The Lehigh Valley is just one of the places in the country where letter-sorting machines are being removed from United States Postal Service facilities.

A union representative in the Valley says removing the machines, along with other recent USPS directives such as cutting overtime, will slow down delivery times.

Andy Kubat is the president of Lehigh Valley Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union, and represents about 560 clerks, truck drivers, mechanics and other workers in the Lehigh Valley and the Poconos.

He says three letter-sorting machines have been removed, or are in the process of being disassembled or removed, from a processing plant in Bethlehem Township.

"We have some machines that were removed or are being removed from this facility. We still have machines inside the facility, but again, we're going to have to consolidate some of those operations," Kubat said.

The machines are being removed in facilities all over the country, Kubat said.

He says he's heard from customers that mail delivery is getting delayed for days, which goes against the ideal that earned the postal service a 91% approval rating among its customers.

"We used to have a motto like every piece every day, no mail left behind and the carriers, the clerks, the rest of the postal workers are doing the best job they can to make that happen," Kubat said.

The Postal Service said in a statement that it "routinely moves equipment around its network as necessary to match changing mail and package volumes. Package volume is up, but mail volume continues to decline. Adapting our processing infrastructure to the current volumes will ensure more efficient, cost effective operations and better service for our customers."

Kubat says he believes it could be happening for a number of reasons, and money is certainly one of them. 

"There's a lot of talk about the post office is losing money, but you don't recover by cutting services and slowing down your product," Kubat said.

As the processing plant removes letter-sorting machines, the worker's union promises to do whatever is needed to provide prompt and efficient service to the public.

USPS says delays may mean some votes may not be counted. President Trump says he plans to block additional postal service funding and make it harder to process an expected surge in ballots that he worries could cost him reelection. He blames Democrats for not agreeing to a new coronavirus aid deal.

"The Democrats are sabotaging the Post Office because they're not approving $25 billion that was requested. So they're sabotaging the Post Office and they're not allowing the Post Office to function properly," Trump said.

CNN reports the Post Office Inspector General is now involved. This, as the new Postmaster General could be questioned for his methods of restructuring and whether the changes comply with federal ethics rules.

Locally, Kubat says he believes there should be postal reform, but will continue to encourage workers to do what they do best.

"We would like to protect the service for the people. It's the peoples' Post Office," Kubat said.

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