JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The News4Jax Trust Index team is looking into claims circulating on social media that United States Postal Service mailboxes and mail sorting machines are being removed in an attempt to undermine USPS before the election.
The rumors come just one week before Louis Dejoy, the new postmaster general, agreed to testify before Congress about the changes he made to USPS when he took office in May. Pictures of inoperable mailboxes and rumors of widespread delays have been posted all over social media.
In a letter to the newly appointed postmaster, 175 lawmakers say his sworn testimony is urgent given the troubling influx of reports of widespread delays and operational changes at USPS offices.
News4Jax wanted to know if Duval County specifically has a problem with mail sorting machines being removed, and we brought the question to Al Friedman with the Florida Association of Letter Carriers.
“We are researching that, and we are trying to get to the bottom of this. We have heard some of that in Jacksonville. We have heard about delayed mail in Jacksonville, in Duval County, but we don’t have specific offices. I’ve asked every branch carrier in every office to help confirm anywhere if they’re saying that because we want to raise the issue to Congress,” Friedman said.
Friedman said he hopes to have an answer about the elimination of mail sorting machines in Duval County later in the week.
After being appointed postmaster general, Dejoy made the following changes:
- Eliminated overtime for post office employees
- Removed or reassigned nearly a dozen agency leaders
- Banned postal workers from making extra trips to deliver the mail
- Implemented a hiring freeze.
“There is a law within the Postal Service, it’s been there since day one: Anybody who delays the mail is committing a crime. So if you’re delaying the mail purposely or because you’re trying to tighten the belt in the middle of a pandemic, delaying the mail is not the issue. The issue is doing what we have to do to get everybody’s email out to them,” Friedman said.
Friedman says as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, 15 to 20% of U.S. mail carriers are unable to work, adding that USPS as a whole lost millions of dollars every day during quarantine when big box retailers shut down. Friedman doesn’t see a reason why congressional leaders wouldn’t approve stimulus fund for the United States Postal Service.
Friedman says the USPS is more than capable of handling mail in ballots in the upcoming election, pointing to the delivery of 560 million pieces of mail for the U.S. Census, calling what’s happening “political football.”
“This is a political game that now we are suffering and it could be the total demise of the Postal Service,” Friedman said. “What road are we going down? Is this postmaster general tightening the belt so much that we’re going to completely fail?”
So, are mail sorting machines at local processing centers or mailboxes being removed? The Trust Index Team is rating this claim as “be careful.” Friedman urges people who depend on USPS in Duval County to contact the offices of Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Rick Scott to voice their concerns.