Postal Service tells Norton: Only temporary workers have been released since holidays

The U.S. Postal Service has responded to a recent letter from D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton regarding recent reductions in its workforce, saying that only holiday workers have been released.

In that letter sent Jan. 12, Norton voiced her concern that “permanent USPS employees recently have been laid off, in addition to the traditional layoffs for seasonal workers after the holidays.”

But in its response Friday to Norton – which she publicly shared Tuesday — a Postal Service spokesperson denied it has laid off permanent employees since the holidays ended.

“It is important to clarify that the Postal Service did not collectively separate or ‘lay off’ any career employees or any employees serving in carrier positions in Washington,” James Cari wrote.

Rather, it released 198 clerks and 85 mail handler assistants, who were classified as “non-career” employees who work for up to 360 days. They were let go, the Postal Service said, per an agreement with both the American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

Those positions, Cari wrote, “are discretionary and subject to business needs.”

Seven holiday clerk assistants were also let go Dec. 31, Cari wrote, in accordance with the union contract.

Norton is one of several local leaders who have heard complaints from residents about late delivery times over the last several months. She passed along those concerns to the Postal Service in the fall, and the Postal Service blamed “increased employee absences and reduced employee availability” for such delays.

In that earlier letter, the Postal Service also detailed steps to improve service, such as lending employees to post offices that need help and allowing for high levels of overtime. Friday’s letter, too, touched on those same measures to speed up service, and said that the Postal Service would be “expanding mail delivery to earlier in the morning, later in the evening, and on Sundays.”

In a statement made with the release of the Postal Service’s response, Norton said that she will be “watching for results” from such measures.

Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer. In a previous life, he helped edit The Dallas Morning News and Chicago Tribune.

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