US Postal Service backups continue in Northeast Ohio, but relief may be on the way

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CLEVELAND (WJW) – The U.S. Postal Service has opened a new processing facility in Northeast Ohio and may receive additional funding through the latest federal COVID-19 relief bill as it faces continued mail delays that have led to holiday gifts, medications and more arriving weeks behind schedule.

U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Naddia Dhalai said the organization opened a new processing facility in Twinsburg Saturday to help amid the ongoing backlog and is adjusting limited resources to meet demand. It could receive $10 billion in additional funding through the COVID relief bill currently before Congress.

Trucks have waited in line for hours to deliver mail and packages to the Cleveland mail processing plant as unsorted mail has piled up inside. Some customers have said some of their mail was delivered weeks later than expected – and they’re still waiting for more.

“I’m waiting on mail from Columbus, and it was mailed out the 9th. Here it is, the 21st. Nothing,” said Mike Bradley, of Cleveland. “This is ridiculous.”

The postal service has blamed high mail volumes combined with staffing shortages due to COVID-19. It’s impacting business owners who rely on the Postal Service to ship items purchased online.

“A lot of my customers are like, ‘Where are my packages?’” Daniel Bun said.

The USPS declined an interview request from FOX 8 News, but in a statement, Dhalai said since November, the USPS has hired more than 500 employees for the holidays at its plants in Cleveland and Akron with 70 of those starting today.

“In these unprecedented times, and a year with significant volume increases, we continue to flex our available resources to meet the demand within a finite number of resources available to us,” Dhalai said in the statement.

Additional funding of $10 billion for the postal service is included in the second COVID-19 relief package now before congress.

A spokesperson for Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said he has worked to pass the relief package including provisions to assist the USPS and is a cosponsor of the Postal Service Emergency Assistance Act, which would provide additional funding for the agency amid the pandemic.

“The bipartisan working group drew from that bill in the proposal they announced last week, and it appears that the package that Congress will pass later today includes those same provisions,” Portman spokesperson Emmalee Cioffi said in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown put the blame on U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Republican donor appointed by President Trump in May and came under fire for the removal of mail sorting machines from postal facilities in the lead-up to the November election.

“This is a problem we need to fix,” Brown said. “Until we have people running the Postal Service that are public servants, not political hacks, this is going to be a problem.”

Republican Congressman Dave Joyce said he has called for additional resources to prevent delays or interruptions in USPS’ basic services.

“I’m hopeful that by the end of the day today, Congress will have passed a COVID-19 relief package that includes funding to support USPS and its workers so that they can safely and effectively operate during these difficult times,” Joyce said in a statement to FOX 8 News.

Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur called the delays “unacceptable” and blamed postal service mismanagement, along with unprecedented demand for online purchases.

“President elect Biden has vowed his full support for the Postal Service,” Kaptur said in a statement to FOX 8 News. “I have every reason to believe that in the coming weeks USPS will receive the attention it deserves as a constitutionally mandated service to the American people.”

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