Although many are mystified by his mysterious moniker, Mel Carriere is a San Diego mailman who writes about the mail, among other things.
Box of the Day
Caveat - The author no longer subscribes to the negative views of City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) expressed in this article, but leaves this post in publication to demonstrate his transition from ignorance to enlightenment. He apologizes for his errors in thinking.
The United States Postal Service's War Against Employee Intelligence
Nothing personal, my fellow letter carriers and other postal employees, but the Postal Service thinks that you are stupid.
You might find this a rather shocking thing to say, but it is demonstrated clearly by the creation of the new CCA class of employees. Not only are these employees paid at a ridiculously low wage rate, but there are no efforts made to assess their intelligence level before hiring. In other words, my friends, the Postal Service thinks that you are just a mindless mule to haul the mail, and has little appreciation for the initiative you take and the judgements and assessments you make on a daily basis to ensure proper delivery of the US Mail.
This seems odd, because the majority of Postal managers started off as craft employees themselves and would be quick to point out the depth of their own intelligence, an assertion that is not always reflected in reality, as demonstrated by the state of the Service's bottom line. But I am not here to insult anyone or to point fingers. I am here to expose the horrible slap in the face that the CCA represents to those of us who are forced to use our brains and think on our feet every day, often times in order to forestall the negative consequences of bad decisions made by our superiors.
When I applied for the Postal Service back in the early 90s, there was still an active effort to hire employees who had a reasonable level of intelligence. At that time the post office was still conducting civil service examinations, and these were highly competitive. I took my own test at the Scottish Rites Center in San Diego, where there were thousands of people on hand to take the examination, but from these thousands perhaps only one or two hundred people were ultimately selected. At that time the test had two portions; an address comparison section and a memory for addresses section. On the latter portion, the applicant was given just a few minutes to memorize a set of boxes containing address ranges. After this time had expired the book containing the memorized portion was closed and the applicant was tested on the data in the memorized boxes. Certainly there were techniques for mastering the Memory for Addresses section, but even the techniques required the ability to effectively organize and then analyze items drawn from memory. It was an effective way to weed out those who did not have the mental aptitude for the job.
Why should being a letter carrier require mental aptitude, you non postal types in the audience might ask. The answer is that a letter carrier is forced to make dozens of quick decisions on a daily basis. Even finding addresses on the street at times is a tricky challenge. The other day I was asked to deliver an express mail to an area I had not been to in years. Although I had forgotten exactly where the street on the address was, I was able to "triangulate" the location based on the block range of the address and other details that I pulled from my memory of the area. I figured it out for myself, in other words, without having to call the supervisor and bother them to pull up a map for me. This is just one example of the myriad of decisions that a letter carrier must make on a daily basis. Productivity in the postal service is enchanced when letter carriers are able to "think on their feet" and figure things out for themselves. Since postal supervisors are grossly overworked; being plagued with myriads of reports that are mostly redundant busy work, having letter carriers that are able to work on their own is a boon to them as well.
In the past, the Postal Service was also in the practice of hiring significant numbers of military veterans. Although many postal employees grumble about the bias toward veterans within its ranks, military vets have also been trained to think on their feet and make decisions for themselves in stressful situations. They have been trained to analyze data and make quick decisions based upon this data. Whether it is acknowledged by those who work on "Mahoghany Row," as the brain trust working on the upper deck of our processing facility is known, making quick decisions is essential for success as a letter carrier.
All of the above are factors that seem to be missing in the new CCAs, or City Carrier Associates for those of you who are not up to speed on the voluminous list of postal acronyms. In the first place, the CCAs are not selected based on test scores. Secondly, for the most part not only are they not selected from among military veterans, but most of them seem to be kids in their early twenties, with very little experience in anything. A few even appear to have questionable immigration status, speak only rudimentary English, and are as lost as Hansel and Gretel within the American street numbering system. One CCA I worked with did not comprehend the difference between even and odd numbers. I was trying to explain to this employee that odd numbered addresses in San Diego are typically on the South and East sides of streets, and even numbers are on the North and West sides, but my explanation was met with a blank stare. Yet these are among the challenges we are facing with the new CCAs, and these CCAs are the people we are entrusting the Postal Service's future to.
I am not saying that every letter carrier is a rocket scientist, by any means. Certainly every post office has its handful of perpetually disgruntled "career" employees that, if they are equipped with intelligence, certainly don't demonstrate it. But in order to fulfill the Postal Service's mission it is essential that the raw material of its work force be of a high quality, and one essential quality is a high level of intelligence that can be molded and directed toward success with proper management.
A Letter Carrier's advice for the new CCA
- CCA Survival: How to Make it Through Your Postal Trial by Fire
The City Carrier Associate (CCA) is a newly created Postal position that has been controversial among the ranks of letter carriers. Mel advises the CCA how to adapt to a hostile postal environment.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
TonyT on November 17, 2017:
I am a Vet. 85.1 on the test with 5 extra points. Oil floats on water. I am oil. CCA is just a step on the path. Not a career. If one can’t advance, then... From what I can tell. The shake tray method is still being used. Just like the Military.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 02, 2017:
I've written dozens of CCA articles following this one and many CCAs appreciate my words greatly. I invite you to read them too. I don't want to argue any more, we're on the same team.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 02, 2017:
Happy New Year Tom. I've put up with the Postal Service for 23 years, is all I will answer. Best wishes.
