Return To Sender: Protesters Reject Post Office Cutbacks

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Politics

Protesters stood in front of the main Chatham Post Office Saturday. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO


CHATHAM Whether they’re bringing Social Security checks, prescription medicines, mail-in ballots or just friendly letters, mail carriers are a lifeline, and the U.S. Postal Service needs our support.

That was the message from a handful of protesters who held signs in front of the main Chatham post office Saturday, one of many similar protests held around the nation. And judging by the number of waves and honking horns from passing motorists, many people agree.

Organizer Crystal Macara said she opposes any attempt to gut the Postal Service for political gain. She and the other protesters held signs reading “Protect Postal Workers,” “Honk If You Love USPS,” and “Save Our Elections, Democracy, Postal Service.” Among those who waved and cheered for the protesters was a local letter carrier on his rounds.

Having long criticized the nation’s mail system, President Donald Trump installed longtime supporter and political fundraiser Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General in May. DeJoy pledged to streamline the Postal Service, and implemented a number of changes, including the removal of some mail processing equipment and blue mailboxes. Some postal employees have complained about a reduction in overtime and new rules that result in delays in daily delivery. The changes have resulted in delivery delays for a number of classes of mail.

In an Aug. 13 television interview, Trump acknowledged that cutting funds to the U.S. Postal Service would make it more difficult for them to handle the anticipated surge of mail-in ballots in the presidential election. Such a surge could put him at a disadvantage in his bid for reelection. The president told Fox Business Network that, absent a deal between the White House and lawmakers, the funds for the U.S. Postal Service won’t be restored, and Democrats “can’t have universal mail-in voting.” In fact, Democrats are not seeking universal voting by mail, and election procedures are set by individual states.

The changes imposed by DeJoy “are not in the favor of the American public,” Macara said Saturday. She called on lawmakers from both parties to restore funding to the Post Office “so they’re equipped to handle mail-in ballots.”

Last week, DeJoy announced that “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.” DeJoy said that post office hours will not change, mail equipment will remain in place, no mail processing facilities will be closed, and overtime will be “approved as needed.” DeJoy was grilled this week by the Democrat-led House Oversight Committee. The House also passed legislation providing $25 billion in additional funding for the post office.

Macara said the Post Office helps keep people connected to one another, something that’s particularly important during a pandemic. As important as any official U.S. mail are “just cards for Grandma,” she noted.