Portland, Maine, US (AP) — America’s Christmas season last year wasn’t the most wonderful time of year for parcel services and postal workers: sick and quarantined workers, and letters and packages piled up in their distribution centers because shoppers were reluctant to set foot in stores. to freeze. However, by this time of the end of the year, they are better prepared for work.
Postal workers are preparing for another kind of pandemic crisis: fewer freight and disruptions to supply chains and ports, which have created some uncertainty around the delivery of Christmas gifts.
Workers reported an increase in Christmas packages for several weeks.
Scott Adams, Portland leader of the American Postal Workers Union, said, “A lot of workers say, ‘Oh no, here we go again?
The United States Postal Service and private parcel companies UPS and FedEx are hiring more employees — some 230,000 temporary workers — and taking other steps to avoid being overwhelmed with packages again.
About 3.4 billion packages are expected to cross the country this holiday season, representing an increase of an estimated 400 million compared to last year, said Satish Jindal of ShipMatrix, a Pennsylvania-based company that analyzed package shipping data.
If cards and letters are involved, the United States Postal Service says it will deliver more than 12 billion pieces.
“The pandemic is still here. The supply chain is a challenge that will affect the way people shop and how products move,” said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 postal workers.
Jindal said that despite the uncertain situation, the Postal Service, UPS and FedEx are in a better position to deal with the increase in volumes and several trends could be in their favour.
Jindal said more people are shopping in brick-and-mortar stores than last year, and others have previously ordered online because they are aware of problems in the supply chain.
In addition, as employees return to work, there are fewer shipments of office supplies home, he said.
More importantly, shipping services are adapting after their rough experience in the last year, he said.
US Postmaster Louis DeJoy, who faced devastating criticism last year but this month reported improved on-time deliveries and a reduction in operating losses, said the service is prepared for a crisis. “We’re ready, so send us your packages and your mail,” he said.
A year earlier, more than a third of the Postal Service’s first class mail was late by the time Christmas arrived.
Trailers loaded with mail were parked outside some postal sorting facilities. Letters and packets were kept at the distribution centers. The delay extended to days and then, in many cases, to weeks.
Two things were painfully obvious: more workers and more space were needed, but both issues have already been addressed.
To handle the increased volume, the Postal Service is converting more than 30,000 non-carrier employees into career-level employees for peak season. It is hiring 40,000 temporary workers and renting additional space at more than 100 locations to ensure space for the package.
The Postal Service has installed more than 100 new parcel sorting machines since November, part of a planned investment of $40 billion over 10 years. In addition, more than 50 systems capable of sorting large packages are expected to be implemented by December. Overall, the capacity has been increased to 4.5 million additional packages per day, officials said.
For its part, UPS is hiring more than 100,000 temporary workers nationwide and continues to add aircraft and automated services. They estimate that about 90% of their packages will flow through automated facilities by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, FedEx is in the process of increasing its workforce by 90,000 employees across all of its operating companies. The company said that most of the new employees are expected to remain after the holidays.
Despite all the extra staff, delivery services agree that this is not the year for buyers to finalize things.
“Get your Christmas shopping done as soon as possible,” UPS spokesman Jim Meyer said.
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