Editorial Roundup: U.S. mail: Troubles at post office need fixing

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2022

For perhaps the first time in its history, the U.S. Postal Service is becoming systematically unreliable.

The time-honored institution built its reputation through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night to be the service that could be relied on to aid American commerce and communication.

But now, like other businesses, it faces a shortage of workers. Mail was being delivered only sporadically in small towns like Cannon Falls and bigger places like Red Wing and Rochester. The postmaster for Mankato could not be reached to discuss the problem because he was out delivering mail. There were two days The Free Press could not be mailed out, and such problems have been persisting for months.

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The Rochester post office had openings for nine in-city carriers and some rural routes as well offering $19 an hour, but still there are shortages.

This comes after Congress agreed earlier this year to a bipartisan Postal Service reform plan that removed an onerous requirement to fund retirees’ health care ahead of time, something no other government or private business is required to do. The bill also required the post office to deliver mail six days a week and made other reforms, but did not increase the Postal Service’s budget.

The U.S. Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a Trump appointee and a big GOP donor, remains in charge of the agency. Trump had admitted he tried to starve the postal service so as to slow down the delivery and counting of mail-in election ballots in 2020. DeJoy still carries some of that baggage, and trust is an issue.

Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar have sent letters to DeJoy calling on him to improve things and noting that the post office is critical during election years for delivery of absentee and mail-in ballots. Some believe DeJoy’s plan to modernize the post office by raising prices, focusing on packages and cutting hours is backfiring.

The legislation required the post office to set up an online dashboard to show delivery times by zip code. No such dashboard can be found. The Postal Service did set up an online service called Informed Delivery where customers can track their mail and see when it might be delivered. (https://informeddelivery.usps.com/box/pages/intro/start.action)

But whatever the cause, the Postal Service is charged with fixing the problems and getting mail delivery back on track through snow, rain, heat and gloom of night.

Mankato Free Press, Aug. 12

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Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

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