Union Says Postal Workers Are Doing More With LessBy Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS) — For weeks, we have been showing you scenes of packages piled up outside the post office in the Mount Greenwood neighborhood.

Neighbors told use they have had mail problems for months. So this Christmas Eve, we thought we would check in to see if all the packages made it to their destined trees.

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As CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported, the sounds of Christmas rang down 111th Street on Thursday. Even the Post Office seemed peaceful – with no boxes stacked out back.

But earlier this month, Alsip Mayor John Ryan – whose suburb is served by the Mount Greenwood Post office – was hearing a dozen complaints a day about lost or delayed mail.

“It’s unacceptable,” Ryan told CBS 2’s Jeremy Ross earlier this month. “They’ve hired more people, from what I understand. I see a lot of my mail carriers out at night trying to play catch-up.”

Mayor Ryan said the complaints may have slowed down, but they haven’t stopped completely.

“I think we’ve overwhelmed the system,” he said. “You know, with all the remote work that’s taking place right now – every time you turn on Facebook, there’s some great products to order. Everybody’s at home.”

The local postal workers’ union said package volume is up 30 percent compared to this time last year. In other words, they’re dealing with an even bigger holiday surge than usual.

“We’re doing more with less,” said American Postal Workers Union Chicago Local 1 President Keith Richardson.

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Richardson said many post offices were already short-staffed even before the pandemic – and now, staffing is an even greater challenge.

“Whether it be due to exposure if you have positive cases; you have people, you know; having to take off from work because of, you know, to care for their children,” Richardson said.

Richardson said his members are working as hard as they can, but he acknowledges there are more delays than in past years.

“You know, my best friend sent me a package and I’m still waiting for, I don’t know if he’s going to make him about tomorrow when I’m confident that it will within the next few days,” Richardson said.

As to the boxes outside the Mount Greenwood Post Office, Mayor Ryan said a USPS supervisor blames on their contracts with other companies.

“The supervisor explained to me that that was a result of packages being dropped off daily by Amazon that they just couldn’t keep up with,” Ryan said.

Ryan hopes the complaints and stacks of boxes will be ghosts of Christmas past.

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Tim McNicholas