2 mail-sorting machines dismantled in Maine, worker says

August 19, 2020 GMT

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (AP) — Two of 10 mail-sorting machines have been removed over the past two months from the U.S. Postal Service Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center, a postal worker says.

Electronic technician Tim Doughty told WMTW-TV that he helped to dismantle one of the machines and put it into storage. The other was scrapped altogether.

Mail volume has been down during the pandemic, but Doughty said the dismantling of machines that can sort 36,000 letters an hour was shortsighted. Volume will grow with an improving economy, said Doughty, a former president of American Postal Workers Union Local 45.

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“I did ask, ‘Why can’t we just keep them, put them under a tarp, and leave them powered off?’ And I couldn’t get an answer to that from upper management,” Doughty said.

President Donald Trump’s new postmaster general has come under public pressure and a crush of state lawsuits over operational changes that critics blame for widespread delivery delays. Many worried that the changes could delay the delivery of election ballots this fall.

A Postal Service spokesman deferred to a statement from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who said Tuesday he would “suspend” several of his initiatives — including the removal of the distinctive blue mailboxes that prompted an outcry.

He said the Postal Service must make changes to ensure long-term success but also said the Postal Service is “ready, willing and able” to meet the challenge of delivering election ballots.

Doughty disagrees with the notion that the Postal Service should be run like a for-profit business.

“The postal service is a service. It’s not a business. No business in their right mind would charge 55 cents to mail a letter to Fort Kent, Maine. I mean it’s financially not feasible,” he said.