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September 28, 2020 11:45 AM, EDT

DeJoy Says Postal Workers Could Abuse Election Overtime Order

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House committee hearing on Aug. 24.Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Aug. 24.

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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 Sept. 26 weekend, lawyers for DeJoy, 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 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 rollout of major operational changes that led to nationwide delays in delivery. Marrero’s order was intended to help ensure USPS can meet an expected record surge in mail-in ballots across the U.S. due to the coronavirus pandemic.

USPS, DeJoy and Trump said in their Sept. 26 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 with the court Sept. 27, 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 10-day limitation of the order.”

USPS also is seeking to amend an injunction against DeJoy’s operational changes that was issued in a parallel case in Yakima, Wash. 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.

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