The fight to oust Louis DeJoy and his “disastrous” austerity plan | US Postal Service
TUnited States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has criticized changes to the United States Postal Service since Donald Trump appointed it in May 2020, including service delays, cuts and consolidation efforts, as well as financial conflicts of interest.
These changes continued in the Biden administration amid calls from unions, some elected officials and progressive groups to oust DeJoy from his post, especially as during the pandemic mail-in votes became more and more currents and are an integral part of American democratic systems.
In March 2021, the USPS unveiled a 10-year austerity plan to improve the financial viability of the postal service, which includes the implementation of longer delivery windows, reductions in branch hours, consolidation and closure of branches and facilities and increases in postage rates.
In addition to fears about the effectiveness of postal voting, the move has raised concerns about the impacts on low-income Americans, rural communities and 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 Save the Post Office Coalition. “It’s already happening. I think what they discovered is that you can privatize without talking about it.
The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 reorganized the USPS into a commercial organization designed to be self-financing through revenue. A 2006 law mandated pre-grounded USPS health benefits for all retirees 75 years into the future, which contributed significantly to the agency’s financial problems, which does not receive any government credit, unlike d 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 have been listed for closure in 2021, with plans to consolidate them in other regional cities.
In Cape Girardeau, Missouri, postal workers organized information pickets to raise awareness of opposition to closures and regroupings, 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 resulted in only 5% of the savings delays were expected to bring, and Davidson argued that the drop of services resulted in lost revenue due to customers having to depend on different services due to delays and consolidation resulting from improperly 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 hikes of 6.8% for regular first-class mail, 8.8% for parcel services, and a three-cent increase for a standard stamp. Effective January 9, 2022, additional price increases have been 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 Postal Service’s board, which has the power to remove DeJoy from his post as Postmaster General. Biden previously appointed three members to the board, while the other four were appointed by Trump.
Organizers have successfully fought to prevent the Biden administration from re-re-electing Ron Bloom, a key DeJoy ally, to 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.