Officials seek answers on GR postal service concerns

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Target 8 is working to learn more on what’s happening at our local post office in downtown Grand Rapids as we get closer to an election that will set records for absentee voting. 

The downtown facility distributes mail for residents across West Michigan.

Congressman Bill Huizenga said last week that no machines are missing, and everything is running well. However, that information contradicts what Target 8 heard from internal sources.

News 8 received internal documents and heard from several witnesses that say machines were removed. On Monday, Target 8 spoke with the congressman to try to learn why two different stories are being told.

“I want to know (the truth), too,” Huizenga said. 

Huizenga went on Facebook after touring the downtown Grand Rapids post office on Friday.

“They gave me the insurance that not a single piece of machinery has been dismantled or left the building and they have had zero decline in their capacity, their ability to process that million in a half pieces of mail every day. So, when I say that this is a manufactured crisis and it’s a political wedge issue, that’s why I say that,” said Huizenga on a Facebook video. 

Following his Facebook post, the union president for our local post office employees, Amy Puhalski responded, “I work in the downtown facility. (Through) My office door, I can see the machines that they are pulling apart.”

A document provided by a union employee showing the removal of mail sorting machines in downtown Grand Rapids.

Confirming our original report being accurate, Puhalski showed News 8 and document of one machine removed on July 18 from the downtown location and a second on Aug. 3, adding that a third machine was in the process of being removed last week.

Puhalski tells Target 8 it was part of a directive from Washington to remove five of the 25 bar code sorters in Grand Rapids. She says one of the remaining sorters was extended but not enough to make up for the losses. She also says two other pieces of equipment used during peak mail times were removed in July.

Target 8 asked Huizenga if the documentation and the statements from the Union president changed anything for him. 

“What I stand behind is what I was told by the three leaders, including the person that is in charge of the facility, that when I asked about the time frame of the last 30 days, because that’s really been the focus, was there any actual equipment that’s been removed and has there been a diminishing of capability or capacity. And the answer to both of those that I received from them was ‘no.’ So, after your reports or other reports we’re circling back with them. I want to give them that same opportunity to clarify,” Huizenga said. 

This weekend, House lawmakers passed a bill to reverse changes at the post office and surge $25 billion to the postal service.  

Huizenga voted against the bill.