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Blacks Dominate Postal Service, Latino Charges : Jobs: Tirso del Junco, head of agency’s board of governors, says management “must open the doors of opportunity to everyone.” Spokesmen say hiring is colorblind and based on test scores.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The vice chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors said Tuesday that blacks are overrepresented among postal workers in Los Angeles and other major cities, often at the expense of Latinos.

Postal Service management in Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami “is driven by blacks--they must open the doors of opportunity to everyone,” said Dr. Tirso del Junco, the vice chairman of the postal board and the chairman of the California Republican Party.

Del Junco said he is trying to get more jobs for Latinos because postal jobs are among the best jobs in the country. In Los Angeles, 15% of the postal workers are Latino in a city where 34.7% of the work force is Latino, while black employees account for 62% of the postal workers and are 9.6% of the local labor force.

Del Junco, a Los Angeles surgeon, raised the issue while the board was discussing a report on efforts to increase diversity in the Postal Service work force.

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In an interview after the meeting, Del Junco complained that he has questioned Latino underrepresentation before, but has been ignored during his six years on the board. “Not many board members are familiar with it--I am because I am Hispanic and I live in California,” said Del Junco, who was first appointed in July, 1988. The nine-member board is the governing body of the Postal Service, comparable to the board of directors of a private corporation. They select the postmaster general.

“The black leadership in the major cities who are driving the system must accept responsibility for bringing equality into the system,” he said, indicating that he was referring to the local executives in the Postal Service. Del Junco also said “there is a very large underrepresentation of white men and women in many cities.”

Postal Service officials disputed Del Junco’s comments, and said hiring is done in strict accordance with the results of a test open to anyone. The agency’s hiring practices are colorblind and not designed to help or hurt any minority, the officials said.

“The managers do not control the hiring of employees--the register controls it,” said Charly Amos, the Postal Service manager for affirmative action, referring to the official list of those who have passed the periodic entrance exams. “It would be totally illegal to go off the register” in hiring new workers, he said.

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The only preference is given to veterans, who get 5 points added to their exam score, and disabled veterans get 10 extra points and are automatically moved to the top of the list, according to Amos. A score between 70 and 100 puts a candidate on the register, with those with the highest scores hired first. (The highest possible score would be 110 for a disabled veteran.) Candidates must be at least 18 years old, U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens and have no felony criminal record.

Amos said black workers historically have a “good network” of keeping informed about Postal Service tests.

Del Junco’s comments underscore the intense feelings that surround the issue of access to postal jobs, which offer desirable and secure positions, particularly attractive in California’s sluggish economy.

The Postal Service is the nation’s largest civilian employer, with 778,000 workers, including 720,000 full-time, permanent workers. And the pay is good, with an average annual salary of $32,458 for career workers.

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Historically, the Postal Service has been an important source of employment for black workers at a time when discrimination blocked them from many jobs and professions.

Blacks are employed in “great numbers in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York because the attractiveness of the Postal Service was very great when they had lower-paying jobs,” Amos said.

The Postal Service wants to have a work force reflecting the local community, something “that will not happen overnight,” Amos said.

Postal Service figures showed that blacks and Asian Americans have a higher share of postal jobs in comparison with their share of the total civilian work force.

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On a nationwide basis, among all groups, white men account for 46.2% of Postal Service workers, compared with 42.6% of the civilian labor force, while white women are 21.4% of postal workers and 35.3% of the work force. Black men account for 11.4% of postal jobs, and 4.9% of the civilian labor force, while black women hold 9.4% of the postal jobs, and make up 5.4% of the total work force.

Among Latinos, men have 4.6% of all postal jobs, and are 4.8% of all workers. Latino women are 1.8% of the postal work force and 3.3% of total workers. Asian American men have 3.1% of postal jobs, and are 1.5% of all workers. Asian American women have 1.7% of jobs, and are 1.3% of all workers.

Despite the national averages--which for Latino men are close to their numbers in the work force--Del Junco said the Postal Service hiring of Latinos should reflect the local work force.

Throughout California, in such cities as Sacramento, San Bernardino, and Riverside as well as Los Angeles, Latinos are under-represented at post offices, he said.

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Postal Service figures for the Los Angeles district presented at Tuesday’s board meeting showed white men as 5.6% of the postal work force and 24.9% of the civilian labor force; white women had 1.7% of postal jobs and 19.8% of the total work force. Black men were 29.4% of postal workers and were 4.7% of all civilian workers; black women held 32.6% of postal jobs, and make up 4.9% of the labor force.

Latino men held 10.7% of postal jobs and made up 21.1% of the work force, while Latino women held 4.3% of jobs and were 13.6% of the work force. Asian American men held 10.5% of postal jobs and were 5.6% of the work force. Asian women held 4.9% of postal positions and were 4.8% of the work force.


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