The fight for mail comes to West Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — It has become a hot topic as funding for the U.S. Postal Service passed by the House is stalled in the Senate as the White House accuses the post office of being part of a plan to increase mail-in voting, which Donald Trump has criticized, without evidence, as being less safe than in-person voting.

Dave Staiger has been a rural postal carrier in the Kalamazoo County area for four years. It’s a job he enjoys and one that he considers an essential service for which people are grateful.

“It feels more like a mission than just a job or a business and that’s what I think would be lost,”” Staiger said Thursday.

So, it has been troubling for many to hear the rhetoric coming from the White House.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump explicitly linked his intention to stall funding for the post office with his war against mail-in voting.

Michigan’s junior Sen. Gary Peters has been sounding the alarm and investigating what is happening at the Postal Service under a new postmaster general who is making changes that many find troubling.

“I’m hearing complaints from constituents across the state and I’m hearing from the men and women who work in our post offices that policies are being put in place that slow down the mail,” Peters said Monday in a press conference. Policies that they’ve never had to follow in the past because they’ve always focused on the number one goal, which was get the mail out every day and deliver it, whatever it takes to get it out.”

USPS is mandated to deliver to every person to the last mile. That includes the most rural, remote and hard-to-reach areas that Amazon and private carriers will not serve because it’s not profitable.

Staiger says he sees the impact of policies that are coming from the new U.S. postmaster that have had negative impacts on the speed and efficiency of the post office, which was already struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said now there are seemingly arbitrary deadlines that mean mail is left at the post office that normally would have been delivered.

“I hope that that isn’t a way to sabotage the institution, so that then you can come in and say, ‘look it’s broke, we need to privatize it,’” Staiger said.

There are also reports that sorting equipment is being removed from post offices, which is also slowing the mail.

News 8 reached out to Deputy Postmaster General David Partenheimer in Washington and received this response via e-mail:

“The Postal Service routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes. Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline. Adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes will ensure more efficient, cost effective operations and better service for our customers.”

Staiger said he hopes that people are willing to fight to maintain the USPS.

“I get a lot of customers saying we appreciate what you do. That’s great and I appreciate that, but it means even more if they can act and use their voice to speak out for what they like,” Staiger said.