Vermonters continue to cope with USPS delays

Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 5:55 PM EDT
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NORTHFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) - The term “snail mail” has taken on new meaning this spring as some Vermonters are now waiting over a week for their U.S. mail delivery, and mud season has made it worse.

In Moretown, postal workers head out to their routes, delivering mail and packages to local residents, many off the beaten path. The holiday rush is long over but some are still waiting days on end for their parcels.

Despite the delays, many community members say they understand the problems and are patient because it’s their neighbors delivering the mail. A particularly tricky mud season hasn’t helped either, blocking off roads around the region.

Over the mountain in Northfield, Peggy Smykal sees the impact of short-staffing at the Post Office. “When that happens, then they pretty much have to go to the Post Office to pick up their mail and the Post Office is short-handed to begin with and it’s causing a backup in lines,” she said. Smykal says she has friends and family that live outside of town and have been late on bills and medication because of the delays.

Like many parts of Vermont’s labor force, the USPS is experiencing a chronic labor shortage. Officials say they are allowing for more overtime, shifting staff where needed, and delivering mail after hours and Sundays.

“As we move past these short-term employee availability issues, we will continue to use all of the tools at our disposal to assure that our Vermont customers get the kind of first-class service that they’ve come to expect and deserve,” a USPS spokesman said in a statement.

It was a similar message in January after the holidays. Congress has also been chipping away at the problem, approving a law ending the requirement that USPS pre-fund 75 years of retiree benefits.

“Every year the Post Office has to come up with billions and billions and billions of dollars rather than use that money to have quality mail service right now,” explained Senator Bernie Sanders.

Many Post Offices across the state are still hiring.

“I don’t blame anyone at the Post Office, because they are doing what they can. They lost people and it’s hard to get them replaced,” Smykal said.

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