08.19.20

SCHUMER: USPS STILL IN CHAOS; PUSHES NEW TWO-PRONG PLAN TO REVERSE DESTRUCTIVE CHANGES TO THE POSTAL SERVICE IMPACTING COMMUNITIES THROUGHOUT SOUTHERN TIER; LEGISLATION WOULD IMMEDIATELY UNDO RECENT CRIPPLING CHANGES, CEMENT MAIL-IN BALLOTS AS FIRST CLASS PRIORITY & PROTECT USPS FROM FURTHER DEVASTATION

After Successfully Calling For DeJoy To Appear In Hearings This Week And Immediately Halt USPS Devastating Changes, Schumer Pushes Plan To Cement USPS Reliability And Service, No Matter WHO Is In Charge 

Senator Has Warned Postmaster’s Actions Have Jeopardized Southern Tier Delivery Of Medications, VA Benefits, Paychecks & Sanctity Of The Nov. Election & Now Plans New Fight To Reverse Damage 

Schumer: Postal Service Pandemonium That Hit Southern Tier Needs To Be Packed Up and Shipped Out

Standing at the U.S. Post Office in Corning, New York, alongside local advocates and National Association of Letter Carriers Union officials and on the heels of yesterday’s announcement that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will finally suspend implementing additional, already-destructive, changes to postal operations until after the November election, today U.S. Senator Charles Schumer revealed new legislation that would restore postal services for all Southern Tier residents immediately. Specifically, Schumer’s legislation would: first, reverse all of the rash and sudden “cost-cutting” decisions implemented this summer to restore critical operations for Southern Tier residents and over 3,900 regional employees; second, it would ensure all mail-in ballots are treated as First Class priority mail to alleviate vote-by-mail issues that countless Southern Tier residents saw during the recent June 2020 primaries. Following a personal call with Postmaster DeJoy yesterday, Schumer sent detailed list of questions to DeJoy to follow-up on questions that remain unanswered, such what practices USPS paused and which will continue; if election mail will still be classified as First Class; if and when USPS will replace dismantled and removed machines and collection boxes; and a list of every location where it equipment was removed.   

Importantly, all of these sudden, drastic changes occurred when Postmaster DeJoy began implementing broad “cost-cutting” structural changes at USPS and cutting overtime hours for Southern Tier postal workers. Despite promises made by Postmaster DeJoy that USPS has “ample capacity” to handle a predicted surge in mail-in ballots, local union officials have expressed concerns surrounding increased mail as these issues continue just a few weeks away from the November election. Schumer said that the Southern Tier post office operations must be immediately restored.

“I’ve successfully called for the undermining and destructive policies that are so clearly intent on upending a system that has worked for generations to stop, but that does not mean our work to preserve the USPS is over,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m pushing a new plan here to undo the changes DeJoy made. Bottom-line, we will not stand for the continued, in-your-face slowing down of the mail and the undermining of Americans who depend on medications, VA benefits, paychecks, even food, and we will not allow for these changes to take root and hobble the November election—no way.”

Schumer said he will drive new legislation that would:

1) Undo the changes slowing down the mail

2) Ensure our mail-in ballots are treated as First Class priority mail

Schumer warned that if the current slow-downs are allowed to remain in place, the Southern Tier’s more than 3,900 postal jobs, based on statistics for NY’s 19, 22, and 23 congressional districts, would be jeopardized, along with its critical functions that support everyday door-to-door service but also ensure critical medications, VA benefits, Social Security checks paychecks, food and more make it to their destinations.

Schumer said despite DeJoy’s announcement that no further operational changes will be implemented until November, he remains seriously concerned about the effects of the already-directed operational changes in post offices and processing centers  On August 7, 2020, the USPS announced a significant reorganization of Postal Service leadership and functions, which could impact the Southern Tier.

The destructive changes, Schumer notes, include the elimination of extra mail transportation trips, the reduction of overtime, the start of a pilot program for mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of post offices, and the reduction equipment at mail processing plants. 

