(This article was first published in the Jan/Feb 2023 issue of The American Postal Worker)
I hope our future in 2023 will be blessed with optimism and action. Our continued growth will depend on how we work together to build our locals and states with union activists who are a force to be reckoned with. I know many of our employees will be in holiday burnout, enduring physical, mental, and emotional strain. The answer to getting help and resolving these problems is through union employee power and a collective union voice.
At APWU Headquarters, we want to provide you with the tools that can assist you to succeed. We are working very hard to provide the keys that unlock our members’ hearts, that will give them the courage to want to help the union create a safe, committed, non-hostile work environment from our employer. We are tired of illequipped 204Bs, supervisors, and higher management officials that, once charged, are just sent off to other postal facilities to discriminate again.
We need programs and methods to help change our workplace to a place where we are recognized as needed, as important, and where there is respect for all workers. We need managers to be trained on how to work with people, and to realize that their workers are the backbone of what makes the Postal Service successful. We have to make sure that we are treated with value. We need higher managers to act when they have supervisors that can’t or won’t work with their employees; we need a management that is willing to staff as needed, to stop degrading postal services, and to provide the needed support to battle burnout, hostile, racist, and unsafe work environments. They must value the emotional well-being of all postal employees, nationwide, so that our employees will stop abandoning postal jobs.
There is a bigger problem on the workroom floor. In 2022, there were two shootings on workroom floors in Tennessee. Can you close your eyes and imagine you’re at work and you witness five gunshots going into an employee standing nearby, happening before your very eyes? The state of employees’ mental health, and lack of “supervisor people skills” training has been an issue for years! There are supervisors that get satisfaction from bullying an employee or a steward. It could even be an issue of race. Maybe the employee has been going through a personal crisis, but no one at work has intervened and offered mental health support. Instead, management’s response is to discipline employees.
The USPS doesn’t really provide much-needed cultural, diversity, or listening and civility training, nor do they truly monitor or provide ongoing programs. A standup talk is not a training.
The USPS still doesn’t understand the true cost of a workforce in crisis or the importance of maintaining a fully supported and mentally strong workforce. The negative impact of an unsupported workforce greatly effects productivity, retention, creativity, engagement, performance, and absenteeism.
Let us start this new year by challenging management at every level for more internal employee support for safer, non-hostile, work environments, and programs that provide better training, better expanded mental health programs, expanding postal services, and an employeecentered support program without fear of retaliation or judgement.
As I wrote earlier, we can make a difference if each of you help get co-workers to stand up together, and volunteer to make a change on your workroom floor. It takes union employee power! What angers you at work, most likely angers many others. Stand together with the union and fight back!