ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Everyone knows how busy the post office gets around the holidays. However, KRQE News 13 has learned there’s something going on behind closed doors at the U.S. Postal Service that may make things a little worse.
“I have encountered long lines at a lot of post offices actually across Albuquerque,” said Debra Haaland, who lives in Albuquerque. She now takes a book to read with her each trip to the post office.
“Sometimes they can go beyond the normal you know, holiday traffic,” Haaland explained.
It’s part of the reason Ken Fajardo, President of the American Postal Workers Union in Albuquerque, is worried about what’s coming.
“Here in Albuquerque, what they wanna do is cut a total of 63 jobs throughout the city,” Fajardo told KRQE News 13.
He said word of the job cuts came down from Washington, and his office was just notified last month. “We’ve been hearing the rumblings for months now and it’s slowly working its way to the west, and we’re just the next ones in line that they’re trying to do this to,” he says.
The Postal Service employs approximately 1,500 people in the city of Albuquerque.
Fajardo said jobs on the chopping block range from mail handler positions in the Processing and Distribution Center, to mail processing and window clerks.
He said ut of the 63 positions, 47 are being abolished. The other 16 are “reversions,” or vacancies the Postal Service is doing away with.
Definitions according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the APWU and U.S. Postal Service:
Abolishment: A management decision to reduce the number of occupied duty assignment(s) in an established section and/or installation.
Reversion: A management decision to reduce the number of duty assignments in an installation when such duty assignment(s) is/are vacant.
“Cuts are not the answer,” said Fajardo. “In reality, our data shows that more jobs are needed.”
Fajardo claims not only is this bad for employees and customers alike, but the timing around the holidays couldn’t be worse. Customers have seen what the post offices look like around the holidays. Behind the scenes, it’s even busier.
“We have issues right now as it is, but once these cuts take effect, it’s just gonna devastate customer service even more,” Fajardo said.
Recurring issues for instance, like when someone has a mailbox broken into, already take weeks to repair. Customers have complained about no one answering the phone when they call the post office to try and get a problem fixed.
He claims some of the clerks have been ordered not to answer phone calls, and some stations have policies not to answer the phone since workers there have other priorities.
“I think it’s bad customer service and I feel the customer deserves better,” said Fajardo. “Problems that customers do have – they’re going unanswered and unresolved.”
When asked if he believes it’s because the offices are understaffed, he responded, “Without a doubt.”
Cutting jobs even in the Processing and Distribution Center, Fajardo claims, will affect the customer in the long run. And full-time employees whose jobs are going away, he said might be able to continue work with USPS if they relocate outside of Albuquerque.
“It’s really not fair and it’s not justified,” Fajardo said.
KRQE News 13 tried calling the Postal Service Plant Manager, as well as the local Customer Service Spokeswoman. Neither of them returned phone calls.
However, KRQE News 13 did receive the following emailed statement from the Regional Spokesman in Phoenix:
The U.S. Postal Service is a responsible employer that prudently matches our workforce to an evolving workload and adjusts staffing continuously. This year to date, despite growth in the package segment of our business, overall mail volume has declined by over 3 billion pieces. That changes our revenue and our work, and we are therefore adjusting job positions and scheduling without laying off any employees.
USPS Corporate Communications
With increased online orders from places like Amazon, Fajardo said workers are busier than ever.
“I don’t know if you notice, but the carriers are out into late night these days,” he added.
Fajardo said the union is fighting the cuts, arguing the Postal Service is not upholding its employee contracts.
Meanwhile, customers like Haaland hope there’s a better way. “It’s not anything that Albuquerque or any of New Mexico needs right now,” said Haaland. “I mean we need every single job we can have here in Albuquerque.”
Last week, the Postal Service reported a financial loss for the 11th straight year.
After KRQE News 13 started asking questions for this story, Fajardo said the local plant manager recently told him they will work to postpone the job cuts until after the holidays.