Rank-and-file workers across the United State Postal Service have undertaken steps throughout recent months to resist the controversial operations changes that have been imposed by the Trump-allied Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, The Washington Post reports. These workers have endeavored to find ways to ensure that efficient mail delivery is protected from the policy updates that DeJoy and his allies have imposed in the name of cost efficiency, although mail delivery is technically a government service and as such might be expected to have priorities other than some kind of private sector-inspired business efficiency.
The Post has a list of examples from around the country of Postal Service workers who have set out to protect the mail delivery process in the face of pressure from higher-ups. Despite a memo that went out to Postal Service employees directing them to generally stay away from the media, some workers revealed these behind-the-scenes developments to the Post, albeit anonymously.
Among other examples, “Mechanics in New York drew out the dismantling and removal of mail-sorting machines until their supervisor gave up on the order,” according to the Post. In that particular instance, the supervisor had directed mechanics to remove mail-sorting machines and use spare parts to artificially increase capacity on one that was left behind. However, a mechanic on the job attempted to inform the supervisor that an artificially augmented mail-sorting machine would not be able to work at the same speed as two separate machines. When the supervisor demanded that they repeat the removal and augmentation process a second time anyway, “the machinist and colleagues balked and drew out the steps required to implement the change,” leaving the supervisor to give up on the project, the Post explains.
These issues have very real-world ramifications for people across the country. Besides the looming issue of a potential impact on mail-in voting from slow mail delivery, many Americans rely on mail delivery for other crucial items, like medications.
According to the Post, Ohio “postal clerks culled prescriptions and benefit checks from bins of stalled mail to make sure they were delivered, while some carriers ran late items out on their own time.” As the publication further explains, based on the accounts of people inside the agency, if items arrive at a particular Toledo facility past deadlines for shipment to the next phase of processing, then “a manager not eligible for overtime will hop into a Postal Service van and transport that mail separately.” Recently, there have been restrictions on overtime hours at the agency, so a manager deciding to carry out the agency’s duties on their own time can help get around this issue.
DeJoy has claimed that he is not engaged in any kind of intentional political sabotage, although Republicans and Donald Trump in particular have long targeted the agency. Nearly three-fourths of the agency’s $160.9 billion deficit is accounted for by the costs of providing for retirees. A 2006 law signed by then-President George W. Bush orders the agency to pre-fund retiree benefits for its workers, leaving the agency in a large financial hole.