Schumer says mail cuts hurt workers, veterans, and more
Speaking Wednesday outside the Post Office on Corning’s Baker Street, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., criticized recent changes at the U.S. Postal Service for their impact not only on the upcoming election, but on thousands of Southern Tier postal workers and the largely rural residents they serve.
“We need the post office all the time because it delivers such essential things—but during COVID, we need it even more,” Schumer said. “Senior citizens can’t go to the drug store, and they need their medications. Eighty percent of our veterans’ medications are mailed by the VA through the post office.
“Yet during the COVID crisis, a new Postmaster General, (Louis) DeJoy, is trying to dismantle the post office, plain and simple.”
Schumer was joined by local postal workers representing the National Association of Letter Carriers union, including Tracy Nist, of NALC Local 300 in Corning, and a veteran.
“In addition to my military service, I have just over a quarter of a century working for our government,” Nist told the gathered supporters. “The post office employs more than 97,000 veterans, and is one of the largest veteran employers in the country.
“Backing the post office also means backing our veterans.”
Schumer, echoing criticisms coming from Democrats in the House now holding hearings on the issue, said changes at the Postal Service that DeJoy and others justified as “cost-cutting” have crippled the organization’s operations.
Schumer cited the shutdown and dismantling of sorting machines, removal of postal drop boxes in locations around the country, elimination of overtime for workers and cutting postal jobs, largely through attrition (not replacing retiring workers or those who leave for other reasons).
Schumer noted that the U.S. Postal Service employs 3,906 workers in the Southern Tier.
“These are good-paying jobs,” he added.
Schumer didn’t steer clear of the political side of the Postal Service fight.
“I believe (Postmaster General) DeJoy, egged on by (President Donald Trump), wants to destroy the post office,” Schumer said.
He believes the main target is voting by mail in the November election.
“Our elections are sacred—millions of men and women from across the country have risked their lives so we will have free and fair elections,” Schumer said. “If people doubt their election, because they won’t get their absentee ballots in, because when they mail in a request for a ballot it comes too late, that’s the beginning of the end of this grand experiment in democracy.”
DeJoy said on Tuesday he would hold off on further changes until after the November election.
Schumer has said that the changes must be reversed now, and has asked the Postmaster General to respond to his concerns specifically and in writing.
The Postal Service has struggled financially in recent years, leading to calls for reductions in costs. But the budget shortfalls are widely considered the result of a 2006 law requiring the organization to prepay billions of dollars for retiree benefits in a way other agencies and businesses don’t have to.
Schumer said repealing that requirement would be a major boon to the organization—but he didn’t respond directly when asked why lawmakers hadn’t fought for a repeal over the past 14 years.