USPS Slammed for Service Suspensions: "We Have Not Met Expectations"
The agency is responding to customer frustrations amid postal problems.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is no stranger to suspending services—especially over the past year. Throughout the winter months, the agency adjusted operations at hundreds of post offices in the U.S. amid dangerous weather conditions and severe snowstorms. More recently, the USPS temporarily closed two post offices in South Carolina and North Carolina for structural problems. But now, the agency is getting some pushback from frustrated customers for one service suspension. Read on to find out why the USPS is admitting that it has "not met service expectations."
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An Alaska post office has been has been closed for almost a month.
Postal customers in one part of Alaska are voicing their frustrations following a service suspension from the USPS last month. The post office in Wainwright, Alaska, has been closed for over three weeks now, local NBC-affiliate KTUU reported on June 9. After the postmaster left their position in mid-May, the facility was shut down and Mayor Chester Ekak told the news outlet that is will be closed until further notice.
According to Ekak, the indefinite closure has not only caused problems for customers, but also local businesses and those searching for jobs.
"Some residents are frustrated because we have people who are trying to apply or waiting to see that position open up on USPS's website for job opportunities," Ekak said. "And since the last postmaster left, we have not heard anything or those that applied did not hear anything about the position they applied for."
The USPS said it is aware that is has "not met service expectations."
In order to end the temporary suspension, the Postal Service is working to send postal employees from its nearby facility in Utqiagvik to fill in at the Wainwright Post Office for the time being, according to KTUU. But as customers in the city have struggled without an open facility for nearly a month now, the agency has apologized for the closure.
"We know we have not met service expectations of the community and are working hard to restore the respect of the public," USPS spokesperson James Boxrud said in a statement to the news outlet. "For many months, we have been aggressively seeking employees to stabilize our workforce."
Best Life also reached out to the USPS to see if there is a timeline for the reopening of the Wainwright Post Office, and we will update this story with their response.
This is not only a postal problem in Alaska.
Customers in Wainwright are among the many who have been left frustrated recently by the Postal Service's staffing issues. In May, CBS News' Bay Area branch reported that residents in Bolinas, California, have been without a post office for four months after the facility's contractor ended its lease with the USPS.
"For a rural community like us, a post office is a lifeline for every aspect of our life," Bolinas resident John Borg told the news outlet.
"These challenges are not unique to our remote locations in Alaska," Boxrud admitted in his statement to KTUU. "The advent of the pandemic, the increase of consumer use of ordering necessities online and the national employment challenges have exacerbated this for many communities. We will continue flexing our available resources and augmenting from the surrounding region to help with the workload."
More USPS workers are quitting now than ever before.
The Postal Service's staffing struggles could impact even more customers—especially since the USPS is losing a significant amount of employees. An April 2023 report from the agency's Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that 59 percent of non-career workers left their job in 2022. This is a significant increase in the turnover rate before the pandemic, as just 38.5 percent of non-career employees left their job in 2019.
Dena Briscoe, who helped lead a protest against postal work conditions in Washington D.C., told Government Executive in May that one of the biggest problems is that the USPS is not replacing those who retire and instead expecting the remaining workers to pick up the workload in their absence—which is creating a cycle of stress throughout the agency.
"It's a domino effect," Briscoe said. "You end up having a hostile work environment."