USPS Workers Are "Very Concerned" About This Newly Announced Change
This could exacerbate mail delays that customers are already experiencing.
Customer frustration with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) over delayed deliveries and increased costs is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the past few years, the agency has been struggling under the weight of mounting financial issues that have snowballed into negative consequences for customers, according to Forbes. To try to mitigate the crisis, the USPS announced its Delivering for America (DFA) plan in March 2021, which is a 10-year initiative set on returning the organization to one that is "self-sustaining and high performing." But this plan involves a number of changes and restructuring goals that not everyone is convinced are going to have positive outcomes for employees or customers. Now, the agency's workers are admitting they're "very concerned" about one newly announced change. Read on to find out what's spurring backlash at the USPS.
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USPS recently blamed delivery troubles on staffing issues.
Over the past few months, officials and residents alike have spoken out about how they are "frustrated" with the Postal Service, as some people have gone weeks without mail delivery. This problem appears to be occurring nationwide, with Newsy reporting on July 18 that multiple states across the U.S. were currently experiencing delivery delays from the USPS, including Tennessee, Montana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts.
In response, some USPS workers revealed that they've been "struggling" with staffing, and the agency itself has also blamed delivery delays and missing mail on labor shortages. "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 on July 14.
Now postal employees are worried that a new change will put more of them out of jobs.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy just identified 10 previously closed plants that will reopen to serve as centers for consolidated mail and package sorting before pieces go out for final delivery, Government Executive reported on Aug. 4. Employee groups impacted by the new sites—which are located primarily on the East Coast and in the Midwest—were first informed of the change by postal management this week.
According to the news outlet, this has created concern among many postal employees, as most post offices around the country have operated as their own delivery units. Edmund Carley, president of the United Postmasters and Managers of America, told Government Executive that some supervisors are now worried they will be out of a job because post offices that only offer retail services and do not process mail typically do not have a postmaster on site. "I'm trying to talk them all off the ledge but I don't have answers," Carley said, noting that he was "very concerned about the implementation" of these consolidated centers going forward.
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This is part of the agency's 10-year plan.
DeJoy first announced his vision for consolidated centers as part of the 10-year DFA plan in May 2022. Then in July, Government Executive reported that the USPS is also planning to build 60 new regional processing centers that will act as mega-centers "that can process, sort and send out for delivery mail" in one space. "Substantial deployment of this initiative will make us the preferred delivery providers in the nation. We will have the greatest delivery reach and be the most reliable and most affordable carrier," DeJoy said in August.
In May, Government Executive reported that the Postmaster General's goal is to "significantly reduce the number of processing plants and delivery units in major metropolitan areas." According to the news outlet, some metro areas currently have up to eight processing plants with 80 delivery units—which is the final sorting location where carriers pick up mail and packages for home delivery—that the USPS says can be replaced with just 10 sorting and delivery centers.
"We are looking to make some big changes," DeJoy told Government Executive in May. "Our current processing plant and transportation network is, well, not good. We process mail and packages in a complicated, illogical, redundant, and inefficient way."
DeJoy also previously announced plans to cut staffing numbers.
Dave Partenheimer, a USPS spokesman, told Government Executive that the new centers will improve the working environment for employees, reduce time and cost for transportation facilities, and allow for more efficient delivery routes—but he did not specify what would be the direct impact on employees and their current jobs.
This is not the first time the agency has caused concern within its existing workforce recently. At an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, D.C., on July 27, DeJoy said that the USPS will be getting rid of a large portion of its workforce over the next few years as part of his plans to cut the agency's financial losses.
"Right now, to get to break even, I think we may need to get 50,000 people out of the organization," DeJoy said. According to the Postmaster General, the 50,000 employees it needs to shed will come from a natural source: retirement. "Over the next two years, 200,000 people [will] leave the organization for retirement," he claimed.