As Residents Are Left Without Mail, Crow Wing County Searches for Answers
After multiple reports were made to the Crow Wing County Board from residents saying they haven’t received their mail, elected officials went straight to the source to look for answers and figure out what was holding things up at the Brainerd post office.
“I’ve talked to people that are getting their light bills and their – whatever bills they might have – be coming, getting it, and it’s already past due,” said county commissioner Paul Koering at a recent county board meeting.
As this is a federal issue, the county has no say over the post office’s operations, but they say they were able to find out what is happening at the local level.
“I was in the Brainerd annex and watching the mail getting sorted and delivered. There’s clearly nobody standing around, twiddling their thumbs. There’s clearly nobody just sitting around,” said county administrator Tim Houle. “Their issue is, [they’re] short-staffed.”
The board highlighted that the labor market is very challenging, stating the post office doesn’t offer a set schedule that is very promising at the moment.
“Offering jobs where there is not any kind of, ‘I know when I’m going to work at $19.64 an hour,’ I kind of think that’s probably the problem, is that the post office has not been as adaptable to the changing labor market conditions as they maybe should be,” said Houle.
The board also wanted to recognize that this is not solely a local problem, but a greater systemic difficulty for the United States Postal Service.
“This issue is happening around the state of Minnesota, as other post offices are struggling for labor as well. It’s not unique to here,” added Houle. “I do think that it is incumbent upon the Post Office and Congress to engage here and to allow some more flexible HR practices at the local level. I’m sure that will drive some additional costs. It is the same thing every employer is experiencing right now.”
But Houle also emphasized that these issues with mail delivery are not a reflection on the hard work of employees at the Brainerd post office.
A resolution was ultimately passed by the Crow Wing County Board which states that they are asking a federal legislative delegation to “immediately take up this issue and provide sufficient resources and more adaptable human resource practices” so post offices can respond better to local labor market conditions.