CARRIERS PROTEST OUTSOURCING AT POSTAL HQ
April 16, 2007
Your friendly letter carrier may soon be a thing
of the past. The Postal Service’s push to
privatize and outsource letter carriers was
targeted by a rally of hundreds of carriers
Monday afternoon at Postal Service headquarters
at L’Enfant Plaza, organized by the National
Association of Letter Carriers (NALC). “Do we
really want low-bidder unscreened people coming
to our doors every day?” NALC Branch 210
President Ken Lerch asked, pointing out that
letter carriers – who are now trained,
professional and unionized – know who’s home and
who’s not in neighborhoods across the country.
Contracted-out letter carriers would have no
benefits, no leave, retirement or medical
coverage under the Postal Services plan,
according to the NALC, which will be working
closely with community organizations to oppose
the privatization plan.
Make no mistake about it - USPS is quickly
selling off mail delivery to private contractors
and it seems that neither the city letter
carriers union or the rural carriers union can
Contract routes have existed for a
long time with USPS via what are officially
called Highway Contract Routes or HCR's -
previously called Star Routes. For years HCR
routes would pickup and deliver mail between
small associate offices and USPS processing
centers - they WOULD NOT normally make house to
house deliveries like city carriers or rural
Of course there were, and are, instances where
official USPS letter carriers traditionally
cannot access an area to deliver mail - an
example of such an area would be delivery to the
bottom of the Grand Canyon or delivery to remote
locations in Alaska.
But, in 2003 USPS changed the official
designation of HCR routes. Read below.
The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) defines carrier
routes like this:
Carrier Route - The addresses to which a
carrier delivers mail. In common usage, carrier
route includes city routes, rural routes,
highway contract routes,
post office box sections, and general delivery
The DMM regarding Highway Contract Routes:
2.3 Highway Contract Delivery Service
Highway contract routes are established, and
delivery service on such routes is provided,
according to USPS policies and procedures, the
characteristics of the area to be served, and
the methods needed to provide adequate service.
Requests or petitions for new routes, or for
extensions of service or changes in the line of
travel or schedule of highway contract service,
must be directed to the USPS distribution
networks office with supervision over the
transportation of mail in the area involved.
USPS Publication 32 defines Highway Contract
Highway Contract Route (HCR) - A route of travel
served by a postal contractor to carry mail over
highways between designated points. Some HCRs
include mail delivery to addresses along the
line of travel. Formerly called star route.
Pub. 32 also addresses HRC pay:
Highway Contract Route Transportation Pay Cycle
(HCR-TPC) - A 28-day (4-week) period that forms
one-thirteenth of the fiscal year. It begins on
a Saturday and ends at the close of business on
the Friday 28 days (4 weeks) later.
As stated, the primary duty of HCR routes,
previously, was to pickup and deliver mail
between associate offices and larger cities or
P&DC's. Previous to what you may ask - previous
to USPS changing the meaning and scope of HCR's
via the Postal Operations Manual - which is
updated through the Postal Bulletin.
The September 2003 Issue
of the Postal Bulletin addressed
the following changes made to the USPS POM
regarding HCR routes:
Highway Contract Service
Effective September 4, 2003, the Postal Operations Manual (POM) is
revised slightly to clarify language regarding highway contract service.
5 Mail Transportation
53 Highway Contract Service
[Revise the last sentence of the paragraph by replacing the first
word ("Policies") and the verb "are" with "Procedural guidance" and the
verb "is," to read as follows:]
*** Procedural guidance regarding highway contracts is contained
in Handbook PO-513, Mail Transportation Procurement Handbook.
532 Types of Service
[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.
So, thus began the move by USPS to contract out delivery - without
having to deal with carrier unions.
Does your office have contract routes? HCR routes? tell us about it and we
will post your comments on this page:
The Postal Service adds 1.8 million delivery points a year. Servicing
those new points in the most fiscally responsible manner is important to
our customers and our bottom line. Contract Delivery Service (CDS) is a
contract agreement between the Postal Service and a private individual or
firm for the delivery and collection of mail from homes and businesses.
CDS and rural routes are similar, but historically, USPS has been able to
provide CDS at a lesser cost per delivery, per day.
To help get the most out of CDS, a team from Rural Delivery and Surface
Transportation established guidelines to handle new growth. The guidelines
call for considering all services — city, rural and CDS — when
establishing delivery for new delivery points. The guidance includes cost
evaluation tools to help team members arrive at a decision. Establishing
new delivery points was moved from the Postmaster level to the District
level and a growth management coordinator was identified for each
district. Six training sessions were conducted for contracting and
So how's it working? The percentage of annual growth of new delivery
points for CDS increased from 1% to 4%. The total annual cost avoidance by
using CDS instead of rural delivery for 58,131 new delivery points in FY
2005 was $3,234,702. The total contract savings for the four-year period
is nearly $13 million.
See USPS For More on Contract Delivery Services
What is a Star Route?
