USPS: Northern Minnesota mail delays due to staffing, mismanagement

In December 2023, FOX 9 detailed the story of a USPS worker from Bemidji who was working 12-hour days, six days a week, as their location took on the challenge of increased Amazon package delivery.

Recent audit results released by the United States Postal Service Inspector General detail just how bad mail delivery issues in northern Minnesota had become.

According to the report, on Dec. 12, 2023, officials with the inspector general’s office visited the Bemidji Post Office, finding "delayed letters and flats" and "insufficient staffing" for the location’s delivery operations. The Bemidji Post Office processes and dispenses mail to 37 other delivery stations throughout its delivery region.

The report found that the location’s management "did not have a comprehensive plan" to utilize its resources before "adding additional package volume to its delivery operations." In total, inspectors identified 78,948 pieces of delayed mail in the mail processing area.

Dennis Nelson told FOX 9 that he was a rural carrier based out of the station for more than 20 years, but adding Amazon packages in November forced him and his fellow carriers to work 12-hour shifts.

According to Nelson, roughly half of Bemidji’s 16 carriers quit their position at a time when staffing was already a problem.

The report alleged that Bemidji's management "did not effectively work… to identify and implement strategies to fill vacant carrier positions."

Recommendations from the report included additional training of leadership on best processes, and ways of implementing new techniques that could be more efficiently adopted among employees.

The audit comes in part at the urging of lawmakers and whistleblowing employees detailed in the media.

"When the mail is unreliable, it hurts Minnesotans, especially those who rely on the Postal Service to pay bills and receive paychecks and prescriptions. This report confirmed what I’ve heard from Minnesotans and postal workers across the state for years: the Postal Service management is failing Minnesotans," said Senator Smith in a statement following the audit.

A previous audit at locations including St. Paul, Apple Valley, Eagan and New Brighton also found problems with delayed mail, package scanning and carrier timekeeping.