Dozens of Portland-area postal workers, union officials and community leaders protested understaffing, which they say has led to overwork and mail delays within the U.S. Postal Service. The rally, held at the East Portland Post Office on Monday, called for the postal service to raise wages and increase benefits to attract and retain workers.
Jamie Partridge, an organizer with Communities and Postal Workers United, said letter carriers are sometimes working 12 hours or more several days a week.
“Senior workers are retiring early and the new new hires are not sticking around — they’re quitting,” Partridge said.
The National Association of Letter Carriers is in contract negotiations as their agreement expires in May. Last week, Portland postal workers received an increase in pay from $19 to $22 per hour. Postal workers in the metro area suburbs did not receive the increase.
“Around the country, folks are doing rallies like this to put pressure on the postal service which got significant funding last year through an action of Congress,” Partridge said.
A request for comment from the Oregon Postmaster had not yet received a response by late Tuesday afternoon.
Partridge said as a result of understaffing, mail and package deliveries from USPS have been delayed. Nationally, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been criticized for cost-cutting practices that delayed USPS mail for the past few years.
“Vulnerable residents are not getting their medications, their checks and their bills,” he said. “Our small businesses are not getting their supplies and their shipping out on time. Rural residents, where broadband is the weakest, are particularly impacted and the post offices see lines out the door.”
Partridge said as the USPS loses credibility, people are turning to private careers.
By law, postal worker unions are not allowed to organize strikes. However, Partridge said in the 1970s workers did successfully strike. For now, he said rallies and petitions to Congress are certainly in the immediate future.