, the union had to persuade Congress to pass a law to raise letter carriers' pay. But with passage of the Postal Reorganization Act in that year, the NALC won letter carriers the right to bargain over wages, benefits and working conditions. Since then, the average letter carrier's pay has gone from $8,000 a year to $45,094.
The Postal Service can be an impersonal and sometimes hostile bureaucracy. Yet because of the NALC, letter carriers can fight unwarranted discipline, discrimination and other abuses. When you have a grievance, the NALC will represent you every step of the way. On the local level, the NALC stewards iron out day-to-day problems and keep an eye on safety and health conditions in the station.
Stewards and branch officers provide strong support when you file a grievance procedure— including third party arbitration if necessary. On the national level, a computerized arbitration index assists NALC representatives in preparing your grievance. In addition, the union takes disputes with the Postal Service over the interpretation of the contract to Arbitration. The NALC has helped thousands of letter carriers win reinstatement, back pay, unpaid overtime and seniority rights.
The NALC is one of the most democratic unions in the United States. Members vote directly for local and national officers and on proposed contracts. The convention, held every two years, is the supreme body of the union, where members elected to serve as delegates chart the course of the union and set NALC policy. Today, NALC is more that 300,000 active and retired letter carriers in 2,561 branches across the country. National headquarters officers in Washington, D.C. keep an eye on congress and the USPS. Fifteen National Business Agents coordinate activities within their postal regions; state associations promote grassroots legislative campaigns. Union members can speak out at branch meetings, vote in local and national union elections, run for office and work for policies and programs they support.
What does the NALC and Branch 193 do for me?
8 hour day
* We also OWN our office building and lease office space. This helps build and strengthen our branch funds.
How much are the dues?
NO initiation fees!
Active member: Bi-weekly $26.72
Retiree: Yearly $7.68
How do I join?
To join the union, talk to your NALC Shop Steward in your station. He or she will give you a PS Form 1187 to fill out for NALC membership. If you don't know how to reach your station shop steward, call the branch office at 408-288-8138
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"NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN
This website is offered to all Branch 193 Letter Carriers as a "Resource"
and "Reference" Guide only.