Labor & Employment Law Daily Legislation would blunt proposed USPS changes to curtail overtime
Friday, August 14, 2020

Legislation would blunt proposed USPS changes to curtail overtime

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

An internal memo directed employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers and to significantly curtail overtime, the bill’s sponsor said.

Responding to a pair of internal memoranda that signal what she called “unprecedented changes” proposed by new Postmaster General Luis DeJoy to the operations and organizational structure of the U.S. Postal Service, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney has introduced the Delivering for America Act to effectively prevent those and other changes. The proposed changes to the USPS have triggered alarm over whether the changes will make it even more difficult for postal employees to handle the anticipated uptick in volume created by mail-in ballots for the November 2020 elections.

“At this juncture in our nation’s history, when the number of Americans voting by mail for this Presidential election is expected to more than double from the last, Congress must protect the right of all eligible citizens to have their vote counted,” Maloney said in a statement. “A once-in-a-century pandemic is no time to enact changes that threaten service reliability and transparency. The Delivering for America Act would reverse these changes so this fundamental American service can continue unimpeded.”

Operational and organizational changes. Maloney observed that a July 15, 2020, memo directed employees to leave mail behind at distribution centers and to significantly curtail overtime, undermining long-established organizational norms that have ensured the timely distribution of mail for decades. A second a memo, issued August 7, which details the restructuring of the USPS, revealed that 23 postal executives have been reassigned. Here Maloney points to warning by analysts that the move “deemphasizes decades’ worth of institutional postal knowledge” and “centralizes power around DeJoy.”

The restructuring also proposed:

  • A hiring freeze;
  • Early retirements;
  • Unit realignments; and
  • Regional downscaling.

APWU response. In a message to members from American Postal Workers Union National Executive Board in response to the new postmaster’s policy changes, the APWU cited the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970: “The United States Postal Service shall be operated as a basic fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress and supported by the people. The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together … It shall provide prompt, reliable and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.”

The APWU went on to note that “without consultation or input from any of the postal unions, postal customers, or mailing community,” the new postmaster had taken action such as “reducing hours in retail units including Saturday closings, delaying mail, slowing down service, further removal of mail processing equipment, arbitrarily reducing work hours, and eliminating overtime. With an already understaffed operation, reducing hours and overtime can only lead to severely delayed mail and packages.”

About the new Postmaster General. DeJoy began his tenure as Postmaster General in June 2020. He previously spent more than 35 years growing and managing a nationwide logistics company. As chairman and CEO of New Breed Logistics, DeJoy spent decades in collaboration with the USPS, Boeing, Verizon, Disney, United Technologies, and other public and private companies to provide supply chain logistics, program management, and transportation support.

Notably, New Breed Logistics was a contractor for the USPS for more than 25 years, supplying logistics support for multiple processing facilities. In 2014, New Breed merged with XPO Logistics; DeJoy served as CEO of XPO Logistics’ supply chain business in the Americas before his retirement in December 2015. He then joined the company’s board of directors where he served until 2018.

Conflicts of interest? As Maloney noted, there have been questions about the financial interests of DeJoy and his wife, who have between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in assets of competitors or contractors of the USPS. The new Postmaster General has also donated millions of dollars to President Trump’s campaign.

Delivering for America Act. Under Maloney’s bill, during the period beginning on the date of the legislation’s enactment and ending on the last day of the COVID-19 public health emergency or January 1, 2021, whichever is later, the USPS may not implement or approve any change to the operations or the level of service provided from those in effect on January 1, 2020, that would “impede prompt, reliable, and efficient services,” including any of these actions:

  • Any change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide or substantially nationwide basis.
  • Any revision of service standards.
  • Any closure or consolidation of any post office or reduction of facility hours.
  • Any prohibition on payment of overtime pay to USPS officers or employees.
  • Any change that would prevent the USPS from meeting its service standards or cause a decline in measurements of performance relative to those service standards.
  • Any change that would have the effect of delaying mail, allowing for the non-delivery of mail to a delivery route, or increasing the volume of undelivered mail.

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