Postmaster General suspends controversial operational changes he made to U.S. Postal Service
ABOVE: Dudley Boudreaux, retired military Sergeant, explained his dependence on the USPS, as he is a Stage 4 cancer patient who cannot afford to have any delays in receiving his much-needed social security check and prescriptions. PHOTO CREDIT: Jeffrey L. Boney
Amid a flurry of public pressure, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced this past Tuesday that he was changing course on his plans to suspend the controversial operational changes he made to the United States Postal Service (USPS).
One of the biggest points of concern by many across the country has been that these changes were being made prior to an all-important November general election, with President Donald J. Trump facing off against Democratic nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted American citizens, and there is expected to be a major surge in demand for mail-in ballots because of it. It is being estimated that nearly one-half of all general election voters will request and cast their ballots by mail in November, and possibly more than that. For this reason, many Democratic leaders and community activists have been railing at the changes by DeJoy, which many have deemed a political ploy by Trump and the Republicans to disenfranchise voters and seek to sabotage the November election.
DeJoy, who is a businessman and longtime major Republican donor, has only been in the role of Postmaster General since June. Upon being appointed, he had been given his marching orders from Trump to make the USPS more profitable and fiscally sound. The changes being made by DeJoy seemingly had nothing to do with fiscal responsibility, however.
DeJoy began the process of shutting down key mail processing equipment; removing the traditional blue collection boxes, which were noticeably in areas where people of color resided and/or in heavily Democratic areas; closing mail processing facilities; cutting overtime, late delivery trips and other resources needed to make sure everyone received their mail on time; and many more proposed changes. As a result of these changes, mail across the country has been delayed and has been significantly impacting people who rely on the USPS for their medicine, social security checks, and other important items.
In a statement released on Tuesday, DeJoy walked back those proposed changes, stating:
“The United States Postal Service will play a critical role this year in delivering election mail for millions of voters across the country. There has been a lot of discussion recently about whether the Postal Service is ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.
I want to make a few things clear:
The Postal Service is ready today to handle whatever volume of election mail it receives this fall. Even with the challenges of keeping our employees and customers safe and healthy as they operate amid a pandemic, we will deliver the nation’s election mail on time and within our well-established service standards. The American public should know that this is our number one priority between now and Election Day. The 630,000 dedicated women and men of the Postal Service are committed, ready and proud to meet this sacred duty. I am announcing today the expansion of our current leadership taskforce on election mail to enhance our ongoing work and partnership with state and local election officials in jurisdictions throughout the country. Leaders of our postal unions and management associations have committed to joining this taskforce to ensure strong coordination throughout our organization.
Because of the unprecedented demands of the 2020 election, this taskforce will help ensure that election officials and voters are well informed and fully supported by the Postal Service. I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election. In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic. To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded. I want to assure all Americans of the following:
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 we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.
In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.
I am grateful for the commitment and dedication of all the men and women of the Postal Service, and the trust they earn from the American public every day, especially as we continue to contend with the impacts of COVID-19. As we move forward, they will have the full support of our organization throughout the election.”
In order to address this critical issue, many Congressional leaders have held press conferences and have demanded something be done about the issue.
Here in Houston, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee held a press conference in front of the historic Southmore Station Post Office on Almeda, which she rallied to help save from closure in 2014. At the press conference, Jackson Lee spoke about her time working as a postal worker inside the post office and the importance of rebuking the troublesome changes to the USPS.
Several speakers also addressed the importance of the upcoming mail-in ballot process and the importance of the USPS for any election, including Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis; and Al Davidson with the American Postal Workers Union. However, several speakers discussed how the changes to the USPS have impacted their quality of life, particularly as it relates to their social security and prescriptions.
Retired military Sergeant, Dudley Boudreaux, explained his dependence on the USPS, as he is a Stage 4 cancer patient who receives his social security and prescriptions by mail. Boudreaux said that, as a veteran, he cannot afford to have any delays in receiving his much-needed social security check and prescriptions, because every day counts towards his combating the illness.
This Saturday, August 22, House Democratic leaders are reconvening to vote on a standalone $25 billion piece of legislation that would provide funding for, and more importantly, prevent any unprecedented organizational changes at the USPS ahead of the November election.