PROMO Miscellaneous - Open Mail Box Letters - iStock

Postal workers speak out about short staffing, mail delays

Suzanne Potter

Click play to listen to this article.

Audio file

(California News Service) Members of the American Postal Workers Union are calling for more staffing and better pay to reduce turnover. They say the problem is affecting mail delivery, particularly in rural areas.

An audit by the Office of the Inspector General last year found the U.S. Postal Service lost almost 60 percent of its non-career employees in 2022. APWU California president Gaare Davis said smaller, rural post offices - in towns such as Alturas and Truckee - are hit hardest.

"These offices are understaffed in the northeast corner of the state," he said. "Due to the fact of not enough housing in those areas, the wages are not high enough for the people to work in that area."

The Postal Service did not respond to a request for comment, but in a speech in November, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said the agency is trying to reduce labor costs because it lost $6.5 billion in 2023. And that is an improvement over much bigger losses in prior years.

Davis said many workers see DeJoy's 10-year-plan to make the Postal Service more efficient as misguided because the move to centralize mail processing has, so far, only led to more delays.

"He's spending billions of dollars trying to 'transform' the Postal Service into mega-plants, but he's crossing a couple of states to get the mail," he said. "That should be overnight or two days - now, it's three to five days. That's not service."

The U.S. Postal Service's goal is 95 percent on-time delivery. However, the agency's most recent performance report shows about 83 percent of first-class mail and about 92 percent of marketing mail is delivered on time. Most recently, winter weather has been a factor in the delays.