Mail carrier

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An Australian postie riding a motorbike in Melbourne. Postie on motorbike - chadstone.jpg
An Australian postie riding a motorbike in Melbourne.
A USPS van on Cambridge Street in Harvard Square (Cambridge, Massachusetts). Usps-van.jpg
A USPS van on Cambridge Street in Harvard Square (Cambridge, Massachusetts).

A mail carrier, mailman, mailwoman, postal carrier, postman, postwoman, [1] or letter carrier (in American English), sometimes colloquially known as a postie (in Australia, [2] Canada, [3] New Zealand, [4] and the United Kingdom [5] ), is an employee of a post office or postal service, who delivers mail and parcel post to residences and businesses. The term "mail carrier" came to be used as a gender-neutral substitute for "mailman" soon after women began performing the job. In the Royal Mail, the official name changed from "letter carrier" to "postman" in 1883, [6] and "postwoman" has also been used for many years. [7]


United States

In the United States, there are three types of mail carriers: City Letter Carriers, who are represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers; Rural Carriers, who are represented by the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association; and Highway Contract Route carriers, who are independent contractors. While union membership is voluntary, city carriers are organized near 70 per cent nationally. [8]

Letter carriers are paid hourly with the potential for overtime. Letter Carriers are also subject to "pivoting" on a daily basis. Pivoting (when a carrier's assigned route will take less than 8 hours to complete, management may "pivot" said carrier to work on another route to fill that carrier up to 8 hours.) is a tool postal management uses to redistribute and eliminate overtime costs, based on consultation with the Carrier about his/her estimated workload for the day and mail volume projections from the DOIS (Delivery Operations Information System) computer program. Routes are adjusted and/or eliminated based on information (length, time, and overall workload) also controlled by this program, consultations with the carrier assigned to the route, and a current PS Form 3999 (street observation by a postal supervisor to determine accurate times spent on actual delivery of mail).

Rural carriers are under a form of salary called "evaluated hours", usually with overtime built into their pay. The evaluated hours are created by having all mail counted for a period of two or four weeks, and a formula used to create the set dollar amount they will be paid for each day worked until the next time the route is counted.

Highway Contract Routes are awarded to the lowest bidder, [9] and that person then either carries the route themselves or hires carriers to fulfill their contract to deliver the mail.

Letter carriers typically work urban routes that are high density and low mileage. These routes are classified as either "mounted" routes (for those that require a vehicle) or "walking" routes (for those that are done on foot). When working a mounted route, letter carriers usually drive distinctive white vans with the logo of the United States Postal Service on the side and deliver to curbside and building affixed mailboxes. Carriers who walk generally also drive postal vehicles to their routes, park at a specified location, and carry one "loop" of mail, up one side of the street and back down the other side, until they are back to their vehicle. This method of delivery is referred to as "park and loop". Letter carriers may also accommodate alternate delivery points in cases where "extreme physical hardship" is confirmed. [10]

Rural carriers typically work routes that have a lower density and higher mileage than those of letter carriers. [11] They all work mounted routes, leaving their vehicles only to deliver to group mailboxes or to deliver an article that must be taken to a customer's door. However, now that former rural areas are being urbanized, their routes are growing very similar to mounted "city routes". Rural carriers often use their own vehicles and are not required to wear a uniform. Because of urbanization around cities and because rural carriers deliver mail at less cost to the Postal Service, the rural carrier craft is the only craft in the Postal Service which is growing.

Highway Contract Route carriers work routes that were established with a density of less than one customer per mile driven (some later grow denser, and can then be converted to rural delivery). They are only mounted routes, and all HCR carriers use their own vehicle. These routes are typically found in outlying areas, or around very small communities.

The three types of mail carriers are also hired quite differently. A new letter carrier begins as a City Carrier Assistant (CCA.) [12] Rural carriers are hired as Rural Carrier Associate (RCA) carriers, without benefits. There is normally an RCA assigned to each rural route, so they usually work less frequently than city CCAs. As a result, there are thousands of RCA positions that go unfilled due to a lack of applicants, and are being covered by other RCAs until hiring improves [13] for the hiring process explained). Highway Contract Route carriers are hired by the winning bidder for that route. They are not United States Postal Service employees, and normally receive lower pay than carriers on city or rural routes.

