Monday, March 30, 2015

Will CCAs Stand the Test of Time?

By Mel Carriere

I have now made my peace and personally reconciled with every CCA throughout the country and with the overall concept of CCAs in general.  Perhaps I was critical of the CCA idea at first because my livelihood partly depends upon overtime, and CCAs were basically invented to eliminate pricey regular carrier overtime and to reduce me to abject poverty.  But the overtime didn't go away as promised and still remains in force, albeit severely diminished after, what is it, a year and a half since the conception of the CCA?  So the CCAs and I have had our kiss and make up moment (off the clock, of course, no fraternizing on the job), and I now lovingly embrace them into the Postal fold.  Furthermore, I have trained at least a couple dozen CCAs since this grand experiment began and the majority of them have indeed stood the test of time.  I consider my trainee CCAs in particular to be like my children, and I experience a proprietary sense of pride whenever I see them pass through the Post Office where I work.

But an online thread I was following about the reliability of CCA delivery has made me wonder whether or not the CCA will stand the test of time or whether it will fade away into Postal History, along with the now defunct Casual, PTF, and TE.  First of all, I don't think that all mail delivery done by CCAs is unreliable.  I think we can divide CCAs into two categories; those senior CCAs who are pretty much permanent fixtures at the offices where they are assigned, and a much broader category that I call the "Have Satchel will Travel" variety of CCA.  This group consists of those CCAs at the bottom of the CCA food chain, who basically live life waiting patiently by the telephone to see which office among a dozen or so in the Postal CCA lottery will be their temporary home on any given day.  Their satchels, not having a permanent resting place; a little satchel hook they can call their own, remain in the trunk of the car along with a Postal pith helmet and whatever other accessories are necessary for the frenzied CCA existence, like band-aids, baby wipes, pain killers, and perhaps a plastic jug to go pee in on the fly when the long cracking whip of the supervisor allows no respite for a proper pit stop.

The permanent fixture CCAs, those who successfully opt on routes where the regulars are vacationing and have first dibs on most routes in their home office even when they can't, usually try to do a good job because they will have a few dozen grouchy, growling regulars barking at them if they do not.  The "Have Satchel will Travel" variety of CCA, on the other hand, is perhaps less inclined to be careful about whether the right mail goes in the right box today because they know they will be able to dodge criticism by disappearing into a different zip code tomorrow.  They have also learned that most of us aging regulars are quickly approaching the point when we will be admitted into "memory care" facilities, which means we are probably not going to recall the mortal mail sin an offending CCA committed three or four days ago.  For some of us, these homeless CCAs also sort of blend altogether into a faceless mass, or we might even give away an hour or two to a CCA without even knowing who it was that delivered an entire relay to the wrong block.

I don't think the "Have Satchel will Travel" CCAs deliberately try to do a bad job, I just think that they are given impossible expectations and are sometimes forced to cut corners to get back to the office in time.  Although most regulars will go back and fix those three or four houses we delivered out of sequence - because let's face it we all make mistakes, the CCA just wants to live to fight another Postal day and having a very short Postal mistake memory and an untroubled Postal conscience where boo-boos are concerned is helpful in stressful circumstances.

So my question is:  Will the CCA stand the test of time?  I think there is a reason why Postal workers and delivery employees such as UPS drivers are generally well paid, and this is because Americans appreciate getting their mail in the right place the first time.  This delivery accuracy requires motivated, well paid employees who take a sense of ownership of the neighborhoods that they deliver to.  When one day your are delivering to Hillcrest and the next day to North Park and the next day to San Ysidro or Pacific Beach how can you develop a sense of ownership over your mail delivery, especially when you are not making much money doing it?

But for the time being, it looks like the "Have Satchel will Travel" category of CCAs is not going away any time soon, but is actually increasing in size.  Supposedly the CCA percentage is capped at 15 percent by contract, but I just did some quick math on my own, I swear without my wife helping me, and I figured out that we have 25 full city routes in my office, plus 5 T-6s and one RC.  That makes 31 regular carriers, yet we also have 8 CCAs assigned to our station.  With a few deft touches of my calculator I figured out this makes 20.5 percent.  Maybe I'm splitting hairs, but that's five percent over what the contract allows, and that seems significant.

What's the deal folks?  Is this same stretching the boundaries of the contract happening everywhere, or is it an isolated incident?

My pipe-dream solution, which I don't think will happen, is to turn all of the CCAs into Regulars overnight; tomorrow if not earlier.  Then there will be no more lack of ownership of the mail, no more lack of motivation, and hopefully no more pissing in bottles.  Seems simple.

This photo of a mailbox that has stood the test of time is my own, for a change.

The Postal Tsunami is a powerful wave propelled by copious quantities of Starbuck's coffee, which is not cheap.  I have nothing to do with ad selection here, but unless these ads completely annoy or offend you I would appreciate if you could check out what my sponsors to the right and down below have to say.  Thanks for your support.

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