So You Want to Be a Mailman - The CCA Experience

No Sugar-Coated Mailmen here!
No Sugar-Coated Mailmen here! | Source

No Sugar Coating

WARNING: This hub is not sugar-coated! If you are diabetic this is the perfect hub for you. If you know other diabetic CCA candidates, please alert them to this hub and to others in my repertoire, none of which are sugar-coated and therefore cannot result in insulin shock for the diabetic reader.

The reason why I am being so deliberately careful not to apply the confectioner's touch to this hub is because The United States Postal Service has been laying on globs of sugar to the CCA (City Carrier Assistance) experience in an attempt to keep some of them. For this reason I feel it is my duty to counteract the propaganda so these candidates will know what they're really up against.

For the uninitiated among you, the CCA is a non-career letter carrier that is paid a highly reduced wage. Unlike career postal employees, the CCAs are not guaranteed hours, and are often instructed to stay home when the delivery units at which they are employed have a full complement of letter carriers. Also in contrast to career letter carriers, a CCA may be removed at any time during the employment period for "Just Cause," a term that basically means any whimsical, arbitrary reason that strikes a postal manager's fancy, such as not laughing at one of his jokes, or refusing to come to work with a broken leg. Furthermore, there seem to be no safeguards in place to guarantee an equitable allocation of hours for CCAs. If your manager likes you you'll get called in, but if he doesn't prepare yourself for another long, boring day of watching soap operas after sleeping all night by the phone in your postal uniform.

Not surprisingly, the CCA work force has been dwindling away like a submerged cow carcass being torn to pieces by piranhas, and I imagine that record cold temperatures across the country have not helped matters. Tolerance for miserable postal working conditions seems to be directly proportional to the amount of money earned, and a regular carrier making $27 per hour at a guaranteed 40 hours per week will naturally tolerate more than a CCA making an unsteady $15. Is it any wonder that the CCAs are abandoning the postal ship in droves?

Contrary to popular belief, some dogs are postal-approved, mailman-friendly models.
Contrary to popular belief, some dogs are postal-approved, mailman-friendly models. | Source


So you really want to be a mailman? As I made abundantly clear in my opening statement, I am going to give you the reality of what you will be up against in this job, things that the Postal Service will not tell you in training, where they make the day to day drudgery of a City Carrier Assistant seem as glamorous and exciting as the life of a fashion model, minus the self-induced vomiting. But I intend to tell you the full, uncensored truth by exploring four of the biggest negatives you will encounter in your postal life. If there is to be any vomiting it will not be self-induced, but will be directly related to the nausea inducing subjects that I am going to talk about.

When people learn that I am a letter carrier, the first question they always ask is "How do you handle all the dogs?" The public assumes that when someone joins the Postal Service it is the beginning of a non-stop running battle with the canine set, like Charlton Heston going through a time warp and landing on the Planet of the Apes, except that the dominant species are dogs, and letter carriers have been enslaved by them and put in cages. This makes an interesting idea for a Hollywood script, but it is not altogether true.

Indeed there are dangerous dogs out there, but they are the least of our four dangers. You will walk away unscathed from canine encounters as long as you make a lot of noise when entering yards so as to draw out any stealthy pups lying in ambush, and you use your satchel and spray to ward off attacking mongrels like an exorcist uses his crucifix and holy water to keep the devil at bay. You might even find that a lot of the dogs are friendly and giving them a pleasant pat on the hand or a scratch behind the ears can actually make your day go by more pleasantly (disclaimer: not a postal-approved practice).

So you think you're ready to brave the elements?  Good luck trying to talk your boss out of it.  Here Mailman Bill Margo trudges though deep snow in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.
So you think you're ready to brave the elements? Good luck trying to talk your boss out of it. Here Mailman Bill Margo trudges though deep snow in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. | Source


What do I know about the weather? I live in Southern California, where if it dips below 50 degrees we bundle up like Eskimos and chop down our palm trees for firewood. But I do communicate with other letter carriers across the country via social media, and let me tell you folks - outside of California and Florida it's damn cold out there. I can't tell you anything about this from personal experience, but good luck trying to deliver the mail when your crisp digits are all bundled up in thick padded gloves and you are slipping and sliding on the snow and ice.

Furthermore, bad weather is not just restricted to the frosty wintertime. Carriers in Indiana give me a disbelieving cyber-stare when I tell them we have not received a single drop of rain in San Diego in the month of July, while over there they consider themselves fortunate if they can get through a single day without a heavens-splitting deluge of Biblical proportions. And when you're not trying to dog-paddle your way through a rainstorm or sled through a raging blizzard, you can look forward to record-breaking heat. When it's 95 degrees with 80 percent humidity on a cool East Texas day you'll be wondering what kind of insanity was spinning through your brain when you answered that postal add.

Don't try to complain about the weather to your supervisor, because he doesn't care. Yes, maybe right now he's dry and comfortable sitting behind his desk, ordering you out into the cold and rain, but chances are he paid his dues at some point and he doesn't want to hear about your problems. Don't whine about the weather to the other carriers either. They've been dealing with it for years and somehow survived to old age, and there's no reason why a young crybaby like you can't keep your mouth shut and get to work.

Tyson Jerome Barnette (1987-2013) Rest in Peace

CCA Latter Carrier Tyson Jerome Barnette was fatally shot to death delivering mail in the darkness.
CCA Latter Carrier Tyson Jerome Barnette was fatally shot to death delivering mail in the darkness. | Source


Mailmen are like vampires these days, because we absolutely thrive in the darkness. At one point in the not too distant past we were not such nocturnal creatures, but then the postal brain-trust made the uninspired decision to eliminate a large portion of the clerk work force. This lack of clerks led to the problem of late mail distribution, which resulted in later start times for carriers. My previous start time of 7:30 has now been moved to 8:30, meaning that I finish an hour later. I have worked so much in the darkness this year that I am beginning to become efficient at it. It used to be that one set of batteries in my headlamp would get me through the winter, but I have already changed the batteries once this year and I think I have to put in a new set this Monday. You can add "Mailman" to your list of frightening things that go bump in the night.

Perhaps I am making light of the situation, but nighttime mail delivery can have serious, lethal consequences. This is the reason I am dedicating this post to Tyson Jerome Burnett, a letter carrier who was shot and killed in Cheverly, Maryland on November 23rd while delivering mail in the darkness. Tyson was a CCA who was delivering on an unfamiliar route. To add insult to this lethal injury, Tyson had previously been a THE making $22 dollars an hour, but at the time of his death had already undergone the forced conversion to CCA at the greatly reduced hourly wage of $16. Tyson's fate is sad proof of the pitifully inadequate compensation given to postal employees who often risk their lives in appalling working conditions.

Tyson is not the only victim of a lethal night time encounter this year. On December 20th a Boston area letter carrier was shot during a robbery attempt that took place shortly before 7 pm, a good two hours after sunset. During the robbery the letter carrier was also bludgeoned in the forehead with the handgun. Fortunately this postal worker got away with his life, unlike Tyson who was not so fortunate.

Besides the unsavory criminal element that often uses the night as a concealing blanket for illegal depredations, the darkness is also fraught with other dangers. The foremost of these from the letter carrier's perspective is hazardous footing. Trying to read the mail and negotiate one's way between mailboxes in the darkness is a dangerous enough proposition, but when you add slick wintertime footing to the equation it creates a synergistic effect whose hazardous probabilities are way beyond the scope of my limited mathematical skills.

The mercy rule in certain amateur sports definitely does not apply to mail delivery.
The mercy rule in certain amateur sports definitely does not apply to mail delivery. | Source

There is no "Mercy Rule" in Mail Delivery

As a CCA your supervisors are not only going to work you to the limits of your human endurance, but once they finally do push you to the point of physical breakdown they are likely to fire you when you skip work and go to the doctor. Although the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) will fight to get your job back, even if you are reinstated management can use the somewhat shady doctrine of "Just Cause" to dismiss you for any reason, which they may be more inclined to do now that you have landed on their bad side for the crime of demonstrating your human frailties.

As a case in point, about a month ago I was sent to help a CCA who was working late on the street. When we both returned to the office a little while later I noticed that she was barely hobbling along, and so I said to her "What's wrong? You're walking just like me." I have an arthritic ankle that in certain conditions acts up and causes me to walk with a limp.

In response she staggered over to where I was standing and lowered her sock. To my horror and amazement she then showed me a spot where a bone was separating from the rest of her foot. The pressure of the protruding bone was beginning to stretch the skin to its limits, and although I'm no medical doctor, even with my limited layman's knowledge I knew that this could not be good.

