CHICAGO (CBS) — The United States Postal Service said it’s suspending changes, as CBS 2 is learned about more about high-volume mail sorting machines taken out of service at processing centers in the Chicago area.

CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey is digging into the latest developments and reports USPS employees reached out with concerns. Most are afraid to speak publicly. They said crucial sorting equipment has disappeared, and they’re worried about the surge of mail-in ballots coming this fall.

Wanda Tolbert spent nearly three decades at USPS.

“Move the mail. That was our focus. That was our goal. Move the mail. Period,” Tolbert said. “Things that happen behind the scenes before the carrier hit the street.”

She knows the ins and out so well, she wrote a book about it. And now, she’s speaking out on behalf of many of her current USPS colleagues.

“It’s always been mandated not to speak with the media,” Tolbert said. “If they don’t bring the machines back, mail is going to be delayed.”

This week, CBS 2 reported on four sorting machines offline at Chicago’s Main Post Office and another machine removed from O’Hare.

“My members are disheartened by what’s going on in the Postal Service,” said Keith M. Richardson, President of American Postal Workers Union Local 0001.

The CBS 2 Investigators have confirmed two more processing centers are affected. Carol Stream lost a total of seven sorting machines. Palatine’s processing and distribution center lost at least six. Tolbert said the machines are vital to high volume mail periods, like a national election.

“If you’re gonna take the sorting machines, then you’re going to have to hired people back to do it manually,” Tolbert said.

The removals come as President Donald Trump has attacked mail-in voting  claiming that it leads to mass voter fraud. CBS 2 reached out to the USPS Chicago district to ask about the missing machines and the explanation for their removal.

So far, the questions have only been met with general statements from the Post Master General about halting any more changes until after the election.

This weekend the House of Representatives is set to vote on a possible $25 billion in funding for the US Postal Service. But Tolbert worries the damage is already done.

 

Megan Hickey