Detroit Lakes Online
By Nathan Bowe
DETROIT LAKES — The biggest reason for post office delivery problems is a lack of employees, and people can help by applying for full- or part-time jobs at the post office, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said in an interview.
Delivery problems have cropped up for several years now in various cities across Minnesota, and across the nation, Klobuchar said.
Winter weather causes delays, the Christmas rush causes delays, but the biggest factor is workforce shortages, she said. The problem was worsened by the big increase in online ordering during the worst of the pandemic.
“I know there’s issues because my constituents aren’t shy about telling me, and good thing, too – Minnesotans should be able to get their paychecks, prescriptions, and letters from family and friends on a timely basis,” she said. “We can’t have delayed postal service or else people’s lives are delayed.”
Some blame the problems on U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a longtime Republican donor and ally of former President Donald Trump. DeJoy implemented controversial cost-cutting measures prior to the 2020 election. Mail delays and the removal of many mail-sorting machines led several states to sue, claiming the actions amounted to voter suppression.
him— instead praising U.S. Postal Service's Minnesota-North Dakota District Manager Anthony Williams for doing a good job in tough circumstances.
“He’s been there a long time,” she said. “He’s working hard.” He has moved employees around at times to help out when an area becomes especially short-handed, she said. “They’ve (recently) hired over 58 new postal workers in Minnesota, which should address some delays.”
Sending in reserves to help can provide time for the hiring process to catch up, but it can be a little like playing whack-a-mole — as some trouble spots improve, other places develop problems, she said.
“Delivery is being affected by staffing shortages,” Klobuchar said, “and I encourage everyone who is interested to apply to join the U.S. Postal Service workforce and help ensure Minnesotans continue receiving reliable mail service.” Those interested in employment with the USPS should visit USPS.com/careers .
Klobuchar has long been involved with trying to keep the post office healthy. “I’ve been on this thing from the beginning,” she said.
Bipartisan legislation she supported to bolster the postal service’s long-term financial stability and help address delivery delays and other operational reforms was signed into law last year.
Klobuchar also successfully pushed for a moratorium on the closing or consolidation of post offices and mail processing facilities, and she has pushed for preserving rural post offices.
COVID-19 made the postal service much busier because it often serves as the last delivery stage for online package delivery.
“Minnesota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, so it’s more of a problem here — but it’s still an issue nationwide,” Klobuchar said. “Since COVID, the need has been thriving, and we need to get more employees in there.”
In a way, Klobuchar is channeling her inner President Kennedy, only instead of asking people to join the Peace Corps, she’s urging them to help out at the Post Office. "The pay can be rewarding if they stick with it," she said.
“I’ve been telling every group I talk to, and the media, people should apply at USPS.com/careers,” she said. “We need more employees — part-time and full-time.”