Tom on January 01, 2017:
And look, I actually respect that you have been transparent, responsive, honest, and all at your expense... the reality is there are CCAs- hard working people, that deserve a voice and though you are more receptive, you are still innaccurately representing them!
Tom on December 31, 2016:
Your district may be the anomaly, but I base my information from the national average and YOU are the one proven untrustworthy. Not yet I. Lets be clear, you stand beside your information yet accuse it yourself, now we believe you when you have changed your mind for circumstances YOU SEE PRESENTLY AROUND YOU. Are you forgetting your delicate and self admitted perception? I have a great postmaster and supervisor! I even work among the best and most efficient carriers in my district which is a huge statement given the obstacles and offices included... Im the fortunate one speaking for those ignored! So spare me your assumptions and consider my possible perspective as real! I have earned that much! At least more than you!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 30, 2016:
In our district it is about a year and a half, Tom. Because I belong to many letter carrier Facebook groups, I've seen even faster promotions than that in other districts around the country. Perhaps in your area promotions are slow because no one is retiring or you have very few routes available, but it is not misinformation. Your case is an isolated incident. I have trained countless CCAs that were promoted a long time ago. Maybe your local Union branch is not doing its job, but that doesn't mean you should condemn the Union as a whole, because they have worked diligently to promote CCAs elsewhere. Sorry, Tom, but the misinformation is yours, not mine.
Tom on December 30, 2016:
Im not a regular yet. And I know the hell of TE and CCA positions as I have lived them. The 2 year average you speak of is another bit of misinformation. Its not even close! Check the facts. Right now 51% of CCAs quit in the first year! Thats shameful! The unions are still allowing great disparity between the entry position and career to the extent that 51% find it to be bad enough to quit! My gripe is your misinformation, the unions lies, and the fact no one is speaking for CCAs accurately!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 30, 2016:
I agree with you Tom, but it seems the Union hung TEs out to dry more than CCAs. The TE did not have a path to regular, but the CCA does. It takes about 2 years, on average. I have seen scads of CCAs promoted. If you were converted from TE, you should be there already. What's the gripe?
Tom on December 29, 2016:
Well, you may have done this with the best information at the time, but I was made very clearly what was expected of CCAs when I was fired as a TE because union carriers like you hung TEs out to lose their jobs! I have no respect for your lack of awareness, though I do appreciate your honesty and availability. However, the fact is that there is little information that is available that speaks the truth for CCAs and represents them well. We do not even have a contract yet! You do! We dont! But we are union now... how is that possible?! Its possible because union carriers do not care and its tripe like this that only fuel the fire on both sides. But, good will to you! Sincerely, I do wish you well and blessing. I am obviously hurt by the misinformation for all I have sacrificed just to be diminished publicly. I would put my work and effort beside even the best career carriers. I work hard! I have earned the respect of my peers. I deserve, as many CCAs do, respect and a chance to be given benefit of doubt. Its what you would want for yourself, no?
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on December 29, 2016:
Sorry, this is an old article, Tom. I wrote it with some suspicions about how the CCA craft would pan out. It was based on the best information I had at the time. No, I won't remove it, but as massive as the Internet is I am sure there are other places you can find to bide your time online. Best of luck to you, and happy New Year. Thanks for reading.
Tom on December 28, 2016:
Can we just remove this? It is garbage! I was a TE for over three years! I lived hell! Then I was fired because USPS removed the position and forced us TO BE REHIRED AND TAKE THE EXAM! Now as a CCA I see how we are treated and it's an absolute shame! Blame the unions! They claim fair representation for the worker, but not THOSE men and women called CCAs! Your piece is an insult! Its a lie! It is disgusting! I have worked 8 years for the USPS and I have done all that was ever asked of me and more! I have sacrificed a lot, have been dependable, have been efficient, consistent, and I do a great job! My Postmaster and Supervisor will attest to my efforts as they have done so many times. What you have done is divisive, dismissive, and wildly inaccurate as much as inappropriate. I am sure you are a great person, but this is not your brightest example of kindness or humanity.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 15, 2016:
Thank you Barbara. I'm kind of sorry I wrote this article, because it is somewhat misleading. I have come to embrace the CCAs as brothers and sisters and I am pleased to see they are getting promoted, despite my doubts. I hope you will read my other CCA articles, which I think are better. Anyhow, thanks for dropping in and good luck to you.
Barbara on May 14, 2016:
Hi, I've read your blog and was shocked and offended and amused. I am a 54 year old female, passed the test in 2013 and applied for a CCA position beginning of April this year. I just completed my 4 days training (2 orientation, 2 academy), and will have ONE day of LLV training. I have a lot of life experience so, hopefully, that will help me conquer the obstacles I'll encounter. I am 100% German, so I'm glad the USPS now also hires permanent residents. I know it will not be a walk in the park, but it pays almost double then what I was making before and it will be nice to be able to pay my bills. So thanks to you and all the others for the massive amount of information, I hope my station here in Kansas treats their CCA's decent.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 05, 2016:
Thank you PVD029. I'm glad I could help paint a realistic picture of what you will be up against. Thanks for reading and let me know how things are going.
