“Trump ally making ‘high-risk’ changes at USPS, says former postal service deputy,” The Guardian, Sam Levine, August 12, 2020
I received a message from former NC Postmaster Mark Jamison and Angry Bear contributor about a brief interview he did with The Guardian for part of its story on the changes being done at the USPS by the new Postmaster General.
A former top official at the United States Postal Service (USPS) has warned about recent Louis DeJoy mandated changes being implemented just months ahead of the election which could “disenfranchise” Americans just as a record number of them are expected to vote by mail. Ronald Stroman, who stepped down earlier this year as the second in command at USPS, said “he was concerned about the speed and timing of changes that appeared to be implemented after Louis DeJoy took office in June.” Also, due to decreased business and a congressional manufactured liability of prefunding decades of future postal worker retirement now, the USPS faces a financial crisis. Ronald Stroman adds, “while every Postmaster General is interested in cost savings and efficiency, the question is how to balance those risky changes with the public’s needs.
As a supply chain and logistics consultant and manager, I find the timing of these changes to be unnecessary and incredibly dangerous. Processing and delivering mail during a pandemic is difficult enough due to workers becoming ill. Tossing functional changes in on top of the pandemic which people will have to learn is incredibility ignorant when much of the management has been let go or has left due to the politics of the management change. Furthermore, I doubt we will see “Louis” with sleeves rolled up on the line somewhere making sure the mailed-in ballots are clearly postmarked and delivered on time to their destinations. He has spent far too many decades sitting in an office issuing mandates elsewhere.
Angry Bear contributor and retired NC Postmaster Mark Jamison also contributed to The Guardian article stating the idea of leaving first class mail behind for latter processing, as proposed by DeJoy to reduce OT costs, which includes letters with a regular stamp – was anathema to the culture of USPS.
“The rule has always been you clear every piece of first-class mail out of a plant every day, period. There has never been, never, in the 30 years I worked for the post office . . . there has never been a time when you curtail first class mail.”
The impact of these changes has already shown up in cities such as Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and in Wisconsin where some citizens did not receive their ballots in time to vote due to delays in receipt of the ballot. This smacks of a manufactured political crisis during an already tumultuous time. According to NPR, at least 65,000 ballots were rejected in primaries this year because they arrived too late.
USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said, there was no blanket ban on overtime. The agency declined to say whether employees were being instructed to leave mail behind. Congressional Democrats have opened an investigation into the delays and asked the USPS inspector general to probe the matter also.
Mark as well as others have expressed a concern over the delays in delivery and I have heard it in my own neighborhood said sarcastically. To those comments I would say, you do not know what you have till it is lost. There has been an all-out political effort to privatize the USPS and also congressional efforts to raise rates for packages. Both efforts will result in increased cost being passed on to consumers not only by the USPS but also by FedEx, UPS, and Amazon as they raise their rates to match the USPS.
The denials of slowing down delivery have been made by both DeJoy and the USPS. With Louis DeJoy adding to the denials, “While I certainly have a good relationship with the president of the United States, the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president, or anyone else in the administration, is wholly off-base.”
First Class mail is delivered at a faster pace (three to 10 days) than Marketing or Standard Mail and mostly occurs within 5 days. Where I live and if you mail your ballot in to the township, it is plainly written on the ballot envelop a First Class stamp must be used to mail the ballot. Some municipalities already have the ballot envelopes preprinted postage affixed. Typically, this postage is at a marketing or standard rate. Both of these rates are delivered at later date which can be as long as 20 days out. Usually, USPS has moved official election mail quickly and regardless of the class of service; however, in recent weeks, the agency has signaled it will not expedite election mail and election officials will get the service for which they have paid.
If First Class mail is delayed, we can be assured the lesser costs delivery mail will be even more delayed as a higher priority will be given to those items generating more revenue. Given the volatile political nature of this election and the blatant verbiage being tossed around by trump and Republicans, we can be assured “something” will occur to delay votes. Fortunately, we can take our mail-in ballots to the township hall.
The timing of Louis DeJoy directed changes are problematic as they not only could delay ballots and voting; the changes will also delay bills being received by people and subsequent bank and commercial payments, commercial mail-order medicines and VA – ordered medications, etc. Art Sackler a manager of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service,
“If there’s a takeaway from the business side of this (and I will add the public side of this) it would be the timing of this is problematic. In the teeth of a national emergency, voting is coming up in November, well sooner, their peak season comes up after that. A lot of folks are saying: why not do this in January?”
A good question for trump and his new Postmaster General.