U.S. representatives Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene have called on United States Postal Service (USPS) postmaster general Louis DeJoy to address persistent mail delays and failures in Whatcom County.
Larsen and DelBene sent a letter January 11 to DeJoy after receiving a number of complaints from constituents, starting in mid-December, regarding significant delays in mail delivery and complete lack of service in parts of Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden and other areas of Whatcom County.
“While brief delays due to weather and the busy holiday period are understandable, many constituents reported no mail delivery for over a week,” Larsen and DelBene wrote in the letter. “Concerningly, we also heard reports that USPS employees in these areas were asked to prioritize package delivery over other types of mail, even though our constituents reported missed paychecks, medication, court notices, and other important items.”
The lawmakers had previously written to DeJoy in July 2022 to request updates on USPS’s efforts to increase staffing amid severe workforce shortages in the area.
In the January letter, Larsen and DelBene said they appreciated the steps taken, which included local hiring days and a statewide hiring fair in December 2022, but that the efforts were insufficient as delays continued. They asked DeJoy to provide a list of steps USPS took to ensure timely mail delivery during peak periods and how it is addressing its workforce shortage. The lawmakers also requested the specific USPS policy that requires employees to prioritize package delivery over letters, flats and other mail classes.
Larsen and DelBene said in the letter they are also concerned about the retention rate of USPS employees amid reports of inadequate supervisor training, an often months-long hiring process that discourages interested applicants, and unpredictable and long work hours that put the health and safety of current employees at risk.
To address such issues, the representatives asked how USPS is improving communication with constituents, training employees and supervisors, and what additional resources Congress can provide to help USPS address the issues.
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