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We’re tired: USPS employees feel the brunt of retention issues

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The Postal Service, which is ramping up its staff for the peak holiday season and seeking to avoid a repeat of the widespread mail and parcel delays of last year, still faces a critical shortage of employees as well as challenges persistent to retain new recruits.

To compound these problems, local union workers and the USPS Office of the Inspector General say USPS data does not accurately capture the state of workforce challenges and at what point. point the current workforce is dispersed.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee reviewed the state of USPS operations last week at a field hearing in Chicago, one of the cities reporting worse on-time delivery metrics than the rest of the United States. However, lawmakers consider the root cause of the USPS problems in Chicago to be systemic for the rest of the United States.

Lawmakers at last Thursday’s hearing cited numerous complaints from voters about the slow delivery of mail in their districts. But the USPS is increasing investment in hiring and infrastructure ahead of the holiday season to avoid what Postmaster General Louis DeJoy called “unacceptable delays.”

Chicago Acting Executive Postmaster Eddie Morgan, Jr., who took office in June, told the committee it was ready for peak periods during the holidays, and said more and more employees are showing up to work each day after widespread absences earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Mack Julion, a city mail carrier and president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Local Branch 11, said the current challenges facing the USPS workforce have lasted for years and have only been exacerbated. by COVID-19.

We weren’t going to be able to handle the holiday season ahead if they weren’t properly staffed, ”Julion said.

The USPS IG office, meanwhile, will soon release a report that will examine the USPS ‘state of readiness nationwide for the upcoming holiday season.

USPS and other shippers are already feeling pressure to deliver amid persistent supply chain issues. White House Press Secretary Jen Pskai responded last week to whether the holiday gifts would arrive on time this year.

“We are not the Postal Service, UPS or FedEx. We can’t guarantee, ”Psaki said on October 13.

Morgan said employee attendance has improved since the expiration of Federal Employee Emergency Leave (EFEL) September 30. However, he said the USPS still struggled to recruit new hires and long-term career staff in parts of Chicago due to violent crime.

Morgan said he saw employee availability improve from April to August of this year, and the USPS is taking appropriate progressive administrative action with employees who have a high number of unscheduled absences.

As of June, USPS has hired 243 urban carrier assistants and postal support workers in the Chicago area, and plans to hire an additional 180 people. However, Julion said local management in recent meetings said 500 carriers were missing from their target.

Nationally, USPS plans to hire an additional 40,000 seasonal workers before the end of the year.

Morgan said the USPS faces challenges retaining new employees between the time they accept a job and the time they complete a four-day training course. Part of the problem with retention, Julion said, is that new hires don’t get the training they need.

were seeing those who are not properly trained kicked out early and because of that they have a problem with retention, Julion said.

As late as August, Julion said that an average of 100 to 200 full or partial routes in Chicago areas are not being delivered daily. Each route has up to 1,000 delivery points.

We are tired and we are embarrassed. We are tired of working several missions late at night because, despite reports from the OIG, local management has failed to properly staff the operations for which it has been entrusted, ”he said.

As for long-term employee retention, Julion said workers feel exhausted by understaffing and pressure from management.

It is well known within the postal service that there is an unhealthy level of hostility in the workplace in some workplaces when you are trying to get the most out of less, when you do not have enough money. employees and making unreasonable demands on those who work every day, he says.

The USPS Inspector General’s office carried out site visits last year and found 19-day mail and packages waiting at USPS facilities in Chicago without being delivered. IG’s office also found that service scores for Chicago were generally worse than the rest of the country.

Melinda Perez, the USPS deputy assistant inspector for the audit, said the delays were due to post offices not having enough staff to cover all delivery routes.

Perez said the extent of these delays was not accurately documented in internal postal data systems.

Julion agreed, saying the postal management data provided to Congress is consistently unreliable and does not give the full picture of the challenges facing the workforce.

Accurate data, Perez said, may have enabled postal management to address these issues more proactively.

When mail is not accurately flagged, it does not allow postal management to be able to adjust fire and implement mitigating factors, Perez said.

“We expect and demand more”

Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (DN.Y) said she plans to introduce a bill that would strengthen oversight of the USPS by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The pending legislation would allow the commission to request additional information from the USPS before issuing an advisory opinion on changes to service standards.

The bill would also require two-thirds of the USPS board of governors to approve a change in service standards, if the commission determines it does not have enough evidence to determine whether such changes would benefit customers. of the USPS.

Maloney said the next bill would respond to the recent increase in mail and periodical rates by the USPS, adding temporary vacation surcharges to packages and implementing slower delivery standards for nearly 40 percent. first class mail.

Allowing the service to suffer while raising prices will not increase public confidence in the postal service. In fact, it could end up taking people and businesses away from the postal service, Maloney said.

Maloney said lawmakers were working to get another of his bills, Postal Service Reform Act, upstairs in the house as soon as possible. The bill enjoys bipartisan support, and 10 Republican senators have co-sponsored the legislation.

While lawmakers remain committed to USPS reform, government operations subcommittee chair Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) Has warned the agency about the unpopular cuts.

Connolly said the USPS was making significant and damaging operational changes to the postal service that affect postal delivery nationwide, without studying the long-term impact or gauging customer satisfaction.

We expect and demand more from our postal service. To do that, however, we must provide it with the resources and staff it needs to meet customer needs, Connolly said. Instead, we are seeing lower service standards and rising prices.

A recent USPS Inspector General Report found that USPS only met service performance targets for three of 33 products in FY2020. In the first three quarters of FY2021, only USPS delivered the mail from three to five days at only 61% on time.

Since April, the USPS has installed 80 of 112 new parcel sorting machines, part of the $ 40 billion in major investments the agency expects to make as part of its 10-year reform plan. USPS expects to have more than 50 parcel systems, capable of sorting large parcels, online by December. The USPS predicts that this new infrastructure will allow the agency to process an additional 4.5 million packages per day.

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2/ https://federalnewsnetwork.com/workforce/2021/10/we-are-tired-usps-employees-feel-toll-from-retention-challenges/

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