USPS plans to fill 900 vacant supervisor positions ahead of peak holiday operations

The Postal Service is gearing up to fill a significant number of supervisor positions left vacant as part of a recently lifted hiring-and-promotion freeze, in o...

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The Postal Service is gearing up to fill a significant number of supervisor positions left vacant as part of a recently lifted hiring-and-promotion freeze, in order to prepare for this year’s peak holiday season.

USPS, according to a stand-up meeting memo obtained by Federal News Network, plans to fill about 900 Level 17 supervisor positions, in fields that include customer service, distribution operations, transportation operations and maintenance operations.

Non-bargaining and bargaining unit employees, including employees affected by an ongoing reduction in force, are eligible to apply for these Executive and Administrative Schedule jobs.

The agency, according to the memo, accepted applications for these positions from Aug. 17-23.

USPS spokesman David Coleman confirmed the agency is in the process of filling vacant front-line supervisor positions ahead of the holiday peak season, adding that these positions “play an important role in stabilizing and developing our workforce and are integral in achieving the goals” of the agency’s 10-year reform plan. 

“The role of the supervisor is to train and coach our new employees, setting them up for success and ultimately, improving our ability to deliver to the American public. The newly promoted supervisors will work in our local communities in the post offices and mail processing plants — directly supervising the letter carriers, clerks and drivers who are responsible for delivering, processing and transporting the mail,” Coleman said. 

USPS opted for a non-voluntary reduction in force of non-bargaining unit employees in May, after sending voluntary early retirement offers to its eligible management workforce. The agency, as part of the RIF, also lifted a freeze on management-level hires and promotions that had been in place since August 2020.

Employees affected by the RIF must separate from the agency on Oct. 8, but employees who accept a reassignment or demotion will start their new positions on Oct. 9.

National Association of Postal Supervisors President Brian Wagner said USPS at one point only accepted applications to fill these supervisor jobs from management-level employees affected by the RIF.

But he said all but 540 of the nearly 2,000 USPS employees affected by the RIF have already found new positions within the agency, meaning there are “more than enough positions” to broaden the pool of applicants.

Wagner said the supervisor jobs USPS seeks to fill are largely entry-level management positions. In some cases, he said bargaining unit employees have been named as acting supervisors and could be promoted as permanent positions open up.

“These aren’t new jobs, they’re existing jobs that have just been vacant. So instead of waiting for this Reduction in Force to be completed, they’ve opened it up for all bargaining and non-bargaining employees. What we’re seeing is that some people are impacted by the RIF can [move] lateral over to these to these jobs or if they’re in a lower level RIF-impacted job, be promoted into the supervisor position,” Wagner said.

Wagner said USPS has worked closely with NAPS throughout the RIF process to ensure all affected employees find “landing spots,” or alternate positions within the agency, rather than face layoffs.

“Now, if somebody chooses not to take a job they’ve been offered, that’s a personal decision they would be making and technically they would RIF themselves out by not taking the job. But there are landing spots for anybody who wants a position,” Wagner said.

In an interview from May, Wagner said USPS had 4,550 vacant positions, more than enough to cover the RIF at a time when NAPS expected more of its members would receive RIF notices.

“I thought the number would be quite higher, and it wasn’t, so I was impressed that the number wasn’t as high as we had anticipated,” Wagner said.

The push to fill hundreds of vacant supervisor positions isn’t at odds with the ongoing Reduction in Force. Wagner said the RIF mostly impacted employees working in administrative support functions, but not supervisors in charge of operations in the field, such as getting mail and packages processed and delivered.

The RIF also allows USPS to right-size its workforce as it consolidates its 67 districts into 50 districts that more closely align with state boundaries as part of an agency restructuring.

“A lot of companies look at where they’re at, look at optimization, efficiency, where can we go with that. And I think that was the main intent — where do we need people in this location or that location, and are we working more efficiently? If we need fewer people in these support positions, we also need more people in the operations, because the volume for packages has gone up,” Wagner said.

Meanwhile, USPS has taken steps to ensure it has the rank-and-file workforce it needs to handle a surge of packages at the end of this year and avoid widespread delays that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy called “unacceptable.”

DeJoy recently told employees in a video message that he plans to hire 40,000 seasonal workers and convert 33,000 non-career employees to career status ahead of its year-end peak holiday operations. He said the agency hires, on average, about 10,000 new employees each month.

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