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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

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

  1. The word government means govern the mental (mind)

    March 18, 2016 at 12:00 am

    Why do people not know how to respond when their employers fail to pay? There is no mystery here folks. Contact your local bored of labor and talk to a labor lawyer. Screw the useless crooked corrupt unions. Listen, scumbags in the work place fear two things and two things only. LEGAL ACTION and people who know labor laws like the back of their hand. Know the laws and know them well. You should be able to recite them to your ‘boss’ if need be so. And if your being harassed or bullied and your union will not help you, its 2016. Buy a simple recording device or even a pair of those sunglasses with the built in camera. Get it all recorded. Now you can sue your company AND your union hehe. TAKE ACTION, thats what you do.

  2. Paulette

    March 21, 2016 at 2:04 am

    I’m in Texas and I have been with the post office for almost 22 years. I have been a faithful and hardworking employee. I worked the past 16 years with extremely flat feet as a distribution/window/dispatch clerk. I walked on my ankles (callouses had formed) and it was very painful. One day, I suffered excruciating pain in my abdomen. I stayed at work nearly blacking out and weak just to finish my 8 hour shift. I ended up in the hospital with my intestines bursting in 3 different places. I stayed off work about 2 & 1/2 months. Upon returning to work, I continued working hard until one day I took a step and my foot flipped up (literally) and the ankle bone hit the bone in my leg—-I couldn’t walk on it anymore without excruciating pain. I left work not knowing that I would be offside long. I ended up having 6 surgeries over the space of a whole year (right foot, entire digestive system–4 surgeries, & left foot). My bosses NEVER CHECKED ON ME?? I brought documentations for every surgery and recovery times. I was still recovering from the last surgery when I was notified (after all of my benefits were cut off) by boss— I received a note from the station manager letting me know that I needed to return to work if I wanted my benefits reinstated—I was still in a wheelchair from the last reconstructive surgery (12/22/15). It took 4 &1/2 months to be able to walk from the right foot surgery and the left foot surgery was only 1& 1/2 months old. I couldn’t put any pressure on the foot and I had to keep it elevated almost all day long for a good while. I could not return to work. The station manager refused to make a pay adjustment just 1 pay period back to put me in a paid status so that my medical insurance could be reinstated so that I could continue to see my Dr. until I was well enough to go back to work. After 22 years of faithful service, I couldn’t work any longer for management who DON’T CARE ANYTHING ABOUT THEIR HARDWORKING EMPLOYEES! I RESIGNED!!! THE MONEY AND BENEFITS WERE GOOD, BUT I CARE MORE ABOUT MY LONG TERM HEALTH THAN I DO ABOUT JUST BEING A WORK MULE FOR UNAPPRECIATIVE MANAGERIAL LEADERS. I TOLD MY CHILDREN “NEVER WORK AT USPS!”. GOOD MONEY–YES!

  3. Arlene Brewer

    March 26, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    After 29 years as a rural carrier in Southern NJ. I was literally bullied by my coworkers until I was forced to quit. Every right that could have been violated were. My record shows that I was terminated, therefore loosening all monies. I I never missed a snow day and was also honored a hero. The union president did nothing to help. I’m still without an income and had suffered breakdowns and a suicide attempt. After being dedicated for so long and then be dismissed without a second thought is heart wrenching.

