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Warner Wants Pandemic Aid to Postal Service

Virginia’s senior senator, Mark Warner, is calling on lawmakers to support more funding for the postal service at a time when the new postmaster general wants to cut overtime and office hours.

With the COVID pandemic, police misconduct and a presidential campaign taking center stage, you might have missed the news about the U.S. post office.  President Trump appointed a political donor with no postal experience to head the operation, and in June he called for an end to overtime.  That upset the head of the postal workers union – Mark Dimondstein – who says overtime is essential.

“One is it deals with the seasonal fluctuations," he explains. "During the holiday season there’s a lot more overtime, or it’s a way that the post office doesn’t properly hire and staff the postal service, and therefore they have to run on overtime.”

If mail sorters and carriers can’t work those extra hours, he predicts long delays in service that could undermine public trust.

“You make it so it doesn’t work, and people end up giving up on it, and being open to trying something else,” Dimondstein says. 

Already, he adds, mail volume is down 30% due to the pandemic, and Congress should provide some emergency support. Virginia’s Senator Mark Warner agrees.

“Think about how many people now are reluctant to go to the pharmacy and get their drugs and other essential items delivered by the postal service," he said on NPR's 1A.

He and Dimondstein also express concern about service during the November election when many people may opt to vote by mail. 

Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief