The new head of the U.S. Postal Service established major operational changes Monday that could slow down mail delivery, warning employees the agency would not survive unless it made “difficult” changes to cut costs. But critics say such a philosophical sea change would sacrifice operational efficiency and cede its competitive edge to UPS, FedEx and other private-sector rivals.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers if it delayed letter carriers from their routes, according to internal USPS documents obtained by The Washington Post and verified by the American Postal Workers Union and three people with knowledge of their contents, but who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid retribution.
“If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day,” according to a document titled, “New PMG’s [Postmaster General’s] expectations and plan.” Traditionally, postal workers are trained not to leave letters behind and to make multiple delivery trips to ensure timely distribution of letters and parcels.
The Trump administration has consolidated control over the Postal Service, traditionally an apolitical institution, during the pandemic by making a financial lifeline for the nation’s mail service contingent upon the White House political agenda. President Trump in April called the agency “a joke” and demanded it quadruple package rates before he’d authorize any emergency aid or loans.
“This is framing the U.S. Postal Service, a 245-year-old government agency, and comparing it to its competitors that could conceivably go bankrupt,” said Philip Rubio, a professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University and a former postal worker. “Comparing it to U.S. Steel says exactly that ‘We are a business, not service.’ That’s troubling.”
The changes also worry vote-by-mail advocates, who insist that any policy that slows delivery could imperil access to mailed and absentee ballots. It reinforces the need, they say, for Congress to provide the agency emergency coronavirus funding.
These changes achieve 2 goals of Trump and his Evil Minions™: Shafting Amazon, and suppressing the vote to boost his own reelection chances.