Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) was joined by Lower Hudson Valley elected officials and residents at the White Plains postal center last week to demand long-term solutions to the systemic issues plaguing the post office branches in Westchester and Rockland counties.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner; Els van den Bosch, a Port Chester resident who had to pay a replacement fee for her green card that was lost in the mail; Village of Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity; and Cynthia Ferguson, an Ossining resident who has been subjected to significant breaks in delivery and late and missing mail, including bills joined Lowey in the discussion.
The White Plains Examiner reported last week about ongoing efforts by Feiner to clear up mail delivery problems in Greenburgh.
Feiner’s efforts resulted in the United States Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, referring the issue to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service.
The OIG is responsible for investigating any complaints of Postal employee misconduct, including mismanagement.
However, the problem covers a much broader area.
“When the Postal Service is not working efficiently, families and businesses can face serious consequences,” said Lowey. “Unfortunately, that’s the case for too many area residents. During the past five months, I’ve received dozens of postal service complaints, which indicate a wide range of structural problems. The shortcomings in our local postal service are not merely inconveniences; they are threatening the livelihood and well-being of some of our highest need constituents.”
At the press conference several mail complaints of recent months from constituents in the Congressional 17th District were highlighted.
A constituent from White Plains, who relies on the mail for her heart medication, only received her medication when her husband personally waited for the carrier and asked him to check a spot in the delivery vehicle the carrier had overlooked.
Another constituent from Nyack had her address changed without her consent. A credit card was opened in her name, and she was the victim of identity theft.
A constituent from White Plains had to fight multiple battles because his nebulizer medication was lost in the mail. He and other seniors in his building consistently face missing mail and poor service.
In September 2017, Lowey met with United States Postal Service Deputy Postmaster General Ron Stroman to discuss the postal issues in Westchester and Rockland, bringing to his attention dozens of specific cases and demanding action. At the meeting, Lowey asked for a report detailing the steps the Post Office has taken to fix these issues, and later sent a letter to Stroman to follow up on the report, which was vague and did not include a detailed plan. Since then, the Postal Office has yet to address every case brought to their attention by Lowey.
Last week, Lowey sent a letter to Stroman describing the “wide range of structural issues” that continue to plague local mail delivery and urging him to use his upcoming briefing session in White Plains not just as an opportunity to hear concerns, but as a platform “to announce solutions to the challenges we have repeatedly brought to your attention over the past five months.”
“I am very pleased that Congresswoman Lowey is giving this her priority attention,” said Feiner at the press conference. “The lack of reliable and dependable mail service is a crisis for our residents. I have received hundreds of complaints from residents and many of these complaints are very serious. Not receiving medication. Not getting checks they expect or bills. Mail being sent to the wrong addresses. No mail deliveries for days at a time. We need to find a solution to the problem. I hope that the Postmaster General of the United States will consider our invitation to visit Westchester, to meet with postal customers and local postal employees. We need results.”
In a separate communication Feiner shared a response he received from Mark Dimondstein, President, American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO.
In the letter Dimondstein said, “The American Postal Workers Union share your concerns and are extremely disturbed by a series of management actions that have undermined public postal services. These include the slowing down of mail delivery standards, closing of a number of processing facilities that resulted in delayed mail, limiting hours of retail operations and short staffing that is causing long lines at retail units and later and later delivery on the city carrier side.”
“The USPS has also moved to a ‘model’ of more non-career employees, with greater tum-over in the ranks and less trained postal workers. Added together, these account for much of the complaints you are receiving. While the union does not ‘run’ the postal services we have raised our voices loud and clear regarding our concerns and believe in defending the ‘common good’ that the public Post Service has historically represented, and should continue to do so.”