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Postal Service Proposes Removing Some Letter Sorting Machines, Democrats Cry Foul

  • The United States Postal Service proposed a 15% reduction in its letter sorting machine infrastructure in May, according to a Motherboard report.
  • All 47 Senate Democrats signed a letter Wednesday decrying several recent USPS policy changes, which they said are delaying mail delivery and could potentially affect the upcoming presidential election.
  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told The New York Times the policy changes were intended to “improve operational efficiency” in the agency that has an “unsustainable financial position”,  according to the Government Accountability Office. 

The United States Postal Service proposed removing 15% of its machines that sort letters, according to a May document titled “equipment reduction.”

The postal service called the change “necessary,” while Democrats in Congress sounded the alarm. The proposal is just the latest USPS internal policy change revealed amid projections that the upcoming November election will see a record number of votes by mail.

A total of 502 sorting machines were proposed to be decommissioned, according to Motherboard, which obtained the May 15 document. Anonymous sources told Motherboard they’ve witnessed the machines being destroyed and anonymous postal workers and union officials said machine removals are still occurring in multiple states.

“The Postal Service routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes,” USPS spokesperson Marti Johnson told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline.”

The May document laid out a plan to eliminate the machines by the end of July, but that timeline wasn’t met, Motherboard reported.

Meanwhile, all 47 Senate Democrats signed a letter written to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy Wednesday expressing “significant concern” over several recent postal service policy changes, which have all reportedly delayed mail processing.

“Since you assumed the role of Postmaster General, there have been disturbing reports regarding changes at USPS that are causing significant delays in the delivery of mail,” the letter said.

“Under normal circumstances, delayed mail is a major problem – during a pandemic in the middle of a presidential election, it is catastrophic,” it continued.

DeJoy, a former logistics company executive, was selected to be the postmaster general by the postal service’s board of governors in May.

DeJoy has also faced criticism for other internal policy changes he’s spearheaded, which were laid out in a July memo sent to managers across the country and obtained by the DCNF. The memo laid out new policies like cutting back on overtime and ending the practice of postal workers returning to the post office during their shift to grab more mail to deliver.

“One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that – temporarily – we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks,” the memo said.

DeJoy said the changes outlined in the memo were intended to “improve operational efficiency” in a statement to The New York Times.

Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with DeJoy on Aug. 5 and demanded an end to the new policies, Schumer tweeted.

“A fully functioning postal service is essential to ensuring every mail-in ballot is counted,” Schumer said.

President Donald Trump has opposed mail-in voting and has said that the election will be more susceptible to fraud. He floated the idea of delaying the election, but later backtracked.

“The idea that the postmaster general could somehow make changes that only impact one segment of the population is just not possible based on how their operation works,” Amber McReynolds, CEO of The National Vote At Home Institute told the DCNF. “If there is a negative impact to the post office, it impacts voters of all political persuasions and political stripes regardless.”

The USPS lost $69 billion between 2007 and 2018, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that called the postal service’s financial position “unsustainable.” The postal service reported a $2.2 billion loss last quarter.

“Our financial position is dire, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, a broken business model and a management strategy that has not adequately addressed these issues,” DeJoy said in his opening remarks at the USPS board of governors’ Aug. 7 open session.

The USPS’s financial troubles are threefold, according to a May GAO report: declining mail volumes, increased compensation and benefit costs and increased unfunded liabilities and debt.

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