Female carriers

Women have been transporting mail in the United States since the late 1800s. According to the United States Post Office archive, "the first known appointment of a woman to carry mail was on 3 April 1845, when Postmaster General Cave Johnson appointed Sarah Black to carry the mail between Charlestown Md P.O. & the Rail Road "daily or as often as requisite at $48 per annum". For at least two years Black served as a mail messenger, ferrying the mail between Charlestown's train depot and its post office." [14]

At least two women, Susanna A. Brunner in New York and Minnie Westman in Oregon, were known to be mail carriers in the 1880s. Mary Fields, nicknamed "Stagecoach Mary", was the first black woman to work for the USPS, driving a stagecoach in Montana from 1895 until the early 1900s. [15] When aviation introduced airmail, the first woman mail pilot was Katherine Stinson who dropped mailbags from her plane at the Montana State Fair in September 1913. [16]

The first women city carriers were appointed in World War I and by 2007, about 59,700 women served as city carriers and 36,600 as rural carriers representing 40 per cent of the carrier force. [16]

Famous carriers

Postmen homage in Rosario, Argentina; opus by Erminio Blotta, Palace General Post Office Estatua El Cartero.jpg
Postmen homage in Rosario, Argentina; opus by Erminio Blotta, Palace General Post Office

Famous real-life letter carriers include:

Fictional carriers

Mister McFeely delivering a letter. Mr. McFeely heads to post office.jpg
Mister McFeely delivering a letter.

See also

Related Research Articles

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Canada Post Corporation, trading as Canada Post, is a Crown corporation which functions as the primary postal operator in Canada. Originally known as Royal Mail Canada, rebranding was done to the "Canada Post" name in the late 1960s, even though it had not yet been separated from the government. On October 16, 1981, the Canada Post Corporation Act came into effect. This abolished the Post Office Department and created the present day Crown corporation which provides postal service. The act aimed to set a new direction for the postal service by ensuring the postal service's financial security and independence.

Grumman LLV

The Grumman Long Life Vehicle (LLV) is an American light transport truck model, designed as a mail truck for the United States Postal Service, which is its primary user. It is also used by Canada Post.

Local post

A local post is a mail service that operates only within a limited geographical area, typically a city or a single transportation route. Historically, some local posts have been operated by governments, while others, known as private local posts have been for-profit companies. Today, many stamp collectors operate hobbyists' local posts, issuing their own postal "stamps" for other collectors but rarely carrying any mail.

Registered mail

Registered mail is a mail service offered by postal services in many countries, which allows the sender proof of mailing via a mailing receipt and, upon request, electronic verification that an article was delivered or that a delivery attempt was made. Depending on the country, additional services may also be available, such as:

A postal worker is one who works for a post office, such as a mail carrier. In the U.S., postal workers are represented by the National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, National Postal Mail Handlers Union - NPMHU, the National Association of Rural Letter Carriers and the American Postal Workers Union, part of the AFL-CIO. In Canada, they are represented by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and in the United Kingdom by the Communication Workers Union.

Post office box

A post office box is a uniquely addressable lockable box located on the premises of a post office station.

Letter box Mailbox where mailmen or other people deposit letters to specific addresses

A letter box, letterbox, letter plate, letter hole, mail slot or mailbox is a receptacle for receiving incoming mail at a private residence or business. For the opposite purpose of collecting outgoing mail, a post box is generally used instead. Letterboxes or mailboxes use the following primary designs:

National Association of Letter Carriers

The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) is an American labor union, representing non-rural letter carriers employed by the United States Postal Service. It was founded in 1889. The NALC has 2,500 local branches representing letter carriers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam.

Nalcrest is a retirement community in Polk County, Florida, United States. The community's ZIP code is 33856. It is part of the Lakeland–Winter Haven Metropolitan Statistical Area.

John E. Potter

John E. "Jack" Potter is the president and CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority since July 18, 2011. He is the former United States Postmaster General and CEO of the United States Postal Service (USPS), having become the 72nd postmaster general on June 1, 2001. Potter is the second longest-serving postmaster general, following Gideon Granger.

