Chronic understaffing and mismanagement in the Chicago postal office continues to cause severe delays in local delivery services, a union official said Friday.
At a congressional field hearing, Mack Julion of the National Association of Letter Carriers recounted a postal service system in “disarray,” where former postal carriers have remained on the payroll and package delays have not been reflected in the system.
“From the flawed onboarding process, training and retention of new hires, to the erratic and unpredictable operations, the Chicago post office is dysfunctional at best,” Julion said.
In Chicago, residents have gone weeks without mail, and many have been left without critical prescriptions, broadband access and bills. From April through June 2021, the post office delivered about 82 percent of mail on time, compared to the national average of 90 percent.
On-time delivery of mail has seen a dramatic decline since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy started his position in June 2020, according to a recent audit from the USPS Office of Inspector General. During the pandemic, DeJoy pushed a cost-cutting efforts, eliminating overtime for postal workers and removing hundreds of mail-sorting machines from facilities across the country.
At Friday’s hearing, members of Illinois’ congressional delegation criticized DeJoy’s leadership.
“The problems have existed on an ongoing basis, but I do think they’ve been made worse by the measures that postmaster has put in place,” Rep. Mike Quigley said. “The notion of decreasing standards while increasing prices defies business logic. It’s really a disservice to the American people.”
Last June, Eddie Morgan Jr. was brought in as Chicago’s executive postmaster to improve services. Friday, he reported on efforts to ramp up hiring. Already, 243 postal workers have been recruited, he said.
Morgan said the Chicago office has struggled with postal workers showing up to work but has established a team to enforce attendance. He also said start times have been adjusted for postal workers to maximize efficiency.
Local postal delivery services have seen an improvement in the last few months, according to the USPS Office of Inspector General, but it still remains the second worst served postal district in the country.
For months, Illinois congressional members have been pushing for improvements, and they want a change in national leadership.
“There’s only one thing that we have to do to get things starting to change. And that is, Mr. Louis DeJoy needs to be relieved of his duties,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi said. “Since he took over the USPS, instead of delivering good service, he’s delivered the opposite.”