Postal union says mail being delayed in Delaware due to equipment removal, overtime limits
The local postal workers’ union says capacity in Delaware is being impacted by recent changes to equipment and overtime.
American Postal Workers Union Local 152 President Trina Wynn says since the beginning of July, six of the roughly twenty bar code sorting machines at Delaware’s only mail processing center in New Castle have been dismantled. Employee overtime and transportation runs are being limited, she says, and with employees out because of the coronavirus, mail is being delayed.
“During this pandemic, the public has depended heavily on the Postal Service for delivery of medications, checks and packages. Small businesses depend on the Postal Service,” said Wynn. “It’s unconscionable to see these attacks and efforts to kneecap the Postal Service.”
The Postal Service has reportedly reduced overtime and decommissioned equipment nationwide under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
Last month DeJoy said in a statement the Postal Service was in a financially unstable position because of declining mail volume and vowed to control overtime expenditures. DeJoy is set to testify before the U.S. House Oversight Committee next week.
Sen. Chris Coons says his office has heard from 1,800 concerned Delawareans about the changes to the Postal Service.
“Calling to say their medication has been delayed, their social security check is delayed, as a small business owner, they’re not getting payments, they’re not able to pay bills,” said Coons.
Coons adds he’s worried the changes could disenfranchise Delawareans, who can vote by mail without excuse in the upcoming primary and general elections. He says Congress deserves answers.
“We need to know exactly what the Trump administration is doing to slow down mail delivery, and why that’s justified,” said Coons. “Not just based on cost, but based on the operational responsibility the Post Office has to deliver, safely and promptly, medication, social security checks, regular business mail, and our mail in ballots this fall.”
Sen. Tom Carper says the changes appear to be an effort to suppress votes for Joe Biden during the upcoming presidential election.
“The Administration, the President’s campaign team, is fearful if folks are able to vote by mail, a lot of them won’t vote for him,” he said.
Carper and Coons plan to join Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester and Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings at a press event about “saving the postal service from sabotage” at the Wilmington Post Office Tuesday.
A local USPS spokesperson declined to comment on whether machines had been removed in Delaware, but said the Postal Service is committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner.
The Washington Post reported last week that Delaware was among roughly forty states to receive “heightened warnings” from USPS that delivery standards could not meet state deadlines.
Postal Service officials say voters must use First-Class Mail or an expedited level of service to return their completed mail-in ballots. The Postal Service “strongly recommends” jurisdictions advise voters to request ballots no later than 15 days prior to the election date and mail ballots back at least one week before the due date.
The Delaware Department of Elections can mail vote-by-mail ballots to voters as late as four days before the state primary and general elections. The Department is recommending on its website that voters return their completed vote-by-mail applications as soon as possible, “ideally no later than one week prior to the election, but in any event be sure to return your completed VBM application to the Department by those deadlines.”
The Department of Elections does not offer a recommendation on when to mail ballots back to elections officials by. Completed vote-by-mail ballots must be returned to the county elections office that issued them by the time polls close on election day.
Delaware Election Commissioner Anthony Albence did not respond to requests for comment.
This story previously reported that American Postal Workers Union Local 152 President Trina Wynn said eight sorting machines have been decommissioned at Delaware’s mail processing center in New Castle. It has been corrected to reflect that Wynn says six such machines have been decommissioned. Delaware Public Media apologizes for the error.