Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published February 27 2014
Sen. Hoeven announces agreement to raise pay for postal employeesDICKINSON, N.D. - Sen. John Hoeven’s office announced Wednesday that the U.S. Postal Service has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Rural Letter Carriers Association aimed at recruiting and retaining employees in the Bakken.
Effective May 17, the incentives are designed to attract and retain rural carriers to western North Dakota, an area that has been home to multiple mail delivery issues since the population in the oil-rich region began to skyrocket several years ago.
“This is great news for western North Dakota,” Hoeven, R-N.D., stated in a news release. “We’ve been working to improve postal service in western North Dakota and this agreement will help do that by recruiting and retaining more carriers in Williston and beyond.”
Hoeven invited USPS Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to visit Williston last August to hear from business and community leaders and local postal employees about challenges to mail delivery. In November, the senator arranged a follow-up visit to the state with Drew Aliperto, Postal Service vice president of area operations for the western area.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., hosted a town hall meeting Jan. 10 in Dickinson in an effort to help kickstart some solutions to the postal service issues.
“It is crucial that we hire and retain more rural letter carriers in western North Dakota,” Heitkamp stated in a release. “This is a positive step toward making that possible. This is one piece of the puzzle that the USPS has filled in western North Dakota. We also need to improve working conditions for the full array of postal employees beyond just rural letter carriers.”
Postal Service and union officials outlined the basics of the agreement to Jon Cameron, Hoeven’s western North Dakota regional director, according to Hoeven’s office.
Stipulations of the memorandum would require that all newly hired or converted career rural carriers receive a 9 percent increase in their base pay. All part-time or “flexible” rural carriers would also receive a 9 percent increase in base pay, and all rural carrier associates will receive a 20 percent increase.
“Since I launched my Fix My Mail campaign, I have heard stories from so many North Dakotans, including postal employees throughout the state, who are incredibly frustrated and rightfully so,” Heitkamp stated. “I’ll continue to relay these concerns to the postmaster general and use my seat on the Senate Committee with oversight of USPS to put pressure on the Post Office to continue to make much-needed improvements in North Dakota.”
The increases outlined in the agreement will result in starting hourly wages in the $21 to $22 range, plus fringe benefits as applicable, according to Hoeven’s office.
All employees in the three categories also will receive a $500 hiring bonus 90 days after being hired and another $500 bonus at the end of one year. The agreement — which includes Dickinson, Minot, Williston, Watford City and other communities in western North Dakota — will allow for cities or towns to be added or removed without having to modify the agreement.