By Ted Scouten

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Union postal workers along with the AFL-CIO protested outside the downtown Miami post office on Tuesday.

“U.S. mail is not for sale! U.S. mail is not for sale!” the workers chanted.

They’re angry about changes made by recently appointed Postmaster General and Republican mega donor Louis DeJoy.

“They’re cutting hours with a pandemic going on. Are you kidding me?” said postal clerk Gabriel Real.

“From the moment he came on board, he rolled out plans to delay the mail, curtail hours, stop overtime and stop the reliable affordable delivery we give every day,” said Wanda Harris. “He came in and turned it upside down.”

Harris is president of the Miami chapter of the American Postal Workers Union. She said here in South Florida, just like we’ve seen in other parts of the country, mail sorting machines are being yanked.

“We’ve lost seven out of our main plant which is the general mail facility,” she said.

The post office explains that, saying,” Letter sorting and flat machines are only being used for about one-third…of their available machine hours. There is ample machine capacity to handle spikes in mail volume.”

“What’s going on is Trump is messing with our post office,” said Rep. Donna Shalala.

Shalala and Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell joined the protest. They blame the president, saying he’s trying to undercut confidence in vote by mail for political gain.

The post office response, “The postal service has more than enough capacity to handle election mail volume.”

According to the union, overtime is cut way back. They call it “8 and out,” which coupled with many employees out for things related to the coronavirus is having an impact.

“By him delaying it, telling us ‘8 and out,’ that’s it, the mail sits on the docks, sits at the stations and it doesn’t get out,” said Robert Miranda, the vice president of the postal workers union.

Postal officials said they’re in a financially dire position, adding that thousands of employees make more in overtime than base pay and that “necessary reform efforts will being after the election.”

As for business owners, the delay in mail has been “a little bit frustrating” for some like Araceli Velasquez.

Velasquez relies on the post office to deliver packages to her clients. She said delivery has been slow.

“People are expecting their orders in three to five days,” she said. “And recently, because of the post office, people have gotten their orders not even five to seven days, more like 10 to 14 days.”

A $25 billion package to fund the U.S. Postal Service, as well as reverse the recent changes, has passed the House. It’s now over at the Senate, waiting to see what will happen there.

Ted Scouten

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