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

427 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.

  16. Todd   July 30, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I just came across this site when looking for issues in regards to the post office, as I was the victim of harassment. Nobody should have to put up with what goes on in those offices. When I got hired for an RCA position in Southwick, MA, I had no idea as to how bad the work environment was. I was excited that I got the job and optimistic. The training went real well and they were all very professional, made the PO sound like a really excellent place to work.

    But upon getting to the office, I found my experiences to be quite the opposite. Being told that I was too slow almost two or three times a day. Being blamed for lost packages when I know I didn’t lose them. Being forced to not take lunch breaks to finish the route in 90 degree heat. Being told that I have to do a route of 600 units in four hours. Also I was told that the only way I could do the route in an efficient amount of time was to violate driver safety protocol. The lady who was training me, drove like a lunatic.

    On the last day I was there, I was told I was doing the casing wrong, doing it too slowly by my trainer and that I better speed up because the boss was getting mad. The boss also told around that time frame that I had better speed up.Then I was given a list of three units that were missing packages and I know I didn’t misdeliver them, I was being setup for a fall.

    Also, after that week was over, they didn’t even have me scheduled for any hours for the entire month of August. I was so upset, that I went outside to get some air.
    Then the boss came out and I told her that I was having problems, she responded ok without a care in the world and asked for my badge, went back inside. My guess is with all this is they were trying to force me to quit or try to terminate me.

  17. Former Postal Worker   July 31, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I was just terminated as a CCA this past week. I was told I needed to get a certain route done in 3.5 hours. When I did, the supervisor said now try for 2.5. I only had 30 or so days under my belt. Regulars couldn’t even do it that fast.
    On Wednesday I canceled an appointment on my off day when I got called in. On Thursday I told them I needed to be at an appointment by 5pm. They sent me two helpers at 4;30. I split what I had left between the two. They were my friends, and we’re both fine with it. I still arrived 45 minutes late to my appointment. When I finished on Friday my supervisors asked why didn’t I split it three ways, and do my share? I told them as it was, I was 45 minutes late. They said that I caused a half hour overtime, and that I wasn’t a team player, and asked me to resign. When I said NO, they terminated me.
    Also there union sucks. The union reps are so busy trying to make their own quota, they have no time to talk to you. No rep present when they fired me. No one has even called me.

  18. Rosye   August 5, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I work since may of 2016 I am cca in durham nc this job is the worst job ever the supervisor are so mean to you they just want you to do the job fast my supervisor was very mean to me every day I got tired of that and finally I call the union president and tell him how bad she was that conversation with him make it worse she was more mean and she don’t give me any days to work i am depressed because I quit my other job thinking usa post office was a better place but I made a big mistake working here is stressful bad ….

  19. Gianni   August 5, 2016 at 4:58 pm

    it saddens me that there’s still this consciousness going around that you have to “put in your time” or suffer or endure a prolonged period of wasted virtue to get where you want or need to be – and call that “WORK.” earning your “stripes,” if you will, by being some sacrificial lamb of sorts. what a distortion!

    as much as i have this newfound respect for mailmen across the world, my heart grieves for these folks who are enduring these terrible conditions. the labor and workforce in general all across the world, in general, are really putting themselves through hell. i went through a week of paid orientation, then paid training with an instructor – STILL overwhelmed like i’ve never been before. today would’ve been my first day to deliver a route by myself, but i have too much self-respect to keep the shackles on.

    take it from me and all of these other folks – the city carrier assistant is BY FAR the worst job i’ve ever had. i know this country and much of the western world was built on the backs of slaves – but this subtle form of exploitation is happening because we allow it to.
    i can’t blame the US government for functioning like a corporation, and i can’t blame its “citizens” for being victims. i cannot blame my previous generations for their conditioning patterns, nor dishonor their experiences for “paying their dues.”

    but it is my hope we can get to a point someday where we can rise from this patriarchal cycle of needless suffering and exploitation. i honor this humbling experience and pray for healing for those who don’t have the means otherwise to break from their own shackles.

  20. Francine Michaels   August 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

    I walked out of my job at the USPS on December 1, 2015 and I told the manager at the facility where I worked WHY I walked out. I provided documentation to prove it from my doctors office. My grown daughter in nursing school says even though I have been without a paycheck since January of this year she knows how much better I am and how sick that place made me. But, the interesting thing is they (meaning the managers where I worked) don’t even acknowledge that I told them anything! Not a word! They do NOT CARE and that is what makes them so lethal. They can “say” all they want in the press or with their skewed statistics, but you cannot treat people like they do not matter and expect them to be healthy. It’s not rocket science, and as much as they want to skew it to say people are just trying to scam them,(which they often did where I worked when people left on disability) no one is skewing anything. They are just too lazy and greedy to fix the problem, because no one is making them!

    Thank you for your post Francine. I apologize for deleting the video link, but it is safer for our readers that way. PEN

  21. Melanie   August 15, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    My husband works in USPS in Bronx NY and I’m thing you guys it’s a devastating job. Sometimes he won’t come home until 10-11pm and having to work the next day. It’s taken a toll on our marriage he’s hardly home. He just tells me about how stressful his day was how managers are always bitching about something, they have him driving these trucks with no AC in above 90 degree weather. I want him to leave this job so bad.

