USPS delays addressed by Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – New questions are being raised about the future of something most of us rely on every day: the U.S. Postal Service.

Nationwide, delivery delays are causing headaches for customers and postal workers, alike. And Wednesday, the postmaster general was called back before Congress.

The holiday season is long over but the post office still can’t seem to catch up.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy apologized, saying, “During this peak season, we fell short of meeting targets. Too many Americans were left waiting weeks for important deliveries of mail and packages.”

The numbers aren’t good. The postal service lost $69 billion in the last eleven years. It is saddled with an expensive mandate from Congress to prepay all retiree health benefits. On top of that, people just don’t mail as many letters as they used to. Something the new fleet of electric delivery trucks won’t be able to change.

The postmaster general suggested more delays and higher rates could be coming.

DeJoy said, “Does it make a difference if it’s an extra day to get a letter? Because something has to change.”

The head of the American Postal Workers Union, Mark Dimondstein, worries what that may mean. He said, “We should find the way to provide the service that the people are promised under the law. The law says prompt, reliable and efficient services.”

For small business owner Meaghan Thomas, who sells organic spices online, the post office is critical. The Pinch Spice Market owner said, “USPS is the backbone of small businesses, that’s where a lot of us can afford to send things.”

Thomas said she now may switch to more expensive UPS or FedEx. She explained, “We may have to increase our prices which I really don’t want to do but in the end, we have to have reliable delivery.”

On top of existing under-staffing, the head of the union says this winter posed a double challenge with workers getting sick or needing to quarantine because of the virus. That, he says, is one of the main reasons those letters and packages still aren’t getting where they need to go.

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