All the same this young lady was still forcing her way along for fear of losing her job by failing to show up to work. At that point she had worked ten days straight, and because CCAs now deliver packages on Sundays for Amazon as well there was really no complete day of rest for her in site. But because her husband is unemployed and she needs to support her small family she continues to limp her way along, struggling her way through postal hell with the constant terror of breaking down completely and finding herself minus a job.

It's amazing that in this 21st century, in a supposedly enlightened time far removed from the miserable industrial conditions of Charles Dickens' England, workers are still being forced to work themselves to the point of physical breakdown. But if you elect to be a postal CCA these are the conditions that you're going to be exposed to, and you're probably just going to have to tough them out if you really want to be a Mailman someday. Mercy is not in the postal supervisor's vocabulary, and physical failure is not an option.


So if you still really want to be a mailman after all the gruesome details I've bombarded with you here, I think I'll have to refer you to the "Education and Science" portion of Hub Pages, where they have a "Psychology and Psychiatry" subheading. I think that in this section you might find one or two articles that are appropriate to your condition.

But if you do elect to persist in this madness, please don't come back and blame me later when you find that the working conditions and low CCA wages are not to your liking. You certainly cannot accuse me of sugar-coating it for you. You have been duly warned, and I wash my hands of the results.

In Memory of our Brother Tyson Jerome Barnette

Postal workers throughout the country mourned the death of Tyson Jerome Barnette and are using his memory as a rallying point to stop unsafe night delivery.
Postal workers throughout the country mourned the death of Tyson Jerome Barnette and are using his memory as a rallying point to stop unsafe night delivery. | Source

Make a Difference!

After-dark mail delivery is dangerous for letter carriers, and quite frankly the American public deserves better customer service. Sign the petition below to help put an end to this practice.

Hazardous Duty

Are current CCA working conditions acceptable at their current wage of $16 per hour?

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Comments 116 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

I think I'll pass on the opportunity despite your glowing appraisal of the job. :)

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thanks for chiming in so early. The ink was barely dry on this hub. I think you have a pretty sweet gig over there and your chickens don't cluck half as loud as postal managers. Hope you have a great Xmas buddy!

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub Mel, sounds like too dangerous a job to be expected to do at night, and in some instances expected to work seven days straight for little pay, who'd want to work for the CCA?

sheilamyers 2 years ago

Do you know that saying about something being a tough job but someone has to do it? Being a CCA sounds like one that definitely fits into that category. I know for a fact I wouldn't be able to do it, but I'm glad there are people who do. I'd probably end up frozen to death or, with my luck, end up as dog chow on someone's front porch. I can't thank you men and women enough for the job you do.

wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 2 years ago from Alabama

Be safe, be safe, be safe.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Jodah I think that's why they're lying to them in training now and telling them it's an easy job, because most of them have quit. Thanks friend & Merry Christmas.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Sheila Myers you very well could end up frozen to death on your side of the country, although here it's a balmy 70. I don't even think I could handle being an east coast mailman. Thanks & Merry Xmas!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Wetnosedogs as long as those wet noses don't ambush me I think I will be all right. Thanks & Merry Xmas.

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Your hubs about the job of a mail carrier are eye-openers, Mel. The story of Tyson Jerome Barnette is very sad and the working life of a CCA sounds very unpleasant. Thank you for sharing the information.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thanks for reading and I hope I can contribute in some small way to bringing this to the attention of the general public. Three postal workers have been shot around 7 pm this year and the post office is doing nothing except offering " rewards for information" after the wounded letter carrier has been lifted onto the stretcher. The stubborn arrogance of this institution is beyond comprehension at times. Thanks for reading.

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

People are desperate now, and $16 sounds too good to be true. People will still try their best to live up to the standards and do what they can to keep a roof over their family's heads and food on the table.

DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Happy New Year! Being a mailman sounds a great challenge especially in bad weather.

Iowa CCA 2 years ago

I would like to thank you for a very good portrait of what a CCA goes through. I started out my postal employment as a PSE at a DDU so my hours were anytime between 1am and 630pm. I have seen the stress placed on the CCA's. Do to clerk cut back on hours and my husband getting injured and out of work after his surgery, all the financial responsibility has fallen on me. The area we live finding a good job that pays more than $12 an hour are very rare, trying to support a family of 4 I have no other choice. I am 1 of the lucky ones I know what to expect. I do feel like I had no choice with the cuts. I know I will be woring 6 days a week 7:30am till 6pm if I'm lucky if not I could be out till almost 7pm. I really thank you for not sugar coating your description of a CCA.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Yes aviannovice, but in spite of the decent wages (for most parts of the country except California) these CCAs are dropping like flies. The postal service can't keep them and they have to lie to them in orientation now to try to paint a rosier picture of the job. Thanks for reading and I hope you had a great new year!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Fortunately I'm a fair weather letter carrier DDE, but I can only imagine the grueling conditions that must exist for my brothers and sisters in the midwest and back east. Thanks for reading and I hope you had a great New Year!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you for reading Iowa CCA. I know you're getting your fair share of bad weather where you are. I admire you for toughing it out for your family, and I hope you stay healthy and on the good side of management. Happy New Year!

Bj 2 years ago

I am currently training to be a CCA in Los Angeles, and fortunately not one step in the process has been sugar coated. They continue to tell us how hard the job is, and how well constantly be chewed out and pressured by supervisors as well as been honest and told us the postion only exists so the regulars won't have to be paid overtime. I also know people currently working as CCAs who do nothing but complain about their lives or lack of thanks to the US postal system, but maybe I'm naïve to think it is what you make it. I'm a bit optimistic in the fact that I am warned on a daily so I'm not going into it thinking it'll be a trip to Disneyland, which my friends weren't aware of. I'm paying over 800 a month in student loans, excluding rent and regular bills, so anything over minimum wage sounds great to me atm. It's physical, mentally and emotional exhausting. I'll probably never get a weekend off, and if I do they're going to call has been drilled into my head repeated and I really do appreciate the bluntness. Thanks for the tips, and confirming what they're saying in training, my first day without an oji will be Saturday so may the force be with me :)

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Good luck to you bro, I wish you all the best. Watch out for dogs because we just had a CCA get bitten and I don't know what will happen to her. Keep the gate open when you go in a yard, announce your presence (mailman!), and don't put your hand through door slots where a dog may be on the other side. Be safe and keep your feet moving! Thanks for reading!

globeman 2 years ago

you forgot about the bipolar carriers that are either pissed off because you are taking their overtime while being mad that they can't give time off their own routes.

THE2CCA 2 years ago

A great read for those unfamiliar with the situation. I've been doing this for the better part of a decade now (combining my time as a THE and CCA), so at this point if I'm not dead I might as well keep going and see what happens. Something you left out though is how imbalanced the evolution of the positions is. I know CCA's will complain to career carriers and then those career carriers just turn around and say "well, I've been there and done that, suck it up." That's not entirely true though. Their version of what we do was done as PTF's, which gave them more benefits in addition to higher pay and gaining years toward a pension. How many years toward a pension do I have now? Zero, despite having worked the better portion of a decade.

And after they finally implemented a system to convert us non-career employees to career employees, we STILL have to wait for the planets to align to get lucky enough for it to work, as they're giving our routes away to current career employees that just want a change of location. Is the system flawed? I don't know. Is it easy to play ping pong without arms?

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you globe man and THE2CCA. Catchy name by the way. This article could not possibly include all of the indignities endured on a daily basis by the CCAs but your concerns are duly noted and may provide the basis for future scribblings. You are absolutely right about the PTFs at least being paid commiserately for their suffering and the grouchy regulars. I hope you both get promoted soon. Thanks for reading.

jay CCA 2 years ago

yes folks Im a cca used to be THE and we work our butts off up to 10 hours, sometimes not able to take a break or lunch and now that we got that amazon contract we have to work sundays and holidays mandatory...for only a fraction of what regulars make...and most of us have to suck it up if there is no other chance of opportunity out there to make the 16 dollars....(used to make 22 dollars when THE) USPS should bring back those 22 dollars with that amazon huge contract, they are killing people out there and don't even care about it...give them some time off, bring more ccas to work at your stations don't be a blood sucker and try to make your only one cca do all the dirty work...they are not robots, are human beings and like everyone else they need breaks to recover from all the harsh times...

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

All true and very well spoken. Yes they should bring back the 22 dollars an hour, then maybe they could keep a few CCAs. A year ago the postal service said the CCA would eliminate overtime completely. Well, my overtime has not been reduced at all, if anything I am getting more than ever. In fact, the reason I am up right now at 5:17 on my day off is because I am on my way in to work 8 hours OT. The CCA experiment has been a failure. Bring back a decent wage for these good people! Thanks for reading and commenting.