  22. Amy   August 16, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I worked for the usps as an rca for about 2 mths and a half. I put my sweat blood and tears into that job! I honestly tried my hardest. Supervisor told me not to worry as i will get better in time. But everytime i got back late i would be told not to worry but try to get faster.there were days i got off early which i loved and days where i was late which was 1st week i wanted to quit so bad. But Im no quitter so i stuck with it. After 2 weeks of working i began to have back and knee pains. It felt like i was 25 going on 80! Doesnt help much when rca’s dont get day it was so hectic that i didnt start delivering till 4 pm! I was frustrated irritated madd as hell! They did me wrong! That day I had enough! So I told them I quit! All the supervisor did was beg me to stay. The postmaster even apologized about what happened and begged me to stay also. Until that following monday the supervisor fired me saying i dont think this job is cut out for you. When she said that I wanted to raise hell in that bitch! But i felt such a sense of relief! I felt enslaved there and now I was free! So i left and never looked back. It was totally wrong the way they tryed to beg me to stay but then turn around and fire me. Smfh! I didnt go to the union because I didnt want to be a slave to the usps for the rest of my life. I worked everyday 10 hrs a day and got only 1 day off! Im sorry but 1 day was not enough to recuperate especially to rest my 25 feeling like my grandma! It sucked! I did my very best and all they did was bitch at why i was coming back late.they know it takes time to get the timing down but all they did was bitch about it.working there i mainly was quiet and stayed to myself.but there were people who were all about drama and trying to f each other over! Amazon sundays were horrible! They never had the packages ready so we always waited like 2-3 hours until we cud start.why make us come in so early then! On top of that i wasnt very fond of the supervisor she was very unprofessional! She was rude and played favorites. I noticed she gave people whom have worked there awhile routes they wanted and gave the newbies the shitty routes! Wasnt any better seeing the rcas trying to switch routes with the new was dead ass wrong and its not like the new hires knew any better. The sup played favorites and i shud of complained but who am i to say anything with all the crooks they have working there.even the dude that trained me never followed the no snitch but the usps has their priorities f’d wonder they cant keep ppl and always have no life once you work there. Dont get me wrong the money was good but it doesnt compare to being exhausted tired and stressed out everyday. It affected my health and my personal life .Karmas a bitch! After they fired me they had 3 more ppl quit! Hmmmmmmmmm……..”I wonder why?”

  23. Anonymous   August 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    I have been at the USPS for 2.5 years now, finally got my career appointment in Dec. 2015, but I agree with this article completely. I have never worked at any job that has had such a hostile, toxic, and stressful environment. There is no team, there is no family, no morale, no job well done. It truly is the bottom line, as a CCA I fractured my ankle on some concrete stairs that gave way, apparently management had been aware these stairs were bad, but failed to follow up. I sat in the office filling out paperwork and listen to the PM tell a manager that they were going to have to make this my fault. I’ve been harassed by both management and union reps for working to fast or working to slow. There is nothing in the USPS environment that is helpful or fulfilling. I called out sick one day and my Union Rep said you’re going to end up getting fired, don’t you want to get in your 30 years and get your retirement. I actually laughed in her face, and said I won’t be here in the next five years. The only reason I am still employed by the USPS right now is I have a family to support while I finish college. After that it is c-ya bye. As for happily being in a Unionized work environment, having been a CCA, I feel bad for them how management uses them and the union doesn’t care, they are looked as if their is hundreds of others that want to get their foot in the door, one down another comes in.

  24. Keith   August 16, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Managers get it too . My boss is a workplace psychopath who keeps trying to set me up for things I didn’t do and then issue my discipline I treat employees working for me very well , often to do the opposite of how I’m treated

  25. Kathleen   August 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I recently became an RCA, but after a month I am being Bullied by my supervisor to get faster. The regular thinks the route is too big, so that says something, and I am suppose to finish within 8.5 hours but it takes me 10 or 11 hours, which all things considered I don’t think its that bad. But, he cut my hours even more. How can I get faster if I cant work enough to practice getting faster? I cant live on what I am making, and cant seem to get another job. I feel stuck. What is the Postal Unions doing to make it better for the postal employees, and why are we paying dues when it seems nothing is being done. Why does the Government not take care of their own when it comes to fair treatment? I have lost faith in the Government because of this.

  26. Steve   August 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I was a letter carrier for 8 years. I was hired at age 28, a healthy male. Prior to working for the USPS I was a happy go lucky optimistic individual. I NEVER had to take a sleeping aide, anti-depressant, anxity medication or saw a psychiatrist. WITHIN 1 year of being a letter carrier all of these things were my reality. It was management and CO-WORKERS! Everyone was MISERABLE and tried to inflict as much pain and misery to make themselves feel better. It was a sick and hostel environment. It was like that movie Groundhog Day, the same jokes EVERY DAY! The same tearing down of people, the same “over the line” jokes about workers wife’s, kids, sexual preference, culture race, NOTHING was off limits….and it was all just yelled out across the work room floor. I FINALY got out of the “AO” and what would you know….no more medication or going to doctors. Working in a Post office “AO”, is an extremely toxic environment, which breeds hostility. And the UNION, PLEASE…….forget about them. Don’t count on them. When the *** hits the fan, file an EEO AND GET A LABOR LAWYER. They will move mountains for you.

  27. Lynne   August 22, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    It’s so illogical! How can this be?!!! Annoying people are PROMOTED (moved to a second post office). As soon as the second post office realizes this person is annoying, the annoying person is PROMOTED to another post office!…So mentally disturbed individuals are in high positions in the post office, and the postal employees have no place to turn! Thanks to the crap Reagan said to the air traffic controllers IE “Either you go to work, or you’re fired” , clerks and mail carriers are forced to go to work, with no recourse when the disturbed management harasses/bullies them! (And my specific supervisor, makes a point to harass/bully, where she can’t be monitored!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.