Workers Memorial Day - Standing Up Against Hostile Work Environment
May 24, 2023
- April 28 was a great day for the American Postal Workers Union! The day, recognized by the Labor Movement as Workers Memorial Day, saw many of us stand up and stand against managers and supervisors who have created toxic and hostile work environments in our work places.
It made me proud to see the pictures coming in of you wearing the stickers we sent out proclaiming “Postal Workers Demand Dignity & Respect,” - demanding the workplace harassment stop, and informing management that we will stand together and speak up. Many of you have taken the survey telling us what you think of your work environment and what issues you face. My office is still compiling those results and we look forward to sharing what we learned.
Not only did you stand up to your managers and supervisors – but many of you took it to the streets to let the public know that their public postal services are also being harmed by these toxic work environments. The public needed to hear that management has eliminated jobs and staff over the years. That has degraded their mail service. According to data from the Postal Service, in 2006, the year that the misnamed Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act was passed, there were 277,800 APWU bargaining unit members. Today there are only 198,128 APWU bargaining unit members – a reduction of over 28 percent.
The APWU believes that these cuts have led to some of the hostile work environment issues we are facing. Some of your managers and supervisors – in the name of “getting the mail out” openly demean people on the floor, call them names, slurs, and even threaten violence as they to attempt to “lead” their employees in daily operations.
We know that leaders at the very top of the Postal Service have been made aware of what is happening in many locations and have not done nearly enough to fi x it. President Dimondstein and select local presidents from around the country met with the Postmaster General and others to tell him what they were going through. But nothing has changed.
I chair a committee that includes myself, Vice-President Debby Szeredy, and Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas-Barber, that met with high level postal management to address these issues. We learned in the first meeting that they were not going to address the issues. They told us hostile work environments are caused by our members fi ling too many grievances and demanding compliance with the contract. We request too much information and other preposterous excuses. They suggested that we stop fi ling grievances and demanding information as the way to give supervisors time to be better supervisors. What an insult! Management is not committed to address the issues. Instead of dealing with reports, they discipline the person who reported the issue. They promote hostile supervisors, and when they do anything to a hostile supervisor, it usually involves them being moved to another office to fi nd new victims to harass and bully.
The day of action on April 28 was just the kickoff to our continuing efforts to stand up and fight against this toxic culture and environment. We must stand together. When you see hostility and harassment – report it! Write a statement for the victim! If we stand together as a union family, we are too strong to be ignored and rejected.
We have had some successes. We have seen supervisors and managers fi red and disciplined. We have seen arbitrators order them to be removed from supervising duties. We have had these successes because union members stood together and said, “enough is enough!” We will do more. We will have more events, and we will continue to utilize our committee of members from the field to fight the toxic work environment.
We did it on April 28 – we will keep doing it!
Postal Workers Demand Dignity & Respect! â–