Still Among Us

Omar M. Gonzalez

July 1, 2020

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

The health crisis is no joke. Postal workers have succumbed to the microscopic killer. Civil unrest over injustices, postal finances, concerns over the new Postmaster General and privatization all make it seem like the pandemic has waned – it has not!

The USPS disbanded their COVID-19 Response Command and reduced field telecoms. Yet, the union continues to deal with fear, anger, anxiety and dangers of managerial indifference to the protections essential workers require. There is no magic wand to make managers comply. We use the tools available to us. While there are some decent, level-headed managers, there is plenty of managerial foolery to deal with.

Hold Them Accountable

Lackadaisical managers do not have the right to expose you to infection. They are required to certify the following are cleaned daily on each tour:

  • Frequently touched common surface areas.
  • Shared operation work areas.
  • Breakrooms/cafeterias, door knobs, refrigerator handles, microwave buttons, paper towel dispenser handles, vending machines, table tops, restrooms.
  • Employee entrance turnstiles, time clock buttons, handrails, telephones.

Custodial short staffing is no excuse. Do not blame the custodian! Management is responsible to ensure your workplace is cleaned properly. Please do your part by self-cleaning your immediate work and eating areas.

Managers that ‘certify’ cleaning was done when it was not are falsifying records. Report the violations on Form 1767 Report of Hazard, Unsafe Condition or Practice. If not abated follow through, appeal and report it to your local/state president to be elevated to the District and Area through the National Business Agent or Regional Coordinator.

Protective Face Coverings

Postal policy requires wearing face coverings where there is a mandatory local or state directive and/or where social distancing cannot be properly practiced. Non-compliance discipline must meet the Article 16 Just Cause tests.

Employees who cannot wear a mask for medical reasons need to contact their supervisor for reasonable accommodation like a face shield. Employees wear masks to protect themselves and their coworkers. It is not a political decision – it is a practicable health decision.

Supervisors are required to wear masks and lead by example with respect to the safety and health of employees. Supervisory failure to comply is no excuse to expose fellow workers. Hold the supervisor accountable and file that 1767.

In Offices Big or Small the Danger Is Real

Whether you are in a two-person office or a 2,000-person office, the danger to your health is real. The rules, guidance and precautions apply to all postal facilities. Postmasters or OICs are not exempt in small offices and must comply with all official COVID-19 guidance and directives.

If you work in a small office and do not know who to contact, call the Industrial Relations Department at 202-842-4273. Leave your name, the issue and what office you work at so that you can be directed to the proper union official(s).

Infection rate spikes continue and this virus knows no boundaries. Report all issues related to safety so they can be pursued.

A Daunting Future

Besides the health crisis, we also face uncertain job security, a new Board of Governors, vote by mail challenges, privatization threats, an outsider PMG, social unrest ramifications and operational assignment changes. All of which add to the anxiety of being frontline essential workers. On July 1, we celebrated APWU’s founding and USPS’ 49th year as an independent agency of the Executive Branch. Yet some use the pandemic as a means to dismantle America’s postal services. We cannot let that happen! Contact your Senators today! Coordinators Sharyn Stone, Kennith Beasley, Tiffany Foster, A.J. Jones and I ask you to stand up for the American postal worker – you!

Enter Your Information and click to Call Your Senators Now

The Postal Service is in a crisis, caused by the Coronavirus, and Congress needs to act, urgently.

The Coronavirus shutdown is plummeting postal revenues while increasing costs. The Postal Service could run out of money soon and the new Postmaster General is already using the crisis to slow down mail/package sorting and delivery. Rather than allowing our Postal Service to slow as service is cut service, Congress must provide support.

Call your Senators urgently. Tell them to support at least $25 billion in stimulus funding for our public Postal Service. Dial (844) 402-1001 or use this form.


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