NBC12, MADISON MCNAMEE
Some political leaders are now joining the fight to fix mail delays in the Richmond area.
Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, along with Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan, wrote a letter to the United States Postal Service district manager to resolve the delivery problems.
The letter was written after meeting with USPS to talk about setting up another postal town hall after the first one was canceled when representatives from USPS could not be in Richmond for it.
Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette McEachin was also present at the meeting, as she has been trying to help Richmond neighbors facing delivery problems for the past few months and wants answers.
She is asking for transparency and responsiveness from USPS. She says the representative told her all backlog mail issues should have been solved by the end of last week.
“In my mind, that would mean there are no more complaints, but obviously, that is not the case,” McEachin said.
4th District Representative Jennifer McClellan says she has noticed a decrease in complaints from constituents this week, but she still wants more transparency, which could come in the form of a postal town hall.
”Hopefully, that means that going forward, to the extent there are issues moving forward, that the post office is clearly communicating,” McClellan said. “We understand that part of the backlog is issues with workforce hiring and retaining a workforce, and so we’ve told them, look, if you need something from Congress or the President to help you, you got to communicate that.”
McEachin is still worried about the lost mail from the past few months, as she says people in the Richmond area are still missing medications, bills and more.
The big question now is when USPS will be held accountable.
“Short of there being congressional hearings on the post office’s inability to do their primary mission, which is deliver mail regularly and consistently, there’s not much we can do except complain,” McEachin said.
McClellan says she is working to strengthen communication with USPS to get those answers, as she and Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner understand there is a shortage of workers.
“There’s been a lot of concern about this, you know, including that their goal to recruit seasonal staff for this Christmas was less than last Christmas when all indications are that it’s going to be every bit as busy as Christmas, if not more so,” Sen. Tim Kaine said.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger says USPS will not be hiring additional workers for the holidays, which she fears will make delivery issues worse and make the job harder for the carriers already putting in extra work.
On top of the already apparent delays, issues like this are why officials are asking USPS to come forward and be more transparent about what is happening so customers will end up less frustrated.
“What does it mean for them that their employer is choosing not to staff up to levels that, you know, in the past have been important to be able to handle what we know will be an ever-increasing workload through the holiday season?” 7th district Representative Abigail Spanberger said.
McEachin says USPS would not commit to a town hall before the holidays because staff were too busy, so she and political leaders are now asking it be sometime before Jan. 19.