DeJoy Says USPS Workers Could Abuse Election Overtime Order
(Bloomberg) -- Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a judge that a court order directing the U.S. Postal Service to reinstate overtime to ensure speedy delivery of mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election could be abused by workers.
In a filing over the weekend, lawyers for DeJoy, the USPS and President Donald Trump asked U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in Manhattan to amend his Sept. 21 injunction to give the agency more discretion in approving overtime. The order currently requires the USPS to automatically grant overtime for the 10 days surrounding the election.
The injunction was issued in a case brought by a group of voters and political candidates who accuse DeJoy and Trump of trying to hobble the agency with a roll-out of major operational changes that led to nationwide delays in delivery. Marrero’s order was intended to help ensure the USPS can meet an expected record surge in mail-in ballots across the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The USPS, DeJoy and Trump said in their Saturday filing that the court’s order “could be construed in ways that require the approval of overtime unrelated to election mail, impose impracticable administrative and financial burdens on the Postal Service, and create confusion amongst its employees and managers.”
In a response filed Sunday, the plaintiffs said DeJoy’s claim about potential overtime waste relies “on a series of wild speculations,” including “that significant numbers of the dedicated workers at the Postal Service will, essentially, engage in mass fraud.” They called the concern “almost laughable given the ten-day limitation of the order.”
The USPS is also seeking to amend an injunction against it issued in a parallel case in Yakima, Washington. The agency wants the court order to acknowledge that high-speed mail sorting machines DeJoy ordered dismantled can’t be reassembled because they were stripped for parts.
On Monday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania became the fourth to issue a nationwide injunction against the USPS over DeJoy’s operational changes. The ruling came in a suit filed by six Democratic state attorneys general and the District of Columbia.
U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh said USPS service “dropped precipitously” after DeJoy began his tenure this year, and that the states’ administration of the upcoming election “has been and will continue to be frustrated as a result of mail delays.”
The judge also said he was “troubled” by “what appears to be a strategic effort by defendants to limit the court’s understanding of the significant degree to which some top officials of the Postal Service were directly involved in the operational changes that went into effect in July.”
Even so, McHugh said it was too early to determine whether DeJoy and Trump had intentionally tried to undermine the election.
“At this stage in the case and with minimal formal discovery, any such conclusion is premature,” the judge said.
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