  4. J.

    March 27, 2016 at 1:03 am

    PM’s comment from July,2015 made me want to puke.
    Obviously PM must stand for Postmaster. I have worked for the USPS for 38yrs and 9 months and have never seen moral so low. We had a stand up last week where we were told that we are all replaceable and that there are people lining up to take our jobs. I can’t begin to count how many CCA’s have quit our station because of how they’re treated. PM makes it sound like CCA’s begin with all those great benefits that He/She/Other listed.
    Wrong. Lower pay, no benefits to speak of, work seven days a week, and have the opportunity to be fired for any reason the PM/Supervisor seems fit to choose. Next consider the new scanners that are GPS capable and able to track a carriers every movement, or lack of. They can also pull satellite imagery… they must have an agreement with the NSA to be able to that trick. The pressure to do more with less resources, and do it faster is relentless. I could repeat all of the horror stories given by my fellow carriers, but I won’t.
    Just suffice it to say- It’s all true, and then some. I point out to the newly hired that there is Logic, and then there’s Postal Logic and that there’s Math, and then there’s Postal Math. I walk them over to the carrier cases and show them a prime example of what I’m speaking of. On this particular case there’s a form that lists the route number, the regular’s name, start time, the expected leave time, the number of possible deliveries, the number of parcels, the number of accountables, and the expected return time. The postal math/logic becomes obvious when one looks at the same form only dated 1 yr later. The start time is the same, the leave time has been reduced by 7 minutes, parcel and accountable numbers are the same, but the return time has been reduced by 16 minutes. Sound good except that the number of possible deliveries has increased by 97 and we now scan almost every SPR and PP that’s delivered. And now we have to stop and scan for a “requested sampling” “flats first, then letters”.
    If that carrier doesn’t meet managements expected times his OT is denied, and he’s subject to discipline. Adding Insult to injury.
    In our office we have had a mass exodus of those who can retire, and I’m right behind them as soon as I can. In my 38+ years I have worked for three Postmasters who were great,they treated their employees with respect and dignity and they got results. All of the rest of them were pretty much worthless. That not a very good record considering the amount of time I’ve been with the service, and the number of PM’s and supervisors that have passed through my office.

  5. ROSCO

    April 1, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    I agree with all the comments. . Working for usps is very stress and the supervisors will Bully you into working their speed. I wouldn’t recommend for anyone of any age to apply. Springfield IL branch

  6. Peggy

    April 4, 2016 at 3:33 am

    My PM/Supervisor is a Bully-I requested leave for My Uncles funeral 8 days before-when I put in leave slip My Pm said it was probably not going to happen-she had also denied leave for my Mothers, Sisters Funeral (my aunt) Four years earlier-I did not attend-I decided I was attending my Uncles Funeral-she told me the day before funeral my leave was denied-I told her I was going-hoping she would get someone to cover me-It was on a Saturday and no RCA can be absent in our office on a Saturday for any reason-she told me there was no one -she told me to talk to the Postmaster-I did I explained everything-that I regretted not attending my Aunts Funeral-my family was very important to me-he listened and ask if I could case my mail and attend the funeral then come back and deliver it-I told him no-the funeral was an hour away and the route I was covering is overburdened-it takes me all day to finish it-I went to my Uncles funeral and was written up-My PM told me I should have sucked it up-(In January I had put in a leave slip for two Saturday’s off in April-one for my first Grandchilds baby shower and one for a family reunion with my 88 year old Aunt who would be visiting from out of State)-after I was written up-I ask my PM if those days were going to be approved -she said probably not-unless I did not have to cover a route on those Saturdays and the possibility of that is very unlikely-I talked to my union Steward he said there was nothing I could do-it was LWOP and she could be as Heartless as she wanted-I am a 62 year old women whose family has always come first-I really felt hopeless and treated without respect by Management-I was with the Post Office for four years-I resigned March 31st-The day after I resigned my PM began her Vacation

  7. Joe Postal

    April 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Get a lawyer and sue the post office. Also sue the union if they don’t help you. File an EEO against the Post office AND against the union. No mercy because they hate us

  8. Sandra

    April 15, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    You cannot record in the post office. It’s against the law. They can follow us around and video us but we cannot do the same. If it was llegal they wouldn’t be getting away with what they do. They are criminals who work at the post office. My co workers pay off the bosses. Union is a lazy
    No good bunch of thieves.Management are bullies and theives as well. My shop steward pays off my bosses and buys gifts. He lies dead in my face. The place should be shut down. Its not easy to file a law suit when you have no one supporting you. One person lies for the next. In my station one woman can sit at the bosses desk and never go out on the street. Union and shop stewards allow it. But others have to work twice as hard on the street. She comes in on her vacation day to throw a couple of letters and makes overtime. Its a joke. She’s a carrier. Now she is becoming a boss because she allows the boss to feel up her leg which I unfortunately witnessed since they have no shame and did it right in the middle of the office.

