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Reporter Films ‘Graveyard’ Of USPS Mail Sorting Machines, Says Machines Are Still Being Dismantled

Authoritarianism

Reporter Films ‘Graveyard’ Of USPS Mail Sorting Machines, Says Machines Are Still Being Dismantled




A day after Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that he was suspending “longstanding operational initiatives” at the United States Postal Service, amid fears that the changes could delay election mail this fall in the middle of the pandemic, a local reporter in Grand Rapids, Michigan revealed the extent of the destruction DeJoy’s policy has left behind.

“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” DeJoy said in a statement Tuesday after growing bipartisan backlash. DeJoy asserted that “mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are” and that “overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.

Reporter Heather Walker of Michigan-based news station WOOD TV 8 shared a video on Wednesday showing disassembled machines sitting outside a postal facility next to a dumpster.



According to Walker, sources at the facility claim that “mail sorting machines are being dismantled” still, even though DeJoy claimed on Tuesday that any plans to take more machines offline were being put on hold.

“We are at the USPS Patterson location where behind me you can see a graveyard of mail sorting pieces. They’re just large pieces of machinery that have been yanked out. You can see some of the cords are just – they were just cut,” Walker reported.

“In addition to that, there’s also a dumpster right there and according to an employee that works across the way, they tell me that that dumpster has been filled three times since last week with parts and pieces of what we’re being told are the mail sorting machines.”




Photos obtained by ABC News show what appear to be disassembled mail sorting machines sitting in an Oregon Post Office facility after they were decommissioned last month. When asked by ABC News about the photos, a USPS spokesman said that “mail processing equipment is replaced as it becomes out-of-date… by state-of-the-art new machines.”

However, when the news outlet asked the spokesman if the machines pictured in the facility were being replaced by new machines, they declined to answer.

Documents obtained by WGBH News show a schedule to remove a total of 19 pieces of mail sorting equipment throughout Greater Boston — which includes Providence, R.I. — between the months of June and August. The documents, circulated in June, came along with letters from the Postal Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., that described the move as a response to low mail quantity.

The U.S. Postal Service has removed at least 10 automated mail-sorting machines throughout Michigan facilities this summer, lowering first-class mail-processing capacity by more than 300,000 letters per hour, postal worker union leaders told Crain’s.

At least three bar code sorting machines have been removed from the Postal Service’s Fort Street facility in Detroit, said Keith Combs, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s Detroit district.

At the USPS’s Michigan Metroplex in Pontiac, two delivery bar code sorting machines have been removed from the 900,000-square-foot facility, said Roscoe Woods, president of APWU’s Local 480-481.

In Grand Rapids, two bar code sorting machines have been removed from the facility there and there are plans to take three more, leaving 21 machines, said Amy Puhalski, president of APWU’s Western Michigan Area Local 281.

Another two machines that sort flat mail items such as magazines have been removed from the Grand Rapids facility, Puhalski said. One flat sorter in Detroit also has been removed in recent weeks, Combs said.

Each machine has the capacity to process at least 32,000 pieces of mail each hour and some are operated 20 hours per day, sorting mail into the order in which it is delivered on the street through a process at USPS known as “delivery point sequencing,” according to the union leaders.

“It will cause some delays” in mail service, Combs told Crain’s.

UPDATE: “USPS Union Rep says work on dismantling sorting machines at the downtown Grand Rapids post has now stopped,” Walker reported Wednesday afternoon.





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