Changes in the postal service are starting to show here in Connecticut. In Wallingford at one of the state’s three distribution processing centers, workers are feeling a big impact on federal mandates.
“Within the last few weeks we’ve had two pieces of our processing machinery taken out there,” said Joan Levy, president of the Greater Connecticut Area Local affiliate of the American Postal Workers Union AFL-CIO.
“From the time I started with the postal service, our directive was ‘every piece every day,’” said Levy.
Now, removing processing machines, cutting back on overtime and sending trucks out without waiting for hand-sorted mail are all impacting how the 245-year-old service is operating.
In New Haven, Levy says some pieces of mail are backed up from July 27, still waiting to be processed. Whatever can’t go through the remaining machines must be sorted by hand later in the day.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Levy. “I was a postal employee for 28 years, and I’ve never seen delayed mail like that.”
She says almost 90% of medicine sent from the VA goes through the postal service. The changes made in the last two weeks could soon have a ripple effect on veterans.
“Our veterans are going to be suffering if the mail is not getting to them on time,” said Levy.
Keith Wylie is one veteran who hasn’t seen a delay yet but is keeping a close eye on the mail for his medications.
“I’d be in a world of hurt because my blood pressure and my insulin,” explained Wylie, who says his mother is concerned about veterans and those who are home who depend on postal service deliveries.
Matthew Peterson is the owner of Homewatch Caregivers in New Haven, which works with the senior community. While he hasn’t heard of any impact yet, there’s fear among the senior community that it could be on the way.
“Their social security check may be direct deposited, but if there’s an issue, again with things like Medicare and Medicaid they’re reliant on that piece of paper,” said Peterson.
Seniors are more likely to file by mail for those types of services. Not only that but because of the pandemic, he says many look forward to magazines and greeting cards while their socially distant.
“It makes a big difference to aunt Mae if she gets her card on her birthday or four days after her birthday,” said Peterson. “It’s a little thing but it can mean a lot to someone who’s isolated and shut in.”
They are doing their best to keep up despite being slowed by COVID-19 and new mandates. Although the delays are building up for not only seniors and veterans, but workers as well. Recently paychecks out of North Haven were delayed at a time when people need them most.
“It took one week to get from North Haven to Wallingford so that’s a scary thought to me, as far as what does it mean for ballots,” said Levy. She says they didn’t see ballot delays with the recent primary election.
The union hopes upcoming emergency federal legislation could offer the funding they need to get back on track for all postal customers across the country.
“It shouldn’t be political,” said Wylie. “They’re supposed to take care of the people, you know? People come first.”