Some mail-processing plants in Washington state are reconnecting their high-speed letter-sorting machines again, despite a national order from U.S. Postal Service headquarters not to reinstall the machines that had been dismantled over the past month.
In defiance of the order, the Postal Service plants in Tacoma and Wenatchee have done just that, local NPR station KUOW reported, citing USPS employees.
As noted by the station, “forty percent of the letter-sorting machines in the Seattle-Tacoma area had been disconnected by Tuesday, when the Postal Service announced a halt to a nationwide machinery purge until after the November election.”
“I have seen a lot of machinery that has been taken out,” Postal Service truck driver Bob Bockman of Tacoma said.
The Tacoma plant lost eight of its 18 machines that sort and postmark the mail, according to workers there. The equipment was disconnected and pushed into a corner.
“Some of that machinery is going back in!” Bockman said.
By Wednesday night, five of the machines in Tacoma had been reconnected. Parts of two others had been scavenged and incorporated into the plant’s existing machines to boost their mail-sorting capacity.
The mail-processing plant in Wenatchee has also reconnected its one recently disconnected letter sorter, workers told the station.
A regional manager on Tuesday had ordered the Tacoma and Wenatchee plants to get their machines ready to run again as soon as possible, using overtime if necessary, according to the report.
The news comes less than a day after Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told Michigan Democratic Sen. Gary Peters during a Senate hearing that he had no intention of reinstalling the dismantled machines.
“They are not needed, sir,” DeJoy said.
DeJoy acknowledged that mail deliveries have slowed, but he attributed most of the slowdown to the Covid-19 pandemic.