“Our work’s not done until these actions are reversed—not ‘suspended’—and the USPS has the funding it needs.”
By Jake Johnson – Aug 19, 2020
The co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday said Postmaster General Louis DeJoy should still be removed from his position following his vow to suspend sweeping changes to U.S. Postal Service operations until after the November elections, a commitment that civil rights advocates and lawmakers criticized as overly vague and inadequate.
“Our work’s not done until these actions are reversed—not ‘suspended’—and the USPS has the funding it needs,” tweeted Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.). “Oh and Postmaster General DeJoy should still be fired.”
The Postal Service Board of Governors, which appointed DeJoy to lead the beloved government institution in May, has the authority to remove the postmaster general.
DeJoy’s brief tenure as head of the Postal Service has brought dramatic and massively disruptive changes to daily USPS operations just months ahead of elections that could be decided by mail-in ballots. The changes caused significant mail backlogs by barring postal workers from sorting packages ahead of their morning deliveries, eliminating overtime, removing mail sorting equipment, and slashing post office hours.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon as he faced enormous public backlash and demands to step down, DeJoy—a major Republican donor to President Donald Trump—said he is “suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded” in order to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
Progressive critics and members of Congress were quick to raise pointed questions about DeJoy’s announcement, which does not clearly commit to undoing changes that have already had an impact on mail services across the country.
“Suspending his devastating actions which have upended the Postal Service does nothing to cure the damage that has already been done,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “DeJoy must outline a comprehensive plan for restoring the status quo at the Postal Service by replacing mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes that have already been moved and more.”
In the wake of DeJoy’s announcement, advocacy groups vowed to move ahead with nationwide protests set for Saturday and individuals who have taken legal action against the postmaster general committed to keeping their lawsuits active.
Mark Dimondstein, president of the 200,000-member American Postal Workers Union, attributed DeJoy’s walkback to the tenacious efforts of postal customers, labor unions, civil rights organizations, veterans groups, and communities across the U.S.—but added that “the struggle to save the public Postal Service is far from over.”
“In order for postal workers to continue to carry out their vital work and deliver for the people every day, the USPS is in immediate need of $25 billion in Covid-related financial relief. It’s time for Congress to deliver,” Dimondstein said in a statement late Tuesday. “And we must ensure that these rollbacks announced today are made permanent and that the people’s post office remains a public service.”
“This is the United States Postal Service, not Postal Business,” Dimondstein added. “It is overwhelmingly supported by the people and belongs to the people. They have made it clear that they intend to keep it.”
Feature image: Demonstrators gather outside of the condo of President Donald Trump donor and current U.S. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy on August 15, 2020 in Washington, D.C., (Photo: Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)
Jake Johnson is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow him on Twitter: @johnsonjakep