Floridians will suffer from a defunded Postal Service, union head says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A new report Friday says the U.S. Postal Service sent out letters to 46 states and the District of Columbia — warning them they can not guarantee all ballots cast by mail will arrive on time for the November election.

The president of the Florida State Association of Letter Carriers sees funding as the major issue here and says it shouldn’t be politicized.

“I don’t want to play partisan politics,” Al Friedman says. “We just want to service America.”

A post office worker for four decades, Friedman says what President Donald Trump said about defunding the Postal Service was disheartening and could have a larger negative impact on the American people.

“We delivered in 2019 1.2 billion prescription drugs to your house,” he said. “Probably 90% of that was VA medication coming to veterans.”

Trump admitted Thursday that he’s holding back money needed by the U.S. Postal Service in order to make it tougher to process an expected surge of mail-in ballots, which he worries could cost him the election.

Though Trump casts his own ballots by mail, he’s vigorously criticized efforts to allow more people to do so, which he argues without evidence will lead to increased voter fraud.

“You’re now taking it out on the Postal Service when it’s the states themselves that want to set up vote by mail,” Friedman said.

The warning letters sent to states and obtained by the Washington Post raise the possibility that tens of millions of Americans eligible for mail-in ballots this fall will not be able to use them — even if they follow election rules.

Like many industries, this 245-year-old American institution has been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Approximately 20% of its workforce is out, either under quarantine or sick with the virus.

This has created a need for more overtime for carriers who sometimes have to work into the night. Hence, Friedman says, the need for stimulus money which they didn’t get last time around.

“FedEx, UPS, hotels, airlines, majors industries, major corporations [got that money] but not the postal service,” Friedman said.

The board of governors, appointed by the president, recommends a $25 billion stimulus.

The new postmaster general, also appointed by Trump, has been on the defensive.

“While I certainly have a good relationship with the President of the United States, the notion that I would ever make decisions concerning the Postal Service at the direction of the president, or anyone else in the administration, is wholly off-base,” said Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general and CEO.

He says the Postal Service needs reform, which Congress has long delayed.

“The Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with [fiscal year] 2019 approaching $9 billion and 2020 closing in on $11 billion in losses,” DeJoy said.

More information on voting by mail, and other election resources, can be found in our Local 10 Vote 2020 Guide.

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