Semi-New CCA 2 years ago

Very true article, becoming a CCA will be a very challenging job. Being a mailman is harder work then one thinks. Expect to be treated like crap, while regular's get treated like humans. 6 days a week 8-12 hours a day(pretty much working 3 weeks of a normal full time job in 2 weeks). Word of advice to newer CCA's, don't try to do route faster then regular's you will just get abused by your supervisor and sent to other routes to help regular's, so they can save money. I've been told by regular's not to be going to fast because the supervisor's will abuse you, and I'm finding out the truth in that. But the pay is nice getting close to 120 hour paychecks, and having no life is part of the job! luckily for me, it's working out for me. I just need the money to go back to school and finish my degree. Then i can get the out of this hellhole they call the post office. The job wouldn't be bad if you worked 8 hours a day 5 days a week, but for CCA's they squeeze every last bit out of you. Oh and you will end up doing clerk work too, scanning parcels and tossing them into routes hampers, 3rd bundles, cleaning up all the trays and buckets used on the routes that day, and loading them into trucks. scanning rts parcels. Being a CCA just isn't city carrier assistant your the post office B@@@@! I've seen a few CCA's quit after i got hired, out of the 6 hired around my time and with me, I'm the only 1 left....

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

All very true words and very well spoken. You seem to get it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

My husband always had remarks made to him like "You have that gravy job working for the PO." No one realizes what mailmen go through, all of them. We had a friend that decided he wanted to work for the PO, he got the job. He worked one day and on that day he didn’t finish the route brought the mail back and left it and went home without delivering it and never came back.

I agree mailmen shouldn’t work after dark way to dangerous. CCA's are not the only ones that get treated bad so do regulars but I do feel bad for CCAs.

It’s not an easy job but it is a job. It was something we needed at the time and it worked for our family. I do think it has changed a lot since my husband retired.

Voted up on your hub.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you so much for your comments moonlake and the vote up. We just recently had a CCA collapse in the 100 degree heat. Because I have never worked in extreme cold I can't even conceptualize how delivering mail in snow and frigid winds must be. It is definitely not a cake job, and I appreciate your addition to this discussion.

CardinalCCA 2 years ago

I have been a CCA for about 5 months now, it SUCKS!!!! Management is the worst I have ever worked for!!!!!! If I didn't NEED this job right now I would just up and quit!!!!!! Your hub is great, it puts light into this so called job as a CCA.... It is even much worse than what you describe. We can't keep CCA's we just had 3 quit in our station and in another station within our bidding installation they have lost like 14 in two weeks, at least that's what I have heard anyway....

Sean 2 years ago

I work in NYC, manhattan to be exact and yes, I do pull some 10 hour shifts, but it ain't nearly as bad here. The addresses are easy to find and I like it. I get paid well with overtime. The only drawback is the weather at various times.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Yes CardinalCCA they are dropping like flies, because the wages being made are not sufficient to put up with the rigors of the job.

Sean, I am glad we have found another exception to the general rule in you. It makes me happy that there are islands of enlightenment in the chaotic CCA sea.

Thank you both for reading.

eric 2 years ago

I've been a cca for 2 years now and all I can say is it is the worst job I've ever had. Love getting sent to cities I've never been to and getting thrown on the street with a full route plus some from another and have no clue where I'm going. Oh and you better be back by 5 damn it. And also love how the union sold us down the river with a $ 6.00 an hour pay it with no vote on it. Looking for a new job!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

I think the CCA position is actually turning out to be better than I expected. 13 CCAs recently got promoted here in the city, and CCAs are actually able to get sick and not get fired, unlike with the TEs. Yes the Union had to give away some hourly pay but as they start putting us old guys out to pasture I think the CCA experiment is going to come back and bite the postal service in the butt. I think the Union did okay for getting what they could for you guys in a bad economy. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Lauren 2 years ago

I just got hired as a CCA in Cincy and they need them badly. Your page is another great insight into how awful it will be. Everyone has told me how bad it will be. Thanks for being truthful.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Don't go into it with too negative of an attitude. Every place is different and every person is different. You might adapt to it well. I just thought you should know what you're up against. Thanks for reading!

Jon 2 years ago

Thanks Mel for the laughs, and the reality check. I've been working as an RCA for the past 2 years at my local PO. I live in a small city with 10 rural routes and 15 or 16 city routes. $15 is not a bad income around here, but it is definitely not enough to put up with the crap we have to put up with. This last winter was horrible here, and the regular rural carriers tried all they could to force us low paid RCAs to come in and run their routes while they sat home in the warmth of their house taking a sick day. If you think the city side is bad, take a look at what is happening on the rural side, but don't look too long or you might think you are actually blessed. Let just say my car is taking a beating mechanically, and I'm afraid that when it does break down I'm not going to be able to afford to repair it because I don't get paid enough to repair it plus pay my bills. Recently one of the cca's moved and a new one quit, so I applied to get myself into something for now that will actually make some money. I just hope that no one else caught on to the fact that there are a couple of people retiring over there in the next 2 years, and whoever gets that position will be #1 cca and next in line to convert to regular. But anyway, I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to write your blogs. I know more what to watch out for now. Not hurrying through a route is sound advice. I learned that lesson as an RCA. Hard work IS rewarded with more work that is not worth the effort doing. Nothing like coming back from your route as an RCA and being sent out to work 1 hour at normal pay to help a slower carrier get back before dispatch....woohoo, I made an extra $16 and put a lot more miles on my car.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you very much for the rural perspective. We actually have 11 rural routes in our office too, but they are provided with postal vehicles. I think contracturaly you rurals are supposed to have postal vehicles as well, and from what I'm reading the OIG is forcing the USPS to come up with some, so maybe soon you won't have to use your own. I would like to write an article about the rural side, but quite frankly I don't know enough about it. Anyhow I wish you well and thanks for your nice words.

Jon 2 years ago

You are welcome Mel...yes, we were informed a few weeks ago the intent on giving most rural routes an LLV. Everyone just sort of shrugged because why not? We don't care. The money they give us for use of our own vehicles isn't worth it, but some FTRs just recently bought vehicles, so it wasn't a moment of great joy for them, but even they don't seem to care because of gas prices. The only issue I have with it, is trying to use an LLV on snow covered back roads. Regardless, I think in the long run I'm going to be better off as a city carrier. Things just are not looking so great for RCAs. One of the things they recently did to rural routes is increase the number of hours to 35 or 36 (can't recall exact numbers...absurd though) for which they can convert a FT route to Aux, and in order for it to go back to FT it would have to go back up to a 42 hour route or something darn near impossible. This is why I'm getting out of there before I waste too much of my life chasing a carrot on a stick only to have it pulled away from me just before I can grab it. They are trying to make it so that they can have RCAs running what are essentially full time routes, receiving little benefits, and much lower wages. It's sickening, and the union seems powerless to stop it from happening.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

The carrot on a stick is a pretty good analogy. The carrot may be a little more within reach for the CCA the way you make it sound, but it's still a long, weary road to haul. Thank you for your great comments, feel free to drop back by anytime.

joseymailmanwales 2 years ago

Hi everyone. I have worked as a THE(Transitional Employee) and currently I am a CCA (City Carrier Assistant). I have worked these positions for the last 6 years in Florida. We were converted from TE's to CCA's under the wonderful and great NALC/USPS arbritrated settlement. My pay was cut 27% in May 2013. I went from $22.15 an hour (decent, not great) to the new and improved $16.58 an hour currently. It's been a year since the pay cut and I still have a lot of anger over it. The "full-time regulars", career employees make anywhere from $24 to $27 an hour and they do not even come close to the level of responsibility placed upon the CCA's. The USPS is by far the most mismanaged, corrupt and incompetent place I have ever made the mistake of working for. I have been on the streets carrying mail at 9:30p.m. It is always crisis management. The career employees complain everyday about how difficult they have it, especially the ones that were former "part-time flexible" PTF's. There is simply NO comparison between a "PTF" that has all the benefits and a CCA that simply has nothing but a small amount of leave and a paycheck. It angers me greatly that the TE's who stayed and converted were the ones who were completely singled out for the paycut. No one else received this level of a paycut. Our office had roughly 8 full-time positions that were available for the CCA's to be placed in and converted to "career"status. Only two CCAs were converted. All of the other slots are filled and it is at least another 3-4 years before the next retirement. That leaves me with the prospect of being a non-career employee for 9 years before finally having the opportunity to be converted. I believe this is absolutely shameful on the USPS part. I simply will not do this for another 3/4 years. No way! Way to much stress, no family time, cutting hours, incredibly incompetent managers that you HAVE to work for and plain ol simple stupidity of the USPS. It is a BLACK CLOUD. If any of you out there are contemplating working as a CCA please do some soul searching. The $15.00 plus an hour you will start at will pale in comparison to the stress you will carry daily. And you will be stressed, I promise you. The money barely pays the bills. If you like being stepped on constantly and pushed constantly then take the job.

