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How Are Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's Changes Affecting Workers?

NOEL KING, HOST:

Mail-in voting will likely be a big part of this year's election. And the new leader of the U.S. Postal Service is making major changes to that agency. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is a donor to President Trump's campaign, and he made his first public remarks on Friday.

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LOUIS DEJOY: We are at the beginning of a transformative process. Our goal is to change and improve the Postal Service.

KING: He has reassigned or displaced 23 postal executives. He's changed delivery policies, banned overtime and done other things to cut costs. So what has this all meant for employees? Kimberly Karol is the president of the Iowa Postal Workers Union and a postal clerk herself in Waterloo, Iowa. Hi.

KIMBERLY KAROL: Good morning.

KING: Are you feeling these changes that are being made in Iowa?

KAROL: Yes, we are beginning to see those changes and how it is impacting the mail. Mail is beginning to pile up in our offices, and we're seeing equipment being removed. So we are beginning to see the impact of those changes.

KING: Curious - I hadn't heard about this one - equipment being removed. What equipment?

KAROL: The sorting equipment that we use to process mail for delivery. In Iowa, we are losing machines. And they already in Waterloo were losing one of those machines. So that also hinders our ability to process mail in the way that we had in the past.

KING: Sure. Sounds like it would. You've been a postal worker for 30 years? How do you feel about Louis DeJoy?

KAROL: I am not a fan. I grew up in a culture of service, where every piece was to be delivered every day. And his policies, although they've only been in place for a few weeks, are now affecting the way that we do business and not allowing us to deliver every piece every day, as we've done in the past.

KING: Do you get the impression that your feelings about him are shared broadly among postal workers? Do people agree with you?

KAROL: Yes, all across the country. We are trying to activate people all across the country and notify the public because we will - my opinion is that the PMG is trying to circumvent the rules that have been set in place to safeguard the public by making changes that don't require public comment but have the same impact as closing offices and/or changing delivery standards. And so this is a way to avoid that kind of public comment. And we're trying to make sure that the public understands that they need to make comment.

KING: Is the Postal Service equipped to handle this this upcoming election?

KAROL: Yes. Keep in mind the Postal Service has been in place for 200 years. We have a history of being able to process mail. And we've been developing and perfecting our methods for all that time. So although the postmaster general is taking actions that are starting to impact that, by having the preparation in advance of these elections, we still have the system that will do that.

KING: Last question for you real quick - the Postal Service is dealing with financial pressures. And the argument is, you know, these are cost-cutting measures. We need them. What do you say to that?

KAROL: Well, unfortunately, I don't see this as cost-saving measures. I see this as a way to undermine the public confidence in the mail service. It's not saving costs. We're spending more time trying to implement these policy changes. And it's, in our offices, costing more over time.

KING: Over time, that, we understand, is also one of the things being cut. Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers Union, thank you for your time.

KAROL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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