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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

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

  1. kenneth l. smith

    January 11, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    I was recently fired from USPS on my 85th day which was 10 days before Christmas. I had 2 days off during those 85 days then was fired for being to slow, I was evaluated on driving the LLV , But I drove the 2 Ton truck 95% of the time I was there, I feel very bad about the way I was treated and to top it all off I’m a disabled Vet I made $8,100 in less than 90 days if I was so slow why was I working so many hours. I feel that this is truly wrong and just would like to know can anything be don about this.

  2. Steve Deputy

    January 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

    There is a “Good old Boy system in the Suncoast”. I am a Post Mater Relief in Florida. The Post Master position opened up September of 2013. I had already had the Post office transferred to me July of that year. I have 6 years of college, 6 years of military. However when the selection of a Postmaster was done, a person who did not want to come to the office with no college, no military, not familiar with the system applied, he got the title. The office was never transferred, nor did the person ever work there, other than two 2hour shifts a couple of months later to put mail up when I went on vacation. I was told we were equal but the other person had more seniority. I did not see anything equal about us, nor did I get any explanation as to why someone would be considered for a job they did not want to report to and than to be hired over someone doing the job!!

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