Long Island, NY
I am a City Letter Carrier for the US Postal Service in NY. I've been a city letter carrier for over 15 years and it is the best job I've ever had. I mostly work 5 days per week (sometimes includes a Saturday) and often have the opportunity for overtime, which is usually voluntary. The route I deliver has about 350 homes and I walk to each of their doors to deliver the mail. Please keep in mind that I don't have authority to speak for the USPS, so all opinions are solely mine, not my employer.
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Great Question. Please keep in mind that anything I answer here is based on my observations only and I have no authority to speak for the USPS. Personal correspondence besides greeting cards seems to be close to extinct. I don't really know of anyone who writes letters to each other anymore. There has definitely been a drop in the amt. of mail I deliver daily, including catalogs, magazines, bills. I don't see this trend reversing, especially since the younger generation (for me, that is people under 40 y/o) really not having much use for the USPS to transact business or communicate with their contemporaries. The one area where I have seen growth has to do with parcels that people have ordered online through eBay or Amazon.com which the USPS delivers.
I appreciate that question as it makes me really think how best to answer. First of all, there seems to be a lot of contradictory information on how much the USPS is really losing and how much closing facilities or switching to 5-day delivery would save. I am a bit conflicted because I don't have too much use for the USPS in my own life anymore except to ship eBay packages on occasion. I do all of my finances online. It does make sense how technology is eating much of our 1st class mail business. I don't believe there will be large-scale layoffs. Older workers may get retirement incentives and the USPS has done very little "career position" hiring in the last few years. Those affected would likely be people with no job "guarantee". Our office isn't staffed well enough to cover deliveries during the peak vacation (mostly summer) season. I've also learned to "believe it when you see it" regarding any changes. There is often talk of what the USPS wants to do. It is another thing as to what they actually do.
I can't answer what you are legally supposed to do it, just can make some suggestions. If the address on the envelope doesn't match your address, you can leave it visible in your mailbox for the letter carrier to see the next day with a post-it note, or note paper clipped on that says "Please deliver to the correct address" or "Delivered to the wrong address". You can also write on the envelope or circle the address and write "delivered to wrong address". Another option is to deposit the piece of mail back in a blue collection box and hope that it isn't misdelivered to your house again. I don't believe you are legally obligated to do anything with that mail, but if someone else received mail intended for you, wouldn't it be courteous to return it to the USPS so it can be delivered to the correct addressee? I try very hard to make sure I deliver the mail properly the first time, though there is no doubt that all of our employees make mistakes.
To become a letter carrier with USPS, I don't know the exact requirements, but you have to be at least 18 yrs. old, possess a drivers license, a minimum of a GED, and demonstrate an ability to read and understand English (though I have seen coworkers who I question how they got through that last requirement). At the USPS website (www.usps.com/employment) I think you'd be able to find out the requirements to be employed. I took a written exam before I was employed and based on my grade, I was put on a list of eligible applicants. You also must pass a basic physical exam and drug test. Training is fairly minimal. For apprx. 3 days you might have some classroom and driver training (sometimes called the Carrier Academy). That is sometimes at another facility than the one you will be working at. At your assigned facility, you usually go out with an OJT (on the job trainer) to deliver a route and learn how to do the job properly and safely. The probationary period is 90 days. Once you learn the job it is possible based on staffing levels that you may wind up delivering a whole route pretty soon after you are hired. Route assignments are based on seniority bidding so it is more common to be a floater (fill in for days off/sick/vacation) before getting your own route assignment. Again this is based on whether an office has the proper staffing levels or not. In my office, I had a bid route assignment after about 2.5 years of service. Now I do the same route every day I come to work.
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Another question which I don't know the official answer to. I have rarely come across this situation, but I'm sure in certain neighborhoods it is more common. I will usually stop after the box is completely full. If that happens I may put any mail after that on "Hold" and keep it at the PO for apprx. 10 more days. If, after 10 days has passed AND the mail in the mailbox has still not been retrieved by someone at the house, I discard most non first-class mail and would have periodicals (magazines/newspapers) and any first class mail returned to the sender marked "Moved, Left No Address". I often know when people are moving because I'll see "For Sale" signs at their house or see a moving truck loading or unloading a house. When that happens, I usually see a "Forward Mail" order for the person leaving and then I usually see mail for the new resident (in most cases a different last name). People do move without putting in a "Forward Mail" order. In that case, I'll hold the mail at the PO for 10 days, and if I haven't received a "Forward Mail" order, the periodicals and first-class mail would be returned to the sender marked "Moved, Left No Address". The area I deliver to is not very transient so the scenario you asked about doesn't come up often as I mentioned earlier.
I can think of 2 possible reasons why he doesn't wear a uniform. 1) If it is a rural route, which is usually in a lesser populated area, the carriers don't wear uniforms. These carriers might also use their own vehicle to deliver the mail and the mailboxes are at the street as opposed to being at a front door of a house or a cluster box often found in apt. or condo complexes. 2) The carrier chooses not to wear a uniform and his supervisor doesn't enforce the rules about wearing a uniform on the job. We all should wear a uniform at work, but I've seen carriers wear partial uniforms or their own clothes. As a city letter carrier we are given a uniform allowance each year to purchase authorized uniforms, footwear, and outerwear. If it has been over a year, the employee should be in uniform if they are a city letter carrier.
Let's see. There are 2 answers I can think of. 1) From the USPS point of view, that would be 0%. All mail is a revenue source for the USPS, so I wouldn't consider it "junk". There is somebody (the mailer) who wants a msg. communicated to the recipient (advertising/gov't/ political notice) and is willing to pay us for it. By collecting postage is how the USPS funds its operations so all types of mail contributes to our survival. From the view of a customer, if you are referring to mostly advertising mail, or non-first-class mail, I'd would guess it is about 80% of the mail is advertising mail, called "standard mail" in USPS classification parlance.
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