Expect mail delays as new Trump postal chief pushes to cut costs

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WASHINGTON – Mail deliveries may be delayed by a day or more due to cost reduction efforts imposed by the new postmaster. The plan eliminates overtime for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and says that employees must adopt a “different mindset” to ensure the survival of the postal service during the coronavirus pandemic.

Late trips will no longer be allowed. If postal distribution centers are late, “they will keep the mail for the next day,” said postal officials in a document obtained by the Associated Press. “One aspect of these changes that can be difficult for employees is that – temporarily – we may see mail left behind or mail on the shop floor or on the docks,” says another document.

The changes come a month after postmaster Louis DeJoy, a major donor to President Donald Trump, took over the sprawling mail service. In a note titled “PMG Expectations and Plan,” the agency said the changes were aimed at “making the USPS fundamentally solvent, which we are not at the moment.”

The memo cites deep revenue losses due to a decade-long drop in mail deliveries which was exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and indicates that a late “operational hub” is necessary to ensure the agency’s health and stability .

Postal officials, preparing for heavy losses following the national closure caused by the virus, have warned that they will run out of money by the end of September without help from Congress. The service recorded a loss of $ 4.5 billion for the quarter ending in March, before the effects of the closure fully subsided.

The volume of first-class one-piece mail fell 15% to 20% week-to-week in April and May, agency executives told Congress. The losses will increase by more than $ 22 billion over the next 18 months, they said.

Bills approved by the Democrat-controlled House would set aside $ 25 billion to circulate mail, but remain stuck in the Republican-controlled Senate. Congress approved a $ 10 billion line of credit for the postal service, but it remains unused amid restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.

A spokesperson said on Wednesday that the agency was developing a business plan to ensure its financial stability and continue to provide reliable, affordable and secure delivery of mail and packages. Although the plan “is not yet finalized, it will certainly include new and creative ways for us to fulfill our mission, and we will immediately focus on efficiency and the elements we can control,” said the spokesperson. Dave Partenheimer.

The memo cites US Steel as an example that the postal service is far from “untouchable”. In 1975, the steel giant was “the largest company in the world,” says the memo. “They left.” In fact, US Steel remains a leading producer of steel, with more than 27,000 employees at the start of this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the postal service into a double crisis, said Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union, which represents more than 200,000 postal workers and retirees.

As many as 12,000 postal workers fell ill, with at least 64 deaths, and the economic contraction caused a dramatic drop in the volumes of letters and other mail. A spike in package deliveries that boosted the agency during the pandemic is likely to be temporary, said Dimondstein, adding that the epidemic has greatly increased spending on personal protective equipment, deep cleaning of facilities and workers temporary workers to replace postal workers who fall ill.

“Postal workers are extremely dedicated to the mission of sending mail,” said Dimondstein, but the new policies could cause delays which will further decrease revenues.

“It is the customer who will suffer if the mail slows down,” he said.

Democrat MP Bill Pascrell of New Jersey denounced the proposal to delay mail delivery, saying it would be “an astonishing act of sabotage against our postal service.”

“Trump and his friends openly seek to destroy the post office during the worst public health crisis in a century,” said Pascrell. As states increasingly rely on postal voting to continue elections during the pandemic, the destabilization of postal services not only threatens the economy and the jobs of 600,000 workers, but also constitutes “ a direct attack on the American democracy itself, ” said Pascrell.

Trump opposes expanding mail-in voting, arguing that it will trigger fraud, even if there is no evidence that will happen. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and other senior administration officials often vote for those absent.

Trump also called the postal service a “joke” and said that parcel shipping rates should be at least four times higher for heavy users like Amazon. But shipments and parcels are actually a higher revenue generator for the postal service, and critics say Trump is simply trying to punish Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in retaliation for unflattering coverage in Washington Post, which Bezos owns.

For most Americans, home or mailbox delivery is their only routine contact with the federal government. It is a service that they seem to appreciate: the agency systematically obtains favorability ratings that exceed 90%.

Esther Haynes of Philadelphia said that she and her family received clothing, jewelry, perfume, food and more by mail. “If it’s one day late, two days late, I’ll go get it,” she said on Wednesday. “I would be worried.”

Haynes, 53, shares a home with his sister, son and a family friend. Haynes enjoys shopping – which means she was busy ordering things online during the pandemic. “Everyone wants their mail on time,” she said.

The memo describing potential mail delays was first reported by the Washington Post.

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