How Changes to the US Postal Service Will Affect You
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The United States Postal Service is an agency of the federal government that Americans rely on for delivery of everything from prescription medication to time-sensitive financial documents (including benefits and bills). In a recent piece, we covered changes that have been made to the USPS since June. In this article, we’ll explore how these changes negatively affect those who depend on the service.
How Changes Have Affected USPS Staff
Recent changes made within the USPS are reflective of a shift in philosophy. One key change that exemplifies this shift is the order given by new postmaster general Louis DeJoy to leave mail undelivered at the end of each day in order to reduce work hours. Mark Jamison, a former postmaster in North Carolina, explains, “The rule has always been: you clear every piece of first-class mail out of a plant every day, period… there has never been a time when you curtail first-class mail.”
Traditionally, the USPS has relied on their carriers working overtime if needed to finish daily deliveries. Due to the agency’s benefits package, it is more cost effective to pay for overtime hours than to hire new workers. Since new mandates will eliminate overtime, it is clear that delays will be inevitable and have already become a reality for those who rely on USPS for their services, which includes everyone from small business owners to seniors waiting for prescription medication.
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In addition to the new policy that allows for mail (even first-class mail) to be delayed, many post offices are being required to reduce their hours of operation. Elizabeth Coonan, who works in a USPS office that has cut hours of operation in half, explains, “the times they are slating (the post offices) to close is when they do a lot of business.” After some outcry from postal workers, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin stepped in, telling DeJoy that his mandate to reduce the office’s hours on such short notice “would likely be a violation of both federal law and United States Postal Service.” This seems to have been enough pushback to keep the post office open, as the decision to cut hours was eventually reversed.
How Changes to the USPS Will Affect the Populace
Between limiting store hours, eliminating overtime, terminating or reassigning 23 executives, and dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, operations within the USPS have had to slow down considerably and may even unravel as we near election season.
Addressing the ripple effects likely to stem from the reduction of employee hours, Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) remarked, “This action, if not rescinded, will negatively impact mail deliveries… and unacceptably increase the risk of late prescriptions, commercial products, or bill delivery.” Daines’ concerns get to the heart of the non-political ramifications of the restructuring or partial dismantling of the USPS without having a proper backup plan in place. The primary casualties of this maneuver will be the millions of citizens who rely on the USPS for necessary deliveries, the delay or misplacement of which could lead to medical and/or economic disaster.