Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has drawn stinging criticism for the changes he has made at the U.S. Postal Service since assuming the position on June 15.
The changes — including eliminating employee overtime, removing mail-sorting machines from postal facilities around the country, and reorganizing or eliminating Postal Service leadership — have slowed mail service in some areas and sparked concerns over whether the service will be able to handle the historically high volumes of mailed ballots expected in the November election.
DeJoy has argued that the changes are necessary to help the Postal Service become financially stable. The service has struggled economically for years, and its financial problems that has been worsened by the coronavirus pandemic.
A Republican Party and Trump campaign megadonor, DeJoy is one of just five postmasters general to come to the post from the private sector since 1971, when the Post Office ceased to be a Cabinet department and was reorganized as the Postal Service, an independent federal agency.
How did he make his money?
DeJoy, 63, grew up in New York City. His father was a truck driver, and both his parents had 8th-grade educations, he told The Triad Business Journal in 2016.
After graduating from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, with a business degree, DeJoy planned to pursue a career as a certified public accountant, but instead took over his father’s failing trucking business on Long Island.
Beginning in the 1980s, DeJoy built the company, which started with just 10 employees, into New Breed Logistics, a national logistics and supply-chain services provider based in North Carolina that had contracts with Boeing, Verizon and the Postal Service, among others. By 2014, it had nearly 7,000 employees.
He sold the company that year for $615 million to XPO Logistics and founded LDJ Global Strategies, a real estate, investment and consulting company.
DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, have significant investments in companies that do business with or compete with the Postal Service. According to disclosures filed with the Office of Government Ethics, the couple hold between $30.1 million and $75.3 million in such investments, mostly in XPO Logistics, where DeJoy was a director until 2018.
His supporters point to his success in building up New Breed Logistics as evidence that he has the business know-how to solve the Postal Service’s financial problems. Critics say he is unqualified to oversee a vast organization of more than 500,000 employees, whose mission is to provide a vital public service, not earn profits.
What are his political connections?
DeJoy has long been a major financial supporter of the Republican Party. Before becoming postmaster general, he was a deputy national fundraising chairman for the GOP. He has hosted events and fundraisers for Republican presidential candidates and presidents since 2006.
Since 2016, DeJoy has donated $1.2 million to President Donald Trump’s campaign coffers and nearly $1.3 million to the Republican Party.
Trump attended a high-dollar fundraiser in 2017 at DeJoy’s 15,000-square-foot home in Greensboro, North Carolina, a mansion known locally as the Castle. The residence features a tower, a gilded staircase, a swimming pool and a pool house.
Who is his wife, Aldona Wos?
Wos, a former physician, is a Polish American whose family immigrated to the United States. She has held a number of political positions, including serving as ambassador to Estonia during the George W. Bush administration. Following that appointment, she headed the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services from 2012-15.
She is currently vice chair of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships, and has been nominated by Trump to be ambassador to Canada.
What kind of track record did his businesses have?
Admirers say DeJoy is a driven, detail-oriented problem-solver who puts results above charm. He told Postal Service employees in a video message in June: “As you will soon discover, I am direct and decisive, and I don’t mince words. And when I see problems, I work to solve them.”
Over the years, his businesses have been the subject of complaints of sexual harassment and unsafe working conditions.
A Tennessee jury awarded the plaintiffs $1.5 million in damages in 2013 in a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against New Breed Logistics. The company had improperly fired three workers who made complaints about a manager’s “unwelcome sexual touching and lewd, obscene and vulgar sexual remarks,” as well as a male employee who corroborated the harassment, the jury found.
In 2018, The New York Times published an investigation about a warehouse run by XPO Logistics, the company that acquired New Breed Logistics and put DeJoy on its board. The investigation found that six warehouse employees who had been denied breaks during work shifts had miscarriages after lifting heavy boxes, and one woman had died of cardiac arrest after being denied a break.
Four months after the investigation, XPO shut down the warehouse, which employed about 400 people, drawing criticism that the company had acted in retaliation against workers who complained about working conditions. The company denied the accusation.
DeJoy has also been cited by the National Labor Relations Board for acting with “anti-union animus.” A 1997 decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that the company had violated labor laws by deliberately avoiding rehiring unionized employees who worked at a U.S. Army terminal where New Breed had secured a contract.