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caption: A US Postal Service employee approaches a delivery truck on Aug. 17, 2020, at the Seattle area's main mail-processing center on 27th Avenue South in Tukwila.
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A US Postal Service employee approaches a delivery truck on Aug. 17, 2020, at the Seattle area's main mail-processing center on 27th Avenue South in Tukwila.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

State attorneys sue to stop postal service from slowing the mail

Attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia have filed a legal challenge to stop the U.S. Postal Service from slowing down the mail.

The attorneys, including Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, say the budget-cutting moves initiated during the Trump administration threaten critical mail delivery for millions of people and were pursued without the required opportunity for public input.

Planned changes include reduced post office hours and closures of mail-processing facilities in Redmond, Washington, and 17 other cities nationwide.

Earlier multistate lawsuits succeeded in delaying many of those changes until after the 2020 election.

Slowdowns began Oct. 1, with some first-class mail arriving two days later than usual.

“They're taking the mail off of airplanes, which they say are unreliable, and they're putting it on slower trucks,” said Seattle postal clerk and local union leader David Yao.

“I mean, Amazon has people conditioned to two days, one day, even the same day. And now here we are going from three days to five days,” Yao said. “It's going to lose customers. I think it's going to ultimately hurt the postal service in the long run – unless we can reverse it.”

Shifting from air mail to surface mail would greatly reduce the energy and climate impact of hauling deliveries across the country, especially as the Postal Service develops a fleet of electric delivery trucks.

The agency’s 10-year plan calls for most delivery vehicles to be replaced with electric models over the next decade, and for a fully electric fleet by 2035. The first new electric vehicles are expected to be rolled out in 2023.

It is unclear what role, if any, global climate concerns played in the decision to shift away from air mail.

“As we invest in new vehicles and technology, we will champion sustainable and environmentally focused solutions,” the agency’s long-range plan states.

U.S. Postal Service officials did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The Postal Service is led by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Republican fundraiser and former trucking executive appointed during the Trump administration.

The Washington Post reports that DeJoy is under investigation by the FBI for campaign finance violations while he was head of New Breed Logistics in North Carolina.

“One political appointee does not get to decide the fate of the Postal Service,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a press release. “There is a process that demands accountability from the American public for a reason — and I will fight to ensure the public gets a say.”

While many Democrats want President Joe Biden to remove DeJoy, Biden can’t do that.

The Postmaster General can only be fired by the Postal Service’s nine-member board of governors.

In August, the Postal Service reported a loss of $3 billion for the quarter ending June 30, compared with $2.2 billion a year earlier.