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

415 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.

  7. Sherry   July 1, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Omg. I agree 100% with every word. I have despaired of life because of my job. I have worked at PO since 1997 and I cannot afford to retire and am too old to do something else. I feel I have no hope and think about death being only way out. I will not do that, but I feel hopeless. I was ok before I transferred to new facility and lost my seniority and now we are treated like kindergarten students and have no A/C turned on in 90 degrees indoors and we are working very grueling totally physical jobs on parcel machines and heavy equipment and if you don’t hv Dr note, must work 72 hrs week and it’s all hurry, hurry, hurry. I saw the steward for 5 mins and was paged back to work, unable to work out a problem because of that. Then, not allowed to see steward a few days later and steward is too wimpy to fight. Something has to give. I cannot bear it for the rest of my life. Our Union is worthless here. It was a strong Union where I used to work before transfer. I have no house and no spouse . I don’t know how I can withstand the fear and physical pain of this Job much longer.

  8. Rich Sonderegger   July 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

    This is happening to clerks too. I was threatened with being fired due my diarrhea because of the chemotherapy due to brain tumor that might take my life they put me out the street for it. Management doesn’t care if you live or die

  9. joe stutzman   July 4, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    a new carrier supervisor came in the back door not liking me.i have no clue why im white and he was black. however any disagreements I had with others were based on personality not race. I will condense a lot into a little [I could write a book] I was given a 2 wk paper suspension for drinking a cup of coffee in my truck. this “rule” only applied to me. the clerk supervisor, on his daily trip to a sub station deviated from the approved line of travel to a store where postal employees, omong others, got free coffee. NO PROBLEM. I filed a discrimination grievance and won but the new gameplan was never spoken of to other carriers oh I forgot to mention that the supervisor was usually obviously drunk by 2pm. NO PROBLEM. once while drunk he said “you could be the first white boy I ever cut.” I had a witness but he got fired/resigned for some serious shit before this all came to a head. BUT I got the last laugh. I called at 5 pm and said I wont be there tomorrow. I am retiring. send me my papers. management called the next morn and said I couldn’t do that. I said I just did. what are u gonna do fire me? I gave a scathing critique of USPS in my retirement speech. and the rest is history. 10 yrs later I say USPS take this job and shove it I REALLY FEEL SORRY FOR NEW HIRES.

  10. Shirley Kersey   July 6, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    My post master is a bully who takes hrs especially over time from us ,she changes our time on the computer even though we clock in or out ,or tells us not to clock out she will do one holds her accountable she does whatever it takes to make herself look good.

  11. Cathy Arthur   July 10, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    I have only been working add an rca for 3 months. I’m struggling with picking up my time and threatened to be fired everyday unless i pick up my time. I feel humiliated and hopeless about ever getting it. I have tried to tell my trainer that this is the opposite tactic that works for me. I feel devastated nearly everyday. I know, and it’s been explained to me, that it’s only a scare tactic that is barbaric and cruel. I’m traumatized. I will not quit because my family needs the money, but i must tell you that it would be a relief to actually be fired. It’s truly horrible to hope to be fired from your job.

  12. Name Omitted   July 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

    I just got hired as an RCA at a small town post office. I’m reading through these comments and just nodding along like “yep..yep”. I work the absolute hardest I can every freaking day -literal blood, sweat, and tears- trying to get better and faster. All I get told is how I’m not good enough and am threatened to be fired at least once a week. My PM tells me constantly that it’s okay to make mistakes…that making mistakes is normal it’s how we grow, amd yada yada yada. But whenever I make a mistake, I get scolded for it. Repeatedly. I have only been doing this for a little over a month and I’m already so mentally and physically drained from the harassment I receive from my postmaster. If I have a bad day, I cringe going back to the office because I know she’s going to drag me down furather than I apready am. If I have a good day and did really well, I’m all excited when I get back to the office hoping my PM will notice and acknowledge my effort. Instead I get torn down with all the things I did wrong. No matter how much I improve, I constantly get torn down. I can’t afford to quit and I’m terrified of talking to my union rep about it because I’m afraid of the repercussions I might face once it gets back to my PM. *sigh*

  13. Goingpostal123   July 12, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    i am interested in knowing if anyone has had a Postmaster go to their home to retrieve a Doctor’s note and it wasn’t even MY Postmaster???? This is AFTER she called and left a message on my machine that she needed the note ASAP!. Years and years this PM has bullied her own clerk, now is bullying a neighboring PM (my office) because she needs coverage and guess who can’t get any Annual Leave approved because I’m too busy covering that office!!!!

  14. IwentPostal   July 18, 2016 at 3:00 pm

    After 11 years on the job in Brooklyn ny East New York post office 11207 having to deal with so much the people in the area are extremely rude and disrespectful to the postal carriers i was assaulted on another’s carriers Route on my off day should of never came to work that day i fought back my life flash right in front of me i was fired After being dedicated for so long and then be dismissed without a second thought is heart wrenching God i knw you have something better plan for me everyday i wanna give up on life but i knw everything happens for a reason

  15. Robert Smith   July 22, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Just happend across this page, and read some of the comments. While some are valid, many others are simply frivolous. Folks, if you think you have it bad, try working for a non-union company in the private sector. I thnik many of you will appricate your USPS jobs a little more.

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