PVD029 on May 05, 2016:
Hi, thanks for creating this blog. I have been to two interview sessions for a CCA position (one in Providence, RI, the other in Boston, MA). I had to take exam 473 (?) and apply for positions online. The entire process has been fast and professional. In each interview session safety and timliness were stressed - along with how physically demanding the job is. The Postmasters who did the interviewing were fine - professional, etc.
I accepted conditional employment in MA and start training in a few weeks. I have read too many articles and comments on articles that are critical of the USPS and CCA positions. It has been made very clear in the interviews that the work is hard, that the work is stressful and that you will be worked and worked. If i decide one month from now that the job isn't for me, it won't be because i feel duped....these folks have been upfront. I hope I end up liking the challenges and rewards of the position - I think I will. I appreciated reading about your CCA academy and OJT advice.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 27, 2016:
Thank you gravenidol for your detailed comment. I wish you much success.
First of all, I was never a CCA. The CCA position was only implemented in 2013, I believe. I went in as a Part Time Flexible (PTF), a job with much better pay and benefits. That position has since been eliminated. I made regular in about three months.
I admit to being naive about the CCA position when I wrote this almost three years ago. I had little hope that CCAs would ever be promoted, but lo and behold they have, in a rapid and equitable manner. I also had my doubts about the quality of the CCAs they were hiring, based on some early failures. Since then I have been pleasantly surprised that the Postal Service has hired some very respectable people, that it has been an honor to train. The reason I have not taken down this article, which caused some outrage in the beginning, is because it still gets respectable traffic. If you want a fairer view of what being a City Carrier Assistant involves, I invite you to read my better articles in the series, that there should be links to on this article.
Once again, thanks for your insightful comments.
gravenidol on February 26, 2016:
Tomorrow is my first day and I will be following an OJI, and, like others who have gone through the CCA training, I am going to have to add my two cents in saying how wrong you are about the question of intelligence.
This is going to be an issue, no matter where you go. Nothing is perfect, nothing is going to be 100% stable, management is always going to be full of dicks, you're always going to have inconsiderate coworkers and customers. That's work, that's adulthood. I applied to the post office because I have been in and out of work, (mostly temp and/or contract) since the market crash. I am sure that maybe a good chunk of my class is probably going to end up quitting -- hell, I don't know how long I'm going to be here, but I know this is going to get me out of a hole, financially.
As a disclaimer: I've also been working in shipping and distribution since 2008, ranging from order picking to logistics analyst. Warehouse and shipping work can be pretty physical, so, before anyone is like "but gravenidol, you're just starting!" I came in reading everything I could about this position, and yes, I know that CCAs are often the ones who take the blunt of regulars not wanting OT or the force that's retiring.
That being said, it was the strangest job application process; It took me probably about five weeks before the initial interview and another three weeks before my training class. I had to take a postal exam that focused on seeing a minor difference between addresses, word problems, and a short time to memorize routes to pass, in a span of five minutes. So, if anyone is reading this and looking to apply -- be prepared. And you have to pass 70 or higher to even be considered for it. Once that's over with, you go through a driving and criminal background check. After that go ahead, then they ask for a drug screen, and then you have your interview.
Orientation is a span of two days, wherein they explain your work, what you're going to run into, a very thorough defensive driving course, benefits and EAP, attendance... basically the same thing you'd see in a new job, but with an emphasis that you're now a federal employee. After that, as a CCA, you will go through the "Carrier Academy", that talks about, again, what to expect on a route, types of mail, CCA labor, dogs, and driving safety tips. And on the last part of your training, you will go through an arduous (this is my opinion, mind you) driving course so that you understand the nature of driving the vehicle and using all the mirrors. I just finished the driving test today and my instructors were very clear about the dos and don'ts, stressing the importance of common sense.
As a bonus, where I'm at, we had a current CCA who is going to transition to regular after 16 months tell us the reality of our work week. We had our union rep come in and dismiss myths; myths being, yes, you can obtain benefits once you get your EIN number (which is a week after your initial hire date), how much they can technically work you, what holiday pay you will get, labor rights, and stressing to us that safety is more important than speed. Our trainer/OJI at the trainer academy offered up his real life experiences, versus the ones in the book and gave us pointers from his basic mistakes.
Being that there's a variety of calm, intelligent, and genuinely hard-working people in that class, I can say with confidence I do not question the intelligence of the people I will likely end up with. But sure, you're going to run into dumb people -- again, that's life, welcome to adulthood. But as far as the low pay? It's not low, it's not a minimum wage, the starting pay for a CCA is 16.06 an hour, which can go up with step increases. And every carrier I've talked to in this city has told me you'll be working 40+ hours of work, which, in a way, isn't that bad of a pay. Considering this is apart of the CCA contract that's been negotiated with the union, no, that's not a regional thing. They're currently back into talks and the contract as of 2016 is being negotiated, so we'll see what happens.
