'The US Postal Service matters': Milwaukee protesters rally ahead of U.S. House vote

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Local labor and community organizations are showing their support for the post office and condemning actions of the president's administration.

With 73 days until the November election, protesters gathered outside a downtown post near St. Paul and Fourth Street office to deliver a message to the federal government: "Save the Post Office and VA." They rallied in effort to raise awareness about the need for USPS to run smoothly so that absentee ballots can be sent and received on time before Election Day.

"We have to help them understand that your vote matters. We have to help them understand that the US Postal Service matters," said Greg Lewis, executive director of Souls to the Polls.

The protesters' rally comes the same day members of the U.S. House voted on legislation to allocate $25 billion to the US Postal Service and ban operational changes that have slowed mail service.

Gordon Skare retired after being a letter carrier in Milwaukee for more than 20 years, a job he says he enjoyed doing. But he worries about the direction in which USPS is headed.

"They're going to destroy a service that everyone relies on that goes everywhere in the country," Skare said.

United States Postmaster General Louis DeJoy removed hundreds of mail sorting machines and implemented other changes he said are meant to cut costs. On Friday, he told the U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee that the changes won't affect delivering absentee ballots ahead of November's election.

"The postal service is fully capable and committed to delivering the nation's election mail securely and on time," DeJoy said.

Milwaukee protesters argued that issues with absentee ballots could even affect the outcome of the presidential race this year, especially considering President Donald Trump won Wisconsin by just 22,000 votes in 2016.

"There won't even be a need for an election if we don't have this opportunity for absentee ballots because the COVID-19 pandemic," Lewis said.

DeJoy he'll halt further changes to USPS until after the election but that doesn't put Skare at ease.

"What happens after that? What happens to the post office after that first Tuesday in November?" Skare said.

CBS 58 asked the local USPS for comment on the protest and the concerns that election mail won't be delivered on time. A spokesperson forwarded a national statement saying they have more than enough capacity to handle the election mail volume.

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