Home > USPS Contracting Out Mail Delivery


USPS Contracting Out Mail Delivery

PostalMag.com, 2/27/2007

According to feedback received at PostalMag.com, the USPS is becoming more aggressive in contracting out mail delivery to the private sector. This move by the USPS is going largely unnoticed in the postal world, though the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) has been fighting the encroachment behind the scenes, but to little avail. Reportedly, the contracting out issue doomed a recent NALC/USPS contract agreement.

The USPS is expanding the contracting out of mail delivery through the use of Highway Contract Routes (HCRs). In the past, HCRs were restricted to sparsely populated areas with a density of less than one customer per mile driven. However, the USPS revised its policies in 2003:
POSTAL BULLETIN 22110 (9-4-03)
Highway Contract Service
Effective September 4, 2003, the Postal Operations Manual (POM) is revised
slightly to clarify language regarding Highway Contract Service. We will
incorporate these revisions into the printed version of POM 10 and also into
the online version of the POM.
532 Types of Service
532.1 General
Revise the last sentence of the paragraph by deleting the last four words,
"in sparsely populated areas," to read as follows:
"Box delivery routes are similar to rural delivery service and provide home
or business delivery of mail."
Having heard little on the subject ourselves, we asked readers of PostalMag.com what they knew. We immediately started receiving feedback from different areas of the country that the USPS is indeed using HCRs to contract out mail delivery. Here is some of the feedback:
WASHINGTON: "The USPS is putting contract delivery routes in cities like Puyallup, WA, population 35,690! The local NALC branch has been notified that 300 townhouses in one new subdivision will be delivered by a contract carrier. This is NOT a sparsely populated area. The streets have sidewalks and the townhouses are close together."
NEVADA: "Yes the post office is trying to contract out at least city deliveries in order to reduce the union (NALC) craft. The Postal Office say its only new address but they are doing it in the middle of a city, (supposedly 4 hrs or more ) but this is not always true. This has always been city carrier (NALC) territory but the Post Office says there is nothing in our contract that prevents them from doing this. This is also the reason why we did not settle our contract because the Board of Governors did not want to agree not to contract out. I also feel that this is because we (NALC) was instrumental in getting Postal Reform passed which limits what the board can do. These routes are similar to HCRs in that anyone can bid on the routes. There was an instance in Las Vegas in which one person bid on the route, then sold it to someone else who sold it to someone else who never showed up to deliver the mail. City Carriers had to do so on overtime. Many more nightmares beside this all in the name of supposedly saving money but reduction in rates. The NALC is working on fixing this through our contract negotiations or through Congress if needed."
ARIZONA: "Just letting you know i am in a level 20 office in Maricopa, AZ one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. All routes from now on in our office are becoming HCR. We are talking new communities with 1000 to 3000 new homes per community. Already talked to state steward they said there is nothing that can be done this is coming down from the national level. Hard to get new subs they see no future unless 1 of us retires."
FLORIDA: "I deliver mail out of the Hollywood, Florida area. Hollywood has 8 branches, which they deliver to the following cities, Hollywood, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, and  the Miramar area.  Hollywood facilities have about 3 contract routes now. One of the contract routes which is out of the 33025 zip code, has had 3 carriers on there over the first 5 months. I think someone owns the route and hires the people to deliver the mail.
Also down in the Hollywood Beach area, they are building at least 8-10 building on the beach with around 600 apartments inside. All those are going to be contracted out.
Hollywood has around 152,000 residents, Miramar is growing so fast I could only guess (100,000), Cooper City has around 31,000 residents, and Pembroke Pines has 151,000 residents.
There is really no rural areas left, they have built all the way to the Everglades. All these cities are on the south end of Broward County FL."
LOCATION NOT KNOWN: "YOU BETTER BELIEVE they have started this crap. In my district the PM has to go to the district before any new developments get delivery. If it's over 40 units it is getting contracted out. I know of one new development that should be rural delivery that is being contracted out. When finished this will have near 1,000 new deliveries. I understand it will be broken into 2 contracts.
Look for identity and mail theft to go through the roof. There is nothing to stop a contractor from "subcontracting" his route to some illegal and pay him as little as possible.
The public is clueless on this. Hopefully NALC will get congressional help to stop this travesty.
Every supervisor and PM I have talked to says this is a BAD IDEA."
WASHINGTON: "I've heard that a separate contractor for each box delivery route isn't working well. I'm almost certain the USPS wants ONE contractor per area (meaning facility or zip code) that then hires several individuals to work for him. That reduces the USPS Supply Dept's workload supervising contractors as there would be fewer of them.

