U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar decry Postal Service's response to Minnesotans

Evidence from Minnesotans of service delays contradicts USPS's claims; Smith, Klobuchar vow to continue to press for service improvements, safer conditions for employees

 

January 4, 2024

On December 8, 2023, U.S. Senator Tina Smith and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (both D-MN) slammed the United States Postal Service's (USPS) responses to their recent letters as unacceptable. The letters asked the Postmaster General to take immediate steps to address the pressing concerns of Minnesotans.

After hearing from Bemidji-area constituents and postal workers, Senators Smith and Klobuchar pressed the Postmaster General about agreements made with Amazon that have overwhelmed the already-stretched postal system in Minnesota and pushed workers into dangerous and unsustainable conditions. Minnesotans rely on the Postal Service to receive prescriptions, paychecks, and other essential needs, and Minnesotans across the state have reported delays in receiving these deliveries. Postal workers, particularly in the Bemidji area, report chaos as they are told to prioritize the deliveries of Amazon packages over regular mail and lack of staffing to meet the Postal Service's delivery standards.

In response to Senators Smith and Klobuchar's letters, the Postal Service asserted that, "for the most part, all mail pieces and packages, including in Bemidji, are being delivered daily." Dozens of reports from across Minnesota, including from members of Senator Smith's staff and their families, contradict that claim. Additionally, postal workers and constituents report mail deliveries going out well into the night – hours after dark – which is dangerous as well as an unreasonable work load. Senators Smith and Klobuchar stand by the reports of Minnesotans. Plus, the Postal Service's Inspector General has found that USPS's tracking systems are unreliable and riddled with false data, a problem Sen. Smith and Klobuchar have introduced legislation to fix.

"The Postal Service management has asked me to take their word over the words of Minnesotans. I believe Minnesotans," said Senator Smith. "This week, I have heard from postal workers and their families in Minnesota, and their testimonies are heart-wrenching. I stand with these workers and every Minnesotan who relies on the Postal Service to meet its own standards for delivery."

"The mail delays in Bemidji and across Minnesota are unacceptable and demand a response," said Senator Klobuchar. "I will continue to push the Postal Service to resolve the delays for Minnesotans."

In addition, the Postal Service stated that the media and Members of Congress were spreading the "inexplicable falsehood" that the Postal Service prioritizes the deliveries of Amazon packages. The letters made no such assertion. But the Postal Service's own representatives explained to congressional offices in a briefing last week that individual post office managers do have the discretion to prioritize packages over mail. While there may not be a system-wide policy to prioritize packages, from Amazon or any other sources, there is ample evidence of post office managers in Minnesota requiring letter carriers to prioritize packages.

The response also claims that the Postal Service's Minnesota-North Dakota District has undertaken the necessary preparations to withstand the influx of holiday mail, yet in a letter dated December 4, 2023, they state the district has fully hired only 24 employees of 112 vacancies for seasonal work. And those vacancies do not take into account the numerous positions opening every week when people choose to quit or retire early rather than continue to face these unsustainable circumstances. In rural areas, the district is currently only staffed at 60 percent.

 

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