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February 15, 2022

Maryland lawmakers pushing for USPS improvements

Credit: Local DVM, Katie Rhee

BALTIMORE, Md. (WDVM) — COVID-19 has had a grip on the U.S. Postal Service since the very beginning of the pandemic. Nearly everybody who has received mail in the DMV will agree with that. The U.S. Postal Service has a processing and distribution center in Baltimore which serves as a hub for delivery up and down the east coast. For many Western Maryland, those delays have been seen with getting packages and even everyday letters in the mail.

Lawmakers who weighed in during the “Waiting on the mail” panel hosted by the house committee on oversight and reform have been talking about wanting to see things improve for a while and are now pushing to see tangible changes.

Sen. Ben Cardin said, “We’re not getting the resources. And we’re not getting the concern and leadership that we need to get the level of acceptable it’s not good today, and it has to change.”

A 4% decrease in the volume of processed mail doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking statistic. But at the Baltimore processing and distribution center, that equates to around 70 million mail pieces. And that’s all as general work hours and overtime hours increased significantly between 20-19 to 2021

Rictarsha Westmoreland is a USPS mail processing clerk and shop steward in Baltimore. She highlighted the issues her facility faces while serving neighborhoods within Baltimore and the operations of the U.S. Postal Service as a whole.

“We do not have enough workers, and when we hire, new employees are not trained how to flip the mail. This leads to mail being given to couriers out of order, forcing wild cards to skip entire blocks and bring mail back to the station or, worse, mail delivered to the wrong address,” Westmoreland said. “The problems we face disrespectful management, a broad onboarding process, and chronic understaffing are reversible.”

During the hearing, Congressman David Trone stated that many of his constituents in rural parts of Western Maryland had faced delays in their postal service ever since the closure of the Cumberland sorting facility in 2012.

“Many folks don’t pay their bills by mail and small towns without pharmacies. The postal service is the only way to get a prescription filled,” Rep. David Trone said. “Proximity to Baltimore should not be the determining factor as to whether it mail is delivered on time or not.”

While lawmakers like Congressman Trone are calling for the removal of postmaster General Louis Dejoy, others say changes at USPS facilities need to happen now. The lawmakers highlighted a bill that reached the Senate on Feb. 14 called the Postal Service Reform Act of 2022, which addresses some of the issues within the postal service by creating a public dashboard where people can find the operational and financial performance of the postal service and create a health benefits program which would not require USPS to prepay future retirement benefits for their workers.