The U.S. Postal Service, which expects to lose $7 billion this year, spent $4.3 million on employees who did nothing in the first half of the year because of requirements in union agreements, an audit found.
The amount paid for so-called “stand-by time” has “significantly decreased,” down tens of millions of dollars from what was spent just a couple of years ago, says the Washington Post, which obtained a copy of an audit.
Labor agreements mandate that postal employees have a certain amount of guaranteed work hours, which means that they can not be laid off during periods of low mail volume or unplanned events like the breakdown of equipment. This leads to “stand-by time,” in which employees spend the day doing nothing - for example, waiting in a cafeteria or breakroom.
Aren't you glad we have government union contracts to guarantee that workers get paid to do nothing?
If there's a silver lining here, it's that this waste of taxpayer money is shrinking:
In fiscal year 2009, the Postal Service logged over 1.2 million hours in stand-by time, costing taxpayers more than $30 million dollars. This declined to around $20 million in 2010, and is on track to be less than $10 million this year.
The report explains the decrease in stand-by time by saying that the employee workforce has been reduced in size over the last two years to more appropriately align with expected workload.