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Traverse City USPS facility loses sorting machines, changes cause mail slowdowns

Taylor Wizner


A U.S. Postal Service facility in Traverse City is now running with two fewer mail sorting machines.

Last week, USPS workers removed and dismantled two of their four large mail processing machines. They sort mail for zip codes starting in 496 and 497, covering most of northern lower Michigan.

Machine removals and other changes to the Postal Service have been put on hold, says Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. On Friday, he testified at a congressional hearing thatrecent changes — that have reportedly caused mail delivery slowdowns — will be paused until after the November election.

The president of American Postal Workers Union Traverse City Area Local 531 says the removal of mail sorting machines is troubling. 

“It just worries me because I’m not sure it benefits the Postal Service,” says Vince Nichols.

He says parts of the Traverse City machines were sent to a Postal Service warehouse in Lansing, some parts were added on to the remaining two large sorting machines, while other machine parts were scrapped.

Postal Service officials say machines across the country were decommissioned as part of a planned reorganization, centered around Americans’ preference for sending more parcels through USPS and less letter mail.

Still, Nichols says other new policies have led to mail delays. Among the changes, mail carriers were instructed to cut their mail packing time in the morning and mail trucks now must follow a strict schedule. He says mail that arrives after the narrow morning window has been left behind for the next day’s delivery.

Postal Service investigators were also concerned with delays during this month’s primary, Nichols says. After some election mail didn’t make the morning delivery in northern Michigan, inspectors made sure postal workers made special runs to make sure absentee ballots got to their destination.

Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) toured a Postal Service facility in Grand Rapids yesterday as part of his investigation into issues at the Postal Service. In a press release, he said mail delays are impacting West Michigan residents who get medications, bills and other important information in the mail.

“Michiganders need a Postal Service that provides dependable service,” Peters said.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.