Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - ‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’

That’s the traditional motto of the U.S. Postal Service, however, in today’s economy it’s more like ‘the mail didn’t come or get picked up again’.

KGVO News personally visited the main Post Office at 1100 West Kent recently after our mail wasn’t picked up for three days. After waiting in line for over an hour, the person at the counter said our route ‘didn’t have a carrier’ so, other carriers were pitching in to handle our route.

Senator Steve Daines looking into Problems with the Post Office

Now, enter the power of the United States Senate in the person of Montana’s Steve Daines, who spoke to KGVO on Wednesday morning. Daines said the USPS is having the same problem as all other businesses, getting and keeping staff.

“We've been on the backs of the USPS for a year now, because of complaints we're hearing from many of our communities in Montana, starting with businesses,” began Senator Daines. Businesses are saying we can't get our bills out, and we can't get our checks in. It's hard to keep our businesses running. As we started to probe it, we found out there was a lot of open headcount. In other words, unfilled positions at USPS, they can't keep staff and they can't hire staff.”

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The USPS is also Having Problems Hiring and Keeping Staff

Daines said the problem is that the USPS is unwilling to raise their pay to be more competitive with fast food places.

“The problem is they are unwilling to adjust their pay scale to be commensurate where they need to be to attract and retain employees,” he said. “You look around the state and drive by a Wendy's or McDonald's and they are offering 18 to 20 bucks an hour to serve fast food. Well the USPS wage structure is similar to what our fast food operations are paying, so it's imperative on them to change their compensation structure to match the reality of what's going on in places like Montana, where we were seeing skyrocketing costs of housing.”

Daines said a serious problem was uncovered in his hometown of Bozeman.

“I talked to a Marine veteran last Sunday in my hometown of Bozeman, and he said they've gone behind the scenes talking to some of the USPS employees and they are seeing piles of medications for veterans that aren't getting delivered,” he said. “So this is more than just ‘regular mail’. This is can be life and death as it relates to badly needed prescriptions that our veterans need that are being held up in the post office.”

Daines said the USPS must Offer Better Pay and Benefits to Compete

Daines said leadership at the USPS must open up the purse strings to attract more employees.

“Looking at changing the wage structure to make sure it's competitive would be a very, very small price to pay in consideration of the damage is being done by not getting mail delivered on time and in particular prescription drugs,” he said. “So it's a fight we need to make. It's an argument we have to keep making and I don't think the USPS bureaucrats fully understand the dynamics we're facing in Montana, with skyrocketing housing prices.”

The actual oath that all postal workers must take is the following.

I, (name), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter.’

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