WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Daniel Cortez says attempts to destroy the U.S. Postal Service are nothing new. Private competition has been trying to displace federal mail carriers for a century: "The Pony Express was an early example."
But he says the latest attacks are an inside job.
Cortez is legislative director for the Portland local of the American Postal Workers Union. That's a branch of organized labor that's gotten plenty of attention lately—thanks to an allegation that their boss is trying to destroy the agency, and perhaps American democracy, with a sabotage of the infrastructure.
His boss? Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general whose new rules are widely seen as a first step toward privatizing the mail—with a possible assist to the election prospects of the president who appointed him who scorns vote by mail.
Last week, WW's Tess Riski first reported that 15 of 50 letter-sorting machines at the Postal Service distribution center were taken out of service. Since then, photos surfaced of those machines dismantled and roped off.
In an interview with WW news editor Aaron Mesh, Cortez discusses the fate of those machines. He also touches on a point where he agrees with conservatives: The undermining of the Postal Service started well before DeJoy showed up. But Cortez makes a case why that's a terrible future for Americans.