It was three delivery days earlier than Christmas, and Santa’s blue-clad helpers have been laborious at work spreading vacation cheer on the Bellflower put up workplace.
Pickup was imminent. Mail carriers in fuzzy hats and crisp polyester shorts scurried from side to side. Inside, a line of procrastinators in ugly sweaters and nubby fleece pajama bottoms waited to put up their nick-of-time Christmas presents and eleventh-hour vacation playing cards.
“It’s quite a lot of last-minute playing cards,” stated Postmaster Tania Cason, as she greeted her regulars. “We begin as early as 6 a.m. delivering packages, and maintain rolling till 8 or 9 at night time.”
However Cason wasn’t within the foyer that morning to glad-hand. She was recruiting new would-be Christmas elves, providing $19.33 an hour plus advantages to hitch the North Pole’s authorities arm — in any other case often called america Postal Service.
Like employers throughout the nation, the USPS has struggled to shore up its workforce amid a traditionally tight labor market. In an try to draw youthful carriers, it boosted wages and caught QR codes on its mail vehicles to promote open jobs. Not too long ago, branches akin to Bellflower have begun internet hosting pop-up job gala’s amid a nationwide effort to recruit 20,000 new staff.
Technically, these are short-term roles, akin to these provided by UPS, FedEx and Amazon to satisfy the vacation rush. However after surging pandemic demand and a chaotic reorganization threw the company into disaster in 2020, the Postal Service has moved to transform its temp staff into profession workers.
Since 2021, tens of thousands of such “pre-career” workers have been reclassified into everlasting roles.
Now, tens of hundreds extra are being recruited to hitch them.
“We used to rent simply seasonally,” stated company spokeswoman Natashi Garvins. “[Now] we’re going to proceed to rent till we will’t rent anymore.”
That effort is slated to proceed lengthy after rivals minimize their vacation workers.
“As many employers are letting go on the finish of the season, we’re hiring,” Garvins stated.
Among the many hopefuls who gathered across the tree in Bellflower’s P.O. Field alcove Thursday have been younger moms, faculty college students and skilled bundle handlers.
“I really like being exterior, and I’d like to work in my group,” stated Vanessa Wassenaar, 25, a stay-at-home mom of two who’d discovered herself with spare time. “It’s profession to begin off as a result of you possibly can develop inside the postal service.”
Certainly, the common hours and federal advantages give the put up workplace an edge in a market nonetheless dominated by just-in-time scheduling and unpredictable paychecks.
By hiring past the vacation season, the company hopes to keep away from the cascade failures of 2020 and the viral crush of final winter.
“Final yr this time was horrific,” Cason stated. “New Yr’s Eve I used to be right here on my own,” with the remainder of department administration and half the Bellflower letter carriers sidelined by sickness.
However at the same time as they recruit, postal staff are quick getting older out of the job.
In line with the Nationwide Assn. of Letter Carriers, one of many labor unions representing postal staff, as of 2018 the common letter provider was 48.
That might be a boon for youthful recruits like Andrew Alcaraz, 20, a bundle handler at UPS who was nonetheless carrying the rival brown and gold when he got here in to use.
“I at all times needed to be a driver,” he stated.
However to land that function at UPS would take years of seniority — and persistence he doesn’t have.
“This place, you [convert to a career hire] robotically after two years,” stated Marisol Rivas, postmaster on the Bell Gardens department close by, who joined Cason and Lynnwood Postmaster Joyce Roelants on the occasion. “Possibly prior to that, as a result of we have now quite a lot of carriers retiring.”
Nonetheless, it takes greater than a stout coronary heart and robust calves to hold the mail.
“Folks don’t anticipate how bodily tough it’s,” stated Scott Bunnell, 62, a retired mail provider who determined to return after feeling pinched by inflation. “This time of yr, it’s like getting up and doing a marathon every single day.”
Bunnell agreed with the supervisors that delivering the mail had been job. He additionally knew what they weren’t telling fellow candidates.
Their downside wasn’t hiring. It was retention.
“You’re out within the solar, you’re strolling all day. I walked seven to 10 miles a day with additional time,” he stated. “Mine was one of many greatest lessons, 35 folks. Inside six months, I used to be the final one left.”
Along with power, stamina and ergonomic sneakers, a job with the postal service requires a clear document, two years of secure driving, and a selective service registration.
Rushing tickets and automotive wrecks disqualified some hopefuls on the spot. Youthful males have been scolded for failing to register for the draft.
Artwork scholar Timaan Meeks, 21, thought he met the necessities, however he was ambivalent. He’d spent the autumn checking ballots for the L.A. County Board of Elections and hoped to seek out one thing extra stimulating with out dropping the perks of a authorities job.
Cruising the neighborhood as a letter provider appeared extra thrilling. However he had reservations.
“We don’t actually need to be mailmen,” he stated of his technology. “No person’s making an attempt to work on the put up workplace.”
Neither snow nor rain nor warmth nor gloom of night time would keep him from the swift completion of his appointed rounds, he felt certain.
However Fido may be an issue.
“I don’t like canines,” Meeks stated.
The uniform was additionally a priority.
“The shorts are kinda cool. However that bucket hat, that button up? That’s not fly,” he stated. “It’s gonna look bizarre on my head.”
Different zoomers have been extra pragmatic.
“I hear it has good advantages — I used to be considering of me and my son,” stated Kaitlynn Carmichael, 20, a single mom who’d hoped to snag a metropolis provider assistant job. “I would like two years of driving expertise, however I simply bought my license final yr.”
Garvins inspired her to use once more in a couple of months.
“Please don’t hand over,” the postal employee implored her. “Don’t overlook us in June.”