Editor’s Note: Carolyn Ball did not take the PSE test. Article has been corrected in the online version.
Many Farber residents were likely surprised at the end of December when they realized both PMR’s (Postmaster Reliefs) working at the local post office were no longer employed.
Marilyn Flowers, who worked as a PMR in Farber for about 34 years, and newcomer Carolyn Ball, also a PMR, were told they were not retained after a nationwide USPS change from the PMR position to a reported union craft position called a Postal Support Employee (PSE).
Flowers worked her final day on December 24 while Ball completed her tenure on December 27.
“We were basically out the door before we could tell anybody we were leaving,” Ball said.
PMR’s were given letters last October that the PMR position was being eliminated. Current PMR’s were also told by the USPS that they could take a test to become a PSE but were not guaranteed to get the office.
Ball, who started working close to her home after retiring from WERDCC in 2013, did not take the test and was not awarded the Farber Post Office. Ball did say in Curryville a PMR took the test and was not awarded the Curryville Post Office.
Meanwhile, Flowers said she grew tired of jumping through hoops.
Through the years, Flowers said she took three tests to become a postmaster and never received the title. Now she was being told to take another test to become a PSE after being in Farber since at least 1981.
“The test upset me since I’ve been in the office 34 years and ran it numerous occasions,” said Flowers, who served in Farber alongside Bob Gish, Judy Niemeyer, Tom Kelly, and Chris Hull.
Ironically, Flowers said last week she just received a letter that said she had resigned, she had a terminal leave, while also receiving a pay increase for one hour of paid annual leave.
Apparently, Flowers and Ball are not alone, Currently, there are 9,481 PMRs nationwide that are a part of a Facebook group sharing their similar stories.
A nationwide petition called “Covert All PMR’s to PSE’s” has also been created at www.change.org.
The petition references a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the USPS in September 2014.
It noted that PMR’s work six days a week with no benefits, have non-postal wages, and are among thousands who typically run small post offices in the U.S.
The petition notes that while the APWU is claiming they are adding 9,000 union jobs, they fail to note they are also terminating 9,000 jobs in the process.
Ball said that while she was told she could no longer work in Farber, the USPS did ask her to train any newcomer to the office. She declined their request.
For Flowers, she says it feels different not working just a few blocks from home after more than three decades of service to her community.
“I just miss seeing (the customers),” she said. “I miss the time to be in the office and say hi to the people and have the different people come in and I would catch up with what was going on with them….All of the people were Farber residents and were friendly. I knew them all and most of them knew me. It seemed redundant to wear a name tag. I’ve lived in the town 50+ years.”
“Marilyn and I are proud to have the opportunity to serve the residents of Farber and have made many new friends throughout the years,” Ball added. “We appreciate your past patronage and support and will miss each and every one of you.”
New Farber PSE
Kay Foreman, of Rush Hill, is the new PSE now serving at the Farber Post Office and is not new to the Farber area.
Foreman has previously filled in as a PMR at post offices in Rush Hill, Benton City, and Santa Fe.
Foreman is originally from rural Laddonia and currently lives in Rush Hill.
She’s married and has three kids, with one of her children currently attending the Community R-VI School District.
The current Farber Post Office hours are noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8-9:45 a.m. on Saturdays.