July 10, 2017
Americans love a man, or woman, in uniform. Even in the postal world. In fact, many folks would like all postal workers to have uniforms.
Five years ago we ran a blog on rural letter carriers and whether they should wear a uniform, or at least a uniformed shirt – they currently aren’t required. Given that rural routes are increasingly suburban and rural carriers more visible to the public and rural letter carriers serve as something of a post office on wheels, it seemed a logical question to ask.
The overwhelming majority of responses to that blog were in favor of uniforms for rural carriers. And we got a lot of responses: 108 and counting, with comments continuing to roll in half a decade later.
Uniforms were in the news again with a recent agreement between the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which approved a uniform allowance for career clerk employees who are assigned to a post office that is open only part-time (the so-called POStPlan offices). Prior to the agreement, they did not get uniform allowances. As one APWU official noted, “A postal uniform provides respect to the institution, respect to the customer, and respect to the postal worker performing work on behalf of the Postal Service.”
With the Postal Service employing so many temporary workers, this question of a uniform approach to uniforms isn’t going away. USPS uses non-career workers, as these temporary workers are called, throughout its operations ― 130,000 in fiscal year 2016, according to our audit on the topic. Some of these positions get a uniform allowance after a certain amount of time on the job; others do not. Of course, some positions have no contact with the general public, such as the postal support personnel that process mail in plants, making a uniform less necessary perhaps.
Where do you stand on the great uniform debate? Do you think all postal workers, whether city or rural, part-time or full-time, should wear a uniform, or at least a uniformed shirt? Or only those workers visible to the public? Is the idea of a uniform old-fashioned or a way to give employees a stronger tie to the Postal Service mission and brand?