  9. rachel

    April 16, 2016 at 3:22 am

    My mother has been a dedicated employee at the post office for the last thirty years. She is a custodian and has been for last 15 yrs. She takes pride in her job and goes above and beyond everyday to make sure facility she works at is as taken care of with as much effort and responsibility as she would clean her home(which is amazing, because she made it that way). she goes out of her way for her co workers and het job more often then not. BUT***” at the same time she is CONSTANTLY MET WITH DISRESPDCT, Chauvinism, harassment, defamation and ridicule by handful of male coworkers. One of whom in have heard about for most of her career but he’s a supervisor so i guess he’s safe. And recently she had a grevemce dismissed saying she had no case but I mean this from my very being that it was what u call a slan dunk

  10. Christina

    April 20, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I’m speechless! I’m a 28 year letter carrier and I thought it was just me cracking up. You ALL have said what is exactly happing to me. wow, my EEO package is in route to me as we speak. For the record my OIC is splitting hairs with that scanner and rims crap.

  11. beyond postal

    April 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Once again the old saying “It’s who you know or who you ___” that wins in the end. How true for 99% of management.

    Edited by PEN.

  12. Diane

    April 25, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Everyone of these statements are true and definately would not let anyone you know apply for postal job they suck!!!! I know first hand

  13. Linda Monk

    April 27, 2016 at 5:48 pm

    I have a situation and am not sure who to turn to. I have been with the post office for twenty years and am fixing to retire. I have had carpal tunnel syndrome in my left wrist for over ten years but have lived with it.Sometimes my hand goes completely numb for about twenty minutes and I shake my hand and wait for the feelings to come back. Every nite it hurts but have learned to live with it. Several weeks ago my left wrist starting hurting so bad I was almost in tears.The work has gotten so much heavier over the last years and pulling down and the lifting and everything has now affected my left wrist. I went to a doctor,he told me I have carpal tunnel syndrome and schelduled me to have nerves tested. It is painful everyday at work and I am there everyday to do my job.Doctor told me it will only get worse if I do not have surgery. My sister who retired from Post office told me it is from my job and my insurance will not cover the surgery. Okay,so today I went to my postmaster,what a mistake.He made me feel like some kind of really bad person and told me lots of people have this and work,and that there is no proof this comes from my job,and that if I try to take action,basically he would fite me on it. I was shocked,I told him I simply wanted to understand the process AND THAT I never mentioned it was work related to anyone. I told him I am fixing to retire and want to have the problem fixed,I was looking for answers on if the post Office takes any responsibility on this.His answer was basically,no,I am on my own,and if I did not report the date of the accident I do not have a case. I told him there was no accident,it has been happening over a period of time,but he was angry and told me it could have something to do with my age,and finally I just wanted to get up and get out of there. I was made to feel like a crimminal.

    Linda – you need to post your comments in our Job Injury Forum at PEN.

  14. Andrea Williams

    April 28, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    I have been reading peoples experience, however I have one of my own, I just started working at the post office, my opinion is a savery mentality, I have never worked in an environment where your dignity is walk on every day and the care of human life means nothing, basically the mail is more important that us worker, the CCA’S has no benefit until they become regular/career employees which can take up to 3 yrs, there is actually no accountiblity and supervisors are shuffle around whenever they do something wrong and have to leave that station. I’m at awe the the government has no system that helps or control these kind of abuse. I finally quit after 2 mths. I couldn’t hang let the stress and hard work. Thank God for choice of opportunities.

