By Jill Draper
Complaints about the local mail service have become a hot topic lately. Slow mail, no mail, disappearing mailboxes, and mail thievery are but some that need explanation. Official comments are hard to come by locally, but here’s what The Telegraph has learned—just in time for the holiday season:
The blue collection boxes found along sidewalks and in parking lots are being switched out or retrofitted with high-security measures to combat “mail fishing,” whereby thieves steal envelopes containing credit card information or checks that can be washed out and re-addressed to the offender. Locally this switch began in the last five months and is still in progress, according to an unnamed source.
—If a collection box is overflowing with envelopes, it’s likely that a package was inappropriately stuffed in the slot. Packages should be dropped off inside a post office.
—Most mail thefts occur at night, so be cognizant of collection times when dropping off envelopes, says a USPS spokesperson. Or hand your mail to a carrier or deposit it inside a post office.
At the national level, the USPS is accelerating the delivery of 137 state-of-the-art package sorting machines, part of a 10-year plan which includes $40 billion in new investments, says Mark Inglett, a Midwest USPS spokesperson. He had no comment on whether any of these machines have been delivered yet to Kansas City.
Inglett also relayed information that the USPS converted 100,000 part-time employees to full-time career positions in the last two years. This has been a sticking point with the Communities and Postal Workers United. According to their Summer 2022 newsletter, “Non-career postal workers are leaving in droves for better jobs—better wages, benefits and conditions.”
The postal service’s decision to hire directly to “career” in some cities is helpful, says the union, but not enough.
A post on Nextdoor.com by someone who claims familiarity with the local USPS says continuity and training is a huge issue. For years the postal service was a big pipeline for ex-military people who could apply their years of service toward retirement at the USPS. Veterans also were given point advantages on the civil service test, says the post. Now Vietnam-era vets are retiring and post offices throughout the nation have joined other industries dealing with post-pandemic staffing shortages.
Nextdoor.com readers in south KC and nearby areas say they occasionally receive no mail at all on some days, and it’s not unusual to see mail carriers in their neighborhoods working past 6 p.m.—sometimes as late as 7 or 8 p.m. “I think they’re doing the best they can,” is a frequent comment.
What the critics say
In October U.S. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver II (D) and Sam Graves (R) sent a letter to U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy seeking answers to “inconsistent and unreliable mail delivery and lack of transparency.”
Nearly eight weeks later, they received a letter from the USPS stating that “employee availability has been the main factor affecting delivery in the Kansas City region and other parts of the country.” The letter said weekly job fairs are being held throughout Missouri (28 in-person and virtual events since June) but the state’s unemployment rate of 2.4% makes it difficult.
Cleaver’s office says he is not satisfied with this response or the continued delay in deliveries, and is “deliberating the appropriate next steps.”
A retired New York English professor, Steve Hutkins, takes a deep dive into postal issues at www.savethepostoffice.com. He claims no affiliation with the USPS, explaining that, “like millions of Americans, he just likes his local post office and doesn’t want to see post offices closed.”
He’s critical of DeJoy’s 10-year plan that he says has already slowed first-class mail and raised prices across the board. Eventually it will reduce retail hours, close post offices and dispose of historic properties, he wrote in August—despite the fact that Congress and the Biden administration have been good to the postal service by awarding $10 billion in emergency pandemic relief, nearly $50 billion to fix the problems caused by the retiree healthcare benefit mandate, and $3 billion for electric vehicles.
“It’s our time to shine and we love the holidays,” writes Inglett in an email, which notes “the USPS is excited about another Holiday Mailing Season.” During 2021, he points out, the postal service delivered more than 13.2 billion letters, cards, flats and packages across the nation in an average 2.7 days.
If you’re sending holiday cards, the recommended deadline for delivery by Christmas is Dec. 17. And by the way, first-class Forever stamps are increasing from 60 to 63 cents beginning Jan. 22.
You may also like
Jackson County Detention Center gets green light
New grocery store to take over Sun Fresh in Red Bridge
Mayor Lucas announces steps the city is taking for the 2026 World Cup
The Grandview Chamber of Commerce hosts Open-Air Job Fair with free resources
Community leaders discuss violent crime in Kansas City