Local Postal Workers Question Dismantling of Mail Sorting Machines

A picture from a postal worker obtained by NBC News showed mail equipment that has been taken apart. Workers say it's been going on since last month and no one has said why.

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Members of the Dallas Area American Postal Workers Union held a protest outside the main post office in Dallas off Interstate 30 Tuesday morning.

Some held signs that said, "save the post office" as they pushed for the U.S. Senate to approve a $25 billion emergency fund and reverse recent operational changes which have been attributed to delays in mail service.

"Most people trying to make it political with the elections, we’re not into that, this is not about Republican or Democrat, we want to save the public postal service," said Yared Wonde, president of the Dallas Texas Area Local APWU. "That’s why we encourage everyone to support this bill."

He said while what's happening in Washington is top of mind for him, he also has questions about sorting machines that were recently removed.

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A picture from a postal worker obtained by NBC News showed mail equipment that has been taken apart. Workers say it's been going on since last month and no one has said why.

"Here in the Dallas plant, they removed a few machines, four, they tried to put it back, but they were informed yesterday they cannot, they’re gone," Wonde said.

He said four machines from the Dallas plant and eight machines from Coppell were taken apart. Wonde said typically each machine takes two people to operate and the equipment can process around 36,000 pieces of mail per hour.

“May not be impacted right away, but in the long term it will, when you reduce the mail, you reduce the staff as well, but the immediate effect has not been so," he said. "We’ll wait until after the election to see the general impact on the postal service, but however right now, the immediate relief from the Senate, that’s what we’re waiting for."

Others, like Katina Range, who is also a member of the union, said she works at the Coppell distribution center and has seen the machinery taken apart between July and August.

"It just came over as talk that they were taking out machines and then one day we came in and they started taking machines out," Range said.

The U.S. Postal Service has been under the spotlight recently after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy made changes to operations in an effort to cut costs. It included things like removing postal boxes and reducing post office hours.

Critics have questioned the timing and said they were concerned the delays in mail service could impact mail-in ballots for the November election.

In a series of statements, the United States Postal Service said it had more than enough capacity to handle election mail volume. USPS also said that machines for flats and letters are only used one-third of the available time.

"The Postal Service has always evaluated use of its equipment. Resources match volume requirements. Letter sorting and flat machines are only being used for about one-third, 32 and 38 percent, respectively, of their available machine hours. There is ample machine capacity to handle spikes in mail volume.

"While he did not initiate the evaluation or removal of this equipment, Postmaster General DeJoy has given the directive to stop the removal of additional mail processing machines through the election."

Advocates for seniors said the concerns with the recent delays go beyond the election but come down to people receiving their medications.

"Our seniors, all of us, are being impacted by the change in postal service. People are not getting their prescription medicines, they’re not getting their checks and so we are supporting postal workers because people need their meds and their checks," said Judy Bryant, a field organizer for Texas Alliance for Retired Americans

On Saturday the House passed an emergency bill to fund $25 billion for the postal service, it still has to go before the Senate.

DeJoy testified before the House Oversight Committee on Monday about the recent delays and changes.

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