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How Trump Is Sabotaging the Postal Service
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How Trump Is Sabotaging the Postal Service

Bags of Letters Pile Up, Overtime Cut, Equipment Shutdowns—All to Undermine Mail-in Voting

Joe Maniscalco

Joe Maniscalco

America’s new postmaster general, a Republican Trump megadonor, is deliberately slowing the mail, U.S. Postal Service union leaders said.

Union leader Jonathan Smith told DCReport that the postmaster, Louis DeJoy, “without a doubt is purposely trying to undermine the system.”

“He wants to disable the Postal Service because Trump has his agenda to stop vote-by-mail by any means necessary,” Smith said. Since court action has been ineffective, “Trump figures he’ll get his hand-picked crony to achieve that objective from within.”

Smith heads the American Postal Workers Union’s Metro New York City Chapter.

Slowing the mails would delay counting votes in November. Trump could claim the election was rife with fraud and try to hang onto power if voters chose Joe Biden as our president.

Trump demonizes voting by mail even though he and many of his White House team previously cast ballots that way. Slowing the mails would delay counting votes in November. That would help Trump claim the election was rife with fraud and try to hang onto power if voters chose Joe Biden as our president.

Louis DeJoy

Delaying the mail also could be a way to harm Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who Trump regards as an enemy. Trump claims the USPS undercharges Amazon for deliveries, even though the prices Amazon pays are set by negotiation and the USPS covers its costs and the legally mandated profit.

Attacking Amazon

Trump has never shown any evidence of undercharging Amazon. Were Amazon underpaying, Trump’s man at USPS could have shown that by now.

The Washington Post, which Bezos owns, often reports Trump misconduct and malfeasance.

Trump attacks seem odd because Bezos never has interfered in the Post newsroom, leaving all journalistic decisions to editor Marty Baron and his team. However, the idea of a hands-off approach seems beyond Trump’s capacity to understand.

Delaying the mail violates the oaths of both Trump and DeJoy to faithfully execute their duties.

It hurts individuals who get income and medicines by mail. Also suffering are many small businesses that get deliveries and ship to customers using the USPS. Not being able to manufacture products and deliver them on time encourages buyers to move to the big companies, which Trump & Co. generally have favored in changing regulations and taxes.

Trump knows DeJoy will be a loyal ally in fulfilling his campaign promise to destroy our federal government or, as former campaign manager Steve Bannon put it, “deconstruct the administrative state.”

Just this year DeJoy has given $70,000 for Trump re-election.

DeJoy Could Make USPS Better

DeJoy’s resume indicates he possesses the skill to improve mail delivery.

He was CEO of New Breed Logistics from 1983 to 2014, when the firm was sold for a reported $615 million to XPO Logistics, a Connecticut freight company. DeJoy stayed on as head of the supply-chain portion of the business and then joined the XPO board until he left in 2018.

At USPS, DeJoy wasted no time interfering with mail delivery.

“He was in officially in office for just a couple of days when we got notification at the headquarters level that they were taking postal machines out of facilities all around the country,” APWU National Business Agent Pete Coradi said.

Workforce Hit by COVID-19

DeJoy quickly hit USPS employees with further directives. Among them were ordering workers to leave sacks of mail behind rather than sending out additional trucks to complete a run and to postpone mail delivery to homes when overtime was required. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many USPS workers have been out sick, necessitating more overtime to deliver the mail promptly.

“Leaving mail behind and some of these [other] things is utterly ridiculous,” Coradi said. “Even if it would only take five or 10 minutes more to get that additional mail onto a truck, he doesn’t want it — he won’t put in extra trips.”

The union said DeJoy is scheming to eliminate limited Saturday service and shutter post offices daily for lunch. Many people who need USPS services go to the local post office on lunch hour.

“That has occurred and is not new in small rural communities where you only have just a couple of employees in the building,” Coradi said. “But what is new is larger cities” closing for an hour midday.

Closing Post Offices

DeJoy “wants to do that in major cities, which is absurd. Pick any major city — New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles — no matter where it is, even cities not as large, he wants to close for lunch. How can that be considered efficient? You’re driving away customers,” Coradi said.

Already, during a recent tour of the Morgan General Mail Facility on 9th Avenue in New York City, Smith discovered mail sitting around undelivered for days.

“Some of the stuff that is sitting up there could medicine — medicine that people desperately need that’s sitting there because of a political agenda,” Smith said. “We should not politicize the Postal Service. The postal service is not a business — it’s an essential service that’s in the Constitution that we provide to the American people.”

The postal service is authorized in our Constitution, though not required as far right politicians have noted for years.

Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly states that Congress shall have the power to “establish post offices and post roads.” The USPS actually pre-dates the Declaration of Independence. Benjamin Franklin served as the country’s first postmaster general.

For decades some GOP leaders have called for eliminating the postal service, calling it socialism, and replacing it with private delivery services such as Federal Express and United Parcel Service.

Neither private carrier serves all of America, however, while USPS does. FedEx and UPS charge a minimum of about $8, and typically closer to $20, for an envelope while a first-class letter delivered by the postal service costs just 55-cents.

Beyond the Limits

Postmaster general or not, Smith said, DeJoy is already operating far beyond the limits of his office and should have to testify before a Congressional hearing about his intentions.

“He should have to come and testify about that plan,” Smith said. “He didn’t go to the Board of Governors, who are not aware of his plan. Also, the Postal Rate Commission — anything that’s going to have a nationwide impact is supposed to be reviewed by the Postal Rate Commission. The Postal Rate Commission is supposed to give a written opinion as to the validity of that plan. That wasn’t done either.”

According to Smith, there’s only one person that matters to DeJoy – Trump.

“DeJoy starts these wheels into motion and he hasn’t taken care of his contractual responsibility by meeting with the union about changing wages, hours or work conditions,” Smith said. “And he hasn’t met his legal responsibility by even going to the Board of Governors or the Postal Rate Commission —the only person he feels he currently has to answer to is Donald Trump.”

Coradi remembered DeJoy’s first address to postal workers and that he expressed gratitude for their service throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. DeJoy said he wanted to work with the postal unions.

“Then he goes forward with these plans to delay the mail willfully and purposely,” Coradi said.

“Not one word did he give to the USPS and the stimulus money that we need to keep us solvent and to keep us operating at any capacity.

“Nor did he say anything about Personal Protection Equipment for the employees that have dedicated their lives and put their lives at risk during this pandemic to continue serving the American people.

“This has nothing to do with efficiency, nothing to do with providing the service that’s required. It’s so apparent to everybody what’s going on.”

Includes additional reporting by David Cay Johnston

July 29, 2020