On Tuesday, succumbing from political pressure, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that he is suspending plans to cut back or even to dismantle much of the United States Postal Service. Also on Tuesday, Wisconsin joined fourteen states in a federal lawsuit claiming that cuts in postal services are an effort to obstruct voting in the November election; the lawsuit cites numerous tweets and statements by President Donald Trump in making its case. Six other states have joined in a second federal lawsuit. And also on Tuesday, member of Congress Mark Pocan spoke at Madison’s main mail facility and called for public and legislative support of USPS. According to Pocan, the Trump administration attacks on the post office were by far the number one constituent concern for the last three weeks at his office, a situation Pocan thinks was the same for other congressional representatives, both Democrat and Republican. Pocan sees this pressure as leading to DeJoy’s stated reversal on Tuesday.
“Clearly, what they did in try to create chaos is having ripple effects. When a veteran can’t get their medication from the VA that’s sent to them in the mail, that’s bigger than just the chaos he’s trying to create,” Pocan said. “When businesses that are already hurt because of COVID-19 can’t get a package delivered in a timely manner, and people don’t buy from them, that’s having a ripple effect. So I think enough of those ripples created a wave that they couldn’t do nothing with.”
Pocan announced that Congress has introduced new federal legislation, as yet unnumbered and unnamed, to support the postal system. He said, “So we are still going to pass a bill to make sure those actions are stopped. Figure out how much damage has already been done. Give $25 billion to the postal service, which is what the bipartisan board of directors, appointed by Donald Trump, has asked for, the $25 billion and a few other things to make sure that people will have the guarantee, once again, of their mail.”
Bob Kaspar, now retired, spent 25 years as a postal worker and a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers. He noted that the postal service is by far the largest mail and package carrier in the country, and that essential postal workers have borne the brunt of effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have the greatest postal service in the world. For 55 cents, you can send a letter to Gnome, Alaska, or Key West, Florida. And it’ll get there, I guarantee you it’ll get there,” Kaspar said. “Everyone listening, or watching, contact Senator Baldwin and Senator Johnson and tell them how important the postal service is.”
Browen Dosch was delivering packages for her small clothing business when Congressmember Pocan stopped by. She has been experiencing issues in her business because of the changes to the postal service.
“Those packages that I drop off often don’t get scanned in into the system so that I can see tracking. They show that the label has been created, but that it isn’t going anywhere, like it hasn’t left my house. They often show in that status for like 3 to 4 days. So, to my customers, it looks like I haven’t dropped their packages off at the post office As a business owner, it is a really tough spot to be in because it looks like I’m not doing my job. That I’m slacking, that I am not a good business owner. And I can explain it until the cows come home, but it kind of just sounds like an excuse,” said Dosch.
Pocan asks interested listeners to support the post office with calls to their government officials. “You know, I think people should be calling their federal elected officials, the US Senators and member of Congress, which is me, to tell them that they don’t support the changes that are happening at the postal service and they want their service restored. That’s the best thing you can do right now.”
Pocan also said that absentee voting is still safe and urged people to begin that process if they haven’t already. He said, “Request that absentee ballot and when you get it, fill it out right away, and put it in the mail. You’ll have six weeks at that point for it to show up but if you’re not comfortable, drop it off at the city hall and you’ll know it will be counted. Our ballot will be valid no matter what.”
A video of the event can be found on Pocan’s Facebook page.
Image: A photo of USPS delivery trucks, courtsey of Flickr user Ron Doke (license)