Postal Workers Brace for Rush of Holiday Packages, Letters
October 19, 2022
Jessica Mathews / newsservice.org
As Livingston County residents start to think about getting ready for the upcoming holiday season, postal workers are already feeling the pinch and bracing for a rush of packages and letters.
The U.S. Postal Service is hiring 28,000 seasonal workers to help handle the holiday rush, but the American Postal Workers Union says that may not be enough manpower to cover the increased workload. For what is called the "peak season"; the Postal Service plans to add 250 processing machines, as well as an additional 1,000 and truck drivers, letter carriers, and processing team members.
Maceo Cosper is the president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 300 in Central Michigan and says even with a bump in staffing, the Postal Service doesn't always add enough positions for the workload.
Cosper says "We have chronic staffing issues in the Postal Service. It is not that we don't have the mechanism to hire temporary workers for peak season; we've always been able to do that. Unfortunately, it seems like mismanagement on a widespread scale”. He referenced mandatory seven/twelves and says people are being overworked. Cosper added “We're seeing a lot of repetitive-motion injuries. It's physical work, but it's also just being on your feet for 12 hours a day, seven days a week".
The union is in the second year of a four-year contract. Cosper says in negotiations, the union made demands for workplace safety and steps to alleviate high-stress working conditions. Despite that, he says the high volume of peak-season work can be exhausting – and dangerous.
Postmaster Louis DeJoy has introduced a 10-year plan to put the Postal Service on a stronger financial footing. Part of it consolidates small-town post offices in a central location with a hub-and-spoke design, but Cosper says he’s concerned it could eliminate jobs and slow delivery times.
The Postal Service says thousands of temporary workers eventually convert to full-time status, with a regular salary, a 401(k), and health, retirement, and life insurance benefits.