PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Across the country and here in Hampton Roads, front-line workers at local post offices say the damage has been done.
This week, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy pledged to end operational changes. Critics say those changes were designed to suppress the vote as the United States Postal Service prepares for a record number of votes by mail.
In recent weeks, overtime has been slashed, collection boxes have been removed and hundreds of high-speed sorting machines have been decommissioned.
The president of Local 262 of the Amerian Postal Workers Union, Victor Fields, spoke to 10 On Your Side about behind-the-scenes changes at the sorting facility just outside downtown Norfolk.
“At this time, at the Norfolk processing distribution center, we actually have three letter-processing machines that actually have the power cut and are slated to be taken out of the installation — they haven’t moved at this point but that is on the table at this time,” he said.
Eleven machines remain, Fields said.
Fields works the overnight shift and said now there’s no overlap in crew work.
“A lot of those employees from the afternoon shift that were helping people with the night shift are no longer working those hours, said Fields.
That means smaller paychecks for employees and at the end of the day, residents’ mail could sit unsorted until the next day.
Postal workers say — and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirms — the slow-down efforts will not be reversed. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring and colleagues across the country have threatened to sue the Trump administration over operational changes that have slowed the delivery of mail.
Fields described a perfect storm that includes machines out of commission, overtime cuts, a presidential election, a pandemic and seasonal mail.
“That is a concern — we also have our fall mailing season coming up, which is a heavier volume going into that time,” said Fields.
President Donald Trump has long complained of the Postal Service, calling it a financial disaster that should be turned over to the private sector.
Fields, a former member of the U.S. Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Divison, is opposed to privatization plans. Many of his colleagues are also veterans.
“We think that we do an outstanding job in providing that service for the American people. It’s not about private companies trying to come in and make a profit — this is America’s Postal Service — it’s for the American people,” said Fields.
DeJoy is expected to testify before the Senate on Friday and the House is expected to vote on $25 billion in additional funding for the Postal Service on Saturday.
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