The Portland, Maine, postal service has a big problem that stinks of corruption: Postal workers there say Postmaster James Thornton is forcing them to prioritize the delivery of Amazon packages, making them delay delivery of first-class and priority mail. This has implications for how the Postal Service is operating around the country and what it means to have Donald Trump's pick as new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, a political crony and big donor who has already been accused by Postal Service workers of slowing down deliveries.
Perhaps to score points with his new boss, DeJoy, “Thornton is willfully delaying thousands of first-class and priority parcels so that fourth-class Amazon parcels can go out for delivery instead,” according to the complaint to the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General, filed on July 13. The Portland Press Herald received a copy of the complaint filed by Mark Seitz, the president of the Maine State Association of Letter Carriers and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Local 92 and a 16-year Postal Service veteran.
Two other letter carriers corroborated his allegations, but asked the paper to keep them anonymous out of fear of retribution. Federal law makes willfully delaying the mail a criminal offense. Seitz listed three days, June 29, July 6, and July 13 as days when Thornton made his order. They are all Mondays, when mail is particularly heavy. The other carriers say it has happened more frequently.
Three of the postal workers who work out of the Portland office say that enough mail to fill several 4-by-5-foot bins has been left overnight, undelivered in each of five of the Postal Service's area units, and that this has happened multiple days per week. They estimate that as many as 2,000 first-class and priority packages were delivered later every time this happened. That includes medications and paychecks, they say, along with other first-class pieces. They don't know why Amazon has been prioritized, but it has. “We’ve even been told, at times, ‘I want everybody back in the office by seven, so make sure you deliver all the Amazon parcels, and if you can’t finish, then bring everything else back, but Amazon must go,'” Seitz said.
Trump's postmaster general and at least one postmaster are willfully interfering with the mail, presumably on behalf of a private company, coming one step closer to the ultimate goal of conservatives to either destroy the Postal Service or totally privatize it. Sen. Angus King, the Maine independent, is looking into the allegations. In May, he wrote an op-ed reiterating “the USPS isn’t a business—it’s a public service, designed to facilitate commerce in every corner of our country. Its goal isn’t to make profits, but rather to facilitate universal communication and give businesses across the country the opportunity to succeed.”
The Postal Service can't be left to the devices of these corrupt leaders, particularly in the middle of this pandemic and with vote-by-mail becoming the answer to conducting an election during it. The HEROES Act passed by the House in May has $25 billion in financial relief for the Postal Service, which would at least help it survive the Trump administration. That's about one-third of what the Postal Service board of governors has said they need to respond in this crisis.