I would caution all of you. The turnover of CCA's is incredible. It is high. They leave for all sorts of reasons but mostly the USPS management. The managers are the worst trained people I have seen. You will be sold out for anything to ensure the managers rear-ends are covered. Good Luck!

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

You pretty much covered everything in a nutshell. Although I'm a pretty hard worker myself you are right, I don't share your stress level and I do enjoy regular days off. Postal management's treatment of CCAs is shameful, and borders on the criminal. Management is poorly trained because there is no training. It is the most unprofessional management staff in the free world. The only reason we survive is because of people like you and I busting our butts. Get out while you can. Find something better - don't fall into the death trap. Thanks for reading.

2 years ago

I am a cca in northern ca. It is by far the worst job I have ever had. 15$ and change per hour gets you nothing where I live. Working 6 days a week 10+ hour s a day, gets old very fast. You do get the holidays off which is ok but as a cca you are not paid. Biggest mistake was taking this job. Currently looking for a new job so I no longer give a fuck.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

fjfj? I can only guess what that might mean. You are wise to be looking. This job is hard enough as a regular and as a CCA pretty much unbearable. Thanks for dropping in and good luck on your job hunt.

Lena 2 years ago

My husband has been. TE for 4 years making &22.00. Last year he was changed to CCA Position making &16.00 per hour. Every year they let you go and rehire you after a week of leave. He received a letter in the mail saying that his pay had changed to $15 dollars per hour. They have messed his pay up pretty bad. They keep saying that the problem has been fixed but they have not paid him the correct hourly wage of $16. Yet. On top of that they haven't caught up on paying him for the hours he actually worked. It doesn't make since. They mess up but it seems to take several months to correct this problem. If they look at his records, they should be able to see that he started out at $22.00, reduced to $16.00 and now getting paid $15? With no explanation at all. If there pay was reduced or they didn't receive a pay check it would matter to them because, it was effecting them personally!

Carrier-wife 2 years ago

Hi your blog has caught my attention. My husband has worked for postal service for 5 years. He was a THE for 4 years making &22.00. Last year he was changed to CCA Position making &16.00 per hour. Every year they let you go and rehire you after a week of leave. He received a letter in the mail saying that his pay had changed to $15 dollars per hour. They have messed his pay up pretty bad. They keep saying that the problem has been fixed but they have not paid him the correct hourly wage of $16. Yet. On top of that they haven't caught up on paying him for the hours he actually worked. It doesn't make since. They mess up but it seems to take several months to correct this problem. If they look at his records, they should be able to see that he started out at $22.00, reduced to $16.00 and now getting paid $15? With no explanation at all. If there pay was reduced or they didn't receive a paycheck it would matter to them because, it was effecting them personally! Thanks for your blog.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

You are quite welcome Carrier Wife. This is the first time I have heard about a reduction in pay from $16 to $15. Has he gone to the Union yet to report this? He really should. Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

erinshelby profile image

erinshelby 2 years ago from United States

How very sad that this man died while delivering mail! Of all the "dangerous" occupations where someone's life could be endangered while doing their job, I would have never thought postal carrier would be one of them...

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

A tragedy indeed, erinshelby, one that was aggravated by the Postmaster's stubborn insistence to move start times back during the fall and winter, the very time when we need as much daylight as possible to work safely. The man is obstinately stubborn, and that poor young letter carrier paid the price. Thanks for dropping in!

INDY 2 years ago

My experience is a little different. My supervisor keeps having me come in at 9 or 10 p.m. In my second week she had me come in at 10 and gave me 6 hours worth of mail on two different routes I had never worked on. The PM was freaked out when I was out past 5 and not on the clock. She couldn't answer to the powers that be who was on the street. I was treated as if this mismanagement was my fault. They still haven't gotten a time card for me after a month because they don't know how to order one. So, when I am loaned to other stations I am terrified I won't get paid. There is another CCA who has been there a week longer than me they like better. They have him come in earlier and give him the nicest air-conditioned van. I like the actual work but the management is what's doing me in.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

That's not a little bit different, that's pretty much par for the course. How did that knucklehead make Postmaster if he doesn't know how to order a time card? Wait, I know how, by being a jerk. Please contact your Union rep about the time card situation immediately and in the meantime keep a meticulous record of your hours. Thanks for reading.

dspike 2 years ago

For someone new to the PO and having gotten lucky with 2 different offers. one is a CCA for sure and the other is PSE Mail processing clerk. CCA is daytime work and Clerk is at a large plant swing and grave shifts. Which one to choose Hmm ??

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California Author

When I first started out people were fighting to get out of the plant and become carriers, so that might tell you something. Doing mundane work on a graveyard shift could make for very tedious nights. At least as a CCA your days will fly by. But then again, winter will be here soon. Does it snow or rain a lot where you live? Just some things to think about...Thanks for reading!

O'Dran 24 months ago

USPS will never be profitable because of the compensation packages given to its season employees.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 24 months ago from San Diego California Author

ODran you obviously haven't done your homework and you are speaking out of misconceptions and lies you have heard out of some politician or talk radio host's mouth. Until the recession the USPS was profitable in spite of these packages and still would be if Congress was not stealing 5 billion a year from its treasury, an act of piracy justified by the false rhetoric you are spreading around. I invite you to read my hub "Postal Myths Debunked" for more on this subject. Thanks for reading.

Abluesfornina profile image

Abluesfornina 23 months ago

Well, if I ever thought of being a mail carrier I don't now. Thanks for the heads up and well written article.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you abluesfornina. You are better off to avoid it if you csn. Thsnks for reading!

A.G.E. 23 months ago

I just secured a CCA job and was exicted. I applied out shits and gigs and got it. Buutttt after reading different reviews of the job I think I'll pass and keep my Correctional Officer job for the time being. I have seen only two positive comments about this job.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 23 months ago from San Diego California Author

I am sure your Correctional Officer job pays better. It's a shame we have come to this AGE that you would rather take your chances with inmates than deal with the post office. Thanks for reading!

boston 22 months ago

our cca,s quit in a very short time . now that we have them we are even more short staffed than before because of the turn over. the 's at least stayed longer

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 22 months ago from San Diego California Author

Money talks boston, especially when it's 10 below outside. Here in California we have managed to hold onto the majority of ours, and now that people are being promoted there is more motivation to stay. Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas.

NjCarrier 22 months ago

I came into this job (cca) not having a clue what it was like. It's a rough job. I work in an annex that covers 13 zip codes which relates to about 130 routes and 20 auxillaries. It can be hard when I come in at 9:30 (the cca usual at my joint) an have to be back by six woth the sun setting by 4:30. But theres luck for me yet as the cca promotion rate at the moment is about a 5 month waiting period. That's the only reason im willing to stay. A guarenteed career position that soon when some have been waiting a decade or more. Guess I should be thankful.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 22 months ago from San Diego California Author

I am glad you have a positive attitude NJCarrier. I was personally very skeptical that CCAs would be promoted, but lo and behold it seems to be happening. Thanks for reading!

Luke 18 months ago

I guess I have it pretty good compared to larger cities. The town I'm in is about 14,000 people. Outside of the horrible pay, it hasn't been all that bad. I know I do more than the CBR's (Cry Baby Regulars) that need help with their routes everyday, for a lot less money and benefits. I am basically stuck for awhile though, as I was telling my supervisor, if I was 10 years younger (I'm 35) and didn't have a family to support, I would've quit 3 months in. You can't raise a family on what they pay and my wife is in the same boat (underpayed) as a school teacher. There's a guy getting ready to retire May 1, but our 63 year old PTF who already has one retirement from the social security department under his belt, no wife and no kids to support, is going to take the route that will come open (thanks asshole). I'm looking at another 2 years before the next one retires. We'll have a daughter as a Sr in high school next year with no means of sending her to college. Maybe she go work at the post office (part of me wishes I would've started straight out of high school, I'd have about 13 yrs to go til retirement)!! I will get more hours as I'm the only CCA and they will give me all the hours I want (and have to have to pay the bills). I used to get about 34 hours a week but it took 7 day work weeks to get them. I'm averaging about 45 hrs now, still working 7 days though.

