Once upon a time, a nip in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot meant peak season for shipping—an annual onslaught of catalogs and Christmas cards and online shopping. Those were the old days; since Covid hit, peak season never stops.
But the holiday rush and dwindling daylight can only intensify the crisis of understaffing and overwork at the Postal Service, where speedup and harassment are management’s go-to when it can’t or won’t hire enough people to get the job done. Letter carriers—who are being hounded to deliver the mail long after sunset, day after shorter day after shorter day—are starting to resist.
Letter Carriers (NALC) in Chicago held a public protest in September against late start times and after-dark delivery. Branch 11 President Mack Julion said the union won’t go along with giving out flashlights to new carriers on his watch. Delivery after dark is dangerous—and not just in high-crime neighborhoods. “Try doing anything in the dark,” he said. “Try cutting the grass. Yeah, you maybe can get it done, but it’s a whole hell of a lot easier when the sun is out, isn’t it?”
Besides, Julion said, it’s worse service: “Say it wasn’t dangerous. Do you want your mail delivered to you at 9 o’clock at night?