Trump himself has admitted wanting to starve the Postal Service of funds so that postal voting becomes difficult as tens of millions of Americans are expected to vote by mail during the coronavirus pandemic. Leading Democrats, including Barack Obama and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, have decried the measures as a threat to the election.
In July, DeJoy ordered USPS employees to leave mail if it delayed carriers from their routes and prohibited employees from working overtime. On August 7, DeJoy announced a management hiring freeze and plans to seek early retirement for non-union employees.
“Essentially, by ordering us to leave the mail behind, we are being asked to break federal law,” said Zack Finley, a letter carrier from the city of Midland, Texas, and local union representative for the National Association of Letter. Carriers. “For first class mail, there is a federal law that says it must be delivered the same day it is received by the office or attempted delivery.”
Finley added: “By following an order to break federal law, each individual carrier assumes responsibility for its own action that breaks the law. Not everyone understands this, but the union understands it. This puts the carrier in an impossible situation to win. Obey the law and risk losing your job or obeying the order and possibly being arrested. ”
He also noted that the conversion of non-professional employees to career employees receiving benefits has been halted and letter carriers are being forced to leave their routes without having enough time to complete their clerical duties, leaving these tasks s ‘gradually accumulate, resulting in further delays.
Trump said on Aug. 13 that he was opposed to granting additional funds to the USPS to make it more difficult to deliver the mail-in ballots. The USPS has now warned that mail-in ballots in 46 states and Washington DC may not be delivered in time to be counted.
The USPS has experienced financial difficulties due to budget cuts and measures imposed by Congress.
In 2006, Congress forced the USPS to create a $ 72 billion fund to fully pay for the costs of employee post-retirement health care 50 years later, which does not apply to any other agency or company. federal. Since the congressional actions, the USPS has reduced its employee count by about 200,000 workers to cut costs. The fund has created a deficit within the USPS in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic has hurt the agency again amid declining revenues.
Several USPS employees who spoke to the Guardian requested anonymity for fear of reprisal.
One in the Richmond, Va. Area said letter carriers were forced to come later in the morning and truck drivers delivering mail to USPS stations had also seen their hours cut, which reduced the time spent on deliveries and the full workload. Letter carriers are also forced to return to stations earlier.
“They want us to go out on the street at 10 am and some cases want us to come back at 4:30 pm If you are not back by the time they want you to come back, they write to you,” the postman said. “The mail is really delayed and it’s overwhelming for the carriers.”
The mailman explained that USPS employees were already understaffed due to calls and time off employees requested due to the pandemic, with recent changes leading to the mess of first-class mail and stacking of the mail. mail in stations. The carrier took two days off and returned with four days of courier trying to deliver on its regular route.
“There are buckets of mail, and we can only get as much of it as possible. It’s heavy. I am on a walking route. Imagine having to make an entire street with 50 houses, you have 60 magazines in your arm, plus parcels and your bag. It takes time, ”they added.
In Philadelphia, Pa., A postman explained that mail and packages are piling up because there aren’t enough workers as usual to handle mail loads.
“I have to lie to customers about their mail or if their mail goes out,” the carrier said.
A carrier outside of Chicago claimed his station had experienced cases where mail trucks failed to deliver mail to the USPS station on time, forcing carriers to take routes with virtually no mail.
“Under the new“ pivot ”plan of the Postmaster General, everything that is not ready to be shipped is held for the next day. This is problematic for a lot of packages, because if they don’t make the truck on time, they have a habit of just getting on a truck later, but now they are held up until the next day, or the next day, or the following. day, if he doesn’t make the truck, ”the postman said.
“Customers rely on us to pick up their packages when they’re supposed to receive them, and certainly not nine days after arrival. I’m proud of my job and ashamed when I have to deliver things like this, ”added the carrier.