8 NEWS, VICTORIA LUCAS
As the holidays approach in just one week, concerns about mail delays and thefts in the Commonwealth continue to grow, with local and federal elected leaders calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to address the issue.
8News has spoken to many residents across the Central Virginia region who have experienced missing mail for long periods, either due to delays or theft. Now, elected leaders are speaking out on these issues as the holiday season is expected to cause a peak in mail deliveries.
On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (Va.-7) sent a letter to the United States Postmaster General, Honorable Louis DeJoy, in response to a report that more than 1,300 Virginians across her district had experienced USPS mail delivery and service issues.
“Virginians shared stories with me about delayed delivery of bills that caused them to owe late fees and penalties, mail delivered to the wrong address, and missing mail that was never delivered – including checks and gifts,” Spanberger said.
The letter also asks the USPS what its seasonal hiring plans will be as the USPS has decided to reduce seasonal hiring this year, and what these changes would mean for customers and employees as the agency heads into its busiest time of the year.
Spanberger ended the letter by asking the USPS to answer the following questions:
- What steps is USPS taking to address service issues such as those reported by my constituents — including late, incorrect, and missed deliveries?
- What led to USPS’ decision to reduce seasonal hiring ahead of the 2023 holiday peak season, despite the above continued service issues?
- Please describe the potential impacts and additional hardships that will fall on our hardworking postal workforce during this busy holiday season with fewer temporary staff on board.
- In a recent report, the USPS Office of Inspector General stated, “The Postal Service has developed plans to handle the upcoming peak season. If the initiatives are implemented as planned and volume forecasts are accurate, the Postal Service should be prepared for peak season.” Should mail volume exceed these forecasts, what contingency plans does the USPS have in place to meet demand?
Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan (Va.-4), along with United States Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), sent a joint letter to Gerald Roane, USPS Virginia District Manager to also address increased issues in mail deliveries.
In the letter, the legislators explained the increase in delays and security issues that residents across the Commonwealth and Fourth Congressional District have experienced. They also called on Roane’s office to facilitate a town hall meeting for concerned residents to attend no later than Jan. 19, 2024.
On Sunday, Dec. 3, the Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office released that a scheduled postal town hall meeting was canceled due to the USPS declining the invitation to attend.
“We had spoken with postal authorities in order to set up the town hall and they knew that what we were trying to do as an aid to them, they refused to even send one person from any of the three divisions of the Postal Service, either customer delivery or the Office of the Inspector General or the Postal inspectors,” Colette Wallace McEachin, Commonwealth Attorney for the City of Richmond, said.
According to McEachin, the impacts of missing mail can be severe as residents could miss taking important medications, or receive paychecks and personal documents that could pose penalties if not addressed in a timely manner.
“When you don’t get a summons from the court and the court is under the impression that you should have received it,” McEachin explained, “you could be held in contempt, you could be ordered to come to court and explain why you didn’t appear for jury duty.”
She said the problem could extend further after the holiday season — with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) filings and refund checks to be sent out soon through mail services.