May 05, 2023

Wyden, Brown, Sanders, Warren, Fetterman and Markey Call For Delay in New Rural Carrier Evaluation System, Raise Concerns about Use of Flawed Technology to Track Carriers

Nearly 14,000 Carriers Will See Major Pay Cuts, Threatening Quality of Rural Mail Service And Harming Federal Workers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., with Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., John Fetterman, D-Pa., and Edward Markey, D-Mass., called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to delay pay cuts for thousands of rural letter carriers slated to go into effect under a new U.S. Postal Service policy. 

The senators voiced concerns about the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS), an automated system to determine carrier pay, in part by tracking carriers using a mobile scanning device that has been rife with errors. Those problems could undermine efforts to hire new rural carriers and hurt reliability of mail service in rural areas that depend on the Postal Service for medicine, books, legal documents and other essentials. 

“We understand that the decision to build RRECS was not made unilaterally by USPS, but it is critical that USPS fixes the known issues with the system before implementation,” the senators wrote to DeJoy. “In the longer-term, we urge USPS to work with rural letter carriers to reduce the system’s impact on carrier working conditions. At a time when USPS is struggling to deliver mail to rural areas, due in part to an inability to recruit rural letter carriers, we fear that RRECS’ impact on working conditions and pay will further deteriorate a vital service to our rural communities.”

The new evaluation system is expected to result in major pay cuts to roughly 14,000 rural letter carriers. Roughly 66 percent of rural routes are expected to receive pay cuts, with only 28 percent seeing increases under the new system, according to the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association.

The members also asked DeJoy to respond to the following questions:

  1. Will USPS commit to sharing data requested by the National Rural Letter Carrier Association to validate that RRECS is correctly evaluating carrier routes? 
  2. Will USPS commit to providing rural carriers fast, effective, and transparent means to dispute and correct inaccurate data about their routes by the time RRECS is implemented?    
  3. If such a dispute and correction mechanism reveals that a route has been incorrectly assessed by RRECS, resulting in lost pay for a rural carrier, will USPS commit to making retroactive payment for any wages owed within 30 days? 
  4. Will USPS make public justifications for how and why time standards for daily tasks have been shortened in RRECS from their prior time allotment under the existing system, and offer carriers the ability to challenge those standards so that they reflect how long each task takes in practice? 
  5. How does RRECS accommodate workers with disabilities who may need more time than the system allows to complete daily route activities? 
  6. What steps is USPS taking to ensure that issues with Mobile Delivery Device scanner flaws are addressed, including that the scanners often lose signal in large buildings and rural areas? 
  7. What steps is USPS taking to ensure that when carriers service a Cluster Box Unit their time and activities are properly taken into account by RRECS? 
  8. What additional training is USPS prepared to offer carriers and managers to ensure their routes are properly evaluated by RRECS?
  9. Will USPS guarantee that the presence of monitoring technologies will not extend beyond the scope of what has been mandated for the implementation of RRECS?
  10. What steps is USPS taking to improve recruitment and retention of letter carriers to ensure that delivery of critical mail like medicine and disability payments are not significantly delayed in rural communities?

Read the full letter here.