'We need to take the politics out of it.' Some concerned over mail delays

Posted at 6:55 PM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 18:55:56-04

People all over metro Detroit have contacted us to say they’re worried about a slow-down in mail delivery. Postal employees say you’re not imagining things; that slow-down is real, and they’re upset about it too.

Every day the postal service processes more than 470 million pieces of mail and they don’t use any tax dollars for operating expenses. But some postal workers say leaders at the top are now shaking things up to save money which is causing major delays in deliveries.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” may be the motto of the United States Postal Service, but postal workers say new mandates from the top ARE keeping them from finishing their rounds.

And customers are noticing.

“Now it takes maybe like a couple weeks to get something that used to take a day or two,” said Celeste Weith, a postal customer we spoke to outside the Shelby Township branch.

“Whatever’s causing this problem, I have a real issue with,” Jim Gaul told 7 Investigator Heather Catallo.

Gaul says he first experienced mail delays in July. So one day, he met his postal carrier at his mailbox to ask what was going on.

“He said, 'I wasn’t given any first-class mail to deliver today,'” said Gaul.

For this retiree from Rochester Hills, postal delays have real financial consequences.

“It is very important to me. It’s just not something that I’m taking for granted. I watch it and I monitor it very, very closely,” said Gaul.

Gaul’s wife needs a medication that costs thousands of dollars. Each month, Gaul must mail claim forms to get reimbursements.

“I have one credit card that I use exclusively with a high limit for this and this, I’ve seen it as high as 16,17,000 outstanding," he said. "So it’s imperative that I get reimbursed in time to avoid interest payments and being late."

Even during the coronavirus surge this spring, Gaul says those reimbursements were taking about 6 days to receive. But the most recent one took 14 days to arrive. He says his other mailed prescription reimbursements have increased from nine days in transit to 17 days.

Keith Combs is the President of the Detroit District Local of the American Postal Workers Union. Combs says the changes started when President Donald Trump appointed Louis DeJoy as Post Master General in mid-June.

"Well, it looks like or sounds like the reasoning for the slow down is coming from the new PMG," Combs said.

Since then, DeJoy announced a major reorganization of the postal service in an effort to make it more profitable.

Combs says that means no overtime for workers at the processing plants or branch office – and other changes he calls alarming.

"It’s always been a mandate that the postal employees get every mail that they receive out to the customer – now the slowdowns are, some of the carriers are being told not to deliver that mail. It can go the next day," Combs added.

Combs says he fears the slow downs will prevent mail-in ballots from getting to election officials on time in November. He’s also furious the Postal Service is planning to close Detroit’s second busiest branch by the end of the month.

"There should be no closures of post office and stations and branches in the time of a pandemic, or in a time of the mail-in voting," Combs added.

As for Jim Gaul, he just wants the mail slowdowns to stop – because a secure postal service is essential.

"We need to take the politics out of it. It represents everyone," Gaul added. "This isn’t one side or the other, this is for the American people."

Postal officials declined our request for an interview – but in a recent press release – the Postmaster General said about the new re-organization, “This organizational change will capture operating efficiencies by providing clarity and economies of scale that will allow us to reduce our cost base and capture new revenue,”

Meanwhile, Sen. Gary Peters has launched an investigation into the mail slow downs. You can file a complaint here.

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