Postal Service, Losing Billions, Pays Millions to Idle Workers

Tuesday, 30 Aug 2011 12:31 PM

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Despite facing $9 billion in losses this year, the U.S. Postal Service is paying out millions to thousands of workers doing nothing. However, the numbers are down from two years ago, The Washington Post reported.

Postal Service, idle, workers, billions, millionsThe payments are made under a labor agreement governing “standby time,” which prohibits layoffs or reassignments for employees during times when equipment is broken or there is low mail volume. Under the agreements, the workers must show up for work and spend their shift in a break room or cafeteria, the Post blog the Federal Eye reported.

Standby time amounted to 170,666 hours in the first six months of 2011, according to a Postal Service Inspector General’s Office audit. The idle time cost $4.3 million. In 2009, 1.2 million hours were billed, costing $30.9 million, the Post reported.

“At a time when the Postal Service is challenged to operate more efficiently, monitoring standby time is critical to ensuring their ability to effectively manage the workforce,” the report said.

Supervisors rarely used the standby option until 2009, when mail volume began to drop dramatically, according to the Post.


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