One of the worst legacies of the last four years is an apparent determination to ruin the U.S. Postal Service.

Postmaster Louis DeJoy introduced a 10-year plan last month that reduces post office hours, lengthens delivery times for first-class mail and raises prices. The plan, he told Congress, is to make the post office self-sustaining, although it’s difficult to understand how increased prices and decreased service will achieve that goal.

DeJoy remains on the job only because the board of governors that oversees Postal Service operations still supports him; the position of postmaster general is protected from presidential whims.

That’s a good thing … until the country is stuck with someone determined to ruin one of America’s fundamental institutions. DeJoy can’t be removed until President Joe Biden’s appointees are a majority on the board, which could happen fairly soon once his three appointees are confirmed.

Meanwhile, at local post offices across the country — including in the Santa Fe area — the decisions made in Washington, D.C., are being felt.

Rural residents say they are receiving mail later and later in the day, even around 9 p.m. Letters are late; Christmas cards from 2020 showed up in late February. Important prescriptions don’t get to people on time. That’s how bad mail service is becoming.

Before DeJoy started making changes last summer, the Postal Service delivered 90.6 percent of first-class mail on time. It hasn’t reached 90 percent in the eight months since.

Until he is replaced, it is unlikely for the situation to improve.

At the bottom of all this comes a basic reality. For all the conveniences of email and technology, old-fashioned mail service remains a staple of American life.

It’s how people receive life-saving prescriptions or goods they can’t buy locally. There’s this, too: Some people still want to receive their bank statements or credit card bills on paper. And yet, mail delays are prompting the companies involved to push customers to go with paperless billing.

Bad service, in other words, is killing the post office, not a lack of need.

DeJoy has explained he wants to go where there is growth — that is, to continue to deliver packages for consumers who he believes will stay with online shopping even after the pandemic ends. His told the Washington Post, “We are the most trusted brand. I just want to become the most used brand.”

U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, is pushing Biden to act more quickly. She tweeted earlier this week that, “Instead of holding DeJoy accountable, the USPS Board of Governors confirmed what I always suspected was true: The 6 current members are all DeJoy loyalists. I’m re-upping my February request that @POTUS use his legal authority to remove the entire Board for cause.”

As Washington deliberates, mail users across the country are left to deal with the mess. Santa Fe has been no stranger to inconsistent postal service over the years.

Members of Congress have had to get involved to demand better service and call local postal officials to account, with representatives and senators stepping in about complaints as recently as 2006. It might be time for such intervention again. Meanwhile, the carriers who are working late and doing more deserve our thanks — it’s not their fault the post office is a mess.

At the national level, Biden must get the post office back on track — post haste — by installing appointees who understand that mail service is essential. It must be affordable, universal and dependable. Period.

(8) comments

Sparky B.

As the spouse of a postal employee who has worked at Pacheco and requested a transfer and now works downtown, I can tell you the biggest problem in Santa Fe is work ethic! The mail is delivered late because of chronic attendance issues. There are carriers that call in sick on a regular basis. They basically "give the finger" to their fellow carriers who show up to work every day. (The Postal Union is one of the strongest in the U.S., so it is VERY difficult to fire and employee for attendance or other infractions) The mail shows up late because the carriers are delivering their assigned routes, then they have to carry other routes because of the lazy sob's that called in! There are also multiple vacancies for clerks and carriers. Being a postal carrier is a tough job, but the pay is quite good, better than an other entry level positions in Santa Fe, you would think more people would apply. As for the Pacheco station (Coronado), the manager and supervisors are horrible! They are mostly from Albuquerque and they don't give a sh*& about Santa Fe. They show up for a paycheck. The "postmaster" is another problem entirely.. Thankfully the problems aren't as bad downtown and my spouse was able to transfer there.

Andrew Lucero

We are all in agreement that DeJoy is a disaster and is the worst thing that has ever happened to the USPS... But if we are going to be honest, the Pacheco St. location was in the toilet long before DeJoy and the Trump Administration...

Peter Romero

The business I work for had packages delivered yesterday from mid March, the recipients paid for 3 day shipping. This was from the Pacheco post office. As a business they try delivering at 8pm at night knowing we are closed. We don't get mail or packages for days, when we do get delivery its a huge amount. Where I live in Pojoaque we don't even have a post office, I swear we only receive mail 3 days a week if we are lucky.

Mike Johnson

If the post office problems were given even a fraction of the attention from Biden that he has given attacking the benign Georgia voting bill, it would have been solved long ago. His priorities are just all political, not serving the people.

Craig Meyer

President Biden has nominated three new members for the Postal Board. Once confirmed they will be able to fire DeJoy. Biden is caught up, it's in the hands of the Senate now.

Cathryn Miller

Days after the New Mexican article about employee dissatisfaction at the Pacheco St. Post Office, my mail got goofed up. An Amazon package was supposedly delivered to my mail box according to USPS tracking. I never received the $50 item. In fact I received no mail for three days leading up to Easter. I cannot help wonder if there is passive aggressive behavior by unhappy employees taking place.

Dan Frazier

When it comes to the USPS, the elephant in the room is Amazon. Amazon is pushing all its sellers to deliver faster, faster, faster! Meanwhile, the USPS under DeJoy is making mail delivery slower, slower, slower! Many Amazon sellers are naturally going to gravitate to other carriers, including Amazon itself, to make sure packages get to customers in time to make Amazon happy. Sellers who fail to do so may find themselves sidelined by Amazon on the Amazon selling platform. A lot of times I don't think customers are really in as much of a rush to get their stuff as Amazon thinks they are. But customers do get irritated by unreasonably long delays like some USPS packages have been experiencing recently.

Craig Meyer

That is DeJoy's goal. He's heavily invested in logistics firms, at least one of whom is a contractor for USPS, that would financially benefit from the collapse of the Post Office.

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