GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Senator Gary Peters, (D-Mich.), said in a media update Monday he has heard from "hundreds" of people experiencing a delay in their mail.
Last week, Peters announced he opened an investigation into the United States Postal Service (USPS), in light of changes from a newly appointed Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy.
"When we think of the postal service, and how important it is to every day life," said Peters, "not just prescription medicine, but getting payroll checks, social security checks, to get bills on time. This is of critical importance and we need a postal service that can continue to deliver the type of service they have delivered in the past."
Peters said the procedural changes include a reduction in overtime, reductions in extra trips by transportation trucks, and processing machines being taken out.
"Where we’re concerned is with the Post Master General DaJoy coming on board, we’ve started seeing some policies put in place to control overtime," said Roscoe Woods, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 480-481, "which has directly resulted in the mail being delayed."
Rep. Brenda Lawrence, (D) Southfield, joined Peters call, and voiced concern over how a delay in mail services will impact November's election. Lawrence is the only U.S. congress member to have worked for the USPS, which she did for more than three decades.
"Our democracy is being held in the hand of the postal service," said Lawrence. "The Congress and Senate have a responsibility to protect this democracy."
Michigan saw a record 1.6 million ballots cast absentee in the August primary. Lawrence pointed out states have varying dates for primaries, but that won't be the case for the general election.
"Come November, the entire country will be voting at the same time, and we can’t afford, 'oh that didn’t work.' This must work," said Lawrence.
Postmaster General DeJoy has said the changes are in an effort to cut costs. Friday, DeJoy announced a modified organizational structure for the USPS. That includes three operating units: Retail and Delivery Operations, Logistics and Processing Operations, and Commerce and Business Solutions.
DaJoy said this will increase efficiency and better serves customers.
Michigan postal union leaders joined Peters's call to look into the recent changes.
"Medications, ballots, birthday cards: all those things people count on seeing in their mailbox every day," said Woods. "We can do it, we have done it, and we can do it in the future. There just needs to be policies and procedures in place to make it happen."
Carl Blassingame Jr., the President of the Michigan State Association of Letter Carriers, called it a "travesty what's happening right now." He said the problem does not begin with the letter carriers.
"They have to come back later on in the afternoon to pick up parcels to go and deliver them, rather than taking them when they leave," said Blassingame, "Mail is being kept in the office, not being allowed to be processed when they first come in."
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