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The U.S. Postal Service is a Toxic Work Environment

Dr. S. Musacco - Beyond Going Postal

April 14, 2010
by Dr. S. Musacco

Dr. Steve Musacco is a Ph.D. in organizational psychology, a M.S. in Counseling, and a B.A. in psychology. He’s been licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist and completed Coachu’s coaching program. He also worked for the postal service for 30 years.

Dr. Musacco said:

Prior to my retirement from the USPS, at a former district I worked for, there were three suicides within a two year period that I concluded were contributed to in significant part by how these employees were treated in the workplace. The third employee, a city letter carrier, fatally shot himself in a postal jeep and left a letter stating that he could no longer take the job. The night before he committed suicide he told his wife he did not know if he would be able to handle his job anymore. How do I know? His wife told me this one day after his suicide. He was one of the best employees in the office. The District Manager and I interviewed his coworkers after his death, and they stated he would urinate in a bottle while on delivery route for fear he would not meet an artificial deadline set by postal management. During the interviews, one of the postal supervisors told the District Manager and me that the day before the suicide she gave a letter to all the city letter carriers in the station, noting that any future over time used for their routes would be considered unacceptable performance. The suicide at the Gastonia postal facility was the second since December 2005.

Many people have asked: Why is there so much stress and workplace tragedies in the U.S. Postal Service? The answer to these questions is because the postal culture embraces and reflects core values that center on achieving bottom-line results with little or no regard for employee participation, respect, dignity, or fairness. Additionally, there is little or no accountability for the actions of top management in the Postal Service. Many postal facilities consequently have toxic work environments, and they can be a catalyst or trigger for serious acts of workplace violence, including homicide and suicide. The associated rewards system for behavior consistent with the postal culture core values, moreover, enables systemic organizational and individual bullying of employees at all levels of the organization.

I define a toxic workplace environment as a workplace where there is a high incidence of stress-related illnesses. These stress-related illnesses are manifested by psychological and physical deterioration. In other words, these types of environments seriously erode employees’ health and well-being. The primary factors contributing to a toxic workplace environment are high job demands, low job control, and low social support. Low social support generally entails a lack of respect and validation of employees’ dignity by their “superiors”. It also oftentimes includes organizational practices and methods that encourage the bullying of employees to meet corporate goals.

Dr. Steve Musacco
Beyond Going Postal

Submitted by:
Eric L. Wattree

406 Responses to The U.S. Postal Service is a Toxic Work Environment

  1. Tony

    May 28, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I retired after 36.5 years of service. In the last facility I worked there was an ASP flunky who basically knew nothing. He ego was highly inflated and like being a bully. Glad I retired but before I did I threw a few vulgar words at him. He gave me a LOW. I laughed it off realizing that all he wanted to do was exercise his power.
    I feel sorry for the folks working there now having to deal with all of the pettiness & belligerent managers. They only care about the numbers &show bug of a bonus they will receive.
    My condolences to the families who lost alive done while they were employed by the USPS.

  2. Can't get out fast enough

    May 29, 2016 at 2:41 am

    29 yrs as a letter carrier, and I am so mentally burnt out that my doc has diagnosed me with work-related anxiety and depression, and told me he sees more and more USPS employees every day! I will have 30 yrs of service under my belt in September, BUT, I cannot retire until I work THROUGH my 30th year because of my age! I have watched my office go from a small, Happy, friendly, fair environment, to a horrible nightmare of a job!!! I am not on the “ODL” yet they force me to work overtime so someone on the ODL can leave early to get a haircut!!! TRUE STORY!! Also, the discrimination against Caucasians is OBVIOUS!! If ur not of African American decent, you get treated like crap! I do my job by the book, yet every day someone has been “written out” by management, let off early, and PAID for OT they did even though they came back a couple of hours EARLY!! It’s a toxic work place, and it is ruining my personal life! All I talk abt is how stressful my job is when I have a day off. Can’t stop stressing abt it even after I punch out and get home! I’m mentally drained, worried and have panic and anxiety attacks because of the USPS! If you want to stay sane and keep your family…. DO NOT work for the USPS. It will consume you, ruin relationships with family and friends because all you do is constantly think abt ur job! I may literally lose my mind, my family and my friends if I have to work 2 more years!!! No one cares abt u at the USPS. they only care abt the bonuses the supervisors get for making the carriers work harder, and SUCK up the OT and come back to the office on time! I LOATHE my job!!! Sad but true, and at this stage of my life, I cannot start a new career…. So I have to such it up! God I hope my family doesn’t leave because of the stress of living with a postal employee!!

  3. Trudy Elaine

    June 2, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    My husband was a 13 year letter carrier, who committed suicide at our home. I’m convinced it was job related, as there was yet another round of route adjustments and his string went from 15% walking and mostly businesses, to the exact opposite. I can’t prove it, but I know it was the job. May those responsible for creating job stress get their full and well-earned rotten karma!!

  4. Ruth Allen

    June 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    This email was just sent to 2 union stewards who are supposed to advocate for my brother who has been on unpaid administrative leave with Orange, CA post office for the past 19 months and counting. The statute of limitations has run out, there are no criminal charges pending, and yet they refuse to give him an arbitration hearing or let him go back to work.
    Dear sirs, Neither one of you deserve the title of union brother. There are several OBVIOUS conclusions that I have come to over the past several months I have been emailing you regarding my brother: 1. It is obvious you are in kahoots with management and do not want to represent a union brother. He paid union dues over 35 years and this is what he is getting for it? Deplorable! You should be charged for mismanagement of union dues. 2. There are no criminal charges against ANYONE, yet he is being asked by his supposed union advocates to provide a criminal defense attorney? Even the attorney he contacted said this was a ridiculous request and is just a tactic to make him go away. But wait, you already know that. 3. The statute of limitations has run out. Oh wait, you know that too. 4. Obviously, the post office lied about Advantage Mailing losing millions of dollars. But wait, you also know that to be true, along with the 95,000 pieces of paper that were destroyed on purpose. 5. Read your own ethics laws. You are in complete violation of your own laws. 6. The union has no intention of advocating for him and that is a crime. It is your obligation as union representatives in any capacity or title, to represent him and not further the cause of the postal service management. Again, a violation of your own ethics laws. I have had it with your complete and total disregard for your duties to assist employees who are wrongfully accused and play into the hands of management. I am posting this email on social media. I want everyone, not just the thousands of disgruntled postal service employees to read it. You should be charged with dereliction of duty. I have never heard of a union showing such utter disregard for the employees who pay dues to make sure they are fairly represented and can be at peace knowing that the union has their back. Not in this case and not by a longshot.

  5. tina

    June 25, 2016 at 12:53 am

    dear persons,
    I was rehired at usps recently.
    in the last 2 days I have been assaulted by my ex husband. once with a knife, the other time, he shoved me back into my apartment.
    all my usps supervisor said was

    “fill out a 1260 for why you were late.”
    I did.
    but I don’t understand …the police even went inside to tell her that FMLA gives me the right to time off work to file a restraining order.
    but instead I worked overtime.
    I am a PSE since rejoining.
    can anyone offer guidance? the regular took off early to go to her sons baseball game…yet I stayed and didn’t get to file a restraining order

  6. tina

    June 25, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I am SO So sorry to hear these stories.
    I just don’t know what to think.
    I am deeply saddened and concerned by your losses.
    GOD keep you all.

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