USPS Workers Are Striking Across the U.S.—What It Means for Your Mail
Postal employees are protesting ongoing issues of understaffing.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has faced its fair share of complaints from customers. Frustrations continue to mount over ongoing issues, like delivery delays, rising mail theft, unnecessary postal fees, and long-lasting service suspensions. But it's not just customers speaking out against the agency—it's also employees. Over the past few days, USPS workers across the U.S. have begun to strike. Read on to find out why these workers are protesting, and what it could mean for your mail.
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The USPS recently touted a better employee experience.
The Postal Service is in the middle of a major 1o-year transformation, the Delivering for America (DFA) plan, which kicked off in 2021. On April 27, the agency released its second-year progress report concerning the initiative, noting that one of its greatest achievements during this time has been the stabilization of its workforce to help make for a better employee experience.
"As we enter the third year of our Delivering for America plan, there is a new energy and vibrancy at the U.S. Postal Service," Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement. "As I travel the nation meeting with the great men and women of the Postal Service, it is clear the investments we are making are paying off."
Since Oct. 2020, the Postal Service has reportedly converted 125,000 pre-career workers to full-time career employees to reverse its pre-DFA trend of high turnover rates.
"We are creating a work environment that continues to value our employee safety and creates a physical work space that employees are proud to work in," the USPS wrote in its report. "Our goal is to be an employer of choice."
But postal workers are now protesting across the U.S.
This progress may not reflect how everyone who works for the USPS sees things. In fact, postal workers in several parts of the country have recently gone on strike against the agency.
These protests have popped up in Chicago, Detroit, Salt Lake City, and Charlotte—among other places. According to CBS News, employees are speaking out against poor working conditions, with one of the major problems being a lack of necessary staff.
"Staffing is a big issue," Jane Duggan with the Michigan Postal Worker Union Retirees Chapter told CBS Detroit. "And when you don't have enough staff, the available people are all being overworked so it's common now for people to be mandated now to work 12 to 14-hour days, seven days a week."
Employees say both workers and customers are suffering.
Those on strike claim the Postal Service's problem with staffing is creating a snowball effect that is impacting how people receive their mail.
"We are having a nationwide protest for our dignity and respect in the workplace," Russ Franklin, President of the Salt Lake City Area of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), told ABC4. "We're facing a short staffing nationwide in postal service, and what that does is it makes it harder for the workers who are there because they're short staffed, customers are impatient, and yell at them."
Mark Dimondstein, APWU President, told CBS17 that staffing shortages have created toxic work environments and high turnover rates—which also result in slower mail delivery for customers.
"If the working conditions are horrible, people aren't going to stay. There's tremendous turnover, which exacerbates the staffing issues, which exacerbates the substandard service issues," he said.
Dimondstein added, "Postal management really has to address not just the hiring issue, but what we call the retention issue. And when that's fixed—and that comes down a lot to the working conditions—then people will stay longer. And that'll help on the staffing side as well."
Workers protesting could prevent your mail from getting delivered.
These protests could present more problems for customers. While the immediate effects of any striking are not yet clear, similar events have shown a trickle-down effect that led to mail delays.
Back in April, USPS worker Kellman Kirkconnell warned customers about potential delays due to walkouts by rural carriers as they faced massive pay cuts from the agency.
"We just got told … a lot of us are losing money with our new pay system," Kirkconnell said in his TikTok, per The Daily Dot. "A lot of you may not be getting mail today. We've had some people walk out, and other people lost way more than I did."
Now, more workers are indicating that they're leaving their positions amid protests over toxic work environments and understaffing.
"I resigned 2 weeks ago for an office job," one person admitted in an April 30 Reddit thread about the strikes.
Another Reddit user wrote, "I just quit about a week ago after a year. I loved doing the actual job. It was enjoyable, I was physically active and got to be outside. What I couldn't tolerate anymore was the 10 [to] 12 hour days that happened VERY frequently and only have one day off a week."
The USPS says some of these complaints are not "based in reality."
When Best Life reached out to the Postal Service about the protests, a spokesperson for the agency clarified that none of its workers are technically striking.
"Postal employees cannot legally strike," they said, adding that reports about strikes are likely referring to "a few union protests" that occurred across the country on April 28.
In terms of the complaints related to staffing issues, the USPS said in a statement that the APWU's position is "absent of anything based in reality." According to the agency, it is working to "create the safest and healthiest environment possible" for its employees through its DFA initiative.
"Over the past two years, we have worked diligently with our union and management associations to address our shared goals of employee recruitment and retention, workplace safety, and career training and advancement," the Postal Service said. "We have focused steadily on stabilizing our workforce resulting in employee availability and overtime requirements being at the most favorable levels in many years … We have already reversed years of declining service reliability and now 98 percent of the nation's population receives their mail and packages in less than three days, and we are working hard to correct service-related issues in the other limited areas."