WASHINGTON, Nov. 1 – Following the closure of the Montpelier Post Office, which was caused by the devastating summer flooding in Vermont, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.) on Tuesday sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy regarding the unacceptable response by the United States Postal Service (USPS) to serious worker safety concerns – including a lack of heat – and service disruptions.
“Since July, the Montpelier Post Office has been operating out of a series of temporary locations, which most recently consisted of two mobile units positioned on River Street in Montpelier. Despite messaging to the contrary, these mobile units remain inoperable, with no power to sustain air conditioning in the summer, heat in cold fall temperatures, or lighting needed to work inside,” wrote the Vermont Delegation. “While these mobile units have been completely unacceptable in terms of providing a safe workplace for your postal employees, they allowed for continued service needed by Montpelier residents. Now, your agency intends to close these temporary mobile units by the end of this week with no stated plan to reopen services in Montpelier. This abandonment of your employees and customers is completely unacceptable and must be rectified immediately.”
Sanders, Welch, and Balint continued: “While these requests today center around the immediate crisis of the planned closure of the temporary location in Montpelier, our concerns do not end there. People are already suffering from so many other unavoidable tragedies stemming from Vermont’s summer flooding. We urge you to take the necessary steps to restore Vermonters’ faith in your agency and the critical federal government services you provide.”
The Delegation called on DeJoy to provide workers in Montpelier – as well as post office box owners/holders, retail customers, municipal leadership, and the Delegation – with a firm timeline for reopening services in Montpelier that are safe, heated, electrified, and indoors by Friday, November 3. They also called for the immediate notification of USPS employees of their options to be placed on paid administrative leave, reassigned to nearby post offices, or otherwise made whole; and that the retail and post office box operations in Montpelier be reopened no later than Monday, November 13 in a temporary location agreed upon with the American Postal Workers Union.
Sanders, Welch, and Balint also called on DeJoy to address the ongoing failure of his leadership under which Vermont has seen the intentional undermining and deterioration of service as well as the demoralization of postal workers.
“The problems in Montpelier reflect a failure of national management that has become a pattern in our state,” the Delegation wrote. “For years, the Postal Service has left many of our rural communities unheard and underserved. We have consistently expressed our concerns over ongoing staffing shortages and extreme mail delays across Vermont, as well as the lack of proper resources for the USPS sorting facility in White River Junction.”
“Under your leadership, we have seen a persistent deterioration of USPS service and an intentional undermining of the very mission of your agency, which has demoralized your workforce and undermined Americans’ faith in your ability to meet their most basic needs. The City of Montpelier, the State of Vermont, and the United States as a whole need a functioning Postal Service.”
Read the full letter here.