TROY, N.Y. (WTEN) — U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand were in Troy on Monday to raise awareness around the issue of funding for the post office, especially going into election season during a pandemic. Postal workers report reduced overtime and hours, decommissioned automatic sorting machines, and removing blue mail collection boxes from sidewalks.
Schumer and Gillibrand say that recent efforts by federal officials to modify operations at post offices and processing centers throughout the country represent a threat to job security and voting rights. The New York legislators are urgently calling for Senate hearings into efforts by new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to alter employee workflows and disrupt service.
The senators say they have a plan to reverse changes and new policies that undermine the postal service, but it would depend on Senate intervention. “What has been—and continues—to go on with the postal service, the undermining and destructive policies that are so clearly intent on upending a system that has worked for generations has simply got to stop,” Schumer said in Troy. “I’m pushing new action here to undo the changes and get DeJoy to back off. Moreover, we will use the letter of the law to call the postmaster for hearings this week while driving legislation to fix the mess he’s purposely made.”
In addition to concerns over voter suppression, the coronavirus, and mail-in ballots, the senators also say they’ve warned DeJoy that meddling with the postal service would jeopardize delivery of medications, social security, and veterans benefits. “Postmaster General DeJoy claims that these operational changes will improve efficiency, but the reality is that they are creating unacceptable delays of critical deliveries of prescriptions, paychecks, Social Security checks, and threaten our ability to vote by mail,” Gillibrand said. “With our country, state, and Capital Region in the midst of an unprecedented economic and public health crisis, Congress must fully fund the Post Office to protect jobs, health, and our democracy.”
The senators say they’ve received complaints from post office customers throughout the Capital Region. With their feedback in mind, the legislators want:
- DeJoy called in for a Senate hearing
- Post Office changes to be undone
- Mail-in ballots to be handled like first-class priority mail
The senators say the unchecked changes endanger some 1,500 jobs in the Capital Region, with about 1,000 of those at the Albany Processing Center. The Postal Service call the changes efficiency and cost-saving measures, saying “temporary service issues” are an “inevitable” side effect of necessary updates.
Administration of the mail system is specifically covered in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It lets Congress establish post offices and criminalize postal abuses like fraud or theft.