Postal workers and supporters across the United States held rallies Saturday to demand that recent rollbacks in postal service be halted and reversed before the upcoming presidential election.
The rallies were held on the same day the House convened a rare Saturday session, with Democrats pushing forward legislation that would give the United States Postal Service billions of dollars in emergency aid.
One of the rallies was held in Chicago, and drew numerous postal workers and supporters of the USPS.
“Stopping the rollback now isn’t enough,” Vanessa Uribe, president of the 22nd Ward IPO, said. “We need to go back and put things back to where they were.”
Reports have flooded in from around the U.S. about sorting machines being taken offline and the service’s iconic blue mailboxes being moved and removed from areas, along with many other operational changes that some have argued are meant to sabotage the upcoming election.
“When you pull tricks like this, the people who are impacted the most are black and brown communities, per usual,” Cook County Commissioner Dennis Deer said.
The moves are seen as a way to curtail accessibility to mail-in voting, which many voters have sought out as the coronavirus pandemic continues throughout the country.
Postmaster General Luis DeJoy has disputed the arguments. Earlier this week he announced he would halt rollbacks until after the November election, which is expected to see a record number of mail-in ballots due to fears of in-person voting during the pandemic.
“We are fully capable and committed to delivering ballots securely and on time,” DeJoy said.
Some Republicans are pushing back on the House bill, which would pump $25 billion into the postal service, along with barring restrictions on overtime and preventing the removal of critical equipment.
“(They’re arguing) ‘we don’t trust the person who heads this, but we’re going to give him $25 billion,’” Rep. Tom Tole (R-Oklahoma) said. “Do we need that money? Absolutely not.”
Illinois Congressional candidate Marie Newman called on residents to push back against the changes at the postal service.
“The post office is your home,” she said. “Protect it like it’s your home.”
Even if the legislation passes the House, it is not expected to make it through the Republican-controlled Senate. President Donald Trump, who has faced criticism over the decisions of the Postmaster General, has already vowed to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.