If you live in a southern area of Santa Fe, you might notice your mail arriving even later than before.
Mail carriers have been ordered to start their shifts at 9 a.m. at the Pacheco Street post office, causing some to complain of working into the night and delivering items late to customers.
Carriers previously started work between 6 and 7 a.m., and now with the later start time, many find themselves working until 9 p.m.
That is leading to businesses receiving mailed checks too late to cash that day and other items they required during regular hours, said two carriers who didn’t want to be identified because they feared retaliation.
Because the Pacheco Street post office employs rural carriers, who are on a different contract than city postal workers, they are on a set salary and receive no additional pay for longer, later hours, they said.
Ellen O’Dowd, who knows some affected carriers and receives her mail through the Pacheco Street post office, said this policy change is “a thorn in the side” for everyone involved.
“The late start just kind of pushes everything later for everybody,” O’Dowd said. “It doesn’t make any sense, not for the employees or for the people of Santa Fe.”
A regional U.S. Postal Service spokesman in Denver declined to comment, saying each local office is in charge of its scheduling.
Union officials at the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, which represents Pacheco Street workers, also wouldn’t comment.
One of the unnamed workers said the post office manager imposed the later start time after a carrier demanded to be paid for the time he stood around as parcels were prepared for delivery.
That angered the manager, who imposed the mandatory 9 a.m. start time to prevent carriers from having such wait times, the worker said. But that’s punishing everyone for one worker complaining, he said.
Rural carriers in this office have a set wage, which is supposed to be based on volume, he said. So they’re paid the same, whether it takes them eight hours or 10 hours to deliver their loads, he said.
They also have received no hazardous duty pay during the coronavirus pandemic, as city postal workers do, he said. And each carrier’s volume has increased drastically since the U.S. Postal Service landed a contract to deliver Amazon parcels, the worker said.
He estimates he has gone from delivering 30 parcels a day to 200, with no pay raise for the longer days.
The managers are supposed to increase staffing, but they don’t so they can keep labor costs down, he said.
Ken Fajardo, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s Albuquerque branch, said rural carriers are more like contract workers.
“They are more salaried employees as opposed to an hourly rate, which are the city carriers,” he said.
Fajardo said parcel shipments, especially through Amazon, have increased exponentially during the pandemic, with more people ordering online instead of shopping at stores.
That’s resulted in mail carriers working harder, with longer days, he said.
“It’s like Christmas volume, but for the whole year,” Fajardo said.
O’Dowd said the higher volume of packages and the later start time means rural carriers are working at night in vehicles not equipped for them to work in the dark. And they get nothing for the additional hassle, she said.
“It’s been an eye-opener for me to learn about the post office,” O’Dowd said. “They don’t treat their employees very well.”