The fight to oust Louis DeJoy and his “disastrous” austerity plan | US Postal Service
TUnited States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has drawn criticism over changes to the United States Postal Service since Donald Trump appointed him in May 2020, which have included service delays, cuts and efforts consolidation, as well as financial conflicts of interest.
These changes continued in the Biden administration amid calls from unions, some elected, and progressive groups at oust DeJoy of his position, especially since during the pandemic, postal votes have become more and more common and an integral part of American democratic systems.
In March 2021, the USPS unveiled a 10-year austerity plan to improve the financial sustainability of the postal service, which understand implementation of longer delivery windows, reductions in branch opening hours, consolidation and closings of branches and facilities, and postal rate increases.
In addition to concerns about the effectiveness of postal voting, the move raised concerns about the effectiveness of postal voting. impacts on low-income Americans, rural communities, and the small businesses that depend on these services.
“The ten-year plan is a privatization plan. He just doesn’t use the ‘p’ word, ”said Porter McConnell, co-founder of the Save the post office coalition. “It’s already happening. I think what they discovered is that you can privatize without talking about it.
The 1970 Postal Reorganization Act reorganized the USPS into a pragmatic organization designed to be self-financing through income. A law of 2006 mandated the USPS pre-finances health benefits for all retirees 75 years from now, which has contributed significantly to the agency’s financial problems, which does not receive any government credit like other government agencies.
“I think reorganizing the postal service into something that both has a universal service obligation and has to break even was predisposed to them for failure,” McConnell added. “I don’t think we should apologize for a government service being provided when as a democracy it’s not in our best interests to have people in rural Alaska, for example, who cannot get postal service. “
As part of the 10-year plan, 18 mail processing facilities in the United States were listed for closure in 2021, with plans to consolidate them in other regional cities.
In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, postal workers held information pickets raise public awareness of opposition to closures and consolidations, citing the impacts on workers and the resulting degradation of services. The mail processing facility at Cape Girardeau is slated to close and move to St Louis next month.
Greg Davidson, president of American Postal Workers Union (APWU) Local 4088, said the union had fought plans to consolidate all mail sorting operations to St. Louis since 2011.
“Not all of these consolidations have been as successful as they would say. I would say they were actually disastrous, ”Davidson said. “The mail has slowed down. They have lowered the service standards.
A 2018 USPS Inspector General audit found that the slowdown in mail delivery in 2016 and 2017 only resulted in 5% savings that delays were expected to bring, and Davidson argued that the decline in services resulted in lost revenue due to customers having to resort to different services due to delays and consolidation resulting in poorly sorted mail.
Davidson said workers had previously mistakenly received mail trucks sent from the St Louis processing center in Cape Girardeau, resulting in delivery delays. He predicts the problems will worsen as 31 jobs are expected to be cut with the consolidation of mail processing.
Yet, as service decreases, prices have increased. In August 2021, the USPS implemented rate increases of 6.8% for ordinary first class mail, 8.8% for parcel services and a three-cent increase for a standard stamp. As of January 9, 2022, additional price increases were implemented for priority mail services as part of the USPS 10-year plan.
The price increases have been criticized by union leaders as part of the postal service’s evolution to operate as a business rather than a public service, to the detriment of the public.
Kimberly Karol, president of APWU in Iowa, says increased reliance on private companies to handle postal packages has resulted in delays in deliveries, with mail tracking disappearing for periods of time.
“It’s the closest we’ve ever come to being truly privatized,” Karol said. “We’re doing everything we can to make sure people receive mail the way they expect it to. The plans and the rules that are in place make it almost impossible for us to do more and it is heartbreaking. I have been in the postal service for 30 years. It is a difficult thing for us to accept.
In November, the Biden administration appointed two members to join the Board of Directors of the Postal Service, which has the power to remove DeJoy from his post as Postmaster General. Biden previously named three board members, while the other four were appointed by Trump.
Organizers successfully fought to prevent the Biden administration from renew Ron Bloom, a key ally of DeJoy, on the board.
Jamie Partridge, a retired postman and organizer of Communities and Postal Workers United in Portland, Ore., Said steps have been taken to push current board members to oppose DeJoy and the 10-year plan. Supporters of DeJoy’s impeachment are adamant that his impeachment is necessary to steer the USPS towards the reforms needed to strengthen the public agency.
“Right now I feel like we have some momentum, with the possibility of getting the majority against DeJoy and the 10-year plan, but there’s no guarantee of that,” Partridge said.