The worst part is the management/union. They are in this thing together regarding CCA's. The management loves the money they save from the low wages and getting the same or more production, while the union pockets your dues and does absolutely nothing to represent the CCA's. They are only concerned with keeping the regulars jobs as simple and laid back as possible. The algorithms and formulas these MIT grads put together to tell a regular if they're going to be over or under on their route is a complete joke. I'll get an hour of carry off from someone then pass by them as they're setting in their LLV killing time at the end of the day waiting to go back to clock out. The management side is nothing but math loving nerds as executives that hire these dumb "yes men" as post masters and supervisors to push their math formulas onto the carriers. Even when proven wrong, they stick with them. No one on the management side can admit they are wrong. The supervisors are mostly ex-carriers that couldn't handle being a carrier for whatever reason. The whole thing is screwed up. On top of being a CCA, we double as supervisor assistants, running out Express mail or priorities that come in late because the sorting plant didn't send them with the first morning truck, so we deliver them in the afternoon. This is why I'm not a fan of unions. There's no incentive to work hard. It allows for lazy people to keep their great jobs. I guess I'd have a hard time retiring as well with the cake walk that cry baby regulars have. It seems like the most staunch union advocates are the worst workers. That's not a coincidence and unfortunately will not change in my lifetime.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 18 months ago from San Diego California Author

First of all, that asshole PTF paid his dues bro. He probably had to endure being a PTF for several years, and that is not an easy gig either. Your assessment about management is basically correct, but you need to support your Union. If it wasn't for them you would be getting whatever the minimum wage is there instead of the $15 or $16 you are now. What you need to be is patient. You will get your chance. CCAs are actually taking much less time to make regular than those asshole PTFs did. Pretty soon you will be regular and you'll get some time to kick it under a tree too. Not that there's an awful lot of that going on, that I can see. Thanks for reading.

ccathomas 17 months ago

My favorite is when supervisors take the best time from a route with the most favorable conditions, minimal mail volumes, weather condition, etc, and then expects the cca to meet that deadline even when he's practically new to the route. Got to love meeting these unreasonable expectations.

ccathomas 17 months ago

Oh and all the while carrying a third bundle along with registered mails.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 17 months ago from San Diego California Author

CcaThomas it is especially mystifying when they have carried mail before. But the reality denying starts at the lowest levels of supervision and goes all the way to the top. Thanks for reading!

CcaThomas 17 months ago

Thank you for the response Mel.

Well I'm halfway through my probation and have done far exceedingly well compared to those that came before me, according to my Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde supervisor. The problem is one that "piling on" part you've mentioned. You do well, they add on. And then you have a bad day and it's suddenly, you're incompetent all over again. But on all the good days, rarely do hear a "good job" from my supervisor. If anything, I just want to make it through probation, if anything just to prove to myself that I can do it. Not out of love for the USPS, but out of courtesy for some of the good carriers there that needs the help. After that, I'll likely leave simply because of the poor leadership alone. As a former platoon leader, I'm aware of the importance of orders and how they have to be carried through. Even then, I don't impose or ridicule members of my squad when they can't accomplish the impossible i.e. when it takes longer just to walk a route, let alone deliver the mail and be back at the hour "expected." I'm a fast walker thanks in part to my "rucking" days in the army. Yes I do stick my head out for my team. But such is not expected from the leadership at the USPS. There is no compassion, no understanding, and no empathy for us ccas at my office. I'm the last cca out of four and recently three new faces just showed up. I pity them, but wish them the best.

Part of me wishing to leave is because moral is so low at office. The only time when employees actually smile is when greeting customers and that itself is a rarity.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 17 months ago from San Diego California Author

CcaThomas thank you for that beautifully written comment. I would like to quote it on my blog The Postal Tsunami, if you will allow. I won't use your name, even though there are probably dozens of CCAs named Thomas across the country who share your sentiments.

You are oh so right about the lack of postal leadership. These clowns wouldn't last 5 seconds in a foxhole. Fact is, they would probably run when the first bullet.flew over, because if there is anything they are cimpetent at it is avoiding responsibility. Thanks for serving bravely, if you leave it is definitely our loss.

CcaThomas 17 months ago

By all means, roll with it Mel. I would be honored if you'll quote and add my experiences to your blog.

Nothing new I'm adding here is news to you, Mel, but I'm doing so with the hope that it'll reach more potential ccas out there that are considering a "job" with the USPS. The first clue should've been half the candidates at orientation. Personally, those "half" I'm mentioning here are rather clueless to begin with. So much enthusiasm, yet so little common sense on display there. But I digress as that's another story.

For those interested, think of the 90 day probation period as boot camp. Oh make that specialized training as Army Rangers' school. The demands and expectations are that incredulous. Of course, it would be understandable if the rewards justify the means. But it isn't the case at $16/hr, and one is expected to outwork and outshine the regulars. Case in point, I'm expected to do a full route in 4 hrs. Yes! You heard it right 4 hrs!!!! And be back before the regulars do. Did I mention starting out an hour later than the regulars too. Ha! The one regular that did the right before I got on even told me it was impossible. He went to the union and they worked it out, where he got moved onto a more "reasonable" route. So I come aboard, and it's all deja vu again as I'm tossed onto that route. I may have to go to the union as well. I rather not, if reasonable heads can prevail. The last thing I want is to cause unnecessary tension in the work place. Guess what, I managed to get that route done in just a little over that 4 hrs. How was it possible then? It took all the right condition to make it work. Minimal mail volume, no third bundles, many houses not getting mails skipped, minimal parcels, registered mails, certified, and express mails too. And best of all, I worked through my 2 ten minute breaks. Even then I worked up a tremendous sweat to the point where homeowners were offering me bottled waters. I got back and left before the regulars got back. Even then, days like this are rare and few in between. You'd be lucky to get a day or two like this in a week. Otherwise, the mails keep coming. Even when the mail is light, you still have to walk the loop so consider that. The majority of the time, it is not possible. But management don't want to hear about it, despite knowing all about it.

There was another day when I incurred a swing from one of the regular that was off that particular afternoon - doctor's appointment. On my way there, I noticed one of the regular camped under a tree in the park. She was cool as a cucumber, honking and waving at me as I was making my loop sweating up a storm. At this time, I got a call from my supervisor telling me I should've been long done already. Told him, I'm working my best. Long story short, I got back to the office at the same time all the regular career carriers got back only to get repeated earfuls. I've pretty much tuned him out the moment I got back inside the office.

Synopsis is I've done a full route, plus an extra swing, bypassing breaks and lunch at the same time starting an hour later than the regular carriers, yet I was the "bad guy" supposedly "milking" the time I was told. That's gratuity for you. One can't make this stuff up.

I'm thinking the supervisor is just playing head games with me as if I was back in boot camp all over again. At the same time, my positive attitude and supposedly ultra thick skin can only take so much. However, I can't wait until my 90 days is up. My point is made as I'm not a quitter. Likely I'll be leaving and hoping to put my degree to work. (A profession that I don't enjoy, but it seems like paradise now compared to the experiences of working at the USPS.)

I fail to see how that kind of USPS training can really get the most out of someone. All that money wasted on training so many ccas with such callousness only to see the overwhelming vast majority fall out with days if not week or two. There is no logic here. Reminds me of why so many customers keep asking me, "Why do you guys keep changing carriers?" "Why are you in such a rush?"

To which I can only smile and tell them, the expectations and demands of the USPS is just that rigorous and walk on by. The public interaction along with the challenge of creating harmony out of anarchy once the last tray of mail is dished out are the only things I enjoy about this job. Aside from that, morale inside the post office resembles that of the morgue. This is a fact that the public does not see. The dark side to working at the USPS.

But don't let me get all of you down. Only a very few selected ones can make a job and hopefully a career out of the USPS. And those are the ones I commend. After all, putting up with all the foolishness and relentless to impossible demands from management there after decades do finally pay off. If anyone can make it, hopefully, you'll be camped under a tree in a park someday too, watching the newbies darting by in a mad frenzy.

Hopefully some of you will end up in a good office with good management. Otherwise, good luck! Really.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 17 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you CCA Thomas for articulating your thoughts so beautifully. I hope things work out for you, no matter what you decide to do.

CCAlinda profile image

CCAlinda 12 months ago

I stumbled across your page and been reading up on various CCA articles and comments. I was just recently hired as a CCA here in Los Angeles and halfway through the first week of training. Throughout the entire hiring and training process, they told us this is the hardest job we will ever have. Being a positive person, I am trying to go into this with a good attitude. At the same time, I don't want to be naive about it. Yes, I am nervous about the job, but I'm also looking forward to be working again. They did tell us out of the 150 people or so who made it so far, only about 30 of us will make it. When they said that, I thought to myself, I want to be one of those 30. Even now, halfway through training, I still want to make it. I know it's going to be hard, harder than anything they've told us. I want to think positively, but at the same time, I want to be realistic. Thank you for the insight this has been.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California Author

You are welcome CCAlinda, I admire your attitude. With that mindset I am sure you will do well because you are not going in kidding yourself that it is going to be easy. Thank you and let me know how it goes.

