In May of 2020, President Trump appointed Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor with no postal experience as Postmaster General of the United States.
After taking office in June, Mr. DeJoy immediately started making changes to the Postal Service that resulted in delayed delivery of mail across the country. His actions included removal of 23 top postal executives, removing high-speed mail sorting machines from post offices around the country and prohibiting employees from logging overtime to deliver mail.
Why is DeJoy sabotaging the Postal Service?
Trisa Mannion, National President of the Auxiliary to the American Postal Workers Union, lives here in Grand Junction and says DeJoy made his fortune by subcontracting the transportation of the mail. He sold his company to XPOLogistics and now owns millions of dollars worth of UPS and FedEx stock. His ownership of these competing investments was confirmed by the New York Times, which reports that Mr. DeJoy and his wife have “significant investments” in companies that are in direct competition with U.S. Postal Service. DeJoy’s investments in competing companies put him in direct conflict with his job running the U.S. Postal Service. His ownership of these shares also violates the USPS Code of Conduct regarding financial conflicts of interest.
Mr. DeJoy is on a mission to privatize the Post Office, Mannion says. “His current actions have resulted in slowing the mail down and leaving mail unworked. Postal workers know that every piece of mail must go every day; [DeJoy] has mandated that it be left behind for the next day. That slows all types of mail automatically.
The other reason for sabotage: Trump
On August 13, another reason became apparent about why DeJoy is sabotaging the Post Office: That day, Trump came right out and said he is intentionally keeping funds from the Post Office in the run-up to the election to make it harder to process mailed-in ballots.
In March, Trump also said on TV that if voting was made easier for all Americans, more people would vote and we “would never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
More states are turning to mail-in voting during the Corona virus pandemic to increase voter safety, and Trump believes — without any evidence — that mail-in voting hurts Republicans and thus his own chances of getting elected, so Mr. DeJoy is doing Trump’s bidding in the run-up to the election, apparently in hopes of depressing voter turnout and sowing doubt about the election process and mail-in voting.
How are the changes in the Post Office playing out locally?
In addition to the ongoing economic problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the wildfires filling the Grand Valley air with smoke and I-70 now closed in both directions due to the Grizzly Creek wildfire in Glenwood Canyon with no end in sight to the closure, Grand Junction is now also suffering from the changes DeJoy has made to the Post Office.
Mannion reports a total of 671 high-speed sorting machines have been removed from post offices nationally. Three of them are here in Mesa County. This has resulted in mail being delayed — utility bills, credit card notices, loan payments, medicines, Social Security and disability checks, in short, anything that gets mailed. DeJoy has also blocked postal workers from working overtime to prevent these delays.
Mannion says Postal workers vehemently oppose all of the actions DeJoy has taken that are causing delays in the mail and undermining the Postal Service.
Two postal employees verify that the machine that sorts flats (large envelopes, newsletters, magazines, etc.) at the mail handling Annex on Patterson Road has been removed, and another mail sorting machine capable of handling 35,000-40,000 pieces of regular mail per hour has also been removed. Employees were given no explanation for the removal of these machines.
Also, the changes being implemented will affect rural county residents. Rural routes are less profitable, so people living in the outlying areas of the western slope will see reductions in their mail service.
What else is threatening the Post Office?
In 2006, President Bush signed the federal “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act” (PAEA), which contained a provision that has piled a massive debt onto the Postal Service ever since: The Act ordered the USPS to pre-fund the healthcare and retirement benefits of all of its employees for at least the next 75 years — a wild, unheard-of requirement that no public or private organization, or branch of government has ever been ordered to do.
A 2014 op-ed in the Roanoke Times (VA) called the PAEA “one of the most insane laws Congress has ever enacted.”
This Act has been burdening the Post Office and causing it to lose money since 2006.
What can people do to support the Post Office?
Postal workers have been essential workers serving the people faithfully during the pandemic. The Post Office does not receive taxpayer dollars. PAEA has resulted in a terrible drain on the resources of the Postal Service. The USPS is currently requesting additional support of 25 billion from the federal government in COVID-19 relief.
Postal workers ask that people tie red, white, and blue ribbons on their mailbox to show their support for the Post Office. They also ask all citizens to contact their Senators, thank Senator Michael Bennett for his continued support and remind Senator Cory Gardner of the importance of a fully staffed and funded postal service.
What about mail-in ballots?
Mannion doesn’t think we have to worry. She says “The influx of ballots will not be an issue for the Postal Service. We handle more significant numbers of mail in December every year. Colorado has never had an issue with mail-in voting, so I do not expect that to be a problem unless the implemented policies undermine the local Post Office’s ability to fulfill our mission and drive away revenue, and public trust.”
Mannion also reminds everyone that “It is not the Postal Business. We are the Postal Service. Please make the calls to your Senators and help us remain a service.”
Update: This afternoon (8/18/20) Postmaster DeJoy announced he is “suspending” the policies that led to delays in the mail. Note that a “suspension” of the policies does not mean they are gone, or that they won’t be back, and over 600 mail sorting machines have already been removed from post offices nationwide and Mr. DeJoy has not said if or when they will be put back.