NewsPinellas County


US Postmaster General delays USPS reforms until post-election

Local postal workers rally against cuts
Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-18 17:09:50-04

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he will pause all operational reforms and initiatives at USPS until after the election following a national outcry.

DeJoy said, as part of a statement, “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending initiatives until after the election is concluded.” His office went on to elaborate that until after the election: retail hours at post offices will not change, mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are, no mail processing facilities will be closed and overtime will be approved as needed.

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It comes as DeJoy faced criticism for allegedly making cuts and removing mailboxes and equipment during the August primary elections and ahead of the November elections, where mail-in ballots are seeing skyrocketing popularity during the COVID-19 crisis.

The statement from DeJoy comes as two Tampa Bay congress members introduce a bill to keep postal services boxes and mail sorting machines from being removed across the nation. Charlie Crist and Kathy Castor announced they are co-sponsoring the bill which would push off any cuts to USPS until after both the election and COVID-19 pandemic end.

Tom Phillips, a 23-year USPS postal carrier, says he’s never been more concerned about losing his livelihood.

“I’m concerned about my future and the future of my coworkers. It’s a very uneasy feeling not knowing if we will have a job the next day because of what they’re doing to destroy this service,” he explained.

Tampa Bay Postal Union leaders say unlike the rest of the nation, drop boxes and sorting machines have not disappeared locally in recent weeks and mail-in ballots have been arriving at the local supervisor of elections offices. Yet, they say they have noticed a delay in mail deliveries and tell us overtime has been cut despite 20% of the postal force taking a leave of absence because of COVID-19.

Al Friedman, the Florida President of the National Letter Carriers Association, argues USPS is crucial.

“What makes us different from Fedex and UPS is we deliver to every door, every day,” he explained.

The Postal Service reported 9 billion dollars in losses in 2019, something President Donald Trump says needs to be addressed immediately.

"We want to make sure that the post office runs properly and it hasn't run properly for many years,” he told reporters Monday.

Representatives Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist say they’re pushing for any cuts or price hikes to be pushed off until after the pandemic ends, not just after the election.

“Our message to President Trump is don’t mess with the USPS,” Castor elaborated.

Postal leaders on both sides of the political aisle hope an agreement can be reached.

“Don’t make the post office a political football. We are here to serve America,” Friedman added.