USPS Refuses to Comply With Judge's Order to Allow All Overtime Before Election
The Postal Service has agreed to other measures to ensure timely delivery of ballots and other mail.
The U.S. Postal Service is refusing to unilaterally approve overtime for employees in the run up to the election after a federal judge initially ordered it to do so as part of a nationwide injunction.
USPS and attorneys representing New York City politicians and others in Jones v. USPS came to an agreement on Friday to implement the majority of the judge’s order, including reversing initiatives that have caused mail delays and prioritizing ballots for expedited delivery. They did not agree, however, on a portion of the judge’s ruling requiring the Postal Service to pre-approve overtime requests prior to the election.
Victor Marrero, the judge for the U.S. Court for the Southern District of New York on the case, had, as part of his injunction, ordered USPS to pre-approve all overtime from Oct. 26 though Nov. 6. He allowed the attorneys for both sides to come up with a specific plan to implement his injunction, but the two sides could not come to an agreement on overtime. The Postal Service appeared to take issue with the universal overtime approval mandate and has said in response to another injunction in a separate case that it instructed front-line supervisors to approve overtime requests "based on the workload."
In addition to the overtime issue, Marrero ordered USPS to treat all election mail as first-class mail for the purposes of expedited delivery, identify and take all steps necessary to restore on-time delivery to its 2020 high point, and tell employees that late and extra trips are allowed and facilitate the prompt delivery of mail. The two parties agreed to implement those parts of the order. Following the other court order in Washington state, USPS already this week sent a directive to employees that would appear to bring the agency in compliance with them.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has insisted that he never issued any agency-wide guidance calling for a reduction or elimination of overtime. Some employees at facilities around the country have reported overtime cutbacks, but USPS data show it has remained level across the organization since DeJoy took office. As they did with decisions to leave mail behind that in turn caused widespread delays, postal officials said efforts to slash overtime were based on misinterpretations of DeJoy’s policies by local supervisors.
The Postal Service and the Justice Department attorneys representing it in the case said they would file a request for the judge to modify his order on overtime. In the meantime, Marrero temporarily paused that section of his order.
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