Legislation establishing new mail service in 1845
called for contractors to carry the mail with
“celerity, certainty, and security.”
Star Route Service - Nat. Postal
Highway Contract Routes or HCR Routes - Brief History
More than 150 years ago, postal officials tried a new approach to
expand the nation’s mail service. The Post Office Department hired
contractors to serve the new routes and allowed them to use any form of
transportation to carry the mail. Snowshoes, mules, canoes, trucks,
dogsleds and stagecoaches are just a few of the ways mail has been carried
across America’s valleys, mountains, rivers and highways along this
network - known as “Star Routes” - ever since.
“Star Routes” got their name because legislation establishing the new
mail service called for contractors to carry the mail with “celerity,
certainty, and security.” Weary of repeatedly writing these words in
ledgers, postal clerks substituted three asterisks “* * *” and the phrase
“Star Route” was born. “Star Routes” were renamed “Highway Contract
Routes” in 1970, but they are still known by their original name today.
Star Routes were renamed Highway Contract Routes in 1970 but are still
known by their original name today. Continued next column >
get the mail through, “Snowshoe” Thompson weathered huge snowdrifts on
U.S. Mail Coach
Source: National Postal Museum
Star Route contractors, the "best" technology was the one that fit the
route. Over the years, Star Route mail carriers have discovered many
diverse and effective methods of moving the mail. In 1948, the Post Office
Department began experimenting with long-haul trucking for Star Routes.
Today, these routes cover more mileage than any other category of mail
transportation and move 90 percent of the U.S. mail.
So - where are Highway Contract Routes Being
It seems the list WAS growing - until we posted
the Craigslist.org ads that USPS managers/postmasters had posted there. It
seems that once the news was out - these folks deleted their ads.
Does your office have contract routes? HCR routes? tell us about it and
we will post your comments on this page:
USPS offers Contract Delivery Services
information to private companies, and
individuals who qualify, via their
Doing Business With Us section of
their website - among other avenues. See
Contract Delivery Service
USPS Statement on Contract Delivery Service
Contract Delivery Service is one of the
three delivery types. Mail delivery service is provided by either
city carriers, rural carriers, or contract carriers.
Contract Delivery Service carriers are not USPS
employees but are independent contractors who provide service on
The service provided by Contract Delivery Service is equal to that
provided by either one of the other delivery types.
Contract suppliers not only deliver all classes
and types of mail to their customers’ mailboxes six days per week, but
they can also sell stamps and accept Special Services Mail such as
Certified Mail, Registered Mail, and Insured Mail, and sell Postal Money
Orders. Customers can also take advantage of Carrier Pickup on Contract
Delivery Service routes.
USPS tells prospective HCR contractors:
If you or your company are interested in
becoming a highway contractor, please complete
5436, Mailing List Application -
Mail Transportation Services, provided in this
publication and mail it to the contracting
officer at the area office that serves you or
your company. To determine the appropriate
office, see the list of area offices and the ZIP
Codes™ they serve. Enter on the form the type of
routes you are interested in, the type of
equipment you operate, and the places where you
are interested in providing service. The Postal
Service will enter the information from your
completed form into its database of interested
offerors. The Postal Service will notify you by
letter when contract opportunities matching the
information on the form are available.
Does your office have contract routes? HCR routes? tell us about it and we
will post your comments on this page:
I retired Nov 1st of last year as a city letter carrier with over 32
years in the pig pen....I have to give postal management credit though,
because, I was already offered one of those "contract positions" if, and
when they become available....since I live in a larger metro area, the ex
boss said that first targeted to be contracted were auxie routes,
apartment complexes, and new construction, or growth areas!
First question is this....If the UNION aka NALC was so concerned about
this, why does it seem now after all of "curlys" balyhooing that nothing
will be done to prevent it????
Second, does the PO REALLY think that I want to come back as a part
time contractor, make less money, possibly endanger my pension or
benefits, and, have to work at the PO EVERY SATURDAY?
I can laugh, because I am retired, but the rest of you remaining better
take this caca seriously, even if you think you are "protected" or it
doesn't affect you at this time!
Everyone dragging their feet on settling a new contract is a good
thing, at least we all know that until a new one is ratified, or
arbitrated, the conditions of the old agreement still apply across the
board, but, be real leery of a contract that the PO agrees to, and your
union trying to convince you that it is good, or in your best
interest...arbitration seems to me to be the best way to go.
from: Mark the Mailman
There are two HCR routes in my office and I
think they should be converted to Rural routes. The carriers won't get out
of their vehicles to deliver parcels and most of the time they leave them
in the office and don't take them to the route. They get customer
complaints often. The customers don't understand HCR delivery. They just
expect service and they don't get it.
If they were Rural routes, they would get the service. But we know this
won't happen because of the BIG NUMBERS MONEY!!!!!
I thought CUSTOMER SERVICE was our business?!?!?
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