Postal workers in Maine largely dismissed congressional testimony Monday by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and said mail delays attributed to changes in the U.S. Postal Service could be solved by hiring more mail carriers and other employees.

DeJoy, who testified for six hours before the House Oversight Committee, denied that recent changes made at the Postal Service are linked to the November elections. President Trump has attacked the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which are likely to be heavily used because of the pandemic. DeJoy has been a donor to Trump’s re-election campaign.

John Graham, vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, Local 92 in Maine said the mail delays could easily be solved by hiring more letter carriers and postal workers. Local 92 represents about 680 postal carriers in a region stretching from Lincoln to Kittery and inland to Bridgton.

“We are so understaffed,” Graham said. “For the actual work to get done, all he would have to do is hire more people.”

Graham, a letter carrier in Portland who has worked for the Postal Service for 18 years, said he has been working 60-hour weeks for years to make up for the staffing shortfalls. Graham said he and other letter carriers are focused on making sure the mail is delivered on time.

“Put a task in front of us and we’ll get it done. Just get out of our way,” Graham said.

Graham also assured Mainers that the Postal Service is prepared to handle a surge in mail-in ballots this November, which he compared to the mail rush around Christmas.

“We’re still delivering the mail. It’s not going away,” Graham said. “There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that we can handle a surge in balloting.”

Already, there have been mail delays in Maine related to changes in USPS policies under DeJoy. This month, more than 80,000 pieces of mail were delivered late from the Southern Maine Processing and Distribution Center in Scarborough when trucks failed to wait an extra 10 minutes for the mail to be sorted. And Maine farmers who regularly order live chicks through the postal service said many of the chicks they’ve ordered recently are arriving dead because they were apparently mishandled, leading to large financial losses.

Scott Adams, general president of the American Postal Workers Union, Local 458, in Maine, blamed DeJoy for the late deliveries.

“The malicious compliance to DeJoy’s orders led to those delays,” Adams wrote in an email. “He is culpable for the atmosphere that he created at the Headquarters level, his ‘restructuring’ without research, and any actions that coincide with President Trump’s Task Force initiatives that will destroy the Postal Service as we know it, and as our predecessors for over 200 years have known it.”

Adams criticized DeJoy, the Trump administration and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who Adams says want to cut postal service costs by reducing delivery days and labor costs.

“I find it difficult to separate the connections of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy with President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin regarding any policy changes with the United States Postal Service,” Adams said.

Adams praised Americans for speaking up about mail delays, which he said forced DeJoy to put his initiatives on hold.

On Aug. 14, the Postal Service warned 46 states – including Maine – that it could not guarantee timely delivery of absentee ballots in the November election, and it urged some states to change deadlines for ballot requests or take other steps to provide more delivery time.

Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey on Friday joined Democratic attorneys general in six more states and the District of Columbia in filing a lawsuit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy alleging the changes he has made in postal service operations undermines mail-in voting.

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