(WXYZ) — Postal customers across southeast Michigan want answers. After more than a year of the pandemic, mail delivery problems are still rampant.
“My credit is going to be affected,” said Sharon Williams, who lives on Detroit’s west side, and says her mail hasn’t arrived in 7 days. “I could count on my mail like clockwork a long time ago.”
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Williams said she never had a problem with mail delivery until the COVID-19 pandemic. Now she worries she’ll be late on her car payment because her bills haven’t arrived.
“When you’re late paying a bill, that’s a late fee. Everybody doesn’t have email. Some bills you might prefer to pay by mail,” Williams told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.
Sharon says the postal employees at Joyfield Station told her she could come pick up her mail, but she fears exposure to COVID-19.
“The postmen are getting paid to deliver your mail,” said Williams.
“It’s frustrating,” said Helen Reynolds in Grosse Pointe.
“I was still getting Christmas cards in February,” said Martha Johns, who also lives in Grosse Pointe.
The mail for the apartment complex where Reynolds and Johns live gets processed at the Fox Creek post station in Detroit. They say their mail is only showing up a few times a week, including weekly newspapers that are outdated by the time they’re delivered.
“We’re paying for all these things, and we’re not getting them,” said Reynolds.
“It comes on a Saturday, sometimes you don’t get another mail delivery till Thursday,” said Gregg Langone, who also lives in the Grosse Pointe complex.
“We just want our mail,” said Adriana Zuniga, who lives in southwest Detroit, and says their delivery is sporadic at best.
“It’s not fair to the residents. Period. It’s not. They are getting paid to do a job, we expect them to do that,” said Rudy Garcia, who also lives on Clark. Garcia says he’s made three online complaints, but the mail delivery is not getting better.
These neighbors say when they complained about the mail not being delivered, the manager at the Springwells post office said they could just purchase a P.O. Box for $68 every six months.
“People are not working right now. People don’t have $68, people are on fixed income,” said Zuniga.
So where are all the postal workers we’re used to seeing at our doors and mailboxes?
According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, since the start of the pandemic, 39,696 postal carriers have had to quarantine, and 15,339 carriers have tested positive for COVID-19. There have been 36 deaths due to COVID among active letter carriers, including one here locally in Livonia.
Other USPS staff have also been hit hard by the pandemic. And now there’s a new wrinkle. The latest COVID relief bill granted more paid leave to federal employees who may have been exposed to the coronavirus, or who have child care issues due to remote learning.
“Now that people are beginning to use that again, it’s causing more delays,” said Keith Combs, American Postal Workers Union Detroit District No. 295 President.
With so many employees on federal leave, others have had to work mandatory overtime which is taking a toll.
"Postal employees are once again working long hours, in some cases 16 hours a day, 7 days a week to make sure the mission is complete," said Combs.
Combs says years of failing to fill jobs to save money has left the ranks of clerks, carriers, expediters, and drivers empty.
“Now when there’s an issue, they don’t have a cushion in order to make sure someone is there to do the job,” said Combs.
“For me, it’s unacceptable and I’m going to keep working on this and get some answers,” said Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield).
Rep. Lawrence says she’s received complaints from constituents as well. Lawrence said she spoke with USPS Detroit District manager Richard Moreton who told her that hundreds of local workers are using that new federal paid leave.
“He said right now, the city of Detroit alone has over 100 employees in that status, and the metro Detroit area has over 500,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence plans to meet with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Thursday about the hiring crisis inside the post office so they can get more workers in the door.
“Are you spending the dollars to hire, are you spending the dollars to invest in a culture in the postal service, and management styles that will nurture a workforce that want to stay and invest in a career? Because we need them to meet our delivery standards,” said Lawrence.
Rep. Lawrence also told us an Inspector General report on the mail delivery issues in this region is due to be released soon.
The 7 Investigators have asked the postal service repeatedly for on camera interview so we can get some answers about all of the different delivery problems – but so far, they’ve refused to talk to us.