Some contract box delivery routes are manned with couples (husband & wife, father & son, mother & daughter, etc). One drives on the left and one sits on the right stuffing mailboxes. Would city carriers like working in teams if they could? It would be like "Amazing Race" in each office.

Unlike city carriers, contractors don't have to set their brakes, turn off the ignition, lock their doors or turn their front wheels constantly. The manual they follow is Handbook P-5, Highway Contract Routes." http://www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/hand/p5/

- Don Cheney
Letter carriers protest plan for Beaverton-area contractor
"The U.S. Postal Service plans to hire a contractor to deliver mail in the Arbor Parc subdivision north of Beaverton, a move that is believed to be a first for the Portland area but is criticized by the letter carriers' union. In a letter to the union, Beaverton Postmaster John Lee said the agency thinks it can save $33,878 a year by using a contractor to serve the growing subdivision." Beaverton: Stop Contracting Out - Join The Picket Line March 15 (PDF) - Guest Opinion: Mail delivery shouldn't be contracted out
LONDONDERRY, NEW HAMPSHIRE: Rural Carrier: "We have 19 rural routes in our office, and until just a few weeks ago, no HCR'S. Ours is not your traditional HCR and that should scare all of us. We have a direct mailing company called Herrington. This delivery has ALWAYS been delivered by an RCA, and since about 2 years ago, they also took care of the Express by noontime pieces. They also in the evening did the collections in town. This was about an eight hour day for a sub, although it was  a split shift type deal. This whole job has now been bid out and is an HCR of sorts. Not a real "route" but a lot of different jobs that gave subs hours. Now we have someone doing this Mon-Fri who hasn't a clue. There has been a grievance filed by both the NRLCA and the clerks union on this HCR."
PostalMag asked for clarification on several points in the above submission. The response:
"Yes, all the express we receive in the am is now delivered by the HCR. We only see it for second attempts. All pm collection boxes and 2 postal stores (like mailboxes etc) are picked up by the HCR.  Herrington is a large catalog company that has MANY parcel returns, sometimes as many as 4 full LLV's full (Mondays) The HCR person drives a new SUV and makes many trips everyday to this business. This is a Mon-Fri job for this person, usually 7 to 8 hours per day, money out of the RCA's pockets. I can't wait to see what happens the first time this person doesn't show up for work."
USPS memo indicates new growth in area will be contracted out to a CDS (Contract Delivery Service Route or Contract Delivery Supplier), which appears to be similar to an HCR:
"The most cost effective method of delivering mail is a CDS (Contract Delivery Service Route). The Postal Service has implemented that all new growth will be entered on CDS routes. Therefore Mid-America is going to comply. Below is Clarification for all future growth in Mid America. Postmasters, Station Managers and Supervisors are going to have to be pro-active and contact xxx xxxxx and xxx xxxxx when they need a CDS route established. Contact your city or county and get projected new growth, plat maps and addresses prior to development in your Delivery area/ZIP. If you have new subdivisions/phases/highrises/developments or substantial new future growth that will result in at least 1 hour within the next year, contact xxx xxxxx and copy xxx xxxxx. AMS will need to create a CDS (H000) route to put this future growth on in your office. Then you will need to send AMS at the address list, include the delivery mode, business/residential and cell size needed. A 4003 will then need to be created in order for xxx to send to the Area to request a contract for this route
New deliveries added to a CDS route do NOT need Area approval.
New deliveries added to existing HCR routes do NOT need Area approval
NEW ADDRESSES ON CITY OR RURAL ROUTES NEED TO BE APPROVED BY AREA- If you need to add single delivery points to a city or rural route, you must answer the following questions for each delivery point you request to add to a city or rural route.
1.Is this a single delivery point that is NOT part of a new subdivision/phases/highrise/development or substantial new future growth that will result in at least 1 hour within the next year?
2.Does the carrier already deliver this block range?
3.Is this in the carriers existing line of travel?

(Source: Message by unknown person on a rural carrier message board.)

PostalMag.com note: The Mid America USPS district is located in Missouri. See these job notices posted at CraigsList.org
Contract Delivery Supplier wanted by USPS in Kansas City, Kansas
Contract Delivery Supplier wanted by USPS in Springfield, Missouri
If you have information on the subject please send to contact@postalmag.com. Thanks to the readers who responded with the information above.
Related information:
USPS - Contract Delivery Service
Spokane, WA. Job Listing: Be an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR for the USPS


Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy

Copyright PostalMag.com, All Rights Reserved