PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region are experiencing significant delays in receiving their mail, with some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills. The delays come at a time when the U.S. Postal Service is experiencing significant changes. The new Postmaster General’s policies eliminate overtime, order carriers to leave mail behind to speed up their workdays, and slash office hours, which — coupled with staffing shortages amid previous budget cuts and coronavirus absences — are causing extensive delivery delays.
According to local union leaders and carriers, mail is piling up in offices, unscanned and unsorted. Mail carriers who spoke with The Inquirer said they are overwhelmed, working long hours yet still unable to finish their routes. Offices are so short-staffed that when a carrier is out, a substitute is often not assigned to their route. […]
On top of staff shortages, the agency has seen a significant increase in packages due to a boom in online shopping as people stay home. Casselli said Philadelphia’s plant was processing about 30,000 parcels per day before the coronavirus. Now, it’s processing 100,000. “They were short-staffed before COVID, and now they don’t have the manpower to process the mail that needs to be delivered,” said Casselli. “Mail is sitting for a week to 10 days before they’re even scanned to go out.”
Amid this increase, sudden policy changes instituted to cut costs by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump donor who was appointed in May, are exacerbating delays, at a time when unprecedented voting by mail has put scrutiny on the agency. In memos to employees, DeJoy has ordered carriers to leave mail behind if it delays routes, and said the agency will prohibit overtime. Additionally, post offices’ hours are being slashed, including in Camden and Cherry Hill. “These are things that have never ever happened in the history of the post office,” said Casselli.
Carriers are being told to leave mail behind
The USPS, which is part of a $1.6 trillion mailing industry that employs 7.3 million people, faces crippling debt. Philip F. Rubio, a history professor at North Carolina A&T State University who has written numerous books about the Postal Service, said the current changes are part of the Trump administration’s quest to turn the public against the post office and ultimately privatize it. “What’s happening now is really egregious,” he said. Mail carriers say the new orders have forced them to abandon some of the most sacred commitments of their job. MORE