Dundalk residents report going days without mail
With residents relying on the U.S. Postal Service for important documents, and with mail-in voting being an option for the General Election this November, the mail delays have people in Dundalk more than concerned.
Residents have complained over the past several weeks about the lack of mail delivery. Some residents claim to have gone more than a week without receiving letter mail. A new postmaster general has taken the helm of the United States Postal Service. He instituted a series of new policies that have set off a fierce discussion at both the local and national level.
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” has been the unofficial motto of the US Postal Service (USPS) since 1912, with its employees exemplifying that motto while completing their respective rounds. In 2020, the USPS is not living up to that motto, causing concern for residents, adding another item to the list during a year that has not been kind to the nation.
Several Facebook™ groups, such as one called “I Grew Up In Dundalk, MD,” have been littered with posts from members about the lack of mail delivery. Several stories have been shared about people not receiving mail for an entire week. People rely on important monetary deliveries, such as disability checks. Other important deliveries include prescription medications, college acceptance letters, etc.
The issue with the lack of mail delivery is not limited to only Dundalk, Edgemere, Sparrows Point and Fort Howard. Nearby cities, like Essex, Rosedale and Parkville, as well as cities across the United States are experiencing this
same problem. During a time when a global pandemic has wrought so much negative impact both economically and socially, people can’t rely on their local post office for critical letter mail.
The frustration over the mail nationwide has prompted the House of Representatives to request that Louis DeJoy, whom President Donald J. had Trump appointed as postmaster general this past June, to testify on Capitol Hill in September.
DeJoy, an American businessman and a fundraiser for the Republican Party, is the first postmaster general in decades to have come from outside the US Postal Service. He replaced Megan Brennan, the first woman postmaster general who served 34 years with the USPS, starting as a letter carrier.
DeJoy introduced a series of new procedures last month. Postal workers are no longer allowed to work overtime. Another new policy is that letter carriers must depart on time and ar no longer allowed to make late trips. Extra trips are no longer authorized.
In a memo sent to all USPS employees, DeJoy explained that these new policies may temporarily make things difficult for postal workers and mail would be left behind on the floor or in the dockroom bay. Those delays are seen daily on the streets of Dundalk.
DeJoy takes the helm of the postal service at a time when the USPS is facing significant financial peril. The postal service lost $9 billion last year. This year, both volume and operating costs have increased with more people working from home, shopping from home, etc.
“We have an expensive and inflexible business model that has largely been imposed on us and that we cannot easily change,” DeJoy said when he assumed the position of postmaster general. “But I did not accept this position in spite of these challenges. I accepted this position because of them, and because I want to work with you in addressing them.”
The USPS, as an agency, is unique. It is the only government agency named in the US Constitution. It doesn’t receive any tax dollars from the government, however. Instead, it both competes and collaborates in the private sector, having a larger retail network than McDonalds™, Walmart™ and Starbucks combined.
One letter carrier who works at the Dundalk Post Office, who will be named “Paul” to protect their identity, told the Eagle that mail is deliberately withheld and not given to a carrier to deliver. Paul said that mail has been held at the Dundalk Post Office for as long as five days in some cases.
“Even downtown, they’re withholding mail from even coming to the post office,” Paul said.
The process of withholding mail isn’t unique to the Dundalk Post Office. National Public Radio (NPR) reported last month that this is one of the newest policies under DeJoy’s watch. Late-arriving mail is now withheld as postal workers are no longer allowed to work overtime.
“What makes me really upset about the whole thing is that people are not getting medicine and things like that, which is sad to me because people need their medicine,”
Paul said. “I’m a person who goes to work. I don’t miss days. Some people will miss days or won’t go to work, and people’s mail just sits there.”
A veteran of the US Marine Corps, Paul has been a letter carrier for 16 years. He has seen children grow up to become young adults, and has gotten to know all his customers on his route. Paul was on vacation when he spoke with the Eagle, and said he expected to see his route stuffed with mail when he returned to work.
“Normally, when someone goes on vacation, they assign your route to somebody else so that everybody still gets their mail,” Paul said. “They might get it a little late, but they still get it that day. Now, they’re not getting it for three, or four or five days.”
Paul said that residents on his route have even directed their anger at him. Some residents are awaiting checks to arrive. Others may be waiting for important legal documentation. Paul said he has explained to residents that mail is being withheld downtown, and is being withheld again when it arrives at the Dundalk Post Office.
The national discussion pertaining to USPS has been nothing short of political. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said in a July 20 statement on its website that DeJoy has “launched a series of actions that will undermine the postal service and is an insult to every postal worker, every postal craft and every postal customer.” The full statement can be read at www.apwu.org/news.
APWU president Mark Dimondstein told media outlets last month that the changes are happening because there
is a White House agenda to privatize the post office. “But there’s too much approval for the organization right now. They want to separate the service from the people and then degrade it to the point where people aren’t going to like it anymore,” he said.
The Dundalk Post Office is already dealing with the backlash of the slow mail delivery. Last week, a long line formed outside the post office as people showed up to collect their mail. One person spoke with a supervisor on video, and was told that the Dundalk Post Office has had a shortage of letter carriers. Having 53 routes total, the supervisor told the customer that as many as only 14 letter carriers show up for work.
Dundalk resident Heather Budreski told the Eagle last week that the Dundalk Post Office has gone several consecutive days without getting her mail to her, and are actually sending it back to from where it came, she claimed. She also claimed to have received mail that doesn’t belong to her, but actually belongs to a resident who lives down the street from her.
“They told me they’re not obligated to pick up outgoing mail,” Budreski said.
Budreski said mail deliveries at her home have been scattered. She said she has seen periods where she sees her mail on time for three straight days, and then will not receive any mail for a week if not longer.
Those who wish to go the Dundalk Post Office to pick up their mail can do so Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. or from 2 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday hours are 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The Dundalk Post Office is closed on Sundays.
Dundalk residents have complained for the past several weeks about not receiving mail for days at a time. The United States Postal Service has unveiled a series of new policies in order to make itself more proficient, but the opposite has happened so far.