It was three transport days earlier than Christmas, and Santa’s blue-clad helpers had been laborious at work spreading vacation cheer on the Bellflower submit workplace.
Pickup was imminent. Mail carriers in fuzzy hats and crisp polyester shorts scurried from side to side. Inside, a line of procrastinators in ugly sweaters and nubby fleece pajama bottoms waited to submit their nick-of-time Christmas items and eleventh-hour vacation playing cards.
“It’s a variety of last-minute playing cards,” mentioned Postmaster Tania Cason, as she greeted her regulars. “We begin as early as 6 a.m. delivering packages, and hold rolling till 8 or 9 at night time.”
However Cason wasn’t within the foyer that morning to glad-hand. She was recruiting new would-be Christmas elves, providing $19.33 an hour plus advantages to hitch the North Pole’s authorities arm — in any other case referred to as the US Postal Service.
Like employers throughout the nation, the USPS has struggled to shore up its workforce amid a traditionally tight labor market. In an try to draw youthful carriers, it boosted wages and caught QR codes on its mail vehicles to promote open jobs. Not too long ago, branches akin to Bellflower have begun internet hosting pop-up job festivals amid a nationwide effort to recruit 20,000 new employees.
Technically, these are non permanent roles, akin to these supplied by UPS, FedEx and Amazon to fulfill the vacation rush. However after surging pandemic demand and a chaotic reorganization threw the company into disaster in 2020, the Postal Service has moved to transform its temp employees into profession workers.
Since 2021, tens of 1000’s of such “pre-career” employees have been reclassified into everlasting roles.
Now, tens of 1000’s extra are being recruited to hitch them.
“We used to rent simply seasonally,” mentioned company spokeswoman Natashi Garvins. “[Now] we’re going to proceed to rent till we will’t rent anymore.”
That effort is slated to proceed lengthy after rivals reduce their vacation workers.
“As many employers are letting go on the finish of the season, we’re hiring,” Garvins mentioned.
Among the many hopefuls who gathered across the tree in Bellflower’s P.O. Field alcove Thursday had been younger moms, school college students and skilled bundle handlers.
“I like being outdoors, and I’d like to work in my group,” mentioned Vanessa Wassenaar, 25, a stay-at-home mom of two who’d discovered herself with spare time. “It’s a great profession to start out off as a result of you may develop inside the postal service.”
Certainly, the common hours and federal advantages give the submit workplace an edge in a market nonetheless dominated by just-in-time scheduling and unpredictable paychecks.
By hiring past the vacation season, the company hopes to keep away from the cascade failures of 2020 and the viral crush of final winter.
“Final 12 months this time was horrific,” Cason mentioned. “New 12 months’s Eve I used to be right here on my own,” with the remainder of department administration and half the Bellflower letter carriers sidelined by sickness.
However whilst they recruit, postal employees are quick growing older out of the job.
In response to the Nationwide Assn. of Letter Carriers, one of many labor unions representing postal employees, as of 2018 the typical letter service was 48.
That might be a boon for youthful recruits like Andrew Alcaraz, 20, a bundle handler at UPS who was nonetheless sporting the rival brown and gold when he got here in to use.
“I all the time wished to be a driver,” he mentioned.
However to land that position at UPS would take years of seniority — and persistence he doesn’t have.
“This place, you [convert to a career hire] robotically after two years,” mentioned Marisol Rivas, postmaster on the Bell Gardens department close by, who joined Cason and Lynnwood Postmaster Joyce Roelants on the occasion. “Perhaps before that, as a result of now we have a variety of carriers retiring.”
Nonetheless, it takes greater than a stout coronary heart and robust calves to hold the mail.
“Folks don’t count on how bodily tough it’s,” mentioned Scott Bunnell, 62, a retired mail service who determined to return after feeling pinched by inflation. “This time of 12 months, it’s like getting up and doing a marathon each day.”
Bunnell agreed with the supervisors that delivering the mail had been a great job. He additionally knew what they weren’t telling fellow candidates.
Their downside wasn’t hiring. It was retention.
“You’re out within the solar, you’re strolling all day. I walked seven to 10 miles a day with extra time,” he mentioned. “Mine was one of many largest lessons, 35 individuals. Inside six months, I used to be the final one left.”
Along with energy, stamina and ergonomic footwear, a job with the postal service requires a clear report, two years of secure driving, and a selective service registration.
Rushing tickets and automotive wrecks disqualified some hopefuls on the spot. Youthful males had been scolded for failing to register for the draft.
Artwork scholar Timaan Meeks, 21, thought he met the necessities, however he was ambivalent. He’d spent the autumn checking ballots for the L.A. County Board of Elections and hoped to seek out one thing extra stimulating with out shedding the perks of a authorities job.
Cruising the neighborhood as a letter service appeared extra thrilling. However he had reservations.
“We don’t actually need to be mailmen,” he mentioned of his era. “No one’s making an attempt to work on the submit workplace.”
Neither snow nor rain nor warmth nor gloom of night time would keep him from the swift completion of his appointed rounds, he felt positive.
However Fido could be an issue.
“I don’t like canines,” Meeks mentioned.
The uniform was additionally a priority.
“The shorts are kinda cool. However that bucket hat, that button up? That’s not fly,” he mentioned. “It’s gonna look bizarre on my head.”
Different zoomers had been extra pragmatic.
“I hear it has good advantages — I used to be considering of me and my son,” mentioned Kaitlynn Carmichael, 20, a single mom who’d hoped to snag a metropolis service assistant job. “I would like two years of driving expertise, however I simply obtained my license final 12 months.”
Garvins inspired her to use once more in a couple of months.
“Please don’t quit,” the postal employee implored her. “Don’t neglect us in June.”
Leave a Reply