I'm just going to assume this depends on where you are, what city you're in, and what location that you're going to be in. And considering all the financial hell I went through over the years, I'm going to put up with it as long as I can. I'm still enrolled into online college, so, no, I don't plan on making USPS my carrier and the like, but I'm not going to back out of it; I don't have much a choice. The reality of this economy is this: no one wants to hire on permanent folks. As soon as companies post job adds, staffing and temp agencies offer to do the hiring for them. Companies like GM that promised to bring back American jobs are doing it for a price and I can tell anyone reading this right now that GM is contracting people out, so they don't have to pay you diddly squat.
Take that into factor with states like mine being "at will" and not worker friendly, USPS seems like the lesser of evils right now. I'm fed up, I'm desperate, and I'm a hardworking person. I feel as if people keep their expectations low and gain a maturity that the whole bootstraps mentality doesn't work and to not give up on themselves, things are going to be relatively better. But if this is an issue, then you need to focus your attention elsewhere. This country not only needs a higher wage, but we need to crack down on contract work. We DO need labor reform in this country, I won't even dispute that.
But, like I said, I can say that you're wrong; things have likely changed since the time you were a CCA and it looks like it has the potential to change while I'm in there. Anyway, sorry for the TL;DR, but worker's rights is something I'm very passionate about, as well as point out the fact people are going to be dumb no matter where you are.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 05, 2015:
Yes I know my initial presumptions about CCAs were inaccurate. This was my first article on the subject and I wasn't sure how things were going to work out. I have since changed my ways and made peace, and do whatever I can to advise and guide them. You sound like a very intelligent person, I love that line about the DOIS numbers, and I thank you for the read.
harddrivencca from Portland, Oregon on February 05, 2015:
To make no mention of the inaccuracies in the article, I am a vet, I hold a BA in philosophy, as well as a law degree. I passed the bar and practiced law for a while. (hated it)
I have been a CCA for about 370 days. I have been hard driven. I have spent more days working through some form of pain more days than not. I have felt unappreciated.
I have had (not counting the 5 day break) about 5 days off in the last 70 days or so.
Now I am torn about how to feel; i am number 14 or so on the list to be converted. Should be within 2 months. But that is just a new probation.
I dare not contemplate what it would be like to not make it through my second 90 days after having committed so much to the job so far.
I was gung ho to go for retirement when I got hired. I am hoping that after I make regular I may regain that desire.
In the meantime I am convinced that the usps really is a death trap. You are so hard worked that 30 years passes in a buzz of daily dois numbers. And the prognosis after retirement is not good for letter carriers. A surprising number die within 5 years of retiring.
I hope to make regular soon (used to look forward to the pay raise, but then I found out that wasn't in the mix; now I am just looking forward to my days off and a somewhat predictable schedule).
I also hope to get into a new career path soon. I am thinking getting qualified for either real estate or teaching English abroad (did so in korea already - loved it).
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on October 27, 2014:
I am glad you are having a positive experience Imacca and that you have good management in your office. Thanks for reading!
Imacca on October 27, 2014:
I have been a CCA for 1.5 years now in Metro Detroit (suburbs) Michigan. I'm proud to say that I love my job! When I first started I cried EVERY DAY for about 3 months, no lie. It's a tough job! And definitely not for everyone. Just like others have said, I did have to take all the test and classes. I am a union member and I do have benefits/insurance. I do get AL and I am allowed to use it or they pay it out when we have our 5 day break. I am a damn hard worker and my supervisors know it and they do acknowledge it, which doesn't seem too common.
There's a handful of CCAs who started only 2 months before me and they were recently converted to full time regulars and I am now #3 on the list. When I first started we were told we'd get that 6.50 raise but now we only get like $1 which sucks but I'll take it I just want a day off !
Advice for anyone starting... Don't give up! The first few months are going to SUCK!! Once you get used to everything and get your own little system going it only gets easier and easier. Don't let anyone discourage you by talking bad about the job. Most of the people in my office who complain about management and what not, are crappy workers theirselves. Also don't be afraid to ask questions, you'll know what ones you can ask and what ones you should stay away from.
Happy delivering! :)
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on September 12, 2014:
Very wise words. It's god there are still isolated pockets of enlightened management in this country. Thanks for reading!
bustebear11 on September 11, 2014:
Hello all! I have been a CCA for over 4 months and actually… enjoy it. You have to come in with a positive personality and don't let the system bring you down. Eventually management has been great to me and you can start building a system of what they will expect from you and what you can do. I believe that there could be adjustments with management in all stations, but YOU have to find ways to adjust to the situation and what you're dealing with. That being said if you want this job you have to be able to adjust to different scenarios with positive reinforcement. Also, always have that GPS handy lol!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 23, 2014:
If you are happy in your full time job I would stay, as long as you think it is stable. It is not difficult to enter management in the postal service, but that is a nightmare too. Thanks for reading.
possiblecca on August 23, 2014:
I have applies and have the job offer. Thing is I'm reading about all of these negative expiriences people have had and hesitate to go through with it. I have a full time job right now that pays about the same with benefits ect. The whole reason I looked into it was with hope that in a year I could move up and continue to move up in the company. My current jobs has no growth opportunities and I have two kiddos and a house payment. Should I stay where I am and keep looking?
