Senator Shares Themes of North Dakotans’ Stories from Fix My Mail Initiative
Press Release – June 7, 2014
WILLISTON, N.D. – U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp today brought U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) to Williston so he could hear firsthand about the challenges that North Dakota faces with mail delivery and service, and about efforts to improve it.
Carper serves as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, of which Heitkamp is a member. The Committee has been working on legislation to make needed changes to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) so that it functions better and is financially solvent. Heitkamp specifically worked to include provisions in the legislation that protect rural communities.
During the roundtable, Heitkamp shared some of the most prevalent themes of stories from her Fix My Mail initiative which she launched in January. Fix My Mail has enabled North Dakotans to share their stories if they have encountered extensive delivery times or had to deal with other problems with their postal service. More than 140 North Dakotans from all across the state sent in stories about everything from customers missing prescription drug packages to issues of recruitment and retention of postal employees.
“Since joining the Senate, I have heard from hundreds of North Dakotans about troubles they have faced getting mail delivered or accessing a post office,” said Heitkamp. “These problems simply must be fixed across the state and rural America – end of story. Through my Fix My Mail effort, I have heard of seniors not receiving their medication on time, post offices not being open enough hours to serve their communities, and extremely challenging working conditions for Postal Service employees. In the Senate, Chairman Carper has heard me talk about these problems in North Dakota, and today, he was able to hear about them firsthand. He has been a leader in pushing to improve rural service and delivery, and I’ll continue to work closely with him on these issues.”
“I thank Senator Heitkamp for the opportunity to join her in North Dakota and listen firsthand to the number of challenges facing the U.S. Postal Service and its consumers in fast-growing communities like Williston,” Sen. Carper said. “During my tenure as Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, postal reform has been a major priority. This critical American institution needs long-term, comprehensive reform to address not only its fiscal challenges but also its consumer needs and service issues. As we work toward the enactment of meaningful postal reform legislation, our focus can’t just be on cuts; it has to be on ensuring that the Postal Service is relevant and thriving not just now but in the years to come. To do that, we need to make sure it’s capable of effectively serving people in North Dakota, Delaware, and around the country. Sen. Heitkamp and the North Dakotans I’ve talked to today have made it clear that the Postal Service still has work to do in some areas. I will work with Sen. Heitkamp and our colleagues to address those concerns and others as we continue our efforts to fix the serious, but solvable, financial challenges facing the Postal Service.”
Since launching Fix My Mail, Heitkamp has heard from North Dakotans about a variety of problems with mail delivery and service. The main themes included:
- Not receiving bills and prescription medication on time
- Letters are delivered to the incorrect address
- Letters are not being delivered and disappear in the online tracking system
- Mail forwarding is ineffective/wrong mail gets forwarded
- USPS is having employment retention and hiring issues resulting in extremely challenging working conditions for employees
- Post offices are not open during regular hours
The western part of North Dakota has undergone vast and rapid expansion in housing and population because of increased energy production, in part causing disruption in mail delivery services. However, Heitkamp is determined to push the Postal Service one step at a time to improve these services for North Dakotans in the west and all across the state.
After sharing the Fix My Mail stories with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in March, Heitkamp received commitments to improve mail delivery and standards in the state, including the preservation of many rural post office hours, and the implementation of Mobile Point of Sale devices and Self-Service Kiosks to help improve customer service.
In February, Heitkamp helped advance comprehensive postal reform out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee after the panel adopted key changes she made to the legislation that will improve mail service in rural communities throughout North Dakota.