Island USPS workers urge customers to demand ‘first-class’ postal service

Local union president says 350 more mail handlers needed to keep up with volume

By Pedro Correa Henry

Twitter: @pete_r_correa

Special to The Star

With an increase in the volume of packages in the past two years and a shortage of personnel to handle deliveries, United States Postal Service (USPS) workers staged an informational picket line on Monday at the General Postal Office (GPO) in Hato Rey to urge customers to fill out a postcard demanding that Postmaster General (PMG) Louis DeJoy address the island’s postal service problems.

In an interview with The STAR, American Postal Workers Union Local 1070 President Juan Carlos González said the postcard titled “USPS Puerto Rico: A Nightmare for Customers, Postal Workers Stand with Customers” allows customers to pick one or more problems that they have been facing in post offices, such as their poor physical condition, long lines due to only one employee providing services, late deliveries, a lack of information for customers and/or a disorganized lobby display.

González said the issues have become chronic as the administration is “not hiring new workers” to handle the high workload that the USPS currently experiences.

“We have estimated that around 350 more workers are required to cover the mail volume that has increased since the [COVID-19] pandemic began,” he said. “The USPS expects to continue working with the same number of employees we had before the pandemic, and that is impossible.”

González added that not having enough workers has led to long-term delays in deliveries.

“I have met with clients who have told me that they were informed that the USPS delivered their packages, yet they did not receive them, and once they go to the General Post Office to claim their packages, they are told that they can’t find it and have to keep waiting until a postal worker finds them,” the union president said. “That is disrespectful and it’s not the way to handle the problem.”

When the STAR asked what the union would do if the PMG does not address the local union and GPO customers’ claims, González said he would call on other postal worker unions on the island to come together and take the claims to the PMG’s office at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C.

“We, postal workers, have always been ready and want to provide high-quality service, but things just keep getting worse, and worse, and worse, and worse,” he said. “Employees have been working for 12 to 18 hours, and there’s no way that someone can offer excellent service to our customers working under those conditions.”

“This is not something that has begun this week, these issues have been happening for many years,” González added. “We are now feeling physically and mentally exhausted.”

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