By Beth Roberts
Various news sites and social media services have been ablaze with reports of the institutional changes affecting the United States Postal Service. On Friday, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, accused President Donald Trump of creating an “all-out assault on the Postal Service and its role in ensuring the integrity of the 2020 election.”
This accusation is in line with many others that have been heard from a range of people: that President Trump is trying to harm the United States Postal Service to stay in office for longer.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reached out to USPS workers on Instagram to find out what changes have occurred. A number of anonymous USPS employees shared their experiences. One key change is that the workloads have been increasing exponentially. However, despite an increase in workload, overtime hours have been taken away or cut down significantly. Employees are therefore expected to work harder to make up for the lost overtime hours. Many machines are being taken away from various branches, which is also making working hours more taxing for individual employees.
Additionally, the transportation of mail is becoming increasingly less efficient. Workers have reported late arrival of mail from the plant to individual post offices, whilst priority mail packages and first class mail are being left behind. One mail carrier states that “mail is being delayed and customers are not getting items on time.”
A USPS worker in Chicago, Illinois reached out to Incite to explain her personal experience. She stated that “the government is trying to privatise the USPS and are looking to garner more control over the USPS workings. We are consistently understaffed and always have more mail than we can handle.”
An alarming consequence of the USPS decline is that Americans who receive social security checks and medication through the USPS could suffer greatly. Therefore, the issues within the USPS might not only cost working hours, votes and jobs, but also lives.
Now that we have seen the multiple accounts detailing the changes within the USPS, let us consider the political motivations for such changes.
During an interview with Fox News, President Trump suggested that he does not want to provide the USPS with more money because there is an expectation that millions of ballots will be posted in November. Less voters are expected to turn up to the polls in person, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With this in mind, President Trump’s destabilization of USPS has been argued to be a direct attack on the voter turnout in the Presidential Election.
In addition to these sentiments, the new postmaster general – the man in charge of the mail Louis DeJoy, is a businessman and a key donor for the Trump campaign. It is heavily suggested that his USPS reforms are being brought in to aid Trump’s campaign for reelection. In response to DeJoy’s role, Trump could only claim “I don’t know what he’s doing. I can only tell you he’s a very smart man. He wants to make the post office great again.”
Due to such claims, Pelosi is debating whether to bring the House back from its scheduled recess next week to hail governmental discussions on Trump’s meddling in USPS. Even though there are no votes scheduled until the 14th September, the Democrat Party are referring to the USPS changes as a “crisis” and are demanding that it be addressed.
In regards to moving forwards, there is talk of a Covid-19 relief bill that could help fund the USPS. However, where a majority of Democrats are in support of such a bill, the Republican Party are considerably less enamoured with the concept. The NBC is suggesting that the government will shut down if Trump refuses to sign a funding bill by the 30th September.
Pennsylvania state has also taken the opportunity to move back the deadline for receiving mail votes by three days, to ensure access to the ballot, and it is expected that other states will follow the example.
For now, we will have to wait and see if the House comes out of recess early. It’ll be imperative to see if Trump does sign a funding bill, or to see if Pelosi and other high ranking Democrats hold the administration accountable. Thealternative is further restriction on the poorest and most vulnerable Americans and a lack of social security for those who need it most.