'It's essential': Philadelphia-area officials address USPS workload, delays

Maggie Kent Image
Monday, August 17, 2020
'It's essential': Local officials address USPS workload, delays
Residents in Philadelphia say they rely on the United States Postal Service to get bus passes, medication, money and critical information.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Residents in Philadelphia say they rely on the United States Postal Service to get bus passes, medication, money and critical information.

"People on this street, we stand on the steps waiting for the postman. Did my money come today? Did my medicine come today?" said Rosalind McKelvey.

Dealing with postal delays is an exhausting feeling for McKelvey, who runs Germantown Deaf Ministries.

"You can't ride the bus, you can't go to the doctor. Your medicine is late," said McKelvey.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney stood with local union leaders representing postal workers to push back against President Trump's threats to cut funding for the Postal Service.

Postal Workers Union APWU Local 98 President Nick Casselli says postal support employees have seen their hours cut.

Casselli says five mail sorters in the region have been removed. Those sorters can get through 100,000 pieces of mail each day.

He also said a requirement that mail carriers leave the post office on time isn't helping.

"Now the mail that's not there the minute that the truck is scheduled to leave, that mail sits. I think it's a crime. The post office, I've been there for 35 years, and our motto has always been every piece of mail, every day, every doorstep. It seems like that process is not in place right now," said Casselli.

President Trump comments on his intensifying his efforts to block mail-in voting during a press conference on Aug. 13, 2020, at the White House.

Montgomery County Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence said to plan for possible delays when it comes to mail-in ballots come November.

"The deadline to apply to vote by mail is actually the week before the election. If you apply a week before the election, there's no way that you're going to get your ballot back, or maybe even get it, so, I would encourage people to plan early," said Lawrence.

Commissioner Lawrence says Montgomery County will be utilizing ballot drop boxes unless a judge says otherwise.

The Trump Campaign sued the Pennsylvania Board of Elections over the constitutionality of ballot boxes in the primaries.

"The situation with the post office is not political, it's essential," said McKelvey.

The USPS says only two mailboxes have recently been removed from the five-county area because they were "redundant."

"I understand we are flexing our available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and some other staffing issues. We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees as conditions change on a day-to-day basis. USPS continues to hire based on local needs while also being committed to our expanded employee leave policy to help employees affected by the pandemic. We are proud of our workforce for the essential role they are playing for the customers they serve," the USPS statement said.

Customers experiencing mail delivery issues can connect with customer service representatives to help resolve mail delivery issues using the following contacts:

Email: USPS Customer Service (online form at USPS.com)

Call: 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777)

"The Postal Service reviews collection box density every year on a routine basis to identify redundant/seldom used collection boxes as First-Class Mail volume continues to declines. Based on the density testing, boxes are identified for potential removal and notices are placed on boxes to give customers an opportunity to comment before the removal decision is made. This process is one of the many ways the Postal Services makes adjustments to our infrastructure to match our resources to declining mail volumes. Given the recent customer concerns the Postal Service will postpone removing boxes for a period of 90 days while we evaluate our customers' concerns," the statement said.