Turns out something can stop the U.S. mail.

You may have noticed recently that things are "off" as far as your mail delivery schedule is concerned. I, personally, have seen Saturday mail delivered as late as 8 p.m. at night. One day I had mail delivered on Sunday. Other days mail delivery hasn't happened at all. There's a good reason behind it.

The old saying "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds," almost always holds true. However, there are two things that interfere with these magicians of the mail. Worker shortages and/or COVID.

Last week, the Cedar Rapids Postal Service released a statement that read in part,

...Local management is aware of delivery issues in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and is taking steps to address the concerns. We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees during challenging times. Our workforce, like others, is not immune to the human impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. We will continue flexing our available resources to match the workload and we are proud of the efforts of postal employees in Cedar Rapids, and the nation, as they define essential public service every day...

The president of the Iowa Postal Workers Union, Kimberly Karol, told the Gazette, that many carriers are having to take on a portion of a second route, or sometimes all of another route. With routes intended to be no more than eight hours long, some mail simply has to be delayed. Is it ideal for customers? Of course not. But Karol says postal workers are frustrated by it, too:

The employees are very dedicated to getting mail delivered, and we have grown up in a culture where we were socialized that every piece, every day had to be delivered. So when we are not able to accomplish that--through no fault of the employee--it's demoralizing. We feel defeated.

This is by far not an eastern Iowa-only problem. A very quick online look also showed issues in Illinois, Washington, North Carolina, and many more.

Yesterday, Roman Martinez, the new chair of the U.S. Postal Board of Governors endorsed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Reuters says Congress is currently considering a bipartisan plan that would give $46 million in relief to the United States Postal Service in the next 10 years. It would also eliminate the pre-funding of health benefits for 75 years. DeJoy has been tasked with making USPS more sustainable financially. His plan to slow down certain deliveries of first-class mail went into effect in October.

I highly recommend signing up for Informed Delivery by USPS. You receive a daily email with digital photo previews of your mail. If something doesn't show up within a week, the email gives you a link to report missing mail. Other than that, let's all be patient with the men and women whose job it is to get the mail to us. If you see one of them, be sure to say 'Thanks'. Unfortunately, it's a job that's all too thankless most of the time and they could certainly use our support. Especially right now.

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