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 27, 2014:
Dude, I'm in San Diego. I know nothing about extreme heat, and I know nothing about extreme cold. I'm basically the pampered palm tree postman.
Seriously I recommend that you join the NALC Facebook page and post that question there. I'm sure you will get a lot of suggestions.
This was a very entertaining comment and gave me a chuckle. Thank you for contributing.
CCAinATX on July 27, 2014:
I've been a CCA for about a month and a half now, in Austin TX, in July...
Probably not the best time of year to start an outdoor walking profession.
That being said, I'm down 10 lbs. and my quads could crumble bricks.
I am averaging about 6-7 days a week, 8-10 hours a day. Don't get me wrong, the paycheck is better than unemployment and my previous job, but my god, the LLV's suck.
The first route I had for about a week I had a van, with a/c, which was sweet! Then they switched me to a vacant route that I've been on for about a month now, and its walking/hops. That tiny silver fan is awesome for the first 2 seconds it comes on, then, it switches to the hot stenchy breath of satan blowing on my face. Any tricks of the trade for keeping cooler in the heat?
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 18, 2014:
I think a lot of things have changed since the 60s because a lot of things have changed since the 90s, when I first came aboard. The job is much more grueling than it used to be and the supervisors push you a lot more. Thanks for dropping by!
Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on July 18, 2014:
I had a short period of employment with the post office back in the 1960s. My brother was a letter carrier for seven years. I retired from the Department of the Army and have my insurance from a postal workers union. I do have to pay more for it than the postal workers do though.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 08, 2014:
Even though that quote comes Herodotus and refers to the Ancient Greek messengers and is definitely not postal policy, I understand the meaning of what you are trying to say. American letter carriers work hard in part because they are well compensated, and the less they are paid the less motivated they will be to do a good job. Fortunately some of the new CCAs are now being promoted to regular so there is light at the end of the tunnel and more of a sense of belonging to the organization then when I wrote this hub. Thank you for reading and commenting!
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on June 08, 2014:
My brother-in-law recently retired from the PO (it was not his idea!). I'm old enough to remember when it was the very professional 'mailman' and they all took great pride in the New York City Post office inscription:
"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on June 03, 2014:
Not every office is the same, my friend. Some managers are more reasonable than others, and hopefully you will be dealing with fair minded people where you go. I was simply trying to present a worst-case scenario so you will be mentally prepared.
Just don't overthink things, don't throw away mail, do what you're told, and don't be afraid to adapt the job to your own style - every letter carrier discovers their own techniques to make them more efficient. Good luck!
future cca on June 02, 2014:
I'm starting as a cca next week, and all those coments make me kind of scared of what to expect.
I' ll just try to be positive and make my own judgement about it really is. I have a family support and its not easy up there..
Maybe I should feel lucky to have a job, and proud to make an honest living. Please any positive tips out there. Will be welcome to a person starting soon as a cca.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 26, 2014:
Yes breakfastpip, if I say so myself the United States Postal Service continues to do an amazing job in spite of intense Congressional efforts to destroy us. Thank you for reading and commenting.
breakfastpop on May 26, 2014:
Without standards appropriate in terms of the job, the results will always be terrible. Personally, I think it is amazing that I get my mail every day!!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 25, 2014:
Death trap was meant figuratively. I just meant it's a dead end street for some who have big aspirations and never intended to make it a career.
And yes CCAAdam I understand postal managers have ridiculous expectations.
Thank you both for reading.
CCAAdam on May 25, 2014:
Oh, and now on top of that due to not wanting the CCAs to get benefits they change our start time to 10:30, and give three days off. But yet, want us to come in do a route and an extra hour fourty work by six. How is this possibly fair?
cca2013 on May 25, 2014:
Playing devil's advocate here....I don't think of the post office as a death trap. We are getting paid to exercise! It's those cushy office jobs where you are sitting all day long that are actually death inducing. If you look at research on a sedentary lifestyle, it is dangerous! It causes people to die much earlier and is as bad for you as being a smoker. Of course, CCA's don't always have a choice on whether they are doing a mounted route or walking. I went from 22,500 steps a day to 2,500 doing a hold down on one of those. I also felt a lot crummier. Working people 60 hours a week is too much but I'll sure take that complacency of 40 hours a week on a nice walking route if (long term) I feel healthier.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 25, 2014:
Don't let the post office become a death trap for you. If you eventually make regular the decent wages could lull you into complacency. Keep looking and try to get out. Thanks for reading.
slave #9000001 on May 24, 2014:
I took the tests, had an extensive background check, psy test, drug test and 3-4 formal interviews. I also have a degree, a 140iq, and am a vet. The slave wages thing was about right.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 21, 2014:
The baseball analogy is an excellent one. Yes this seems to be the case everywhere, which is why the CCAs are dropping to injury. Since you do have a bit of protection as a CCA I would suggest not trying to be the hero too much. Thanks for reading!
rwc cca on May 21, 2014:
Mel, thanks for changing your view about us cca. Are cca expect to do a route and a split everyday, like at your station? My station is doing that or else we will fail our evaluation. I feel that we should be able to demonstrate our capability to do so, but doing it everyday is very taxing on my body physically and mentally. It's like asking a baseball team to play doubleheader everyday.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 15, 2014:
Agree with everything you said except that management is cake. I did it for a year and a half and it was horrible - 15 hour days and only getting paid for 10 of them. The proof that management sucks is that nobody wants to do it and they basically take anyone with a pulse now. This is why the dregs of the post office wind up in management and part of our downward spiral. Thanks for reading.
