Warning that destructive changes to the U.S. postal service continue without reprieve, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, who has been leading efforts to undo these changes, was in Cayuga County lobbying on behalf of the Postal Service.
Standing at the U.S. Post office in Auburn, Schumer also demanded Postmaster General DeJoy be in U.S. Senate hearings this week as he drives legislation to force the postmaster to “back off.” Schumer’s plan would reverse changes now slowing down the mail and would also ensure our mail-in ballots are treated as First Class priority. Schumer said he has warned DeJoy 1:1, highlighted problems across New York, including Central New York, but now the Senate needs to act in an immediate way if the attack on the USPS might stop.
“What has been—and continues—to go on with the postal service, the undermining and destructive policies that are so clearly intent on upending a system that has worked for generations has simply got to stop,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “I’m pushing new action here to undo the changes and get DeJoy to back off. Moreover, we will use the letter of the law to call the postmaster for hearings this week while driving legislation to fix the mess he’s purposely made. Bottom-line, we will not stand for the in-your-face slowing down of the mail and the undermining of Americans who depend on medications, VA benefits, paychecks, even food, and we will not allow of this to take place all in an effort to hobble the November election—no way.”
Schumer said he wanted to see legislation that would:
- Undo the changes slowing down the mail
- Ensure our mail-in ballots are treated as First Class priority mail
Schumer warned that if DeJoy continues to go unchecked, Central New York’s more than 1,700 postal jobs would be jeopardized, along with its critical functions that support everyday door-to-door service but also ensure critical medications, VA benefits, Social Security checks paychecks, food, and more make it to their destinations. Schumer said he remains seriously concerned because the USPS recently directed operational changes in post offices and processing centers. On August 7, 2020, the USPS announced a significant reorganization of Postal Service leadership and functions, which could impact Central New York.
The destructive changes, Schumer notes, include the elimination of extra mail transportation trips, the reduction of overtime, the start of a pilot program for mail sorting and delivery policies at hundreds of post offices, and the reduction equipment at mail processing plants. Schumer said these decisions absolutely have an impact on New York and America, a case he made to the postmaster in person.
In urging the postmaster, both in letters and personally, Schumer argued the Postal Service is an “essential public institution with an obligation to serve every community in the nation.” Schumer told DeJoy he should not make changes in Central New York that will slow down mail or compromise service for veterans, small businesses, rural communities, seniors, and millions of Americans who rely on the mail for medicines, essential goods, voting, correspondence, and for their livelihoods. The Postal Service has characterized these changes as efficiency or cost-saving measures and add they minimized any “temporary service issues” as an “inevitable” side effect of implementing new procedures, Schumer and colleagues noted in a recent letter.
Schumer has argued that in the midst of a pandemic, these actions, whether intentional or not, are already causing mail delays across the country and appear to constitute an unacceptable threat to the Postal Service and the millions of Americans who depend on it. According to Time, amid the pandemic, many postal service employees have seen their workload double because Americans started ordering more medicine and food online from inside their homes. But the volume of letter mail – the USPS’s biggest revenue stream – has fallen. In April, the U.S. Postmaster General, told the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that revenue losses this fiscal year could reach $13 billion. Schumer said that the USPS is like any other business that has been provided relief and assistance and that the numbers prove they’ve been hard hit.
Schumer was joined by Tom Dlugolenski, Vice President of Branch 134 of National Association of Letter Carriers.
Schumer said he has received dozens of complaint calls to his office in recent weeks from USPS customers throughout Central New York. In one example, veteran from near Syracuse concerned their shipments of medicine from the Department of Veterans Affairs could be delayed due to postal services cuts. In fact, VA provides about 80% of all its outpatient prescriptions to veterans by mail using seven “highly automated pharmacies,” according to the department.
Finally, in a detailed, ten-page letter sent Friday, Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Peters, Chairperson Zoe Lofgren of the Committee on House Administration and Ranking Member Amy Klobuchar of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration gave the Postmaster General one-week deadline – until August 21 – to produce a host of key documents and information relating to these matters.