Tobeornottobe 12 months ago

Great article mel, though i am not a cca yet, I was invited to do my first interview in a week or so. However, after reading your article, i am now having second thoughts. I've always wanted to work for usps because of the job security and benefits, but the bad outweighs the good.

Keep up the good work cca's, we (my family and i) appreciate all the hardwork and dedication you guys put in.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you for reading tobeornottobe. Who knows, maybe the job is for you? It is tough, but there is a relatively quick path to regular, which is still tough but not as bad. Good luck at whatever you do.

steve 12 months ago

Ok I'm finally hitting my 1 year mark and let me tell you it's been an ok job experience . I got the hang of it after the first 2 weeks. My city has 7 stations so for the first 3 months I was bouncing around daily. If you don't get the hang of it fast you won't be able to get all your breaks even lunch ( they don't care). Management is alright, there's a few that are dicks especially the ones that never carry and especially the supervisor, they are worst. They just add more swings making you rush all the time. There was times I just wanted to quit and to be honest cry it's a tough job not for the weak. If your one of those guys who never work hard or lifted anything in your life than yea look away. Pay is great with alot of hrs depending on where you live it's a great opportunity to make alot money. Lucky for me there's 7 stations so I had work everyday. 50+ hrs weekly. I got the hang of it quick so I knew how to separate mail quick. Pretty much 4 managers were trying to get me permanent at there staion. I was already casing after 2 months. What i did is ask alot of questions, ask for maps, have a phone with a gps.The best tip for a Cca is to relax and take all your breaks. DON'T RUN. Just try to be quick trust me all managers and supervisor talk among each other. The better you get the faster you can opt and start casing. Don't be afraid to speak to your supervisor( mine at the moment is a hard head that needs to retire). He gets mad for coming back late but I do it on purpose cus he gives me an hr to an hr half swings and expects me to under time everyday. He is really dumb he has been there for 31 years but only carried for 7 months so he thinks by just checking the computer he thinks you can make it back by 5. They take the 5 o'clock very serious here(orange County). Just try to get by your 3 month probation and your set. Mostly all the regulars are cool they want you to succeed. Ask questions 100% of them have done that route so they know. Get some really good walking shoes and a shirt with pockets For pens and pink slips. I actually like it cus I know how to cut the releighs make them short and it helps that you apply at the city you grew up on. Man I wish the oji's would teach you how to seperate mail good so you won't struggle alot. And the sorting of the dps (leters) is like sorting playing cards. Pretty much the first week will let you know if the job Is for you. Make sure you ask your oji alot of question don't make him rush you .who cares if you skip his lunch. Just do your best. Lucky for me I cought on things quick especially that everyday I would bother every regulars there haha. By knowing the city you won't get lost. The current station I'm on I know all 25 routes and I can carry better than all of them. Don't worry about being 30 to an hr late during your first 3 months they can't fire you for that but just try your best. Trust me managers will start fighting to keep you at there station. I wish I can give my knowledge of how the carrying works to all new cca's but it will come eventually. Good luck

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 12 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you Steve for that contribution up the road there in Orange County. I am glad things are working out well and hope you make regular soon.

Dave 10 months ago

That's called reality.. Try being a lineman.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 10 months ago from San Diego California Author

Like the Wichita lineman that's still on the line, Dave? Thanks for reality check.

jon carrier 5 months ago

when u get on the street turn 3 bundles into 2 , then on low mail day turn 3 bundles to 1 and watch your street time scrink.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 5 months ago from San Diego California Author

Thank you brother Jon, the less bundles the better and out of the prying eyes of management.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 5 months ago from San Diego California Author

On second thought Jon why do you want to "scrink" your street time? That's how they justify cutting routes. No, you want to make your street time "growe." I hope you are collating bundles on 721, not 722. You can be disciplined for slow office time, but not street time.

SR 3 months ago

Been a CCA for about 2 months now in CT. I DO NOT understand how they expect me to take a regualars route I have NEVER done before and expect me to be back to the office by 4pm. I do not take any breaks or lunch and can't make it back to the office until 5pm and they get PIST. I don't know how much longer I will last wether I get fired or quit. My body is breaking down and all I do after work is lay on the couch until I go to sleep just to repeat. My life is terrible

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 3 months ago from San Diego California Author

SR you are repeating a litany of woes listed often here. Yes, supervisors have impossible expectations but many CCAS do manage to make them happy. Are there any helpful regulars at your station willing to give you their trade secrets to help improve your street and office efficiency? Are you being too careful and fastidious? You need to focus on loading that satchel quickly, keep your feet moving at all times and getting that mail delivered. Careful can come later. Best of luck to you friend. Thanks for reading.

John 2 months ago

As a former CCA, I urge you to not bother going through the interview process. The CCA job in Northern California has a 57 percent turnover rate -- the union says the Post Office can't hire enough to replace the ones who quit. It's a hard physical working -- driving around all day with temperatures in the 90s -- or walking if you have a walking route. Most trainees quit over the physical rigors of the job, but also aggravating beyond belief is all the codes, procedures, scanned checkpoints, timing of your route etc. Also, what the Post Office doesn't tell you is that you'll be sent to different offices on a daily basis and doing different routes every day. They also don't tell you that there's no guarantee of hours. That is, they'll call you at 7:30 in the morning to tell you they don't need you on a scheduled day, or you'll show up and work for two hours. I quit after about a month -- not because of the physical aspect but rather it's not worth working two hours to make $32 in a day.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 months ago from San Diego California Author

All that is true, John, especially the lying about bouncing around to different offices. That one rankles me.'s a short path to regular for those willing to stick it out, and the difference between regular and CCA is night and day. Thanks for reading.

schuster LEWIS 2 months ago

Hello everyone, in 2014 i wanted to become a vampire from one man in UK and he collected my money, and he did not make me a Vampire. In 2015 someone directed me to a vampire lord in United State Of America and this man make me a vampire. I will advice anyone who want to become a vampire should contact Jiang Shi via email:

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 2 months ago from San Diego California Author

There are bloodsuckers in the Post Office too, Schuster. At first I thought you were off topic and I was going to delete you, but on second thought I'll let it stand because it seems appropriate. We are more than one state, by the way. Just so you'll know next time.

Ortiz 6 weeks ago

I am a new CCA in Boulder. I am making the transfer from the non Union FedEx. The protection of career employees has been a shock to me. You would think incentives to retire are coming soon. That being said, I am interested to see how the new delegations play out, especially towards election time. This might be a great time to be a current CCA, with conversions to career being a result.

The new training being implemented in Arizona (I believe) is definitely a game changer. The power point presentations with the 1980s videos are useless. Hands on/practice will get CCAs prepared for the fast paced environment. It would be nice to have CCAs come in and case for a few weeks before throwing them out in deep water, but for some that's a good way to learn.

My biggest advice: I am new to CCA as well, but remember these hard times. One day you may be a manager, so don't forget the troubles you faced as well.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 6 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

The power points are useless, Ortiz, but I don't think more case training is the way to go. New CCAs don't do much casing anyway. The only thing I would change is to give them a shadow day with a carrier before sending them to academy. That way the concepts will make more sense. After academy no more shadowing, the CCAs start carrying swings under supervision of the OJI. That's how I do it. I throw them into the swimming pool head first and I have a great success rate.

Paul X13 5 weeks ago

I was in the worse situation I ever had been in because of the Post Office. I was always successful at every job I worked at and been a manager at each job working my way up in just a few years. I work harder and have more education then others. I took the job as a mailman cause of the pay only to save for a house and worked overtime having no life to do so. I was qualified as a regular carrier when I was in the first year but my office no one was retiring. They decided to give us a paycut only to save the post office but didn't even realize what that would do to someone mentally or do to someones family. They ruined my opportunity to buy a house and had me strugging to save more for 3 years after. That it self was so wrong. The company don't even understand that they hurt 10,000 people like the Marothon bombers hurt thousands of people. They shouldn't be respected for their actions at all. I almost wanted to end my life and had gave my family a lot of problems because of their actions. They owe those 10,000 people what they had to give up. The problem isn't going to stop either. All the CCA going in now can work 6 years there and they could cut their pay again back to $15 cause the cost of living is making that pay go back up meaning they will have to cut it back down again in the future while people haven't made regular. The problem is the union and the older workers who suck up overtime working so slow. They need to put them on salary to push them to move faster. They never should have cut my pay or did anything to harm someones life. I hope nothing but bad things for the future of the Post Office.

brandon 5 weeks ago

how long do you have to be in school to be a mailman

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 5 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

Paul I am confused. In 22 years I have never heard of a pay cut, unless it is nationwide and contractural. I don't know what to say to you.

