As Postmaster General Louis DeJoy calls for reform, postal workers in Maine and around the country held a day of action on Tuesday to protest recent changes they say have delayed the mail and threatened an American institution.
Scott Adams, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 458, serving the greater Portland area, says part of the problem is that DeJoy, who runs a real estate investment firm, “came in from the outside” and doesn’t really understand the U.S. Mail.
“And doesn’t reflect … either the values, or the understanding, that Postal Service workers have on how the service runs — as a service, and not a business,” he says. “His policies adversely impacted the mail.”
Some of those policies — such as changing the way mail is picked up, the closing of service windows, changing when mail trucks are scheduled to depart and the removal of sorting machines — were put on hold following a series of court challenges. DeJoy himself agreed to put changes on hold until after the election, when an unprecedented number of people voted by mail.
Adams says, with the mail now a proven method for large-scale voting plus a significant rise in package delivery, the Postal Service is more relevant than ever, and needs more support and expansive policies to enable folks to use it.
“Remember that we didn’t get the COVID stimulus funding. We still need that. We still need to fight against any changes that would adversely impact service, such as the no-overtime rules, the no late trips, no extra trips, closing post offices, shuttering them at lunch, closing them on Saturdays. I mean, those are the hours where it’s maybe more convenient to get to the post office,” he says.
But at the annual Board of Governors meeting on Friday, DeJoy said that a new strategic plan is on the way in the next few months, and that the postal service was operating on a broken business model.
“In that regard I will be proposing and executing on change. To believe that we can operate as we have before and continue to meet our service mission to the nation is not realistic,” he said.
DeJoy says the postal service will finish FY 2020 more than 9 billion dollars in the red due in part from a decline in first class mail during the pandemic.
The unions are calling for at least $25 billion in relief funds for the Postal Service and a change of course on the earlier policies. Also, Adams says with the resurgence of COVID-19, workers are already seeing a major spike in holiday shipping.