Rural Americans Are Losing Their Mail. You Could Be Next.

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

By Brooke Darrah Shuman, More Perfect Union

Four years in, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has had one of the most controversial and high-profile tenures in the office’s history.

DeJoy was put in place by a Trump appointee-led Board of Governors in 2020 while under scrutiny for securing lucrative contracts for his former transportation company XPO Logistics, as well as for his investments in 14 companies with financial ties to USPS. During the COVID pandemic in 2020, DeJoy’s cost-cutting slashed the number of mail sorting machines and restricted postal workers’ ability to make extra trips, which a federal judge later found hurt both the Postal Service and states and localities by “impeding their ability to provide safe alternatives to in-person voting.”

But despite calls for his resignation, DeJoy has remained in the position during the Biden administration. “Get used to me,” he told congressional lawmakers during a 2021 hearing.

And now he’s rolling out his 10-year plan, “Delivering for America,” one of the most significant restructurings of the Postal Service in decades—and residents in several states are already feeling the impact.

DeJoy has said his new strategy will make the Postal Service more efficient and profitable, and to that end, the plan involves two major changes to how mail moves in the United States.

First, regional processing centers that handle incoming and outgoing mail will either be downgraded to local centers or consolidated into 60 mega-centers, where mail from different regions will travel and be sorted together.

This will impact rural areas the most, where towns will also face the second big change: the loss of their evening pick-up service, a shift that DeJoy dubbed “Local Transportation Optimization.” Mail that is usually picked up and processed that night will now be dropped off in the evening and sent out the next day, adding an extra day to delivery.

Cheyenne, Wyoming is one of the cities that will lose its processing center in June, and a growing movement of postal workers and residents are pressuring state legislators to stop the changes. In October 2023, USPS announced Cheyenne’s local processing center would close and move 104 miles to Denver, Colorado. Wyoming’s other processing center, in Casper, would move 254 miles to Billings, Montana.

If the plan goes through, Wyoming will be one of a handful of rural states that has no mail processing centers at all.

Watch our full investigation into the impact of DeJoy’s reforms on rural America:

Read more: Rural Americans Are Losing Their Mail. You Could Be Next.