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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

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

  1. Marjorie Robblee

    April 24, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Majorie – we do not tolerate or allow vulgar language at PEN or PEN’s forums – if seen, the post will be deleted. Please repost without the vulgar language. PEN

  2. Miguel

    April 25, 2015 at 10:11 am

    How true

  3. Thomas Mummertz

    April 25, 2015 at 10:59 am

    This is not new…the fact that no one has ever done a thing about it is a crime. Supervisors and Postmasters allowed to operate under their own rules (at the craft employees expense) has been going on for decades. When they are “caught”, it’s as if they are a pedophile priest within the Catholic Church. Move them around, up and down…anything but opening the floodgates of getting rid of them and beginning the process of revamping the work place actions of management in the Postal Service.

  4. terry

    April 25, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Unfair treatment is one of the most problematic thing i see with mgmt.constantly pushing you to do more in less time and when you rush to please them your likely to miss sometime or make something untimely then they threaten your job. And if you complain or file a EEO your a target.
    I HAD a prejudice PM. we’ll just make up a name “keith coleman” who thought it would be funny to take my stool knowing i was a disabled veteran. He said i didnt need it and when i filed a eeo and refused to settle at redress tge next week i was removed. And fired claiming i made a threat to a sup.life
    So much for complaining. I was off 8 months without pay till i hired a lawyer
    I’ve. Seen over 7 people die over 20 Years and many were work related
    Its a horrible place to work

  5. Kevin

    April 26, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Early on in Arlington Virginia, around 1985, after a series of run ins with my delivery supervisor, he told me he could “take my life from me.” I am 6’4″ and he was about 5’4″ wearing lifts. I also had another employee state that he was going to bring in a gun and shoot his supervisor and shop steward. I was the NALC steward at the time.
    In 1995 while working in Frederick, MD and going through a divorce another, delivery supervisor was busting my chops about being on time. I stated that I was having a hard enough time not blowing my brains out much less being on time. He said I could “blow my brains out before I came to work or come to work on time and then blow my brains out.” When I put in a leave slip for emergency annual leave when my now ex wife had taken off with my 4 year old daughter and disappeared, he disapproved the request. I still have the leave slip. I got sent to a postal contract shrink, Dr. Potash, in Baltimore for a fitness for duty exam. He said that I was okay, just under a tremendous amount of stress. Going forward to around 2012 and working in Cumberland, MD the SDO told me he could pick me up and pile drive me into the ground. I told him that he could try. I am not saying that I am easy to get along with in a work environment. I have trouble dealing with people constantly doing stupid stuff and I tend to let them know just how stupid they appear to be. With this latest idea of MMP the environment is like working on a ship that you can’t get out or off of that has a self destruct sequence that has begun. Toxic? How about radioactive?

  6. ed cramer

    April 26, 2015 at 4:59 am

    I am a postal sub being the second sub in a small rural office. That gets me about one day work a pay.when hired there was alot of time available up to full time. Now there is none. I went to a large nearby office having express mail and found work 4 hours a day. But since my primary obligation was to the smaller office and the express shows up late often. There were oft times I was reprimanded by a supervisor. I was given two routes without any training and no knowledge of the area. Reprimanded again. Now I am back to one day a pay. I am an individual that shows up early never late,good employee always. But the lack of training reprimands for things not my fault, and atrocious attitude has left me wanting other work. I thought the post office was a good place to work. But I guess not

  7. Jeannine Richards

    April 26, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Wow! All of these 18 years I have been the target of bullying by management and the employees. At times it seemed more than I could bear. I’ve always known and voiced the fact, but of course, I’m pinned with the stigma of being crazy. It’s almost as if they wish to push me to suicide;however,I refuse to give them the pleasure. This revelation of the truth is greatly appreciated and will enable me to endure the few years I have left. An incident which occurred about 15 years ago would probably have warranted a lawsuit but they had me so psychologically beaten down, I just took it. Hell i have to withstand being groped if I seek union representation…..If I yell sexual harassment, well, I’m just crazy Jeannine so I just keep my mind focused on the reason I’m there, which would be my family. Again, thank you for verifying what I already knew…….if anyone reads this and can help me put a case together send me an email.

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