The United States Postal Service (USPS) takes center stage with the ongoing controversy around concerns over an engineered slowdown in mail delivery prior to the presidential election. On Wednesday, the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee subpoenaed the embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to appear. According to CNN, Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York, who heads the committee, has issued a September 16 deadline giving DeJoy almost two weeks to respond to the subpoena.
At issue are issues needing to be resolved around the ongoing delays, which could affect mail-in ballots. These include the sidelining of critical sorting machines and canceling employee overtime so that mail deliveries take longer. The House Oversight Committee also has questions concerning the Postmaster General’s communications, if any, directly with the Trump campaign.
In response to the subpoena request, the USPS issued a statement that criticized the committee’s actions while insisting that the agency would comply with the subpoena. As the mail delays continue to bog down USPS efficiency, how has the controversy impacted postal workers and operations across the country?
In Hapeville, Georgia, just a stone’s throw from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, nine USPS mail sorting machines sit idle. The Hapeville center is a large hub, handling vast volumes of mail, packages, and customers on a daily basis. Given the amount of mail processed in Hapeville and at large mail processing centers across the country; why would the head of the Postal Service slow down operations prior to a major presidential election? The answer is one word, politics. Prior to DeJoy’s appointment at the Postal Service, he was one of the Trump campaign’s biggest donors.
Much of the resistance to delays at USPS comes directly from its employees. Despite the Postmaster General’s promise not to continue dismantling machines, DeJoy has issued internal memos that sorting machines already disconnected are not to be reconnected. But, the resistance appears to be growing inside the USPS itself. Workers in Washington State report that sorting machines were reconnected in defiance of DeJoy’s directives. Plus, the grumbling by employees is getting louder.
Postal workers see their work as part of the public trust. This is especially true of African-Americans who make up about 27% of the USPS workforce. The fear is growing that privatization of the USPS will result in cutbacks, rolling back progress for one of the most secure businesses that have historically given African-Americans entree into the middle class.
One of the postal workers told NPR, “I grew up in a culture of service where every piece [of mail] was to be delivered, to be delivered every day.” She said the Postal Service’s new policies are “not allowing us to deliver every piece every day, as we’ve done in the past.”
With states around the country stepping up their efforts to educate the public on absentee ballot deadlines ahead of November’s elections, will Louis DeJoy continue to be perceived as a vote-suppressing agent of the Trump administration?
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