Cleveland postal workers are facing the repercussions as the U.S. Postal Service experiences delays and managerial upheaval in the wake of changes enacted by the Trump Administration.
The recent slow mail delivery is due to changes put in place by the Trump Administration, said American Postal Workers Union Cleveland Area Local Chapter 72 President Daleo Freeman, which range from limiting overtime to new schedules and departure times for delivery trucks.
“These things are not being caused by the workers on the workroom floor,” Freeman said. “The things that are going on now are directly being driven by the leadership at this time.”
Previously, trucks waited until mail had been sorted, Freeman said. New rules require trucks to leave at the same time each day, he said, even if sorting is not yet finished.
“Then it’s left there because the carriers are told to hit the streets at certain times,” Freeman said. “They can come back and work the mail later in the evening and leave it there until the next day.”
Local post offices are hearing complaints about delays in delivery, Freeman said, but those delays are directly due to policies put in place by the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy.
“We’re getting calls to action every day from the American people,” Freeman said. “They’re frustrated along with us, they’re frustrated about what’s going on and what could happen in the future.”
A future that could be filled with long-lasting negative effects, Freeman said.
“That will undermine all the postal service’s ability to fulfill its mission,” he said. “It’s going to drive away revenue, and it’s going to erode the public trust that we have.”
The Postal Service was already experiencing funding and staffing difficulties in light of the coronavirus pandemic, Freeman said. To combat those issues, he said, the service would either need to hire more employees or allow overtime work. But DeJoy, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in May, has put in place restrictions on overtime work.
“In this time of necessity, the people need to have an efficient and normal and enhanced postal service the best way we can,” Freeman said. “We don’t need anyone to come in and try to decrease services or take away resources that are going to be needed to provide.”
The Postal Service needs both financial aid from the federal government and more resources to combat the delays, Freeman said. Support from the public is one way to get there, he said.
“We just need the people to expect that we will do the best job that we can,” Freeman said. “But we also need them to definitely raise hell when they have not received their letters and packages and things of that nature on time.”
The Postal Service is “in a financially unsustainable position” due to declines in mail volume and a “broken business model,” according to an emailed statement from the postmaster general’s office.
“We are currently unable to balance our costs with available funding sources to fulfill both our universal service mission and other legal obligations,” according to the statement. “Because of this, the Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis.”
The service remains “highly focused on our public service mission to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient service to every person and business in this country, and to remain a part of the nation’s critical infrastructure,” both ahead of Election Day and as part of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said. “However, changes must be made, and we will refocus on all of the items within our control, and propose changes to some that are not, in order to ensure that we will be able to continue to fulfill our universal service obligation to all of America.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish on Monday condemned the Trump Administration’s changes to postal policy, particularly as the November election approaches.
“Because of the pandemic, voting in this election is going to be very different; many of us are going to be relying on the mail to get our voices heard,” Budish said in a written statement. “But the President is doing his very best to undermine your vote (no matter your party affiliation).”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) also spoke out against the changes, claiming Trump is attempting to sabotage the Postal Service.
“President Trump has spent months attacking and undermining voting by mail, and now, he’s trying to spin the truth and shift blame elsewhere while his Administration tries to dismantle the postal service,” Brown said in a press release. “I know the importance of making it easier – not harder – to vote. Millions of Americans’ constitutional right to vote depends on it.”