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In addition to shifting from a receipts base to a revenue unit base, H.R. 7552 also proposes to shift the dates for classifying offices. At present, classification of office is based on receipts earned in a calendar year. However, almost all other accounting dates pertain to the end of a fiscal year. H.R. 7552 would shift the accounting for total receipts to a fiscal year base. Salary changes for postmasters following the annual review of their positions would then become effective as of the beginning of the pay period following January 1, instead of July 1 as at present. This should result in some savings in administrative costs.
(2) COMPENSATION OF POSTMASTERS IN FOURTH-CLASS POST OFFICES
Last year during the course of hearings on Postal Service and Federal Employees Salary Act, Mr. Day, then Postmaster General, and I presented the need for a substantial salary increase for our lowest paid employees.
As a matter of fact, gentlemen, the fourth-class office postmaster is the lowest paid of any Federal employee. Our postmasters in fourthclass post offices receive today a pay rate that is much less than the pay of janitors, laborers, charwomen, elevator operators, and others needing little or no skill and who have absolutely no financial, postal, or community relations responsibilities. In terms of their hourly rate, they are among the lowest paid employees in the entire Federal civilian service. In order for these postmasters to receive the minimum wage of $1.15 per hour, we have had to reduce their minimum number of hours of daily service. For example, if the postmaster receives $820 a year, the minimum daily number of hours of duty for the postmaster is 2 hours and 30 minutes.
As you can readily see, that is no way to run a post office. First, the hours of service of a post office should not be tied to the salary received by the postmaster but to the postal service needs of the community. If the needs require at least 4 hours a day of service, we ought to provide 4 hours a day of service. Secondly, I believe it is obvious that we ought to pay any postmaster a rate which will recognize the requirements and responsibilities we place on him. Surely he should not be our lowest paid employee. Surely he should rate above a clerk.
Last year, as a first step toward reforming the pay treatment accorded to postmasters in fourth-class offices, we proposed a new wage schedule, using as its base the minimum wage of $1.25 per hour and with minimum required duty of 2 hours a day. This small beginning, nonetheless, would have resulted in about a 26-percent average increase for this group of employees. That is how far behind they had fallen over the years. However, the bill that was finally enacted—the Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962—only granted this group a flat 10-percent increase in schedule I, and another 5 percent in schedule II. Postmasters in fourth-class post offices still are inadequately paid.
H.R. 7552, which embodies the President's pay recommendations, proposes an entirely new approach which we think is eminently fair.
It is fair to the public since it puts them on a par above the typical clerk and into the postmaster pay category. The proposal in H.R. 7552 is to
1. Èliminate the fourth-class salary schedule entirely.
2. Assign each postmaster at a fourth-class office to the lowest PFS level for postmasters. That is level PFS-5.
3. Pay these postmasters a pro rata amount of the annual rate for PFS-5 which will equate with the postal needs of the patrons of that office. For example, if the service needs of that office require 4 hours a day of operations, then the postmaster would receive one-half the annual salary of PFS-5 on the assumption that an ordinary business day is 8 hours. The workweek would still be Monday through Saturday, or 6 days a week.
4. Continue the allowance a postmaster receives for rent, light, fuel, and equipment. However, the 15-percent allowance would be based on step 1 of PFS-5 rather than any other step rate which the postmaster may have earned for time in his level. Further, this 15-percent allowance would not go automatically to the posmaster. Instead, the Postmaster General would have the option of either furnishing the necessary facilities or giving the postmaster the allowance if we cannot furnish the facilities. This is a necessary change in that it can only result in the use of better quarters for the conduct of postal business.
(3) FEES FOR SPECIAL DELIVERY MAIL
In our first-class post offices, special delivery mail is delivered by letter carriers or special delivery messengers. They receive no fee for delivering this mail since they are either on an hourly or annual pay schedule. The pay they receive is unrelated to the fee on the letter or the number of pieces they deliver.
In second-, third-, and fourth-class offices the Department has been authorized to pay persons who deliver specials an amount specified by law. That law, which has not been changed since March 2, 1931, provides these schedules :
(1) Nine cents for first-class mail weighing not more than 2 pounds. (2) Ten cents for other mail weighing not more than 2 pounds.
(3) Fourteen cents for mail of any class weighing more than 2 pounds, but not more than 10 pounds.
(4) Twenty cents for mail of any class weighing more than 10 pounds.
As a matter of fact, I learned this morning, Mr. Chairman, just before coming over here, by reading the Postmaster's Advocate, that the special delivery fees were not changed but once in 75 years, and that was a 1 penny increase in 1931, from 8 cents to 9 cents.
Because the fees prescribed by law have not changed since 1931, in small offices we have not been able to give the full service that a patron expects in all cases to be given to special delivery mail. At today's prices 9 cents for an errand is ridiculous. If you send a small boy
down to the corner bakery for a loaf of bread, you usually give him a dime for the errand. Here then is what oftentimes happens in a small office when a special comes in:
It is given to the rural carrier if the delivery is on his route.
The postmaster telephones the patron and asks him to come to the office.
The postmaster delivers the letter later in the day. When a patron is sufficiently interested in the timely delivery of his letters to the extent of buying a 30-cent special delivery stamp in addition to his 5-cent stamp, then we owe him the service he expects. Specials should not be waiting in an office until someone gets around to making delivery, because we cannot pay enough for prompt delivery. In 1931 first-class mail was 2 cents an ounce and specials were 10 cents more. In effect, the person who made delivery received nine-tenths of the extra cost.
Section 119 of H.R. 7552 provides a means for increasing the fee payable to persons delivering specials. That section would permit the Postmaster General to declare what the fee might be at any period of time provided the fee does not exceed the postal rate for special delivery. I think such authority is administratively sound in that it gives us latitude to obtain service, but within a standard set by Congress.
That, Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee, represents our thoughts on the pay changes needed to update the postal field service. You will note that most of my testimony has dealt with postal administration matters and not with salary schedules, as such. As we move along the path of comparability with private enterprise and the technique for the application of comparability becomes a settled issue, we hope we can spend more time on the improvement of postal salary administration within the framework of the precepts of Federal Salary Reform Act of 1962.
I did also want to add, Mr. Chairman, that we do have here for the committee's benefit a copy of the schedules currently in use, the ones proposed by schedule II of the salary increase bill of last year, the proposed schedules in H.R. 7552, Mr. Udall's bill, and the proposed schedules in H.R. 7799, Mr. Olsen's bill.
(The schedules referred to follow :)
Comparison of pay schedules, postal field service-past, present, and proposed
July 9, 1960-