A Newspaper Carrier’s Story or No Wonder the Community is in Bad Shape

By Sarah Jackman

Do you have the Press and Sun Bulletin delivered to your home? If so, have you ever thought about the person who delivers that paper?

Remember This Line? Newspaper Routes Are Not For Kids Any More In the past, newspaper delivery was the sole province of paper boys and girls. They did it as a way of earning some extra cash. Paper boys and girls are now a thing of the past; they are now “carriers.” Here are some facts about today’s newspaper carriers.

  The Carrier’s Job                                                                                                                      Carriers are now adults who are considered independent contractors. They do not work for the Press and Sun Bulletin. They are “self-employed.” Carriers work seven days a week, approximately six hours a day. They have no pension or benefits, such as health insurance, sick or vacation time. They must use their own vehicles.

The Carrier’s Pay                                                                                                                                 As a base, carriers are paid 9 cents for every paper delivered. They receive a few more cents for delivering the Sunday paper. Carriers work approximately 6 hours every day, 7 days per week, 352 days per year.

$14,980 Gross Income Per Year                                                                                                      One carrier has close to 430 customers on 38 streets. Besides driving, this carrier also walks about 5-6 miles daily dropping the paper at homes of subscribers. After expenses (fuel, commercial insurance, plastic bags to wrap the papers on rainy and snowy days, rubber bands and paying a Sunday helper) the carrier is lucky to earn a few cents per paper. If the carrier misses a delivery to a home, he or she is fined 75 cents by the Press. This works out to about 25 times their net income per paper delivered. These “independent contractors” barely make enough to survive.

A carrier’s net income is almost solely based on tips for a service well done. As for tips, if the subscriber sends the tip through the Press and Sun Bulletin the carrier receives those 2 to 3 weeks after the customer has paid his or her bill. The carrier is also taxed on tips received.

If the printing of the paper is delayed, as it often is on Thursdays, carriers must wait around at the Press building in Johnson City until the paper is ready. This wait time is, of course, unpaid. In many cases it does not pay for the carrier to go home and return when the papers are ready. If it is raining out, carriers must wait in the rain to pick up papers. They are not allowed to wait under the canopy at the Press building.

How Carriers Make Ends Meet                                                                                                     Many carriers need to supplement their income through applications to the Broome County Department of Social Services. Public assistance in the form of Medicaid, HEAP, Food Stamps, etc. is necessary to keep families together. The residents of Broome County must provide the necessities of life that the Press “job” does not. The Press itself has managed to skip out of paying its share of the public cost through a fifteen year property, sales and other tax abatements it applied for and received through the Broome County Industrial Development Agency. The BCIDA is in the business of handing out millions in tax benefits to companies like the Press in order to create many jobs that don’t pay a living wage.

No Free Delivery                                                                                                                             When you subscribe to the Press you are told that the subscription comes with “free delivery”. It is not free; it is the carrier who pays.

Support Your Carrier                                                                                                                    Demand that the Press begin to pay carriers a living wage. Until they do, remember to give your carrier a decent tip. Seven days a week, 52 weeks per year is a tough way to earn the small amount that the Press pays.

Turkeys for the Needy

Before the Thanksgiving holiday the Press and Sun Bulletin ran a little ad encouraging its readers to give to the local Turkey Call. The Press told us that: “We should not in good conscience dig into our Thanksgiving turkey knowing that families in the area can’t afford to have a bird on the table.” The Press and Sun Bulletin need not look too far for persons in need. Maybe they could organize a turkey drive for their carriers through a front page appeal.

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