Dun­dalk res­i­dents re­port go­ing days without mail

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By MIKE URSERY murs­ery@ches­pub.com

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.

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