WZZM ABC 13 Grand Rapids: Sen. Gary Peters wants answers from USPS, concerned about GR sorting machine dismantling

Peters is preparing for an oversight hearing with US Postmaster General DeJoy Friday.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Images of broken pieces of machinery outside the Grand Rapids Post Office on Patterson Avenue sparked many questions Wednesday. This came a day after US Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced a pause on new initiatives, such as removing sorting equipment from post offices. 

13 ON YOUR SIDE is working to find out when the sorting machine was taken apart. We also do not know if its removal was due to changes within the postal service, or if the machine was broken. The president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 281, Amy Puhalski, said the machine was used to sort flat mail, such as magazines, and not intended for letters or ballots. 

"I was very concerned as soon as I saw these pictures," said Senator Gary Peters - (D) Michigan, "I was concerned. Here we are in a situation where I have folks all across the state of Michigan complaining mail is not getting to them as they are used to."

13 ON YOUR SIDE reached out to the United States Postal Service (USPS) for details about the machine parts in Grand Rapids. A spokesperson could not confirm or explain the situation any further. Instead, she referred us back to DeJoy's statement on Tuesday, calling for a pause in initiatives until after the election. 

Peters is preparing for an oversight hearing with DeJoy Friday, August 21, at 9 a.m. Peters has been vocal against changes within the postal service since DeJoy's appointment. 

"I am pleased he's put a pause," said Peters, "but our questions now are: To what extend are the full scope of that pause? Are there some things that he's not pausing, that we need to know? What's actually going to be paused? He's talking about sorting machines, he's not going to be removing those, but will he be replacing those that were pulled out?"

Puhalski told 13 ON YOUR SIDE Monday three letter sorters and two flat sorters were removed from the Grand Rapids processing facility. She had heard at the time five more were slated for removal. She had not heard of any mail collection box removals in West Michigan. 

Peters launched an investigation into the changes within the USPS this summer. He told 13 ON YOUR SIDE today he has heard from more than 7,500 Michiganders with detailed stories of delayed mail. 

"I’m very concerned about the lack of transparency with the Postal Service and this administration and this Postmaster General," said Peters, "It's difficult to get information. It’s difficult for us, and I’m in the official capacity of the oversight from the US Senate. That should not occur. The American people, folks in Michigan, need to know what’s happening in the postal service, because it affects their life in a direct way."

By:  Alana Holland
Source: WZZM ABC 13 Grand Rapids