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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

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

  1. Michael

    July 25, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I’m a RCA 2 months in and realized that I gave up a full-time 10hr job for a job that I thought all get more then one day a week. I quickly realized that the only way to get hours is willing to drive to a different station and do a new route everyday. What sucks is regulars hardly callout only on weekends or holidays. I won’t be a regular for 6 years that’s a joke. So I’m suppose to make this job my life but this job doesn’t pay the bills

  2. PM

    July 27, 2015 at 12:51 am

    A lot of negativity. Did all the career employees posting here forget about their 4-5 week vacations they get fronted every year that rolls over? The accrued SL that doesn’t cap out? Fers and tsp with multiple saving options with USPS matching up to 15% before tax? The 60-70k you make a year with OT while only needing a high school diploma? Dental and health coverage? EAP? Don’t like extra work? Don’t sign up on the OTDL, do your 8 hours and go home. Cca’s yes it’s hard work, that is gone over in great detail during orientation but you probably didn’t believe it. We all started at the bottom, work hard get a career position. Rural carriers, how can you complain you have evaluated routes that are rushed through everyday and go home under evaluation. Work is what you make it, if you’re a good employee no one will bother you if you are not you will get attention, that’s with any company. Don’t like it? No one is forcing you to stay, correct? Cca’s, you don’t like the pay rate? Don’t take the job.

  3. SP

    July 30, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    This is for PM. Your absolute idiot!! You must be a supervisor. I have 20 years in and am more stressed now than when I was a PTF. I have never been on the odl and am forced daily. I make more overtime than the the guys on the 12 hour list. They will not allow these guys to make more than 1 hour. We are short staffed daily. I have small kids that I have to pick up at a certain time so I basically have to run and absorb all the time or I’ll be written up. I’m an excellent employee who has saved the postal service thousands upon thousands of dollars over the years and my damn reward is more work while the lazy ass carries are left alone.

    SP – the remainder of your post was deleted to your vulgar language – PEN does not allow this type language and it will be deleted if seen. PEN

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