DES MOINES, Iowa — Newly appointed Postmaster General Louis Dejoy has made major changes to the infrastructure of the United States Postal Service, including ridding of top executives, banning overtime and changing delivery policies.
“We’ve had two DBCS machines taken out of operation in Des Moines. And there’s also some other machines that have been taken out of other facilities in Iowa and across the country. There’s like 670 slated to come out of post offices across the country,” said Mike Bates, president of the Des Moines Local 44 American Postal Union.
These machines sort about 36,000 pieces of mail in an hour, making them essential, especially during election season.
“If one of the machines breaks down, we may have a hard time recuperating from that,” said Bates.
In July, the USPS sent letters to all 50 states, warning that voters are at risk of not getting ballots to election offices in time because of significant delays. Bates says Iowans have several options when it comes to voting, but he says if mail-in ballots are going to be used, make sure to send them out as early as you can.
“Treat it kind of like you do a Christmas card. You want to mail it in advance, as far in advance as you can to make sure that it gets there,” said Bates.
But elections aren’t the only thing that could be impacted as a result of the cuts. In rural areas, farmers rely on the USPS to deliver farm equipment. Veterans across the state also rely on at-home delivery services for medications.
“I think that what you could possibly see down the road is rural Iowa getting hurt really bad in this situation. Their post offices possibly closing is one of the biggest concerns I have,” said Bates.
Bates and many other union leaders from the USPS are urging Iowans to contact Iowa Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley to ask them to support Senate Bill 4174, which would give the USPS $25 billion in pandemic relief. Despite the opinion of many, the USPS is not funded by tax dollars but by the sale of stamps and packages, which has been hindered during the pandemic.