TUCSON (KVOA) – In a letter Tuesday morning, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he is suspending cost-cutting measures at the United States Postal Service until after this fall’s presidential election.
About a dozen postal workers in Tucson were joined by Rep. Raul Grijalva Tuesday at the post office station on Silverbell Road, on the west side. The workers spoke out against the changes some already taking place at post offices in Southern Arizona.
Michael Moriconi, the president of the American Postal Workers Union local chapter tells News 4 Tucson, several processing machines at the main Tucson processing center on Cherrybell are already disconnected. He’s unsure if they’ll go back into service.
“We’re in the process of losing four mail processing machines that processes between 10,000 and 30,00 pieces of mail per hour,” Moriconi said. “With the reduction in those services, it’s going to affect your delivery times on everything from letters, flats to parcels to everything else. It’s an unprecedented type of move. I’ve worked for the post office for 16 years and never seen anything like it.”
“I’m worried,” employee Elizabeth Fuller said. “I’m very worried about our ability to process the mail. At the moment, it’s a little low and it’s normal for us at the moment but it’s going to get heavier. We’re afraid we won’t be able to get it all out on time.”
Rep. Grijalva, the Democrat from Tucson, argues it is critical to fund this essential service with a presidential election during a pandemic getting closer.
“Over 80 million people are predicted to vote by mail in this country this year,” Grijalva said. “Sixty to 70 percent in Pima County. The Founding Fathers wanted this to be a service, to connect the American people and to be an essential service. It is not a business.”
“We had people that tested positive in offices, we still showed up to work at those offices,” Moriconi said. “We’ve had people that have passed away from COVID locally that work for the post office. We’ve shown the dedication and the merit to come to work every single day and we deserve the respect from our elected officials to make sure that continues to happen.”
Even with the letter from Postmaster General DeJoy, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday afternoon she will go forward with calling the House back from its recess on Saturday. The lower chamber will vote on a bill that would inject $25 billion into the post office and stops any changes made to the U.S. Postal Service before Jan. 1, 2020.
If that bill passes, it will move onto the Senate.
Arizona State Senate President Karen Fann, a Republican along with GOP Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers released this statement concerning the U.S. Postal Service and the upcoming election:
“With panicked reporting from the media and politically-aimed accusations coming from Arizona’s Secretary of State, it’s understandable that some voters in the state might have concerns over the delivery of their ballots by Election Day.”
We want to make it very clear that the U.S. Postal Service in Arizona has done an effective job of delivering early ballots and will continue to do so. The main postal facility in Phoenix, which processes all mail in the state, currently handles 9 million pieces of mail each day but is capable of handling up to 11.5 million pieces daily. Because of this, we are confident that any additional volume related to early voting and absentee ballots will be properly managed and delivered in a timely manner.
Counties will begin mailing ballots on October 7.
Voters must mail their ballots by Tuesday, October 27, or sooner, to give ample time for it to be delivered and counted in the November 3 General Election.
After October 27, voters can drop off their ballots at any ballot drop-box, drop-off location, early voting location, or Election Day voting location in their counties on or before Election Day.
Voters who choose not to vote by mail this year can vote in person on November 3. Despite, the rumors and rhetoric out there today, every vote will count.”