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Congressmen criticize ‘logjams’ at Richmond USPS facility

'In less than 48 hours, we got more than 8,000 complaints'
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Posted at 6:31 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 18:52:45-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Elected officials continue to hear from constituents frustrated by late or undelivered mail persisting after the holidays.

U.S. Rep. Donald McEachin (D-4th District) told reporters Thursday morning the region continued to face widespread issues with mail delays from the United States Postal Service.

"My constituents have felt these effects. In less than 48 hours, we got more than 8,000 complaints about already unreliable mail service deteriorating further, including instances with priority mail such as bills and prescription medications being delivered weeks late," said McEachin.

Rep. McEachin represents Virginia’s 4th Congressional District which includes the Richmond Processing and Distribution Center located in Sandston. That facility has been criticized as the source of many of the issues, according to lawmakers.

“They’re doing double duty not only for their assigned area, but other areas across the nation which has obviously caused a backup,” McEachin explained.

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USPS Sandston Plant

Those same issues have been felt statewide for months, as the USPS claimed they received a historic, record amount of volume over the holiday season.

Some of the delay issues also come from employee shortages due to COVID-19, according to USPS.

But McEachin believed the problem sits at the federal level and thinks Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis Dejoy needs to be replaced.

“I don’t think this is a resource problem,” he stated. “I think this is a management problem at this point."

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st District) has also heard from countless of his constituents complaining about delayed bills or medications lost in the mess.

“There is a logjam at the Sandston facility, so our effort has to been to clear the logjams,” Wittman told CBS 6. “Rural delivery route drivers are there to the job but can only deliver what goes through the Sandston facility.”

The Republican didn’t join McEachin in calling for a change in the postal service’s leadership.

“We can talk about the postmaster general, but the more significant issue is making sure there is a fast put-through of mail,” Wittman stated. “I think it’s the logistics of what’s happening right now that will make the most immediate difference.”

Wittman planned to meet with USPS leadership and planned to tour the Sandston facility.

Both Congressmen have sent letters to USPS leadership including Dejoy.

McEachin said it’s up to the USPS Board of Governors to remove Dejoy. If not, he urged President Joe Biden to fire the board members for cause related to persistent issues with mail services.

“We must maintain the American’s people trust in the postal service,” he said.

Marty Morrison’s trust in the USPS is waning after a Christmas card she sent to her daughter on the West Coast is still missing after 49 days. She purchased priority mail delivery on December 17 and was promised the card would arrive on December 22 at the latest.

“I haven’t heard anything since and I’m still waiting,” Morrison said.

She filed a missing mail complaint and received an email with the subject “Issue Resolved.” However, USPS last updated via online tracking that the card was last scanned at the Sandston facility.

“I feel like it’ll probably show up. It’s just frustrating to know it’s taken this long,” Morrison stated.

She would like her mail to show up since there's a check inside.

USPS spokesperson Freda Sauter didn’t address Morrison’s specific mail troubles in a statement she sent CBS 6 on Thursday.

She wrote that the postmaster general and the executive leadership team took several specific action steps to help address the issues including correcting staffing issues and reinstating overtime.

McEachin stated social distance guidelines, mask-wearing and vaccines can help keep local post offices staffed and running properly in the meantime.

"All those things can be put in place at a postal facility. And we can continue to have good service and have full and adequate staffing of our various roles," McEachin said.

USPS Full Statement:

The United States Postal Service delivered a record number of holiday packages for the American people under some of the most difficult circumstances we’ve faced in the past century — specifically more than 1.1 billion packages were delivered this holiday season amidst a global pandemic.

Throughout the peak season, the Postal Service, along with the broader shipping sector, faced pressure on service performance across categories as it managed through a record of volume while also overcoming employee shortages due to the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases, winter storms in the Northeast, as well as ongoing capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving historic volumes of mail.

As volume pressures strained the system during the peak season, the Postmaster General and the Executive Leadership Team took a number of specific action steps to help address the issues. Those action steps included:

  • Working with union leadership we adjusted and increased fulltime career staffing by more than 10,000 positions in several facilities across the country which will stabilize our operations and improve performance
  • Consistent with past peak seasons, we have fully utilized overtime to allow employees to work the time necessary to process the record volume
  • We extended lease agreements on annexes used to provide additional package processing and dispatch capacity beyond the holiday peak season
  • Implemented in August 2020, we realigned organizational reporting structures, providing greater visibility by the executive team into operations, allowing for quicker responses to issues

The holiday inventory continues to drop and the Postal Service appreciates customers’ understanding and patience as service standards continue to return to normal in most areas.