Aug. 28, 2020, 9:32 AM CDT
By Mary Pflum


In Chicago, postal employees say backlogged mail is stacked so high in some facilities that workers barely have space to walk by. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, mail handlers tell NBC News first class and priority mail is still running several days a week behind schedule on average.

And in Tacoma, Washington, multiple postal workers said new mandates mean many mail trucks per week are being ordered to set out on their routes five minutes early — often entirely empty.


One week after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he was temporarily suspending changes to the United States Postal Service, NBC News spoke with eight postal union representatives from throughout the nation, all of whom expressed concerns and provided examples of ongoing delays in mail delivery. They said the recent removal of hundreds of postal sorting machines and rigid new operational directives for mail trucks and carriers have exacerbated the slowdown.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Keith Richardson, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Chicago, Local 1, and a post office veteran who’s worked 28 years as a mail processing clerk.


Postal workers associated with unions — seven of which represent nearly half a million workers — say their organizations offer them some protection to speak openly about the problems. Union leaders seeking to protect workers' livelihoods and overtime may have an interest in being critical of DeJoy over fears that the Postal Service could be privatized and their bargaining position reduced.

“Some stations have so much mail backed up, it’s three times more than the volume you would see at Christmas,” Richardson said, noting Chicago’s International Military Service Center and Henry McGee Postal Station are particularly overwhelmed. “You can’t even walk down the aisles. It’s a wonder carriers can get in and out.”


While DeJoy announced last week he would put a halt to the removal of any more postal sorting machines and mailboxes until after the election, postal workers say he failed to lift a series of recently implemented postal mandates that include a system that requires trucks to leave facilities at specific times, even if vehicles and mailbags have not been fully loaded.


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