Mel Carriere profile image

Mel Carriere 5 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

You don't have to be in school brandon. As if school means anything.

Cardell2411 4 weeks ago

This article and comments have been very insightful. That being said I think anything you do is what you make it. I have three people close to me that work in USPS. Their perspectives are some what similar,but I was convinced it would be a good opportunity. So after my cousin Idk 20th time I applied and scored a 87. I guess that's good I wanted to go to San Diego dream city lived there and my family has found path from CCA to regular in 2 years. Long story short i decided to apply in Memphis were I am at and in San Diego. I had interview to every place I applied. Didn't end up making it to my dream city now I'm here where the weather is not sunny California. Plan on taking this CCA position here then transfering. I don't expect it to be easy, but every job sucks if your not doing something you love. So I just embrace the good and bad with any job if it pays the bills.

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Mel Carriere 4 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

Sorry if I gave you the impression that the Postal Service is always a bad job. It can be a good job, it is indeed what you make it, as you stated. My purpose of this article is simply to let people know the reality of what they are getting into. Thanks for reading.

Seth 3 weeks ago

So my girlfriend is working as a CCA and doing very well. She has been casing since her third week, and tomorrow will be her 90th workday (or 120 days from hiring). She really likes it (except for some small annoyances that every CCA has). My question: what is that 90-day mark or probation period mean? She is still a CCA, but is the difference now that she can be represented by the union? Or is it harder to get her fired now? Is there a sit down evaluation? I guess I'm not sure what happens after the 90 day probation period. And I when I do finally see my girlfriend, we don't to talk too much about work haha. Thank you for this page and all the info

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Mel Carriere 3 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

You have it exactly right, Seth. Now that she hit 90 days it will be hard for the Post Office to fire her. Lately I am getting nothing but cheery reviews of the CCA job. Nothing but sugar-coated comments. I suppose I should be happy.

I don't think they will give her a sit down review, but I could be wrong. If management is saying nothing to her that means she is doing well, because they will voice their displeasure to people who aren't hitting the mark. Thanks for reading.

Banning 2 weeks ago

I'll be honest, this blog covers it all pretty well. The CCA position, of which I've held for about a year now, is easily one of the worst jobs I've ever had. The pay is great, don't get me wrong. Even at just $16 an hour, the overtime makes it worth it. However, once you get past the paycheck, there isn't much to like about the job. Now, I've had a hold down for about 6 months now, so my daily routine is pretty set, at least as far as my route goes. However, auxiliary time is a daily thing, so even having a hold down on one of the longest and most brutal walking routes at my station doesn't protect me from getting that extra hour and a half of mail each day. But carrying mail isn't all that bad, so let me tell you what really makes it bad for me.

Now, to be fair, my supervisors and station manager are very respectful towards us CCAs. I've read stories about hostile managers screaming and threatening CCAs, but giving credit where credit is due, our leadership team doesn't do that. No, the screw over comes in other forms. Such as the constant change of schedules, days off being taken away or changed at the last minute, getting sent back out over and over again because lazy people keep bringing mail back... etc etc.

So, I toughed out my first 90 days, and then I learned something, something that might be useful to other new CCAs here. Guess what folks, we are all adults. No one can make you do anything you don't want to do, and if you know how the rules can work in your favor, you'll find that your time as a CCA can be manageable. So, here are a few tips to help you keep your job and your sanity.

First of all, as a CCA you are entitled to one day off a week an minimum. The postal week runs from Saturday to Friday, and in that time you are entitled to at least one day off. You may have to demand it, but remember, you cannot be forced to work more than 6 days in a row.

Next, you can't be worked more than 12 hours, and that includes your lunch break. At the 12 hour mark, you can bring your mail back and there is nothing they can do about it. This information can be found in the CCA handbook.

You cannot be kept on stand-by. This is also in the handbook. You supervisor must either schedule you and put you to work, or leave you alone. They can't tell you to stand by your phone and wait for them to call you. This also applies on your day off. You cannot be 'forced' into work if you weren't scheduled. They might try to use lies or intimidation to get you in, but honestly, they have no means to enforce this. Furthermore, there is nothing that states you are required to even answer your phone for them. Unless the P.O. issues you a government phone that they pay for, they have no scope or cause to demand that you answer your personal phone, even during the work day. In other words, if it isn't issued, you don't have to use it for work purposes.

You can call out. Trust me, that 1-888 number can be your best friend. Don't go overboard with this, but it can be useful from time to time if you really need an extra day off.

You can also just say no. Disobeying a direct order can wind you up in trouble, yes, but you also have to understand that the supervisors are anticipating that you won't have the backbone to actually say no. Supervisors like to use a style called 'leading.' Not as in, leadership, but as in, leading a conversation. If you come back in after walking in the sun for 11 hours and your supervisor has 45 minutes of mail left, they will try really hard to get you to take it out. Whether you have to get home to your kids or even if you're just tired, they will ignore anything and continue to nudge you towards the mail until you finally do one of two things, either take it out as they want, or just say no. Once again, this isn't something to make a habit out of, and if you're within your 90 days it shouldn't be done, but you can win this one as well. You may get an I.I. (a write-up) but as any good union rep will tell you, those don't mean anything. As long as you are respectful when you decline to take out more mail, you can generally walk away.

Knowing your words is very important. Remember, it's all about what you write down and the choice of wordage. For example, if they want you to take mail into an unfamiliar part of town at night, write a statement informing they that you feel this task is 'unsafe.' You've now informed them that you do not feel safe following this order. They can, and likely will, try and make you go back out, but now they have to essentially order you to commit an act that you have formally informed them you feel is unsafe. They are now taking all the liability, and you'd be impressed at how many times that alone will back some of them down.

The same can be said with an emergency situation. If something comes up that you need to attend to at home, write it up that you have an emergency. The supervisors can still tell you that you have to remain at work, but now in doing so, they are essentially ordering you to ignore a potential family emergency. This once again places a ton of liability on them, and can often back them down a bit.

Finally, SPEAK UP! Don't be afraid of your supervisors. You're an adult too. Be polite with them but also be firm. Do not allow them to 'lead' you, don't falter in your resolve. They might lie or try to intimidate you, but that is the best they can really do. As I said above, they cannot force you to do anything. When I first started, CCAs worked every single Sunday with Amazon. Then we got together and had a meeting with the supervisors and told them we wanted Sunday rotations since we had enough people to rotate. It worked and we now get two Sundays off a month. That is a lot better than working every single one.

In closing, because I don't want to get anyone fired, let me give you some last minute advice. If you're in your 90 days, you may want to disregard most of my advice until you make that 3 month mark. Standing up for yourself within that first 90 days can be dangerous, as they will either fire you or send you somewhere even worse.

Like I said above, be firm but POLITE. There is no reason to ever get into a shouting match with a supervisor. State your issues, stick to your plan and don't be pushed around, however, remember to calibrate this. Pick your battles in other words.

Anyway, these are few of the survival tips that have allowed me to have a relatively pleasant time as a CCA. I usually get two days off a week and generally don't work more than 10 hours, but that came with me being vocal about my limits and being persistent with what I wanted. This may have worked for me because I have a persuasive personality, and I cannot promise these results for everyone. Just remember, you have rights as a CCA. They don't own you, they cannot force you into misery. You have to stand up for yourself though, because no one else is going to do it for you.

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Mel Carriere 2 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

You should get your own blog, Banning. One thing I would take contention with you over is your assertion that you can refuse work because you are "tired." Family emergencies or illness are one thing, but you cannot refuse a supervisor's direct order to carry that extra 45 minutes just because you are tired and want to go home. They can walk you off the floor for an extended, unpaid vacation for that, and as a CCA it will be a struggle for the Union to get you your job back. Even as a regular of 23 years, I get sent back out to do extra work all the time, and I don't beg off because I am "tired." You have to do it.

In other words, CCAs, ALWAYS obey a supervisor or manager's direct order unless it is unsafe, and then if you think the contract has been violated, contact the Union and file a grievance. This includes coming in to work your day off. Yes, you are entitled to a day off, but if they tell you you have to come in, you have to come in. This even applies to regulars. During the Christmas season, there are regulars that work seven days a week. They pay you time and a half or double time, depending on how many hours you have worked for the week.

I appreciate your enthusiasm, Banning, but don't lead the sheep astray. Unless you are being ordered to do something unsafe, you have to obey your supervisor's orders.

