Bullying and Pettiness – Commentary

Industry people who’ve often heard Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speak, such as at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, usually have a different perspective of him than those who’ve heard him less, such as at the National Postal Forum.  Just about every time, the topic is his 10-Year Plan.

On its face, DeJoy’s argument about the need to take decisive action – by implementing his Plan – sounds reasonable: there are serious problems that hadn’t been adequately addressed, he understands what needs to be done, and he intends to pursue those resolutions aggressively.

It should be noted at this point that there’s been virtually no rejection of the need for a plan, or for the broad initiatives of his Plan, by mailing industry associations.  Rather, many agree that action was needed (if not overdue) on much of what The Plan targeted, that the 2022 legislation (eliminating the prefunding obligation) was a major achievement, that network realignment is necessary, and that building the package business as a source of new revenue is essential.

Tuesday, January 23, was the opening general session of the quarterly MTAC meeting and, as is customary, the PMG was the first speaker.  Rather than providing a simple update of what’s going on – such as steps to implement his Plan – he spent ninety minutes haranguing the attendees, not only repeating his usual rant about the failures of his predecessors and all the actions he had to take as a result, but expanding into a veiled defense of his Plan and the reasons for which it may not be yielding the results he’d like.

As has been his practice, he laid blame at the feet of those that he sees as interference and obstruction – Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, and particularly mailer groups.  He complained about the many challenges that slow the pace of network changes being implemented, and that Congress failed to act to refund overpayments he believes were made to the Civil Service Retirement System (his Plan assumed that refund), contributing to last year’s losses. He also made it a point to scoff at anyone who might question what he’s doing – from mailer groups (who write “nonsense”) to Congress (“do you think I care if they call me before a committee?”) – and labeled anyone not wholeheartedly backing his Plan as an “antagonist.”

At the customary Tuesday evening reception, many from the mailing industry who commented on the PMG’s speech had an unfavorable view of it – the needless repetition of his when-I-got-here complaints; the shouting rant about things or people that irritate him; his angry rejection of people and processes that don’t move as fast as he wants; and his dismissiveness toward the Congressional overseers of the USPS.  “Bully” and “rude” were words heard often to describe his attitude toward those who don’t kowtow to him.

For years, Mailers Hub has featured Postal Service speakers on its monthly webinars; 2024 was to be no different.  Earlier this month, as we had done in the past, we submitted the necessary paperwork to get the speakers formally scheduled.

However, unlike what’s happened in previous years, instead of an approval, we received a terse email on January 23 (the morning before MTAC started) stating “The Postal Service will not be participating in your upcoming webinars.”  We later learned that the PMG is now reviewing all speaker requests, so he personally nixed having his staff speak on our webinars.  Though DeJoy wants his people delivering his message, he’s blocked them from doing so.  (Other association executives who heard of the decision were amused that we’d not been shut out earlier.)

Our sin was not simply failing to be an unwavering advocate for DeJoy’s 10-Year Plan, but for daring to opine that it may not be perfect or delivering the planned results.

By projecting resistance and hostility on those who don’t say what he wants in person or in print, then reacting to it, the PMG has justified the absence of cooperation and communication that’s become the current norm.  Observers would argue that it’s his thin-skinned attitude toward those who don’t dogmatically support him and his Plan that’s led to friction; blind allegiance is what he requires.  It’s ironic that he labels industry associations as antagonistic when his own attitude is just as confrontational.

Support is won through dialogue, not by demanding it or else, but narcissistic autocracy apparently is his preferred approach to getting things done.  Some would say that’s not the best approach for the leader of the nation’s Postal Service to take.

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