Employee break time irks post office customers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2001

[02/21/01] An hour-long morning break has become mandatory for downtown post office employees, adding aggravation to regular customers who see it as another move to put the facility out of business.

Employees at the facility on Crawford Street, once the city’s main U.S. Post Office, are now required to take a break from 7:30 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. every day, said Vicksburg Postmaster Gary Black.

The break is for employees who work eight-hour shifts and is required by federal law, Black said.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We have to give an hour break to any employee who works eight hours,” he said. “We just decided to do it in the morning rather than at lunchtime to better serve our customers.”

The window hours continue to be from 9 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., but lobby access continues until 6 p.m.

Black said the morning break helps alleviate lines at the windows since employees take their breaks before the windows open in the morning.

“It was done in order to accommodate customers,” Black said.

But D.P. Waring, an owner of Waring Oil Co., said making people take a lunch break at 7:30 a.m. keeps mail from being distributed to boxes until later in the day.

“It doesn’t make sense for the customers,” Waring said. “There’ll be 15 or 20 people in line when the window opens at 9 o’clock.”

Waring said it would make more sense for the employees to eat after the post office closes at 1:30 p.m., and stay an hour longer, rather than come in an hour earlier and take a lunch break in the morning.

“They’re trying to make it impossible to get anything done there,” Waring said. “I couldn’t run my business that way.”

An employee at the downtown post office agreed that the required break is difficult for them, but the morning is about the only time they can take a break.

“Nobody wants to eat lunch two hours after they eat breakfast,” the employee said. “But, that’s really the only way to have two people at the window during operating hours.”

The employee said mail is still getting into the boxes by 9 a.m., which is the posted time, but before the required morning break, some customers had become accustomed to getting their mail earlier, while on the way to open their own businesses.

However, the employee also said the break was done in order to better serve customers.

“We might not like it, but it comes with the job,” the employee said.

Postal operations moved to a new facility on Pemberton Boulevard nearly 10 years ago amid promises full service would be continued in the downtown area. However, staffing and window hour complaints have arisen nearly every year, and most recently members of Congress even became involved in heading off a planned cut in staffing.