  15. Windell Jolicoeur

    May 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    It is the worse place I have ever worked. I love the job, love delivering the mail. I have been up for removal for times. They added 200 stops to my route from the CDRAP. I can’t get done in 8. When you call, they tell you to keep going. The next day you get a pdi for unauthorized ot.

  16. claudia raddatz

    May 6, 2016 at 6:35 pm

    the most disgusting place to work 32 years of mental and physical abuse. I went out on a disability retirement then I got charged or indictment for fraud with owcp after been gone for 2 years now being harassed by other employees making comments you deserve want you get. I hate the usps the most disgusting leadership and you are stuck working with an entire family who are the only ones the postal service will hire

  17. Zach

    May 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I am shocked and saddened by these comments. I work for a private carrier and I’ve played with the idea of going to USPS eventually. I wont be entertaining the thought anymore. Thank you all for your warnings.

  18. Kevin

    May 11, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I worked at the post office for 21 years after doing 7 years in the military including the Gulf War. I have never worked in a place where the atmosphere is so toxic. I am so surprised no one has come in and shot up our processing and distribution facility. We have a plant manager who screams and hollers and shouts obscenities at people, then she has the audacity to ask why so many PSE’s quit! she accepted a position in Atlanta, but at least the unions there stood up to her and ran her sorry ass back to Augusta, which is unfortunate for us. our local APWU union is horrible. We don’t even have a shop steward on any of the three tours. The union president, who retired five or six years ago from the postal service, is the person we have to contact when we want to file a grievance. If you’re lucky you’ll get a response from her within a week. those who are eligible to retire do so. So between the people resigning and the retirees we are so short of people, we are running DBC’s with one person. we also have to open all of our first class mail and standard mail as the mail handlers here do not have to do that. The clerk Union also throws all the priority mail and since we are a small plant, we do everything by hand with ring scanners as we don’t have a parcel sorter machine. I love to call our workplace a plantation, as that’s what it is. The closest thing to slavery in the 21st century.

  19. tiffanie

    May 12, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    This goes out to Paulette I’m sorry for what you have had to go through I have been with usps for 16 yrs and I am 36. That’s how I found this site I typed in “postal employees who quit and found new jobs” and maybe it was a god send I found this site! I tore my AC joint back in December this past year and continued working INJURED until Jan.13 2016 Until I could no longer use my right arm! I am a rural carrier now but for the first 9 years I was dual appointed a city carrier, clerk and rural carrier! Iv seen many things over the years that are horrible to do to an employee and they my “pm” has done un Godly things to me. Iv never understood why I am a kind caring compassionate person and I forgive but this… this is terrible I have been off for over 4 mo. and just got approved for owcp iv been living off my savings! The plan has been to go back to my route as a carrier but I got approved for work comp April 8 2016 and today is May 12, 2016 and still NO BACK PAY NOT a dime and I am “approved”. This has been so embracing to me, my family , friends and Doctors office have all watched this!!!! I never thought I would be ashamed of the USPS my management ya but not this! I cannot imagine going back and continuing to bust my but for a organization that don’t give a bleep! Im currently looking I cannot quit yet I have to have a job! I have well planned my retirement I just need 14 more years God willing. Paulette your right only Gods grace can be on this company Iv watched many good hard working committed people quit over the past 5 years and its sad! This is why they cannot keep people, well good honest hard working people anyway! I pray for the USPS!

  20. Crazy ray

    May 13, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    I hate my job and all the unnecessary stress that comes with it. And those advos are horrible. Searching for dps on every rack for a hour is ridiculous. Returning for parcels on a daily basis is unbelievable. How do these folks expect me to do a good job when they cant do theirs. No such thing as postmaster more like masterfreeloaders
    . Drink your coffee smoke your cigarettes and harass the hell out of your good workers.

  21. Kendrell June

    May 21, 2016 at 12:04 am

    I am experiencing all of this and I refuse to be silent! We should not be silent! And the sexual harrassment is ridiculous!