Jeff on May 15, 2014:
I just got hired as an RCA and can confirm that the USPS is indeed one of America's crappiest employers, UNLESS you can somehow work your way into management and then it's cake until you retire.
And to clarify, every position has an examination and every non-career position pays slave wages. RCA's even have to dedicate your life to the USPS as they expect you to be on call 24/7.
Thank goodness I took this job to make a few bucks before fall semester starts at college. If I had to do this as my permanent job I'd probably jump off a bridge.
Oh one more thing, all of the non-career positions now pay a lot less than before the unions and USPS management changed the pay scheme last year. They all paid anywhere from $3 to $8 an hour more before then. So don't be fooled by the BS anyone in orientation or your job interview says, you are just a body to the USPS and they are going to work you like a dog for the pittance they pay you.
CCAAdam on April 11, 2014:
As I sat there reading you put down CCA's I was a little bothered by it. You talk about how bad they are and how unuseful they are. Funny, being a CCA and getting paid crap wages, and busting my butt every day to hear the regular mail carrier cry about oh I can't get this done in eight hours, or oh your giving me undertime I won't be able to do it. How about oh lets leave the Penny Savers and Red Plum for the CCA's because we won't be on our route tomorrow. The post office got smart by making a new position and taking away the O.T. because I see most of the regulars hide behind grievances and refuse to work hard. They tend to milk the clock for any extra time they can get. They sit in the office when their shifts are over and pretend to work. Tell me once again why they should pay these regulars for sitting around not wanting to work? Yes, we as CCAs had to take a test, we had to sit in a class room and learn the ins and outs of the business, only to get on the street and relearn how to really carry mail. We sat through the interview process. In this day and age anyone with an iPhone can find a simple location, or yet can find the starting point of their route. You bash the CCAs, but yet if it wasn't for the lazy regular carriers we wouldn't have a job so thank you. IF the CCA which is a fairly new position, didn't know North/West side of the street was even and South/East was odd, either do I but I can read numbers and see the odds and evens on the houses. I don't know directions as far as what is south or east, but I can read the address on the mail I am delivering. Maybe the OJI should have taught the CCA better directions then. I'm not in my 20's I am in my 30s, so not all CCAs are starting while kids. There is a 54 year old CCA in my office. My sups are great, they actually want to see people succeed maybe because they were actually carriers. Getting back to the point Mel let me guess you are a union rep.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on April 08, 2014:
Unity is the only chance we have against injustice. Management knows this, which is why they use the divide and conquer strategy to turn us against one another. Thanks for reading!
U.S Postal Injustice on April 08, 2014:
The question is: Do employees have the power to correct the injustices done to them? What can employees do to stand up for their rights? Action speaks louder than words. . . Power is in unity!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 11, 2014:
You summed it up a lot better than I could. I am truly sorry that we have such a management culture that allows inhumane beasts like your supervisor make decisions that affect your life so profoundly. Good luck to you.
sicomarci on March 10, 2014:
I worked for USPS for 7 years as a THE, than CCA,I just quit 1 week ago!!! They toke my pride and crash my soul!!!! OMG I were so happy to wore that uniform!!!!! I Loved this job!!I stayed after this horrible $6.50 pay cut , because I was hopping to make a regular soon! But anytime I were close to it, they transferred me somewhere alse! I worked 45 mile each way from my home for a year too! after 1 year fight with POM, finally I got closer to my house which was 8 mile!! I dunno how I got survive all this years the slavery all those horrasment and over loaded work as a CCA! Sience last year october I worked every Sunday doing amazon package's,my family was so upset with me !!!back in december I worked 29 days straight no days off at all every day 11-12 hours!!! We got this horrible winter I got so very sick!! Worked like that sick for 3 weeks!! and finally I ended up in emergency room ,with 103 fever!! I was home for 6 days!! When I got back to work my supervisor told me that I will got PDI.wtf???? For my 7 years I was sick 3 times.always there in time, never used AL because they never let you!! Even when I had a non scheduled day got a call 6 am to go in!! Unbeleivelable!!!!! Never ever would recommend for anyone to work for USPS!! It was a nightmare every day as a CCA!! After 7 years to quit I know I made a right decision!! Every job will be better than that!! I guess the supervisor's are trained for how to take the last power from your body!! I am sad to live my job because I loved being a mail carrier, but tell me guys how long we can take this every day horrasment and slavery crap:((!!!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 07, 2014:
The rigorous job conditions are dropping people like flies, and the substandard pay is not enough to motivate people to stay. The CCAs need significant pay raise if the system is going to work. Thanks for reading.