Rural letter carrier Letter carriers in rural areas

Rural letter carriers are United States Postal Service and Canada Post employees who deliver mail in what are traditionally considered rural and suburban areas of the United States and Canada. Before Rural Free Delivery (RFD), rural Americans and Canadians were required to go to a post office to get their mail.

National Rural Letter Carriers Association

The National Rural Letter Carriers' Association (NRLCA) is an American labor union that represents the Rural letter carriers of the United States Postal Service. The purpose of this Association shall be to "improve the methods used by rural letter carriers, to benefit their conditions of labor with the United States Postal Service (USPS), and to promote a fraternal spirit among its members."

Mary Fields American mail carrier

Mary Fields, also known as Stagecoach Mary and Black Mary, was the first African-American female star route mail carrier in the United States. She was not an employee of the United States Post Office Department, which did not hire or employ mail carriers for star routes, but rather awarded star route contracts to persons who proposed the lowest qualified bids, and who, in accordance with the department’s application process, posted bonds and sureties to substantiate their ability to finance the route. Once a contract was awarded, the contractor could then drive the route themselves, sublet the route, or hire an experienced driver. Some individuals obtained multiple star route contracts and conducted the operations as a business.

<i>Letter Carriers Monument</i>

The Letter Carriers' Monument is a piece of public art by American artist Elliot Offner, located on a triangular plot formed by North 2nd Street, North Plankinton Avenue and West Wells Street in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the United States. Created in 1989, the monument depicts three letter carriers and was commissioned in celebration of the centennial of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC).

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive

The Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is a charitable initiative conducted by the National Association of Letter Carriers in the United States to make significant donations of food to organizations serving needy persons.

Mail satchel

A mail satchel is a type of mail bag that a letter carrier uses over-the-shoulder for assisting the delivery of personal mail on a designated route.

Vincent Raymond Sombrotto was a letter carrier at Grand Central Station in New York City, and the 16th president of the National Association of Letter Carriers between 1978 and 2002. He was born in Manhattan in 1923 to an Italian father and an Irish mother. Sombrotto became an official member of the National Association of Letter Carriers in 1947 and played a huge part in the U.S. postal strike of 1970. Sombrotto helped to expand the union into more than 100 cities and involved more than 200,000 new members. He retired in 2002 and finished with over 300,000 members and died in 2013 aged 89 at Port Washington, New York.

Jeanette Dwyer

Jeanette P. Dwyer is the former President of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. When she was elected President in 2011, she became the first female President of a labor union in the history of the United States Postal Service. She served as NRLCA President until 2018, when she chose not to run for reelection.


  1. "Can you deliver the goods?". Royal Mail . 2013. Archived from the original on 19 December 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  2. "Keeping Our Posties Safe". Australia Post . Archived from the original on 20 April 2018. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  3. "Nelson: More big cheques will soon be in posties' mail". Calgary Herald . 2018. Retrieved 10 January 2020.
  4. "Postie". New Zealand Post . 2009. Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  5. Robinson, Mairi (ed.). The Concise Scots Dictionary (1987 ed.). Aberdeen University Press. p. 511. ISBN   0-08-028492-2. post &c, 16- postie &c, 17- - n, a letter carrier, orig a courier carrying mails, now a Post Office postman
  6. "What did your relatives do?". London: British Postal Museum & Archive. Archived from the original on 18 January 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
  7. "Post Office". The Strand Magazine . London: George Newnes. 14: 221. 1897. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  8. "NALC Facts & History - FAQ". 28 January 2013. Archived from the original on 13 November 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  9. "Star Routes". Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  10. "USPS DMM 508 Recipient Services". 3 July 1994. Archived from the original on 25 August 2006. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  11. Bittle, Jake (3 May 2018). "In Rural America, the Postal Service Is Already Collapsing". ISSN   0027-8378 . Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  12. "Contract Administration". NALC. Archived from the original on 27 November 2013. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 August 2006. Retrieved 6 August 2006.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. "Women Mail Carriers" (PDF). June 2007. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  15. Drewry, Jennifer M. "Mary Fields a pioneer in Cascade's past". Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  16. 1 2 "Women Carriers" (PDF). Retrieved 2 March 2009.