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Postal Union Sounds Alarm Over Cuts, Shortages

Labor Spokeswoman: Worker shortages blamed on poor conditions, morale

By Danielle M. Smith - Public News Service
The Tube City Almanac
March 11, 2024
Posted in: State & Region

The McKeesport post office will hold a hiring fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Wednesday. A postal union official says that the U.S. Postal Service is constantly hiring, but does a poor job retaining new employees because of working conditions. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Postal workers from Pennsylvania will head to the nation’s capital in early May for a national rally to raise awareness about the challenges faced by the U.S. Postal Service.

The workers say staff shortages, consolidations and office closures all are affecting mail delivery. The U.S. Postal Service’s goal is 95 percent on-time delivery across its vast network of 167 million addresses nationwide.

Kimberly Miller, president of the American Postal Workers Union Keystone Area Local 1566, said the worker shortage means some post offices close their facilities early and see delays in processing the mail. Miller pointed out rural customers often are hardest hit.

Since a 1970 reorganization, the U.S. Postal Service has been an independent agency of the federal government. It does not receive tax subsidies from the government and must generate its own revenue.

“We are operating on minimal staffing, many customers are experiencing it at the front lines,” Miller said. “Post offices are trying to curtail hours instead of hiring adequate staffing. There’s always been a shortage and now it seems to get worse and worse. And the mail, there’s a real delay in getting it to your door.”

Miller noted she is not a fan of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s 10-year plan to move letter sorting and distribution from local offices into large, regional hubs. In 2020, DeJoy put a plan into effect known as “Delivering for America,” to minimize employee turnover by converting more part-time staff to career status.

Miller said the Postal Service is hiring, but is having issues with employee retention.

Miller, who refers to career postal workers as “the craft,” suggested that improved training and treating workers with more respect could also lead to improved retention.

“They did a couple of investigations on allegations of who we said, ‘Hey, look this supervisor is abusive,’ and it just got worse,” Miller said. “It’s so abusive that people don’t know how to talk to people. The craft fights back. It said, ‘Hey, treat me with dignity and respect. Talk to me like an adult.’”

She encouraged Pennsylvania residents to call on their elected officials to require the Postal Service to return its service standards to what they were five years ago — when local delivery of mail was required within one to two days.

Danielle M. Smith is a producer for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. An award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media, she is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks who also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on WGBN (1360 AM/98.9 FM).

Originally published March 11, 2024.

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