CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s that motto about nothing stopping the post office from delivering your mail, but as of late, that motto is more like a fairy tale. CBS 2 has been reporting for weeks about postal problems in Chicago. Friday, 15 members of Congress from Illinois jumped into action.
With a pandemic, elections, pharmaceuticals, and stimulus checks, the mail has never been more vital and is life or death for some.
“It took us three weeks to get our medication through the mail service,” said Chicago resident Barbara Jackson.
Snail mail may be too kind.
“If I get mail once a week I’m pleased, and then when I get it, it’s often not all the mail I’m supposed to get,” said another resident.
What they have in the Ashburn neighborhood for more than a month is sluggish delivery at a time when mailed medicine and relief checks are vital for daily pandemic life.
“I’ve personally not received mail,” said yet another resident.
Congressman Bobby Rush is demanding change for an area that has seen lines running the length of the block and reports of less than half of mail routes being regularly worked.
Now something may be done about it.
“Forty-three aldermen have signed on to say, ‘Yes, we’ve got very serious problems with the United States Postal Service in their communities. Communities from all walks of life across the city,” said Ald. Matt O’Shea.
Forty-three aldermen and 15 members of Congress from the Chicago area drafted a letter to the postmaster general saying, “Recent operational changes, made at your direction, undermined the ability of the USPS to carry out its mission during this critical time … We look forward to your response on how your office will work to eliminate these delays as quickly as possible.”
“We are getting the brunt of the frustration,” said Mack Julion with the National Association of Letter Carriers.
As postal carriers raise staffing concerns, Sen. Dick Durbin is raising concerns of a different kind.
“Naturally, I’m suspicious as to what’s going on here, and a lot of people are, too,” he said.
The next big test for the USPS is the November election.
“Is my ballot going to be counted? Will it ever be picked up and delivered? That sort of thing undermines people’s confidence in our electoral process,” he said.
CBS 2 asked the USPS spokesperson for the area if they still maintain that there are no delivery issues in the area, given the push by elected officials. They said they will respond directly to the congressional delegation.
The optics are dismal at USPS lately, losing $2.2 billion in the three months ending in June. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy calls the agency’s financial position “dire,” but he disputes reports that his agency is slowing down mail and says it has “ample capacity to deliver all election mail securely and on time.” That said, they are seeking at least $10 billion to cover operating losses and to help pay retiree health benefits.