Complaints of missing packages, medicine and paychecks continue as many Marylanders grow frustrated with delays at the United states Postal Service (USPS).
WMAR-2 News spoke with Sara Reisner, who lives in Pikesville, back in January. At the time of the interview, she had been waiting on a package for nearly a month. According to her tracking information, it was at the post office in downtown Baltimore, which arrived on December 17th.
Fast forward to mid-February, do you want to take a guess where her package is now? Well, it’s still sitting at the same facility.
“When you order something and it has two-day shipping and you’re told that there are some delays, you expect maybe some extra days a few extra weeks. This is going on three months,” Reisner said.
Reisner said she emailed, called the post office and even offered to pick it up, but all she’s been told is something she already knows.
“All I keep being told is it’s still sitting at a processing plant downtown. So, I’m really frustrated,” said.
And Reisner isn’t the only one frustrated. WMAR-2 News viewers have also told us they’re still waiting on packages. But that’s not it. Many say they are also receiving late bills, their medicine is even showing up late and in some cases their checks are taking over a month to clear.
The Baltimore facility seems to be at center of the problems as the agency blames COVID-19 for delays, which is also affecting much of the country. More than 40,000 of their employees nationwide have tested positive for the virus, according to a USPS spokesperson.
It’s led to staffing shortages, resulting in post offices and processing plants being stretched too thin. All the while the agency said it delivered a record 1.1 billion packages in the last year.
But U.S Senator from Maryland Chris Van Hollen believes the pandemic is only one of the issues. He thinks the bigger problem starts at the top with the Postmaster General Louis Dejoy and he’s calling on him to resign.
“And if he doesn’t resign, President [Joe] Biden should get rid of some of the members of the board and they should then replace the postmaster general,” he said.
Last year, Dejoy came under fire after he implemented cuts and policy changes that directly led to many of the delays. Baltimore's American Postal Workers Union spoke to WMAR-2 News about the challenges.
“He basically implemented if it required an extra trip to get more mail on time. we wouldn’t do that,” said Courtney Jenkins, who is the legislative director at the American Postal Workers Union Local 181.
The criticism aimed at Dejoy only grew because he made the changes before the election when many were voting by mail. However, some of the changes were later reversed when a number of states began filing lawsuits.
Earlier this month, Sen. Van Hollen and members of the Maryland Congressional Delegation sent a letter to Dejoy urging him to improve service and use $10 billion of federal relief money to do so.
“They should immediately put back the sorting machines that this postmaster general took out…they should hire on some emergency personnel,” he said. “They should be bring on replacement teams and converting some of the part time employees to permanent employees.”
The postal service says it has already taken a number of steps to address the delays, including increasing full-time staffing by more than 10,000. USPS also said service in most areas is starting to get back to normal and it expects less delays moving forward.
Sen. Van Hollen hopes USPS leaders deliver on their word. If not, he said the future of agency could be in jeopardy.
“This is just unacceptable service and it leads to a downward death spiral if things aren’t fixed quickly,” he said.
Full USPS statement can be read below:
Nationally, with a workforce of more than 644,000 employees, 43,451 employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The United States Postal Service processed and delivered a record number of holiday packages for the American people under some of the most difficult circumstances we’ve faced in the past century — specifically more than 1.1 billion packages were delivered this holiday season amidst a global pandemic.
Throughout the peak season, the Postal Service, along with the broader shipping sector, faced pressure on service performance across categories as it managed through a record of volume while also overcoming employee shortages due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, winter storms in the Northeast, as well as ongoing capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving historic volumes of mail.
To recover and stabilize operations, the Postmaster General and the Executive Leadership Team took a number of specific action steps to help address the issues. Those action steps included:
- Worked with union leadership to retain holiday peak season employees until operations stabilized.
- We worked with union leadership to increase fulltime career staffing in key several facilities across the country, by more than 10,000 positions total, which will improve performance long term.
- We continue to utilize employee overtime as necessary to stabilize operations.
- We extended lease agreements on annexes to provide additional package processing and dispatch capacity beyond the holiday peak season
- Implemented in August 2020, we realigned organizational reporting structures, providing greater visibility by the executive team into operations, allowing for quicker responses to issues
The Postal Service strives every day to provide excellent service to our valued customers and we apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced. We have returned to pre-peak operational conditions in most areas and we fully anticipate continued improvements in service performance.