  22. Toby Walker

    May 21, 2016 at 8:09 am

    I was a carrier for 16 years and supervisory misconduct and abuse was, unfortunately, almost a daily occurrence. What made the situation even worse was the way most of the carriers accepted it. My belief was they did so out of fear of losing their employment. The local union did little to nothing when protecting the rights of the carriers.

    One time during a hurricane, the last half hour of my route was completely flooded. After returning to my station I had seen two other carriers who had also returned without being able to finish their routes and were sorting the next day’s mail. I, on the other hand, was told to go home and had thirty minutes docked from my pay. Despite obtaining and showing letters from the other carriers who weren’t docked, the union told me that I should’ve just sat in my jeep, killing the 30 minutes by doing nothing, and then return back to the office instead of coming back immediately. I filed a grievance which went nowhere. I soon left the union and within weeks resigned. I went on to successfully start my own business, which continues to thrive to this day.

    That was 12 years ago and upon discovering this article, I’m disappointed, but not surprised that the atmosphere within the USPS has not changed.

  23. Becky Black

    May 24, 2016 at 9:09 am

    I know all too well about this! I tried to commit suicide this past september. Have had a few issues since and am now sitting at home while the union fights for my job because of my mental disability 🙁

  24. Maggie Negron

    May 24, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    That is why my nephew sue the postal office and won, continue to work, he faced abuse, harassment etc etc, he documented everything, he had a paper trail of the unfairness of treatment, don’t be scare to go after them and sue, he did it and won! He is a manager and treat his workers fair, they love him, but unfortunately he is living this crazy unfair job to go to work with a better and fair employer who is very glad he got him. Also the benefits are ten times better then the post office, anything is better then working for the post office. No one should endure abuse,or be working in a toxic place, remember we are known as numbers in the work place, if you leave, die or even committed suicide by the next day someone else will be in your place and you are forgotten. Is it worth NO!!!! NO JOB IS WORTH TAKING YOUR LIFE FOR. The EOE and labor board were all in agreement with what my nephew endure and he won the case.

  25. Tracy

    May 24, 2016 at 7:09 pm

    I have worked for the post office for over 5 years. I love my job. Yes, it comes with stress and it is a lot of hard work but you control how you let that stress get it you.

  26. Christy Roberts

    May 24, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    Bad post masters can run a good carrier to the ground . But what can we do no one cares.

  27. Rohani Ramnauth

    May 24, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I hate my job but stuck to it. I think only way out is suicide. It is the worst job in history!

  28. Bob

    May 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm


  29. christi

    May 24, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    I resigned 3 years ago this past March. I had been with post office since I was 18. Despite having filed an EEO and several greviances against an unsuitable supervisor, his behavior continued to be more bullying and aggressive towards me. I started having anxiety attacks, began taking antidepression meds just to go to my job. My hair started falling out and i started not caring about the job and worse about myself. I decided my life, my self worth and my sanity were worth more than a job. Three years later and i have no stress. I make less money but my happiness and life are priceless.

  30. john breitbach

    May 24, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    Ive been with the usps for 28years and its nothing but a numbers game without regard to cost. Give me my mail and let me go..it shouldnt matter where i use my time whether in the office or on the street as long as i get it done in a reasonable amount of time. Ive seen supervisors let carriers go home on annual only to pay time and a half to other carriers because that route will be done in less than 8hrs making the boss look good for saving hours even though it cost more money that way!

  31. Brenda Colbur.

    May 25, 2016 at 2:14 am

    I am a 15 year city letter I am on medical retirement because of toxic treatment from postmaste. It was so bad that I am suicidal.

  32. Lois Torres

    May 25, 2016 at 3:42 am

    I’ve been a clerk with the USPS for 30 Yrs. And I refuse to allow myself to be bullied by these ignorant people that call themselves managers. Especially the 204’bs that are in the program only to get out of working, especially the Mailhandlers. I make good money and we will never find another job that pays what we get. Especially in our fifties. I’ll retire when I’m ready! Bullies are the easiest to handle .

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