SPMo on March 07, 2014:
I hope Mike gets the time off he needs. About cca training- in a class of 36, they said 5 of us would make it. If they know this, they need to change the hiring/training process. Bring in many more at once. I know many regulars at the USPS that don't want overtime. Sure others do, but they can have it.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 03, 2014:
I understand your nervousness. Glad you thought I was helpful. This happens a lot so hang in there.
Jared on March 03, 2014:
Mel, my biggest issue is that I had the interview before the drug test/background check. I still haven't even received emails to do those... Is that normal?
And I emailed the PM two weeks ago. She said she submitted my paperwork to be hired but still nothing
Just a little nervous because I really need this job badly (currently unemployed)
Thanks for all your help!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 03, 2014:
When I first started I went through a nervous waiting period in between my interview and getting hired. I was only told I had been given the job after I called to check. It's a good thing to remind these people because, as you've already figured out, they are not the most organized bunch in the world. Thanks for reading.
cca2013 on March 03, 2014:
Good advice to Jared! However, I think it's certainly possible that it could take that long. I know I applied at the end of January. They did group interviews on Valentine's Day. However, it was not until mid-March before I got the letter in the mail on a Saturday to report that following Monday to training. :-o Another fellow CCA was in my exact same interview group back in February, and they did not bring him on until late April! I would definitely ask for an update.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on March 02, 2014:
That does seem like a long time, but sometimes these people are a little disorganized. Don't be afraid to call and ask politely what is going on. Thanks for reading!
Jared on March 02, 2014:
I have a question related to this position.
I was interviewed in late January. Was told by the postmaster that I would be hired and to look for emails.
I still haven't received anything to schedule a drug test or approve a background check...
Does it normally take this long? (2 months)
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 27, 2014:
That is an excellent point. There is a tremendous gulf between management and labor and the operation does not function as a unit. Sorry your experience had to end as it did, but in the long run I think you will be better off.
RPQ on February 27, 2014:
I put in six hours as a CCA, then quit.....It is a bad gig....and it doesn't have to be. I did 30 years in the Marine Corps ....and retired as an E-9. If the clowns running the USPS understood the concept of troop welfare the mission accomplishment would happen. They expect you to train yourself....I saw it as laziness....Maybe there is a biiger agenda at work here....someone??? wants the CCA experiment to fail...and it WILL
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on February 17, 2014:
Yes I was a little harsh when I wrote this, and perhaps I was a bit pissy, as you say. I have since repented of my sins and embrace the CCAs as my brothers and sisters. Thanks for reading!
Charles Queen on February 17, 2014:
Wow wasted my time reading this article. Such an article is morally degrading. Let's stereotype an entire position in the postal service, which accounts for more than 30,000 positions and label that group as being dumb. You act like the test given out is an accurate depiction of a persons iq, which it clearly isn't. Wait oh that's right, you didn't even get your facts straight and assumed that no qualification exam was given. Someone is just pissy their overtime is being taken away.
Also, I'm surprised there hasn't been a single cca complain about Sunday deliveries yet or the fact that management has the ability to call us in to work any time they want even without advance notice. So far I'v been in penalty overtime every week because of Sunday deliveries. No regular should ever be pissed off with cca's for stealing their overtime. If we had a choice most of us would rather have Sunday off like the regulars do.
I'm glad such an article demonstrates how unappreciated we are even among are co workers. And I have to say your evidence is laughable. It's an extremely flawed argument with hearsay evidence that wildly attempts to link your experience with one cca not knowing what odd and even means to over 30,000 of us cca's that bust are ass trying to make a living. So in summary, in direct response to a naïve an uneducated author asserting false and demonizing claims, I'd like to direct a big "screw you" to the author of this post.
Oh and FYI I have a bachelors degree from the university of Kentucky in psychology. I became a cca to save up for my masters program, which is a school psychology specialist degree and isn't cheap. I truly feel bad for those who are trying to find career opportunities from usps and have to deal with coworkers willing to post this crap about them.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 22, 2014:
Brother your story really breaks my heart. I really hope the Union will get you promoted soon so you can at least have health benefits. Your medical situation is shared by many CCAs that I know personally.
Mike on January 22, 2014:
Also, I hate to sound like a complainer, but I have been battling cancer for the past year. I've been diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma. Thank god for my night gig that offers me health insurance or I'd be totally screwed. Anyway, Monday thru Friday I have to go to radiation therapy at 5:15 pm. My supervisor says I SHOULD be able to make it there, doing a route and a half hour piece. On paper, it's actually impossible, but I do it anyway by running and skipping lunch. (Something not advisable while on chemotherapy and radiation therapy). When regular carriers must leave by five (to get their kids etc...) a half hour is usually taken off of them and put on me. What a joke.. I've already missed two radiation sessions, but at least that regular got his kids those days. When the cancer was discovered, I had emergency surgery that day to get a tumor removed from my spine. I had to rush back to work. A month and a half and I was back in severe pain. What choice did I have. The post office does not offer me any sick time or disability benefits. I have a daughter to support. To make matters worse, due to that wonderful 6 dollar paycut, and the credit card debt I accumulated when I was out with my surgery, I was unable to put oil in my home for two weeks this winter. My daughter got a nasty cold from it. The oven only puts off so much heat.
