USPS Is "Struggling" With This Delivery Problem, Postal Worker Says
This continues to cause issues for people all across the U.S.
From budget cuts to stolen mail, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has had a rough few years, to say the least. The agency does appear to be working to combat its challenges: In 2021, the USPS unveiled its Delivering for America plan, which is a 10-year initiative set to help the Postal Service become self-sustaining through service adjustments like price hikes and slower delivery standards. President Joe Biden has also tried lending a hand by passing the Postal Service Reform Act in April, which is set to provide $50 billion in relief to the USPS over the next 10 years. But it's clear the problems the agency is facing won't be an easy fix. In fact, one postal worker has just spoken out about a major USPS problem with no simple solution. Read on to find out what the Postal Service is "struggling" with now, and how it might affect you.
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Delivery delays are occurring in multiple states across the U.S. right now.
If you've been having issues getting your mail recently, you're hardly alone. The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported on July 14 that a number of residents in the Montana city had not received their mail in over a week. Bozeman resident Diane Heyden told the newspaper that she finally went to the post office and was 15th in line when she arrived. "When I finally got up there, several people in line were there for the same reason: Can we pick up our mail," Heyden said.
Then on July 20, CBS-affiliate WVLT reported that people in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, had also gone more than a week without mail delivery, making some worried about missing bills and other important documents. "I'm frustrated," Oak Ridge resident Robert Sexton told the news outlet. "Just makes ya feel insecure."
But these are just a few examples of what seems to be a nationwide problem. According to Newsy, multiple states across the U.S. are experiencing delivery delays from the USPS right now, including Tennessee, Montana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
This is being caused by the Postal Service's staffing struggles.
The rise in delivery delays around the country appears to be rooted in a different problem for the USPS: staffing issues. In Bozeman, Heyden said there were only two employees working at the counter, and she was told the post office's supervisor had quit the week before. Another Bozeman resident, Janice Gaedtke, told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that the longtime USPS mail carrier on her route had left a note two weeks ago telling them that she had quit to spend more time with her family.
"I feel sorry for them, they aren't paid enough, they're overworked," Gaedtke said.
While labor shortages have impacted most industries amid the COVID pandemic, a Postal Service source explained to Newsy that the few workers the USPS does have are getting burned out by having to work 10- to 12-hour days, six days a week. And this has led to new hires not lasting long either. "We've been struggling [with staffing]," an Ohio USPS worker told the news outlet. "We had to overburden our employees."
USPS says it's working to hire more workers.
In June, ABC-news affiliate KVUE in Austin, Texas, reported that the USPS is working to hire more employees, with job fairs being held all across the U.S. Steve Doherty, a spokesperson for the Postal Service, recently confirmed to The Boston Globe that the agency is "aggressively hiring" in places such as the Northeast, but "like many other businesses right now, struggling due to low unemployment numbers and job competition."
As a result, the USPS is warning that delivery delays may occur like many resident across the U.S. are already reporting. "Due to continued staffing issues, there may be days in the future when a customer does not receive mail, but we are rotating employees and assignments so they will get mail the following day," USPS spokesperson Lecia Hall told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
But officials are pushing for more permanent solutions.
Job fairs might not cut it, as there's a high possibility that the Postal Service's staffing issues could get even worse over time. In May, the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a report revealing that the agency ended the 2021 fiscal year with 23 percent of its 516,636 employees becoming eligible for retirement. The OIG reported that almost 150,000 workers will reach retirement eligibility within the next year, and within the next four years, a total of more than 196,700 are set to become eligible.
"It is important for the Postal Service to be well prepared with potential successors and plan for loss of knowledge due to employee retirements or departures," the report said.
And other officials are stressing the same amid delivery delays. U.S. Senator Steve Daines wrote to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on July 14, confronting the agency about "concerning reports of major postal service interruptions" due to staffing shortages, as he said hundreds of his constituents in Bozeman have not received mail in more than a week.
"I respectfully ask that you rectify the interruption as soon as possible and take steps to ensure that any future interruptions are avoided," Daines wrote. "I appreciate the hard work of current carriers and employees to mitigate the effects of staff shortages as well as the ongoing and active efforts to recruit new employees as quickly as possible, but urge you to help find a more permanent solution to prevent further interruptions."