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Postal trucks leaving half empty or empty, Indiana union head says

Changes from postmaster general are drawing criticism from workers
Posted at 1:34 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 18:49:54-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Postal workers in Indiana say your mail is being delayed like never before, and some trucks are leaving half-empty or even empty.

Just before dawn nearly every morning, trucks leave the Indianapolis post office on South Street presumably full of precious mail like legal documents and prescriptions.

But postal workers in Indiana say because of new cost-cutting measures put in place by the U.S. Postmaster General, trucks aren’t full like they should be.

"There are cases where trucks may run half empty or half full, and then instead of running an extra truck like we would have traditionally have done, the mail sits until the next day,” said Doug Brown, Indiana State President of the American Postal Workers Union.

In June, the USPS’s Inspector General issued a report that found delays in mail processing and inadequate dock staffing resulted in five million late trips last year, costing the agency $410 million.

In response, the newly appointed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, mandated every truck must keep to its schedule, even if it is empty.

“This year the postal service will likely report a loss of $9 billion,” said DeJoy. “Without change, our losses will only increase in the years to come."

According to a statement issued by the postal service, on-time transportation has gone up from 89% to 97% in a few weeks since the changes were implemented.

The cuts require postal trucks to leave sorting facilities by a specific time each day and are meant to improve efficiency and reduce overtime and extra trips.

"It depends on the volume,” said Brown. “If we have a heavy volume day, the mail may not make the truck on time because they're telling us to stop the processing. We have had delays of mail because of strict enforcement of cut off times when that mail is to be processed."

We caught up with Brown as he and other postal workers protested in front of the Carmel post office against the changes put in place by DeJoy.

"We care as postal workers about medications not getting to seniors, about veterans getting their medications timely,” said Brown. “We were brought up in a culture to deliver every piece of mail, every package, every single day."

Our Scripps station in Nashville Tennessee found the new policy won’t allow holding a truck for every five minutes so it can be loaded with mail, and that means Express and Priority Mail is sometimes left sitting on the docks.

"Trucks leave empty," said Joe Jolley a postal employee with the postal workers union in Nashville. “They leave completely empty. We pay a truck to travel to Memphis, a 53-foot truck with no mail on it."

WRTV Investigates reached out to the Indiana office for the US Postal Service about possible empty mail trucks.

A spokeswoman sent us links to two statements that did not address empty mail trucks.

“The Postal Service’s financial position is dire,” read a facts sheet posted on August 21. “Since 2007, the Postal Service has experienced nearly $80 billion in cumulative losses – with FY 2019 approaching $9 billion and 2020 closing in on $11 billion in losses despite a statutory requirement that the Postal Service be self-sustaining.”

Also, in an August 18 statement, the postmaster said the following:

“I want to assure all Americans of the following:

  • Retail hours at Post Offices will not change.
  • Mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are.
  • No mail processing facilities will be closed.
  • And we reassert that overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

In addition, effective Oct. 1, we will engage standby resources in all areas of our operations, including transportation, to satisfy any unforeseen demand.”

Meanwhile, postal workers are asking for help.

“We need financial relief,” said Brown. “Congress is attempting to give that to us. Without it, we have failed in our mission to be the United States Postal Service.”

WRTV has reached out to U.S. Sen. Todd Young and Sen. Mike Braun. Young's office sent us this statement:

“Senator Young is confident USPS will act appropriately to ensure mail is processed and delivered in a timely fashion, as they always strive to do. Senator Young will continue to monitor the Postal Service’s operations and financial condition to ensure they have the resources needed to mitigate any disruptions resulting from the pandemic.”

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