Mike on January 21, 2014:
Really? Because all those extra things I did were dutys takin away from regulars routes, because they claimed working in the dark during a snowstorm was unsafe (btw, I couldn't agree more...I could barely see 2 feet ahead of me)...Safty First!! (Unless your a cca obviously) lol
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 21, 2014:
What you went through today just sounds like a day in the life of any normal letter carrier across the country. Thanks for reading.
Mike on January 21, 2014:
Just because you say you mean no disrespect, doesn't mean you are not completely disrespectful
Mike on January 21, 2014:
Today I had to do a route, a forty five minute piece , expresses and a 300 piece pick-up. In the snow...and be back by 5:30 or I'd probably be fired like the poor cca girl was last week, for "performance issues". Delivering that express in an area you haven't been in in 10 years must have been something
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on January 16, 2014:
My attitude about the CCAs has significantly softened sine I wrote this back in May. I meant no disrespect. We are all on the same team.
Scranton, PA CCA on January 16, 2014:
Your points are all very invalid. We CCAs certainly had to take the sane Postal Exam as you did; memorizing of addresses and all. Also, I believe that these new employees are actually MORE educated than most regulars. Out of my class I can name most that have college degrees but cannot find work in their field, including finance, radiologic technology, and criminal justice to name a few. Please don't disrespect those that are trying to make a living and provide for their families by making assumptions that are not correct.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on November 24, 2013:
True on all counts Paul, Darren and Albert, I'm afraid. It's a tough enough job for a living wage, health benefits, and union protection. The CCA has none of these. Hopefully the CCA experiment will be given up as a failure and they'll bring back the TEs at a more or less livable wage.
Paul on November 24, 2013:
The CCA's is the worst job I ever had in my life. At the orientation, we were at 50 new CCAs and less than a month all of them quit.
No all people accept easily the exploitation (slavery) and CCAs job is really a new form of slavery
Darren on November 24, 2013:
USPS is garbage. CCA's gets paid $15 an hour and no guarantee to get 40 hours a week, no benefits whatsoever, no holidays paid. CCA's are used for the only purpose of keeping alive the full benefits for regular employees and other higher salaries within USPS. Letter carriers are the backbone of the postal service, CCA's is an illegitimate letter carrier within the post office. I really advice people not to try get to this third class job. Stay far away
Albert on November 24, 2013:
I am a newly hired CAA myself. The job is a crap and the pay reflect a new form of slavery of USPS services with the agreement of the US congress.
How could send you a person make a daily delivery under inclement weather condition (hot, cold, wind, rain, snow) and not offer him at a health insurance to be bale to go to a doctor if needed.
I really hate it and ask anyone out there to stay away from USPS. The only thing they care about is saving money. Hell for their new employees.
Petrie on October 27, 2013:
CCA = City Carrier Assistant, not Associate. I too had to take a 473 in Kansas City
CraftytotheCore on October 27, 2013:
That's so funny, I also applied to the post office in the early 90s. I took the civil service test and never heard anything back.
Several people I know work for the post office. Letter carriers don't have an easy job. There's inclement weather. Rain, shine, sleet, snow. There is the walking which takes physical endurance. Plus there is all that mail to be delivered and pressure to get it done under certain parameters. There's a misconception that it's an easy job. I don't think I'd make it past block 1 trying to carry the mail bag, dodging animals, etc. I give you a lot of credit Mel!
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on August 09, 2013:
I realize that, and I understand that you are only trying to make a living like the rest of us. The reason why certain letter carriers may be hostile toward you is because you are taking away overtime that they have come to depend on throughout the years. I also realize that this is not your fault, you are doing what you have to do to survive. Once you gain the carriers respect through hard work it will get easier, but I cannot help you with the supervisors. They will continue to abuse you and to take advantage of you relentlessly until you make regular, which won't be soon.
Anyhow I am thrilled you dropped by to read this and comment. Hope to hear from you again. Hang in there.
jamed on August 09, 2013:
As CCA's we are treated poorly and we are very underpaid and looked at as garbage by the fellow carriers and supervisors.
Mel Carriere (author) from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on July 29, 2013:
Sorry if I have written erroneous information, but I have personally trained four CCAs and none of them has told me about a test. I will have to check that out. But thank you for stopping by and you are welcome anytime. I always strive to be fair to everyone, regardless of what position they occupy in our organization.
cca2013 on July 29, 2013:
I just wanted to point out another misunderstanding. As a recently hired CCA in the midwest, we DID take the 473 postal exam! The THE position that was phased out did not require one. The hiring process was surprisingly "virtual." We used the USPS's careers website to apply online. There was a very short window of time that the posting was active. Using only email, we received emails prompting us to complete the psychological portion on-line. Participants that passed that were then given the opportunity to schedule a computer based 473 test for a specific time at the local community college. Drug tests were also scheduled using emails and a web program. We had group interviews where 20 applicants arrived at a set time but were interviewed one on one by a postmaster. Even the TE's that wanted to be rehired had to apply on-line and pass the 473 with a score of 70 or more. I am sure the final selection of applicants reflects the preferences of a particular station but I can assure you that we have some older CCA's at my station. I am in my early 40's and 2 people in my "carrier academy" orientation group were in their 50's.