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Seattle postal workers demand dignity, respect at picket

The following is from the Greater Seattle Area APWU:

SEATTLE (April 28, 2023) — Today, Workers Memorial Day, postal workers will conduct an informational picket in front of the Terminal Station Post Office in Seattle at 2420 4th Ave. S. from noon to 1 p.m. to sound the alarm about severe staffing shortages, and the poor work environments and service deficits that result. Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) are calling for the public’s support in demanding more postal workers and better service.

Although the USPS’ finances have improved significantly due to passage of the Postal Service Reform Act, “service problems are widespread and no corner of the country has been spared,” said American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein. The APWU president was responding to a statement made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in an interview with the Washington Post released Wednesday. “I think we’re 10,000 percent better than we were two years ago,” DeJoy said.

“New hires at the USPS are often treated poorly and many fail to receive proper training, resulting in high turnover,” said Dimondstein. “Combine this with the pressures of short-staffing, a high volume of mail and packages, abusive treatment by managers, and you have a toxic work environment at many postal facilities and a perfect recipe for mail being delayed.”

An audit report from the USPS Office of Inspector General on turnover in “non-career” (new hire) workforce released this month found that these postal workers had a turnover rate of 58.9 percent in 2022, a dramatic increase from an already high 38.5 percent turnover rate in 2019. The main reasons for turnover cited in the OIG report: lack of respect from supervisors and too many hours at work.

USPS’s own data show a 12.5 percent decrease in the number of retail counter clerks who staff post office retail counters and distribute mail to letter carriers. The figure fell from 79,182 in 2006 to 69,298 in 2023. Wait times for customers have increased since 2018 to today, according to a recently released study by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

For far too long, Postal Service leadership has failed to halt a culture of bullying that makes workers’ lives miserable, hurts morale, and drives workers out of the service. This culture is made all the worse by the epidemic of understaffed workplaces. Lack of staffing is taking its toll on worker health and safety, on the workplace environment, and service to the public. This year’s Workers Memorial Day (April 28) begins a national campaign to demand that postal management finally address understaffed, unsafe and toxic workplaces.

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