Union leaders say the U.S. Postal Service and its persistent labor shortage might be causing some residents to miss their regular mail deliveries.
The Portland post office – which serves the city and surrounding communities – is understaffed, union officials say.
It has 187 carriers now, about 25 fewer than it needs for a preferred staffing level, said Mark Seitz, president of the local branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers. He said a lengthy hiring process, a tight labor market, a hierarchy that divides jobs between new and veteran letter carriers, and the changing nature of the work make it difficult to keep the post office fully staffed.
“They can’t hire them fast enough,” Seitz said, noting the problem is widespread throughout the country. “There are days when there are a handful of routes that don’t go out because we just don’t have the people.”
But Steve Doherty, a spokesman for the post office in the service’s Northeast district, said the Portland office has “adequate staffing” and “non-delivery issues in the Portland area are rare.” He declined to provide specifics about how many deliveries are not made.
Hiring in Portland continues, he said, but the regional post office has a below-average turnover rate of about 1.6 percent of carrier assistants, the entry-level carrier position. The national rate, he said, is 3 percent.