With issues like prominent postal scams and widespread mail theft to contend with, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is facing some obvious challenges. Postmaster Louis DeJoy has been spearheading a major initiative to get the agency back-on-track to stability with the introduction of his Delivering for America (DFA) plan in 2021. Coupled with the Postal Service Reform Act that President Joe Biden signed into law earlier this year, there's a concerted effort to strengthen the USPS and alleviate some of the issues affecting customers. But despite a number of adjustments already being made, the Postal Service is still struggling with mail delivery right now. Now, one USPS worker is warning that some people might not get their mail thanks to a major delivery problem. Read on to find out what he's seeing on the frontlines.
Mail delivery isn't always consistent.
The USPS is responsible for delivering mail six days a week, but that doesn't mean you won't end up with an empty mailbox from time to time. The agency said it is normal for a household to not have any mail to deliver, and there are also common conditions or events that may prevent the delivery of your mail. That includes your mailbox being blocked, a dog on the premises, hazardous conditions, and natural disasters.
But even outside of these issues, many USPS customers have been reporting missing mail over the last year. Amid complaints in several areas across the country, the Postal Service has denied awareness of delivery delays in certain places while also acknowledging "experiencing some delays" in others. Now, one of the agency's workers is highlighting a big issue that could be contributing to the problem.
A USPS worker is raising the alarm about a significant issue.
A Postal Service worker has taken to social media to warn the public about a major mail problem. Lukas, an employee for the USPS who describes himself as a "mailman workaholic," posted an Oct. 29 video to his TikTok account @lukasthegiant with the caption "We need help!" According to Lukas, workers at his office—including himself—are often having to violate their union contracts by working overtime because of understaffing.
The USPS employee said that his Missouri office's union contacts don't authorize employees to work more than 60 hours a week. Last week, however, some of the employees had already hit 60 hours by Wednesday, according to Lukas. "That means that on Thursday and Friday, they didn't have workers," he said, noting that his office starts a new work week every Saturday. "Now some of us—myself included—knew the mail wasn't going to get out if we didn't come. So we came to work, we delivered, and we broke the contracts, some of us, to try to get people their mail."
Your mail might not get delivered if the agency doesn't get more workers.
Your mail can still get delivered if understaffed USPS workers choose to work overtime, but Lukas warned that this is not a sustainable solution. "Some of us can't keep doing that because we're working 70-plus hours, almost 80 hours a week," he explained. "You can't have a work-life balance in that."
The USPS worker said that in his area alone, they are down 12 mail delivery routes in some cases due to a shortage of staff. "Unfortunately, some people are not getting the service that they deserve, and it's because we need so much help," Lukas said, urging people to apply to work for the USPS. "They're hiring people."
This doesn't appear to be an isolated issue for just one postal region. Understaffing is occurring in many parts of the U.S., and has already had an effect on customers. Back in July, Newsy reported that major staffing shortages were causing USPS delivery delays in multiple states, including Montana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts. An Ohio worker echoed sentiments similar to Lukas to the news outlet at the time, saying, "We've been struggling. We have had to overburden our employees."
Employees in other areas have reported staffing shortages.
Stephen Doherty, a strategic communications specialist with the Postal Service's Atlantic Area-Northeast Region, told the Kennebec Journal in August that the COVID pandemic is still impacting the agency's workforce. "Temporary issues with employee availability due to the COVID pandemic continue to strain our available resources and we are aggressively hiring to fill all vacant positions," he said.
Doherty added, "We use every resource available to us including authorizing overtime, delivering mail earlier and later in the day or on Sundays and, in extreme cases, having postmasters, managers and supervisors delivering mail to ensure that our customers get the service they deserve."
But union officials like Mark Seitz, the president of the Local 92 chapter of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), also say this is not a permanent solution for the understaffing problem. "The only thing that's going to fix it, is if we get more people in there," Seitz told the Kennebec Journal.
During the NALC's 2022 convention, the union's National President Fredric Rolando spoke directly to DeJoy, warning that staffing shortages have led to post offices consistently going undelivered and employees violating work hour limits. "The Postal Service cannot succeed, Louis, unless it solves its chronic staffing problems first," Rolando said. "These problems were certainly made worse by the pandemic and the labor market condition that resulted from the so-called Great Resignation, but these problems predate the pandemic."