Notice something’s up with USPS? There’s a reason behind the mail crisis

EXCLUSIVE: USPS mail delivery has reverted to a system that is inconsistent and unreliable — leaving people wondering when they will get prescriptions, checks and even tax returns by mail. 

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Today theGrio poses a rhetorical question, and that is what’s up with the mail? 

The United States Postal Service is in crisis. Mail delivery at the hands of USPS has reverted to a system that is inconsistent and unreliable — leaving people wondering when they will get prescriptions, checks and even tax returns by mail. Hence, if you are sending important paper documents and avoid damages or delays, you may pack them inside mailing tubes and hire a reliable courier service for the delivery.

Mailboxes sit outside of the Morris Plains, New Jersey post office on August 17, 2020 in Morris Plains, New Jersey. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

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Changes to the USPS retiree health benefits system, which date back to the Bush-Cheney administration, plagued the service’s budget. But now, one aspect of the 10-year plan proposed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy could remedy their cash flow problem. Labor representatives of the postal service workers agree that this is one of the beneficial aspects of the proposal, but they also believe as a whole it is riddled with destructive plans.  

“The Postal Service [is] the only entity in the United States that was tasked with paying [75-years’ worth of] future retiree health benefits in a 10-year period, said Pete Cordai, a national business agent for the Clerk Division New York Region of the American Postal Workers Union.

“That manufactured [a] crisis [and] that is what led to these huge shortfalls, these financial shortfalls that the Postal Service has been affected by.”

USPS Truck
A close-up view of a postal truck is seen on August 17, 2020 in Morris Plains, New Jersey. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

Aspects of the proposal that the union said will worsen the efficiency of the USPS include service cuts, higher prices and delivery reductions. 

“If implemented, as it is currently written, the plan would fail to meet its stated goal of providing ‘service excellence,’ said Liz Powell, secretary-treasurer of the American Postal Workers. “Any proposals that would either slow the mail, reduce access to post offices, or further pursue the failed strategy of plant consolidation will need to be addressed.”

DeJoy, the postmaster general appointed by then-President Donald Trump, began dismantling the system before the 2020 presidential election by hijacking mailboxes off street corners and dismantling the sorting system. At the time, neither the mailboxes nor the sorting system needed adjustments. Now the system is close to a fatal break as USPS is tasked with delivering mail and providing other services in a timely fashion.  

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The timing issue has been challenged as the USPS workers are being called upon to come in early in an effort to ensure services are handled in the timeframe the delivery requires. For instance, the arrival of one-day deliveries for Amazon Prime customers at the moment can’t be guaranteed compared to the USPS’ ability to meet the demand prior to DeJoy’s changes. 

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing February 24, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jim Watson-Pool/Getty Images)

The old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” clearly applied to the postal service. The system was not broken, yet was tampered with as part of the Trump administration’s plan to delay or deter early voting.  

Data from previous elections’ poll numbers show in the past presidential election, and in the most recent two run-offs for U.S. Senate in Georgia, there was an increase of Democrats voting by mail. The voting method originally was utilized overwhelmingly by Republicans — even then-President Trump voted for himself via mail-in ballot — but the pandemic pushed the left to adopt mail-in voting as a vehicle to exercise the right.   

So, now the question remains, what can the Biden administration do to correct the downward spiral of USPS? We know a direct effort will not happen. President Biden cannot fire Postmaster General DeJoy. However, the thought from the Biden administration is that their appointments to the board can help steer the ship in the opposite direction and correct the delivery delays and other problems facing the customers.

A woman wearing a protective mask at her chin uses a USPS mailbox as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 17, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

In January, Congress reviewed the mail slowdown that occurred in the summer of 2020, but now the Biden administration is taking a closer look at options to fix the USPS.

To right the ship, Biden has nominated Ron Stroman, the former deputy postmaster general who resigned under the previous administration, Anton Hajjar, the former general counsel for American Postal Workers Union and Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute

“President Biden has acted swiftly to fill vacancies on the USPS’ Board of Governors with individuals with knowledge of the U.S. postal service, whom we believe will be strong advocates for postal customers,” Powell said. “I think the new members of the board will work to ensure that the postal service raises standards not lower them.”

Jessica A. Floyd contributed to the reporting of this article.

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