The unions representing mail carriers and postal workers in Maine are calling for U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to permanently reverse recent changes which they say have created a rash of mail delays.
"It shouldn't be 'your mail will get there when we feel like delivering it.'"
Cheryl Elrich is president of Letter Carriers Local 391, based in Hampden. She told reporters in a remote press conference that this past Saturday, and again on Monday, a number of towns did not receive any mail.
"You have people relying on their prescription medications, and bills or whatever,” says Elrich. “And it doesn't really matter what sort of mail. Somebody's paid for that service."
The issue comes after two postal sorting machines in Scarborough were removed as part sweeping changes ordered by the postmaster earlier this spring, along with reductions to mail carrier hours, reduced post office hours and removal of post boxes. While DeJoy has recently agreed to halt further changes until after the November election — when a record number of mail-in ballots are expected to be cast — workers say the damage has been done.
Scott Adams, with the American Postal Workers Union Local 458 in Southern Maine, says the changes are undercutting public confidence in the service at a time when many people will be voting by mail. Additionally, Adams says it is hard to comprehend why the postal service has not been given the pandemic relief funds it needs.
"The cost for PPE, the cost for cleaning supplies, the cost for overtime and extra cleaning, the cost for overtime for staffing where employee availability was down — or, in our case, in the Southern Maine plant, volume was excessively up — I'll say it was beyond any Christmas I've seen," Adams says.
Adams says Maine was swamped while processing mail for places hit hard by COVID-19, such as New York.
The unions are calling for $25 billion in relief funds for the postal service and a reversal of policies contributing to the slow down, among other changes.
Additionally, Adams' local 458 is calling for DeJoy's removal.