The theme song for union executives these days really needs to be the old Dire Straits classic, Money for Nothing.

There is a strange agreement at the United States Postal Service which was struck a couple of years ago between the unions and management which deals with work done by supervisors at the Post Office. As in any shop, there are times when the supervisor needs to roll up their sleeves and pitch in on the grunt work to get the job done. This apparently applies to the Post Office as well. But much of the line work is “reserved” for union members and the supervisors aren’t supposed to be doing it. The “resolution” to this problem (which could only be construed as a problem in the mind of a union organizer) was to force the USPS to pay union workers anyway even if they didn’t perform any work. (Government Executive)

The U.S. Postal Service is allowing salaried supervisors to conduct work set aside for union employees, according to a new report, forcing the agency to waste millions of dollars annually on unnecessary payments.

An agreement between the American Postal Workers Union and USPS in 2014 that settled a 40-year dispute between labor and management capped the number of hours a postmaster or supervisor at certain post offices can spend performing work typically reserved for bargaining unit employees at 15 per week. When the management workers surpass that threshold, the Postal Service is forced to pay the corresponding hourly wages to a clerk picked out by the union.

Read that last sentence carefully. If a manager does more than some minimal amount of “reserved” work in the interest of meeting their deadlines, additional pay must be forked over to a clerk “picked out by the union.” You might be thinking that this is probably some exceptional circumstance which doesn’t crop up very often, so what’s the big deal, right? Well, the Post Office Inspector General just released a report showing that it’s not only common, but prevalent. Supervisors worked 83,000 hours over the union mandated limit at a cost of $11.2M to the struggling institution.

Many individual clerks “selected” by the union bosses did quite well for themselves… perhaps too well.

The IG said the payments were, in some cases, “unnecessary and fraudulent.”

Individual clerks earned up to nearly $32,000 in hourly pay they did not work, the IG found. The payments occurred in more than 90 percent of Postal Service districts.

Out here in New York we’re used to terms such as no show, low show and no work jobs, but they generally come to us from organized crime outfits. If there is so much work to be done at 90% of the offices that supervisors have to spend more than fifteen hours per week doing the tasks assigned to their employees, why aren’t they assigning more workers to those stations? Further, if the USPS is so frequently operating in the red (which is not entirely their own fault, by the way, because… Congress), how could they agree to a deal where they pay people who, in some cases, were on leave when the actual work was done?

Good work if you can get it, eh? Or lack of work in this case.

Postal Service