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News Brief

Feb. 15, 2024 |  By: Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

Calls for increased rural Postal Service staffing grow louder


By Farah Siddiqi - Public News Service

Across the country and especially in rural parts of Missouri, U.S. Postal Service staffing shortages are being blamed by some for delays in mail delivery.

Some postal carriers say the lack of staffing hampers the ability to split overloaded routes and is at the heart of the issue affecting prompt mail delivery.

Bryce Shanklin, a rural letter carrier for the Postal Service, said he understands initially, the workload can be daunting, even seven days a week and with low starting pay. But he does not understand why more people do not stay on and commit to a longer-term Postal Service career, where the benefits are good.

"Perks are wonderful. I never have to worry about being laid off," Shanklin pointed out. "The other benefit is all the federal holidays, ones like Presidents' Day, most people don't get that off. And then, your health benefits; I haven't seen better health insurance than what I have with the federal government."

In 2020, the Postmaster General put a plan into effect known as "Delivering For America," to minimize employee turnover by converting more staff to career status. Since the plan was implemented, the number of conversions has grown to 125,000. But the American Postal Workers Union argued the Postal Service is still short-handed.

Shanklin added rural routes including deliveries for online retailers can be very time-consuming.

"Amazon trucks, DHL, UPS, FedEx, they're all running in the city. But you get out rural? That falls on the Post Office," Shanklin emphasized. "Even if you have postal vehicles, you're making two trips -- making three sometimes, more of course at Christmas -- just to get those packages to get out."

But Shanklin acknowledged once the carrier has a routine down, the work is satisfying.

"I started in '05 during Christmas, I was like, 'There is no way I can do this job.' And then a couple years later, I could do a dozen or so routes like the back of my hand," Shanklin recounted. "Of course, with every job, it's not always for everybody, but you just put a little effort into it, it's really easy. It really is pretty easy."

Shanklin's rural customers even have an online appreciation committee to thank him for his efforts and friendly demeanor on the route. He added if more people appreciated their carriers, it couldn't help but affect their job satisfaction as well.