In urging the postmaster, both in letters and personally, Schumer argued the Postal Service is an “essential public institution with an obligation to serve every community in the nation.” Schumer told DeJoy he should not make changes in the Southern Tier that will slow down mail or compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for medicines, essential goods, voting, correspondence, and for their livelihoods. The Postal Service has characterized these changes as efficiency or cost-saving measures and add they minimized any “temporary service issues” as an “inevitable” side effect of implementing new procedures, Schumer and colleagues noted in a recent letter.

Schumer has argued that in the midst of a pandemic, these actions, whether intentional or not, already caused mail delays across the country and appear to constitute an unacceptable threat to the Postal Service and the millions of Americans who depend on it. According to Time, amid the pandemic, many postal service employees have seen their workload double because Americans started ordering more medicine and food online from inside their homes. But the volume of letter mail – the USPS’s biggest revenue stream – has fallen. In April, the U.S. Postmaster General, told the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that revenue losses this fiscal year could reach $13 billion. Schumer said that the USPS is like any other business that has been provided relief and assistance and that the numbers prove they’ve been hard hit.

Schumer was joined by Rodney Stanfield, President of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 21 in Elmira, Tracy Mist, member of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 300 in Corning, Shannon Keeney, Former President of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 300 in Corning, and Steuben County residents.

Schumer explained he has received dozens of complaint calls to his office in recent weeks from USPS customers throughout the Southern Tier. 

“As they risk their health each day along with other front-line essential workers, letter carriers have become angry, frustrated and embarrassed by various USPS management initiatives that are now resulting in delayed mail and undelivered routes in many areas of the country. The Postal Service must provide reliable service to postal customers, particularly during the pandemic when our role is more essential than ever. We will continue our engagement with Postal Service management and Congress as we work through a transition in USPS governance, the effects of COVID-19 and the consequent need for financial relief,” said Rodney Stanfield, President of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 21.

“I would like to thank Senator Schumer for being here and for fighting for not only the post office, but for the millions of customers that we provide service to on a daily basis. I have worked for the post office for 21 years. In addition to my military service, I have over a quarter of a century working for our government. The post office employs more than 97,000 veterans and is one of the largest veteran employer in the country. Backing the post office also means backing our veterans, myself included. With congressional support, we can continue to do so and do better,” said Tracy Nist, member of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 300 in Corning.

Schumer’s letter to Postmaster DeJoy is below:

Dear Postmaster DeJoy:

I am writing to follow-up on our phone call on Tuesday, August 18 regarding your decision to halt some operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service (“USPS”) until after the November election. As I said during our call, there is a lot of mistrust between the American public and the USPS right now because of statements you and President Trump have made about cutbacks in mail delivery during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and about mail-in voting through Election Day. Therefore, I am asking for specific responses to the following questions:

  1. Please describe specifically what operational initiatives and changes you will be pausing between now and Election Day. What changes do you plan to continue with during this period?
  2. Your statement mentioned nothing about treating all election mail as First Class mail, regardless of whether it was sent at the non-profit rate of 20 cents. As you know, this issue is of great concern to Secretaries of State and Board of Elections across the country. Will you commit to returning to the USPS practice of treating all election mail as First Class?
  3. In your statement, you state that prior to the election, no mail processing facilities will be closed and that mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are. However, over the last week there has been documentation that mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes have already removed in some locations around the country. Will USPS replace those items?
  4. Please provide a list of all of the locations where mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes have been removed over the past two weeks, indicating which equipment or boxes were removed, and any accompanying analysis on how this will impact mail delivery in those areas.
  5. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently confirmed that medical prescriptions mailed by the U.S. Postal Service have seen delays of nearly 25% this year. In order to mitigate these delays the VA has indicated it has resorted to alternative delivery services, such as UPS and FedEx, in several areas across the country in order to expedite shipping for medications. Before the USPS moved forward with numerous operational changes, did it conduct an analysis on how they would impact veterans and others who depend on timely delivery of medical prescriptions? What steps is the USPS taking to address delayed delivery of medical prescriptions administered by the VA’s mail order pharmacy?

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

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