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Customer and employee rights when USPS solicits customers to change the mode of mail delivery

NALC is aware of an effort by the Postal Service in different parts of the country to convince customers to agree to change their mode of mail delivery to cluster box or centralized delivery. This page contains the latest information detailing the rights of both postal customers and letter carriers, and we have created a fact sheet (available for download here) outlining customers’ rights when USPS solicits to change the mode of mail delivery.

Customer rights when the Postal Service solicits to change the mode of mail delivery

The Postal Service has recently solicited customers to change the way they receive their mail. For the most part, USPS has solicited customers to change from receiving mail to their home or business door to a centralized location where a number of deliveries are made into a cluster box. The cluster box could be placed anywhere, from a sidewalk to a location at the end of the street. In such cases, customers have to go to the cluster box to retrieve their mail. The Postal Service refers to this as “conversion of mode of delivery.” It is important that postal customers understand their rights and the rules and regulations that govern such changes.

The regulations and restrictions discussed below are contained in an internal Postal Service manual called the Postal Operations Manual (POM). Specifically, they are found in Section 631.6 of the POM. This section is printed on the second page of this document.

These regulations make it very clear that property owners are in control of where they receive their mail.

If property owners wish to retain their existing mode of mail delivery, they have the right to do so.

Postal Operations Manual

631.6 Conversion of Mode of Delivery

In this section, conversion refers to changing existing mail delivery to a more economical and efficient mode. The key to converting existing deliveries is identifying those deliveries that are most costly to the Postal Service. Delivery managers can go into any delivery territory where delivery has been established for over 1 year and solicit to convert the mode of delivery if it would be cost beneficial to the Postal Service.

Postmasters should not establish a mixed delivery area in which the carrier must zigzag from the door to the curb when previously the carrier took obvious shortcuts to effect delivery. Postmasters must weigh the advantages and disadvantages of converting less than 100 percent of the deliveries.

Customer signatures must be obtained prior to any conversion. In single-family housing areas (including manufactured housing and mobile homes) where the residences and lots are owned, each owner must agree to the conversion in writing. Owners who do not agree must be allowed to retain their current mode of delivery.

When a residence is sold, the mode of delivery cannot be changed arbitrarily prior to the new resident moving in. The existing mode of delivery must be retained absent an agreement otherwise. If an owners’ association represents the community, it can direct the mode of delivery for the community. In rental areas, such as apartment complexes and mobile home parks, the owner or manager can approve the conversion.

Employee rights

Section 667.12 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) provides the following in regard to employees engaging in campaigns for or against changes in mail service:

667.12 Engaging in Campaigns for Changes in Mail Service

Employees in active status must not engage in campaigns for or against changes in mail service. This regulation must not be construed to infringe on the rights to participate in labor organizations.

Letter carriers, as active Postal Service employees, should be aware of this regulation. If letter carriers have questions about what they should or should not participate in, the national business agent’s office should be contacted for guidance. 

Retired letter carriers may be fully involved in campaigns against changes in mode of mail delivery. Such campaigns may involve educating members of the public on their rights when the Postal Service solicits conversions of mode of mail delivery, including how any solicited change may affect each customer. Retired letter carriers can also be instrumental in forming partnerships with community organizations to help fight reductions in service to postal customers by changing mode of mail delivery.