YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Delivery of letters and packages from the United States Postal Service has become increasingly erratic in recent weeks, resulting in dozens of formal complaints by Yorktown residents and many more grievances being aired on social media.
Last week, the town developed a web page to receive formal complaints and pass them along to the USPS. As of Jan. 8, the town had received more than 40. Town Supervisor Matt Slater said most complaints are coming from Yorktown Heights and Shrub Oak.
“When I contacted our local post offices about the disrupted mail service, I learned that COVID-19-related illness and staffing shortages were among the reasons for the unsatisfactory service,” Slater wrote in a letter to the USPS district manager on Friday, Jan. 8.
“While recognizing the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Postal Service must consider enhancing its work force to compensate for sick employees and other staffing shortages,” Slater continued in his letter. “Many people in Yorktown rely on the Postal Service to receive prescription drugs and other essential goods. We also have many senior citizens in our community who are homebound due to the health emergency and they need reliable mail service to pay bills and conduct other business.”
Gail M. Branham, a regional spokesperson for the USPS, said the holiday season was “one for the record books,” with more than a billion packages being delivered. The package volume in Yorktown, Branham said, was on par with nationwide trends.
“The 36 employees at the Yorktown Post Office gave a great effort and continue to work every day for the community,” Branham said.
Shippers, as they attempted to move these “historic volumes,” ran into trucking and airlift capacity limits, causing “temporary pockets of delays,” Branham said.
Exacerbating the issue was employee availability challenges as a result of “necessary COVID-19 policies designed to keep our employees and our communities safe,” Branham said. Westchester, in particular, was “Ground Zero” of the COVID-19 outbreak, “and our employees have not been exempt from being affected.”
“Our employees continue to work at an unprecedented pace, which has served our communities well through the pandemic, an intense election season, and now this record-setting peak season—and they are still working,” Branham said.
Not just relegated to the holidays, the postal service has seen an uptick in package volume since the onset of COVID-19, Branham said.
“As early as last spring, when average Yorktown residents moved from shopping in stores to shopping online for household essentials, we have been working with this type of increased volume,” Branham said. “Adding to that increased holiday volume can further explain the delays.”
To remedy these delays, Branham said, USPS has been extending the contracts of seasonal employees who traditionally end their postal work after Christmas, as well as reallocating staffing resources daily.
“We remain committed to delivery of all mail in our custody,” Branham said.