World News – USA – Postal Service sees « unprecedented » volume amid pandemic


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A postman loads packages for delivery at the post office on Liberty Street in downtown Springfield, December. 22, 2020. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

Easthampton-based artist Beth McElhiney sells her work in silver and aluminum as well as in vintage porcelain and glassware through the online marketplace Etsy.

Or at least she tries – if the U. . S.. . The postal service that you and others depend on on the do-it-yourself e-commerce website can deliver packages. That has become more difficult this Christmas season than the postal service President Donald J is targeting this year. Trump’s government, with a wave of cuts, is now battling with unprecedented volume and the impact of COVID-19 on its workforce.

« Six orders, » McElhiney said on Tuesday. “Several orders are processed before transit without a pick-up lane, which is bizarre as they have all been brought to the post office. They don’t scan them into the system. ”

None of their customers requested a refund. But she said no one who has ordered more recently than two or three weeks gets their presents in time to put them under the tree for Christmas.

« Christmas is going to be belated for a lot of people, » she said. « You understand. I know it’s not my mail clerk’s fault. ”

Parcel volumes at the Postal Service’s Network Distribution Center in Springfield are 51% higher this year than any Christmas season, said Russell Evans, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 497.

The employees there process half a million parcels every day – compared to 350. 000 to 400. 000 on a normal December day.

« I have never seen so much mail in our facility, » said Evans, a 33-year-old postal service veteran whose union is separate, represents workers, delivers mail and works in post offices. “We sort the crap out of packages here in Springfield. ”

A U. . S.. . The postal service spokeswoman also said Tuesday that the system will work as soon as possible. However, you don’t even have an estimate of how many packages are in the system.

Evans said the postal service is doing everything it can, including renting back and reopening another Springfield sorting facility on Brookdale Drive. « We’ve been there for two weeks and sorted by hand to get packages out of the building, » he said.

Earlier this month, United Parcel Service decided to stop collecting orders at Nike, GAP, L.. L.. . Bean, Hot Topic, Newegg and Macy’s.

Trucks parked at the Springfield Postal Service in November. (Hoang ‘Leon’ Nguyen / The Republican)

The Etsy saleswoman Gail Cortis from Westfield didn’t even open her virtual shop this year because of the expected mail delays.

« I just thought it wasn’t worth it, » she said. « I’m still waiting for a Christmas card to be delivered. Two weeks and it didn’t arrive in Michigan. ”

This was the first year Cooper’s gifts in Agawam made significant business through online orders, said owner Kate Gourde. It has been an effort to reach customers who are reluctant to shop in person and keep the number of people in the store at a safe level.

« Just like everyone else. That’s why they were secured, ”she said of the impact on the postal service.

Gourde said she and other retailers switched from United Parcel Service and Federal Express to Postal Service when they found out the private transportation companies were in charge of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine. Knowing that these programs would be the top priority, she didn’t want to take a back seat.

“It seemed like December. 10 – that was a lead time – everything came to a standstill, ”she said.

Now, however, she hears from her postman that parcels turn up at the post office in Agawam after a few weeks in which they have not arrived. She said customers are starting to see her deliveries.

In August, Russell Evans, president of the American Postal Workers Union, spoke at Local 497 as postal workers and supporters gathered for a rally at the post office in downtown Springfield to support American Postal Workers Day of Action. On the left is Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. (Don Treeger / The Republican)

The Postal Service’s Springfield facility is 78 acres with approximately one million square feet of work space and 1. 500 regular employees. A few hundred additional workers will be hired for the holiday season, Gibbs said.

At the Springfield facility, more than 1. 000 incoming and outgoing vehicle journeys carried out. It is a hub for New England and parts of New York, handling priority and premium parcels from Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

Springfield’s parcel sorting system can 5. 000 to 9. Process 1,000 packages per hour and everything is up and running, Gibbs said. The facility also has equipment to sort up to 12. 000 magazines and other flat objects per hour.

« We all have our machines 24 hours a day, seven days a week, » she said. “At the moment we are working at full capacity. We put extra boots on the floor, extra people, extra hours. This is our season. ”

And Gibbs pushed Tuesday back against the notion that summer service cuts – including removing boxes and mail sorting machines and limiting overtime – played a role in this season’s delays. At the time, the decisions were viewed by some as an attempt by President Trump to sabotage the voting by mail.

Evans said the Springfield facility’s employees are allowed to work overtime, with shifts of up to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.

But he said the postal service couldn’t hire that many temporary workers this year, possibly because of COVID-19.

COVID-related issues in the workforce have destroyed the postal service at the national level. The Washington Post reported that almost Jan.. 000 of the 644. 000 agency workers have called in sick or are quarantined for the virus and are cited according to the American Postal Workers Union.

In Springfield, Evans said, there are workers with COVID-19. However, citing privacy, it declined to say how many of its 750 members are affected.

He said management and the union had drawn up strict COVID protocols with masks required in the facility this spring. The contact tracing tells him that people bring it in but don’t pass the disease on from worker to worker in the workplace.

There was a spike when contract workers reported in November, he said. Many of them are younger – an age group that feels invincible.

« Management, workers – we are doing everything in our power to get this mail out of our facility faster, » he said.

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United States Postal Service, Christmas Day

World News – US – The Postal Service sees « unprecedented » volume amid a pandemic


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