Niles mail carrier Jim Herrman delivers mail on the west side of Niles Tuesday afternoon. Mail carriers will be doing a bit more walking when a new pilot test begins sometime next month. Daily Star photo/CRAIG HAUPERT

Archived Story

Mail test to affect delivery times

Published 4:44pm Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If your mail arrives at a different time than you were expecting it to next month, don’t panic.

The Niles post office is one of about a half-dozen offices taking part in a six-month pilot test of the internal delivery system beginning sometime in March.

As part of the test, the Niles post office is restructuring the number of delivery routes from 17 to about 14, meaning some addresses will be assigned new routes and, consequently, new delivery times.

Niles postmaster Fred Bergman expects the impact on customers to be minimal.

“It is impossible for us to know the number of customers that are going to be impacted as far as delivery time change and we are trying to retain as consistent of delivery as we can with these adjustments, but logistically you just can’t keep everything the same,” he said.

Under normal circumstances, mail carriers would arrive in the morning and case the mail for about an hour and a half before loading the mail into a vehicle and delivering it. For the test, mail carriers will not be casing the mail. Instead, they will arrive, load the trucks with the already-cased mail and begin delivering. That means mail carriers will be delivering mail for eight hours a day rather than six and a half — a change that concerns Lori Hanlin, president of the local letter carriers’ union 775. She said the extra time on the streets might be difficult for some of the older carriers.

“It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you look at the obstacles we have to deal with:  weather, animals and a lot of weird things that happen — you get a carrier that is 60 years old and they may or may not be able to do that,” she said.

Bergman said post office management is looking at ways to minimize the impact extra delivery time will have on carriers.

“The well being of our employees is always important,” Bergman said.

So who will be casing the mail? Bergman said casers would be selected from current postal employees. He said no Niles post office worker is being let go because of the changes.

Hanlin said many of the changes coming with the pilot test violate a contract the letter carriers have with the postal service, although she didn’t specifically say what those violations are.

She said she would begin filing grievances on behalf of the letter carriers once the pilot test begins. However, she said the letter carriers would continue to deliver mail during the pilot test.

“We will do it,” she said. “That is one of the things with our union. You do as you are told.”

Bergman said he doesn’t believe the pilot test violates the contract.

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