Calls for increased rural Postal Service staffing grow louder

Published 10:23 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

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Across the country, and especially in rural parts of Tennessee, 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.
Williamson County Rural Mail Carrier Bryce Shanklin said permanent staff have fantastic perks – such as comprehensive health care, job security and getting all the federal holidays like President’s day this weekend.
He said it’s worth putting in the grunt work upfront.
“When you’re a sub, you are going to be working seven days a week from where we deliver Amazon on Sundays, and you’re working a lot of your holidays,” said Shanklin. “So that’s a big drawback when people come into a job. They just don’t look at the long term where our benefits are phenomenal.”
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 says the Postal Service is still shorthanded.
Shanklin said rural routes that include deliveries for online retailers can be very time consuming.
“Amazon trucks, DHL, UPS, FedEx, they’re all running in the city,” said Shanklin. “But you get out rural? That falls on the Post Office. 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 said 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,'” said Shanklin. “And then a couple years later, I could do a dozen or so routes like the back of my hand. 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 Williamson County neighborhoods even have an online appreciation committee to thank him for his efforts and friendly demeanor on the route.
He said if more people appreciated their carriers, it couldn’t help but affect their job satisfaction, as well.

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