Trump administration retreats from Postal Service overhaul
Postal workers in Tacoma say mail is being delivered faster in recent weeks as the Trump administration retreats from its efforts to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service.
Don Cheney with the American Postal Workers Union in Tacoma said crosstown mail is being delivered in one day again, while a certified letter to Florida takes three days.
Back in July, following Trump administration efforts at reorganizing the mail service, certified letters were taking nine days to cross the country, according to Cheney.
Workers at Washington state’s biggest mail-handling facility, just south of Seattle in Tukwila, have reconnected three of the seven big letter-sorting machines they’d been ordered to dismantle this summer.
Postal Service electronics technician Matt Olmsted said they put the three machines back in service this week and were working to reconnect a fourth.
“There are no plans to return any of the other three machines at this time, as they were completely disassembled,” he said in an email.
On Thursday, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy ordered plant managers nationwide to comply with a federal judge’s order aimed at making the Postal Service reliable again.
Among other changes, United States District Judge Stanley Bastian of Yakima required the Postal Service to reinstall or replace any mail-sorting machines necessary to deliver election mail at first-class speed.
“At the heart of DeJoy’s and the Postal Service’s actions is voter disenfranchisement. This is evident in President Trump’s highly partisan words and tweets,” Bastian wrote in his Sept. 17 decision in favor of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and other Democratic state attorneys’ lawsuit against Trump, DeJoy and the Postal Service.
"It is easy to conclude that the recent Postal Services’ changes is an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections, especially given that 72% of the decommissioned high speed mail sorting machines that were decommissioned were located in counties where Hillary Clinton receive[d] the most votes in 2016," Bastian wrote.
About 40% of letter-sorting machines in the Seattle and Tacoma areas were decommissioned, KUOW reported in August.
Much of the Postal Service’s push to reduce overtime and retail hours, remove mail-sorting machines and mail boxes and get mail trucks to leave on schedule even if that means leaving mail behind predates DeJoy’s three-month tenure as Postmaster General.
Still, DeJoy, a major Republican donor, has been in the hot seat of media attention, lawsuits and Congressional hearings as President Donald Trump has continued his verbal and Twitter attacks on mail-in voting.
“The Postal Service’s number one priority between now and Election Day is the secure, on-time delivery of the nation’s Election Mail — and we are ready to deliver for our country,” DeJoy’s Sept. 24 order began.
He went on to give plant managers marching orders including:
- "Overtime is authorized and instructed to be used as necessary to fulfill our mission and expeditiously move Election Mail."
- "The Postal Service will not reduce retail hours before the November elections."
- "Late or extra trips… should not be restricted if they are reasonably necessary to complete timely mail delivery."
Post offices nationwide have also switched to new printers that make sharper postmarks, Linn’s Stamp News reported.
That could make a difference in the 19 states that allow mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day.
“Having a legible postmark is extremely important,” Cheney said in an email. “That single improvement means more mail-in ballots will get counted.”
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's Sept. 24 order to postal managers nationwide: