Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy revealed a sweeping 10-year-plan that would cut post office hours and could lengthen delivery times for priority mail by up to five days.
The USPS, which recorded $87 billion in financial losses over the last 14 years, has faced a financial crisis made worse by the coronavirus pandemic – which slowed performance and sidelined 122,913 workers out of its more than 644,000 workforce.
Advocates for the USPS have already claimed the cuts could further hurt the postal service’s performance, the Washington Post reported.
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Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy revealed a sweeping 10-year-plan on Tuesday that would cut post office hours and lengthen delivery expectations
In a press conference on Tuesday, DeJoy said that the postal service lost $9.2billion in 2020 alone and has liabilities exceeding $152 billion
Advocates for the USPS have already claimed the cuts could further hurt the postal service’s performance. Pictured: A group of protestors hold a demonstration in front of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s home in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 16, 2020
DeJoy, a major donor to former President Donald Trump, previously faced backlash from Democrats who tied him to conservative messages against mail-in voting and accused him of trying to sabotage the USPS during the 2020 presidential election.
In a press conference on Tuesday, DeJoy said that the postal service lost $9.2billion in 2020 alone and has significant liquidity issues with liabilities exceeding $152 billion.
He also said that the USPS has under-invested in its infrastructure ‘creating an unstable operating environment unable to meet the demands of the American people.’
‘These current conditions if allowed to continue are devastating to our organization and seriously jeopardize our role in the country,’ DeJoy said in the press conference.
‘If not addressed, not only will our service continue to deteriorate but we will forecast we will lose approximately $160billion over the next 10 years.’
He added: ‘Long before that, we will, ruin out of cash and not be able to continue our operations without a government bailout.’
In the 58-page Delivering for America plan, the USPS said it has not been able to meet the three-day standard for First-Class Mail since 2012 and that performance has been spiraling downward since 2017.
In the past, when customers bought non-local First-Class Mail, the USPS has expected that the mail would be delivered in three days – but has not been able to meet that benchmark.
DeJoy proposed fixing performance expectations by lowering the standard for First-Class mail from one day to two days, and non-local First-Class Mail to five days.
The changes do not necessarily mean that mail would be delivered slower but allows the agency leeway to hit new delivery standards instead of those it already cannot meet.
‘Overall, updated service standards will position us to achieve significant cost savings and provide service that meets or exceeds 95 percent on-time reliability,’ the document reads.
These lower expectations come as the Washington Post revealed that DeJoy has sought to raise postage rates after the Postal Regulatory Commission recently ruled to create a new pricing system.
Apart from cuts to service hours and expectations, the Delivering for America plan also seeks to make $40billion in capital investments to improve and modernize its 31,000 post offices.
Protestors gather in Kalorama Park before holding a demonstration against changes in the postal service, outside of the condo of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in August 2020
Twitter photos posted August 14, 2020 show mailboxes being removed in the Brighton area of Boston. Caption reads: Looks like the #USPS is pulling out mailboxes in Brighton. @universalhub
Mailboxes are seen at a USPS processing and distribution center in Riverdale, Maryland, in August 2020
‘Our Plan is to invest approximately $4 billion in our retail units to provide a world-class customer experience with improved retail training, modernized uniforms, refreshed lobbies, and expanded self-service and digital options,’ the plan reads.
The USPS plans to include more digital and mobile tools and better tracking for customers as it also purchases 50,000 to 165,000 energy sustainable delivery vehicles over the next 10 years.
It will also make changes to its logistics and processing procedures and invest in ‘advanced package processing equipment.’
‘As we expand our role in the e-commerce marketplace, package volume will continue to grow. We will deploy and maintain a diverse suite of package sorters and material handling equipment to optimize processing throughputs,’ the plan reads.
‘We are in the process of procuring and deploying more than 185 new package sorters as we continue to adjust to the growing package demand.’
The USPS also hopes to reduce the overtime demand on employees and make other changes that benefit employees – while backing legislation that would enroll retired workers in Medicare instead of health benefits it is required to make.
A postal reform bill from Democrat Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, backed by DeJoy, would would eliminate the mandate to pre-fund retiree health benefits.
If passed, the the bill would immediately save the USPS $35 billion in liabilities and another $10 billion over 10 years as the postal service integrates its workers into Medicare, the Washington Post reported.
Maloney, however, ultimately blasted the plan on Tuesday and called it an ‘unacceptable decision to make permanent slower mail delivery,’ CNN reported.
Virginia Rep. Gerry Connolly branded it ‘a draconian plan that guarantees the death spiral of the United States Postal Service.’
Michigan Sen. Gary Peters said he was concerned the service changes would hurt people ‘who rely on the Postal Service for prescription drugs, financial documents, running their small businesses and more.’
Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree called on Biden to fire the board of governors.
‘I cannot stress how devastating this will be for rural states like Maine. That’s why I’ve urged President Biden to fire the @USPS board of governors for failing to hold PMG DeJoy accountable,’ Pingree tweeted.
American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein noted that ‘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,’ CNN reported.
But Dimondstein praised the USPS for planning to open ’46 new annexes to handle the ever-increasing number of packages’ and for recognizing its employees as its strength, according to CNN.
Democrats have renewed calls to remove the Post Master General and the USPS’ board members for ‘self inflicted’ mail delays and ‘gross mismanagement.”
President Joe Biden is not able to fire DeJoy, as USPS operations are set up so they cannot be messed with by the president or Congress.
There are 11 members of the Board of Governors, including the Post Master General and Deputy Post Master General. There are nine board governors appointed by presidents who can vote to remove the Post Master General.
Biden has already nominated Democrats to fill three of four vacancies on the board – which would give Democrats a a 5-to-4 majority to remove DeJoy if they are confirmed by the Senate, the Washington Post reported.
‘This is a very positive vision, particularly considering our current position as an organization,’ DeJoy said on Tuesday.
‘A year ago, the conventional wisdom was that our financial situation was dire and that we would have to curtail our basic service obligations or seek significant annual appropriations from the congress to continue serving the American people.’
He added: ‘Well that wisdom would be accurate now or tomorrow or sometime in the near future if we do not getting moving on our plan enhance the role and relevance of the postal service in the life of the public and the nation.’