APWU members picketed outside main downtown Minneapolis Post Office during visit by Postmaster General and USPS Board of Governors
A recent visit to Minneapolis by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the US Postal Service Board of Governors prompted local postal workers to speak out against new USPS policies which will result in slower mail delivery and harm the public.
“We feel a passion and dedication for the mail,” said Peggy Whitney, vice president of the American Postal Workers Union’s Minneapolis area local. Whitney spoke to reporters outside the main Post Office in downtown Minneapolis October 4, joined by about 30 APWU members who briefly marched in an informational picket line.
At issue: the Postal Service’s move to implement new service delivery standards October 1, which will result in a slowdown of mail delivery nationwide, but particularly in rural areas. The new service delivery standard for first class mail, for example, increased from three to five days, an increase of one to two days from the previous standard. The new service delivery standards also will impact packages and periodical mail (the Minneapolis Labor Review is mailed via periodical mail).
The slowdown in delivery standards comes at the same time as an increase in postage rates.
Charging more and providing worse service runs contrary to most business practices, Whitney observed.
And, she added, “the financial rationale is miniscule compared to the potential damage to customers.”
Indeed, according the Postal Regulatory Commission — an independent federal agency which monitors the USPS — “the Postal Service’s estimates of how much it will save as a result of implementing the proposed changes may be inflated” and “the proposed changes would not substantially affect the Postal Service’s overall financial condition.”
While urban areas with mail processing facilities may not feel the impact of the new standards as much, “rural communities do not have mail processing facilities,” Whitney noted.
“We’re really worried about the [delivery of] prescription medicines,” she said. “So many prescriptions are delivered by mail.”
A September 17 statement from the USPS announcing the new standards advised: “ For mail or correspondence that requires a deadline, the Postal Service encourages consumers to plan ahead and send their mail early. You likely wouldn’t wait to mail your mom a Mother’s Day card the day before or on Mother’s Day, so mail your letters and greeting cards with the Postal Service early so the Postal Service can ensure it reaches its final destination on-time.”
The USPS rushed to implement the new service delivery standards — part of a sweeping 10-year plan changing Postal Service operations — without inviting a full review by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
As a result, a group of 20 state attorneys general submitted a formal complaint October 7 asking the Postal Regulatory Commission to insist on undertaking a full review of the plan.
The group — which includes Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison — wrote: “The Plan will transform virtually every aspect of the Postal Service… rework how the Postal Service transports mail and other products; overhaul its processing and logistics network; enact slower service standards for First-Class Mail and Periodicals and First-Class Packages…”
“This plan is being enacted without any meaningful oversight and review, and the Postal Regulatory Commission, states, experts, and the public deserve to have their voices heard,” said Josh Shapiro, Pennsylvania Attorney General and leader of the coalition of 20 attorneys general who submitted the complaint.