September 25, 2020 Live Blogging the USPS Jones v USPS

Prof. Steve Hutkins at Save the Post Office

The plaintiffs in Jones have reached an agreement with the Postal Service that settles the case for now. The outline of the agreement is similar to the commitments in the Sept. 24 Standup Talk on Election Mail, but there are some more specific details.

The agreement states the following (the rest is quoted from the proposed order):

The USPS shall, to the extent that excess capacity permits, treat all Election Mail as First-Class Mail or Priority Mail Express.

Specifically, USPS shall prioritize identifiable Election Mail that is entered as Marketing Mail, regardless of the paid class, including advancing Election Mail entered as Marketing Mail ahead of other Marketing Mail and processing it expeditiously so that it is generally delivered in line with the First-Class Mail delivery standards; expanding processing windows on letter and flat sorting equipment to ensure that all Election Mail received prior to the First-Class Mail Critical Entry Time is processed that same day; and prioritizing Election Mail, including ballots entered with Green Tag 191, when loading trucks.

This paragraph (Paragraph 1) shall not be construed to require USPS to change its policies that generally do not include the transportation of Election Mail entered as Marketing Mail by air; or to extend other features of First-Class Mail, distinct from delivery speed, to Election Mail entered as Marketing Mail. However, USPS will employ special individualized measures to expedite handling of individual voter ballots mailed close to Election Day, regardless of paid class, which may include manually separating them and moving them by air or according to Priority Mail Express delivery speed standards, consistent with practices used in past elections.

No later than October 1, 2020, USPS shall submit to the Court a list of steps necessary to restore First-Class Mail and Marketing Mail on-time delivery scores to the highest score each respective class of mail has received in 2020, which are 93.88 percent for First-Class Mail and 93.69 percent for Marketing Mail, and shall thereafter make a good faith effort to fully implement the listed steps.

USPS shall provide this Court and Plaintiffs with a weekly update, to be provided every Friday, that includes:

  • The same weekly update USPS is providing Congress, with respect to USPS’s Market-Dominant products (First-Class Mail, Marketing Mail, and Periodicals);
  • Separate, unmerged 2-day and 3-5 day weekly service reports for both pre-sort and single-piece First-Class Mail, and variance reports;

No later than Sept. 29, the USPS shall submit to the Court and Plaintiffs a proposed Supplemental Guidance Document, to be distributed to all USPS managerial staff. The September 21 USPS Instructions, the forthcoming further guidance on the use of additional resources, and the proposed Supplemental Guidance Document shall together, in clear terms and with the aid of examples:

  • Identify and explain all USPS policy requirements concerning the treatment of Election Mail;
  • Identify and explain all USPS recommended practices concerning the treatment of Election Mail;
  • Reemphasize that late and extra trips are not banned, and clarify that pre-approval is not needed for late and extra trips and that authorizing late and extra trips through November 6, 2020, will not result in disciplinary action
  • Reemphasize that USPS commits to, authorizes, and encourages the use of any late and extra trips that would facilitate the timely delivery of Election Mail;
  • Explain that USPS shall prioritize Election Mail as described in Paragraph 1 of this Order;
  • Direct managers to explain to each of their direct reports the policies and practices described in the Supplemental Guidance Document that are relevant to each direct report, taking into account their individual responsibilities.

The parties were not able to reach agreement as to relief pertaining to USPS’s overtime policies.