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USPS Employees Ask for More Staff, Better Work Environment

by Danielle Smith, Keystone State News Connection

USPS Employees Ask for More Staff, Better Work Environment

In Pennsylvania and across the country, U.S. Postal Service workers say they are struggling to keep up amid serious staffing shortages, and they have launched a campaign to call attention to what they call adverse work environments at some facilities.

Kim Miller, president of the American Postal Workers Union’s Keystone Area Local, said the union surveyed its members to learn about their working conditions and got an earful, including about harassment from managers. She added workers deserve dignity and respect, and a better work environment.

“The complaints are short-staffing, bullying, not being trained, the supervisors not being trained, takes a long process to get in,” Miller outlined. “They feel like they can’t use the union; there’s retaliation for using the union.”

In an email statement, the Postal Service called the union’s position “absent of anything based in reality.” The agency also contended in the past two years, it has worked with the union and management associations to address such matters as workplace safety and career training and advancement.

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has been quoted by the Washington Post as saying service is “10,000% better” than it was two years ago. Miller disagreed.

She pointed out in Harrisburg over the Christmas holidays, some customers were not receiving mail, and some items intended for next-day delivery took two weeks to arrive, in the same ZIP code.

“Some were getting it sporadically, maybe one to three times a week,” Miller explained. “I don’t know what area he’s thinking that is 10,000 (percent) better. But in this area, I can speak alone, you know, we’re short-staffed. The short-staffed carriers, which means that the mail is being returned to the office at the end of the day; it’s not being delivered.”

Charlie Cash, director of industrial relations for the American Postal Workers Union, said in the collective bargaining agreement to address workplace issues, they typically develop specific programs to improve the working conditions. He said this time, they have faced opposition from the Postal Service.

“Unfortunately, the Postal Service has had no interest in that; (in) our very first meeting, they told us that the reason for the ‘toxic’ work environment was because the unions were too active in enforcing the collective bargaining agreement,” Cash recounted. “And that if we would just stop filing grievances, and stop filing safety violations and things like that, the ‘hostile’ work environment would go away.”

Cash contended the results of the stalemate are the public is not receiving the best service it could, and among workers who are hired, the
turnover rate is high.