Baltimoreans bemoan continued mail delays as postmaster general touts new 10-year service plan

On the fifth straight day without mail, David Maulsby stopped by the Druid Station Post Office in Baltimore.

Mostly, he just wanted to make sure that his postal carrier was all right.


“She knows my name, and she knows my dog’s name and she waves to me when she goes by in her truck,” Maulsby said.

So, she was missed on the streets of his Bolton Hill neighborhood this past week. But Maulsby’s questions at the post office yielded little clarity about the mail outage.


“My biggest grievance is that it happens and they’re not admitting it,” he said. “And they’re not disclosing a plan to fix it.”

It’s unclear exactly how many in the Baltimore area and around the country are still battling episodic or enduring mail delays, more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic, and months after the United States Postal Service began lamenting a historic influx of winter holiday mail. But complaints have persisted.

Freda Sauter, regional spokeswoman for the Postal Service, said COVID-19 is to blame for the slowdown in parts of Baltimore, although she said the staffers that serve Bolton Hill continued to deliver the mail.

“While the coronavirus pandemic impacted some mail deliveries in parts of the city last week, we have taken appropriate actions within our control to ensure mail deliveries continued,” Sauter said in an email. “We believe mail deliveries have returned to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank our customers for their patience and understanding.”

On Monday, finally, Maulsby received a few envelopes once more. But worries about the state of USPS linger.

Ever since service cuts arrived in proximity to November’s presidential election, criticism has been aimed squarely at Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. Back then, critics accused DeJoy, once a Republican Party fundraiser, of politicizing the service, and using it to slow the arrival of mail-in ballots that would likely favor Democrats.

Some of those cuts were blocked in federal court, but DeJoy’s plans for the Postal Service extended far beyond November. Last month, DeJoy exhibited his 10-year plan for the agency, which involves higher prices for postage and extending the window for first-class mail from one-to-three-days to one-to-five-days.

The plan also mentions consolidating “low-traffic” post offices or decreasing their hours of operation and an increasing the post office’s focus on packages as letter volume declines.


Some Congressional leaders have raised red flags, and Democrats are hoping their nominees for the Postal Service board, which is the only entity with the power to oust DeJoy, can right the ship after they take the majority.

But DeJoy says the cutbacks are necessary for a postal service where profitability languished long before the pandemic, which also has costly obligations to retirees. The postmaster said his proposal will make the post office profitable again by fiscal year 2024, rescuing it from $160 billion in projected losses over the next 10 years.

Regardless, the controversy is already playing out in America’s neighborhoods, where deliveries show up late — if at all — and mail trucks disappear.

For Rick Kulacki, a 44-year-old resident of the Colgate neighborhood on the Eastern edge of Baltimore City near Dundalk, mail issues have been pervasive.

A thank-you card sent from Florida in January arrived in April. A package sat in the Baltimore distribution center for four to five days. Outgoing letters sat in his mailbox for three.

“There are some weeks that I get mail delivery one time a week,” he said. “I’ve actually had mail delivered to the house here as late as 9:30 p.m.”


Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, who represents the area, expressed concerns about the Dundalk Post Office earlier this month.

“It’s been the source of many complaints from my constituents over the past 15 months or so,” he told journalists while standing in front of the office.

Other Maryland Congressional leaders have also spoken out about the complaints they’re hearing from constituents about postal woes. Sen Chris Van Hollen, for instance, has received more than 900 such complaints in 2021, a spokesperson said.

In a statement Monday, Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who represents much of Baltimore, including Bolton Hill, said “Postmaster General DeJoy needs to go because of his failed leadership.”

“His proposal to slow the mail, reduce access to post offices, and consolidate already overburdened processing facilities is a non-starter,” Mfume said in a statement.

When mail delivery became spotty earlier in the pandemic, Maulsby stopped relying on getting his bills through the post.


“I’ll be 80 in June, so I’m not of the generation that’s computer savvy. But my wife started paying the bills online,” Maulsby said.

These days, Maulsby misses even the junk mail — the myriad catalogs, the flyers soliciting charitable donations.

“Every day, I’d go to get the mail hoping something interesting was there. It never would be, but still — you know — it came,” he said.

He thought things would improve as more and more Americans, including postal workers, got their vaccines. But coronavirus cases are on the rise in Maryland and around the country once more, meaning staffing issues could be returning to the fore.

“Not getting our mail on time seems like a pretty small matter in the constellation of woe that the nation is facing,” he said. “But I kind of thought we were past the worst of that.”

Local postal clerk Courtney Jenkins, who’s also the director of organization and legislation for Local 181 of the American Postal Workers Union, said he and some of his co-workers at a local distribution center have been vaccinated, but still, barriers stand in the way of essential workers seeking their shots.

Maryland Policy & Politics

Maryland Policy & Politics


Keep up to date with Maryland politics, elections and important decisions made by federal, state and local government officials.

“We work untraditional work hours and shifts, like me: I work from 10 to 6 in the morning,” he said. “So, getting up to go to that appointment — and then a lot of the folks we represent have kids that are doing Zoom home schooling — it’s just very difficult.”

Jenkins said he wishes management was more proactive about helping postal workers navigate the state’s sometimes confusing network of vaccination sites. In an ideal world, management would start offering COVID-19 vaccines in his postal facility, he said, just like they’ve offered flu shots in the past.

“They’re gonna blame COVID for the issues, but they’re not doing things to proactively combat against the spread,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said he was also dismayed that DeJoy’s 10-year plan focused little on improving the health and safety of workers as the pandemic lingers on. Rather, it focused on profit margins and price changes.

“Management has not done a lot in the past year to really boost morale, outside of putting like a big sign on the side of the building that says ‘Heroes Work Here,’” he said.

And the emotional toll of the pandemic will be long-lasting for essential workers, said Jenkins, a 13-year veteran of USPS.


“It’s literally to the point where someone may be gone from work and you’re wondering, right? Are they on vacation? Are they OK? Is it one of those things where I’m gonna hear two weeks from now that this person passed away?”