OUR VIEW: USPS needs to admit its faults

 

May 5, 2023



There has been an increasing number of rallies organized by United States Postal Service workers in recent months, including one last week by workers in the Twin Cities area.

There has also been a sharp uptick in customers in Carlton County wondering about the state of mail delivery these days. We should know. The Pine Knot Knot gets to readers via the mail, and we depend on reliable mail service to get issues to paying readers promptly. Disturbing on our end is the fact that papers are getting to mailboxes later and later and, in some cases — mostly areas outside Cloquet — not at all.

And people in many places are wondering why daily delivery of mail has all but become a thing of the past, and are left guessing which day mail will come.

Workers are growing tired of staff shortages and the grueling schedules they have to endure because of it. Most people realize here on the ground that postal workers, who endured much during the pandemic days, indeed are not to blame here. We know our local post offices are doing the best they can. It’s the monolithic USPS that needs to be more agile in trying times.

It would be nice if the USPS could admit that something is wrong in its current model. Instead, because it apparently thinks its workers and customers are idiots, the USPS has issued statements like this one last week: “The position being presented here by the leadership of the (workers union) is absent of anything based in reality.”

OK.

The USPS goes on to state a bunch of delivery statistics to back its claims that everything is just fine. It says it is working “diligently” with union reps and managers about job retention, training and safety.

It’s OK to be defensive to complaints about your management, but to be so blatantly unwilling to accept the situation on the ground is just fanning the flames of discontent.

“We are working hard to correct service-related issues in the other limited areas,” one press release states. That’s the understatement of the year. Complaints from mail customers is not an isolated issue. It’s a national one.

And we assume the reward for such valiant effort is the recently announced rise in postal rates across most types of mailing. Some of the steepest increases are in the delivery of periodicals. The increases are far above inflationary rates. So, yes, we have some bias here as mailing our product erodes our planned bottom line.

“As we enter the third year of our Delivering for America plan, there is a new energy and vibrancy at the U.S. Postal Service,” Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has written in a statement. “As I travel the nation meeting with the great men and women of the Postal Service, it is clear the investments we are making are paying off.”

Then he cherrypicks some more favorable statistics … blah, blah, blah.

It’s one thing to snow your customers by rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. It’s quite another when your own workers are rising up against you.

A good start for the USPS would be to admit that they have a problem. Here on the ground, we get the reality. It’s time the USPS address its problems honestly and offer solutions based on that reality.

 
 

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