Jay 2 weeks ago

So... fresh from the oven as a CCA, started my first day at work in Seattle solo (just finished the OJT) and it is brutal! For me, it's not about the lifting or physical work but mainly finding the houses and to finish by 5pm. So many houses lack visible adress signs or house with front door/mailbox on another street than as listed. So many things that you will NEVER know if it's on your first day on that route AND they expect you to finish by 5pm. Definitely looking for a new job for me... sadly I was in the super sugar coated orientation, lots of BS when I got on the job, and training was horrible... 3 days is not enough to pass on the info.

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Mel Carriere 2 weeks ago from San Diego California Author

Sorry to hear that Jay. Give it a little while, maybe you'll get a feel for the area and things will click. Thanks for reading.

Jay 9 days ago

Hey Mel, it indeed get a little better as time goes... (still looking for other jobs though). Just want to comment that as of today, my station which has 5 CCA (myself being the newest CCA) is now down to 2. The OJI who trained me said this is normal. I on the other hand do not, this is what I believe will happen when people are mislead into a job that was supposed to be professional and organized.

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Mel Carriere 8 days ago from San Diego California Author

That's what I am hear for Jay, to teach people a dose of reality before they take the plunge. Professional and organized have nothing to do with the Postal Service, but you can make it work if you try. Thanks for reading.

Katie 8 days ago

You sir, are a gentleman & a scholar. I am most appreciative of this post! I just did an application a good 45 minutes ago and have received an email stating instructions to do the first test. I got into the habit of researching job reviews after being young and dumb and looking for jobs on Craigslist that were scams 90% of the time. (If it sounds too good to be true it usually is) ;) This has helped tremendously with the decision of whether or not I should pursue a career as a CCA.

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Mel Carriere 8 days ago from San Diego California Author

I'm glad you got some use out of it Katie. Good luck to you during the application process and beyond. Let me know how it goes.

gaCCA 7 days ago

I have been a CCA in a small town for a year now and my instructors were all CCAs or Letter Carriers prior to their current positions. NONE of my training was sugar coated and we were constantly reminded of the hazards of working as a CCA. I love my job. Yes, its physically demanding because of the extensive heat I endure during my few hours of the day; and mentally draining because of our timed schedules that I work hard to maintain. But it's the people I work with and my customers that keep me coming in to work even if I'm being paid $10 LESS than EVERYONE in my office. THAT totally sucks, but the area I work in doesn't allow for very many jobs to even PAY that amount so I'm content at the moment. I find that you cant please everyone and someone is bound to dislike you and try to make your life hell at work, but that's what the NALC is for. It's not a perfect system, but carriers need to utilize their union more often to assist them when, say there route is overloaded or they feel their postmaster is being unfair. I'm grateful to you for giving potential employees a REAL glimpse into the position so they know what they are signing up for. Hopefully that will ensure we get quality carriers and not the ones that get caught by the media dumping mail!

Bey Meadows 6 days ago

Don't forgot they don't issue uniforms, you have to buy them on your own. Something to remember when you're out at 8 and 9 pm with your Cole Minor light around your head and getting funny looks (or police called on you) for entering someones yard in plain clothes.

Bey Meadows 6 days ago

Also, the severity of the job depends on where you deliver. I worked in South Bay delivering in the city's of Manhattan Beach and El Segundo and those areas got tons of mail and lots of parcels from Amazon, Ebay, and other forms of E-commerce. I've been told that differs from lower class areas who don't do as much online ordering and don't receive as much mail in general. Still, very physically demanding. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone! I had a home, cars, and multiple other bills and still ended up leaving after a couple of months. I've been out as late as 11pm delivering mail and had police called on me (thanks USPS for not providing uniforms) only to return to the office to be ridiculed. I cannot stress enough to folks how bad of a job this is. Do anything else except becoming a CCA!

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Mel Carriere 6 days ago from San Diego California Author

gaCCA your wisdom is refreshing. I hope you make regular soon. Thanks for dropping by.

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Mel Carriere 6 days ago from San Diego California Author

If you would have bought a Cole Major instead of a Cole Minor light you would probably still be working. Also, the postal service does provide uniforms after three month probation is over. In the meantime, old timers in the station are usually willing to part with a shirt or two. Thanks for trying, Bay. I hope your next job doesn't require spelling.

Bey Meadows 5 days ago

So I have to work for three months before being issued a uniform or take a hand me down from someone else who has gotten their shirt dirty and sweaty? Please, sign me up! Pass. What other job in the public eyes doesn't supply informs? UPS, Fedex, DHL, Police Officers etc. do so. Is this not the Federal Government? You can supply your employees with uniorms from day one. And the type of light I had is irrelevant, doesn't change the job and the undue stress caused by management. It's not a good job specifically for CCA's no way to slice it. As I was told by a supervisor befofe leaving one night, it's a job for the desperate, they should put that in the job description. Current job doesn't require perfect spelling so I'm doing just fine. Neither does this blog as you got my point.

Ff 5 days ago

One thing I have not seen anyone post on here as far as concerns is how you work for an organization and you have to keep track of your hours. Yes the post office management treat people all these horrible ways and so forth they mess with your hours. I've been a cca for over 2 years in Columbus Ohio gahanna station and every pay period I've been shortened 200-300 dollars every pay I told my union stewards within my station about matter fact even the union president and all they told me was keep track of my hours I started doing that carrying a note pad around and management has moved me to a different station after me doing this. I thought the post office was the ideal job as well as career and it has hurt me physically mentally and emotionally they way other people treat other people along with the workload of being told to do thing in a time limit that is impossible.. Just responding not looking for a response just thought I'd add, could go on all day but I'd wrather not waiste any more of my time or life on the post office. I walked away from the job some of what your going to deal with is sort of worth it long as your get compensated financially but I promise after people start keeping track of their hours and realize management steals from them they won't have any problem walking away.. We go to work to make money to provide for our families and pay our bills not to get stole from and have our checks shortened.

Ff 5 days ago

As well with the uniform situation they do not issue those as the are supposed to, management is really foul they treat the employee of the postal service as if everything they must do for the employees comes out of their personal finances.. People really need to grow up and stop deceiving people there is really nothing positive about the post office at all and I'm not just saying this in ignorance or revenge I've been homeless and without nothing and thought the post office could change my life and in a way it has it made me go to school and obtain a degree because I thought deeper and it shows the way a job can treat its employees (like nothing but a number) especially when the employer does not require a degree of some sort. On top of that the post office knows they are one of the only jobs paying 16.06 an hour that does not require a degree or certification of some sort which makes it worse because there are a ton of people who don't know anything about the post office and or the life as a mail carrier.. Truthfully the only thing good is the over time but then it's not because as a CCA you don't have the choice on if you want to work it or not as well they can force regulars but do everything they can not to and it really becomes not worth it when you realize that management is stealing from you and the union, management, and EEO for the post office are all allies.. Management has to accept whatever comes from the union as well as EEO to put things into affect. It's like trade off (you do something for ill do something for you) but it has to be worth it for management because either way EEO consultant get paid to handle situation regardless if they are resolved or not and the union gets paid to file grievances regardless of if the matter gets resolved or not. So management must get something beneficial from it.. All these situations that are being talked about by everyone here has been reported to the union or EEO right? Well tell me when does management truly ever get in enough trouble where they will change their behaviors or make them more responsible towards their jobs at work? You make a wrong move as a CCA no matter if you past your 90 days or in your 90 days and your way of living or livelihood (your job) is on the line!! It unfair.. As I said not saying this because of my personal feeling towards the post office etc I'm saying this because every person who has carried mail has experienced wrong doing in some way shape or fashion and have to worry about their jobs whereas management when they screw up they continuously get promoted. And as a carrier no other carrier is going to stand up for others when they hope the treatment isn't inflicted upon them. Management has many ways of getting around things especially when it comes to retaliation. Management can have a carrier past their 90 days sitting at home for just cause reasons in which they have refused settlements and now the matter is going to arbitration and even then if they bring you back to work they do not have to pay you for the time you sat at home because more than likely you'll file for unemployment and you won't get paid for sitting at home unless it's through unemployment and if unemployment does pay you and they bring you back unemployment is going to expect you to pay back all your benefits because it is then seen as you were never unemployed to begin with.

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Mel Carriere 5 days ago from San Diego California Author

Come up for air dude. FF I am happy you got out and went to school. I know you are frustrated by your bad experience, but you might consider some commas and periods in your future writings. Thanks for reading, good luck.

Ray 2 days ago

Reading your blog has made me question my decision to become a CCA. Im supposed to start in 2 weeks, and now have serious reservations about it. Thank you for the brutal honesty, and damn you for the added confusion.

In other words, please continue the blog.

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Mel Carriere 26 hours ago from San Diego California Author

Ray, why don't you just try it? If you read through the comments, you can see that some people actually like it, and it's not a long road to regular. Thanks for reading and good luck!

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