Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

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

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

  1. Kyuu

    November 21, 2015 at 7:26 am

    There’s nothing I could say that would be any different from the other horror stories, so I’ll just give my input from personal experience. I do indeed respect Mail Carriers and hope you will not take this as an attack on you or your character but, rather, on the company whose crap you’re subjected to.

    My mother began working there a few months ago as a CCA and at first, she was gung ho. But even in the orientation, she would tell me about how rudely the upper mgmt would speak to new employees.

    Fast forward to the last couple months and my mother has been doing her job well, still. On several occasions, she’s had incidents where she learned something that was supposed to be explained in training but has not been told until NOW. Information that would actually help her do her job. She’ll finish her job and be ready to leave by six but get sent back out to help someone ELSE who is doing half-effort work and end up there til 8 or 9 pm.

    Aside from one supervisor I’ve heard of, the rest are a joke. In particular, one who tried to fire her because she “wasn’t good enough and the job wasn’t for her.” She had an overload of relays, is back when she needs to be but gets sent back out with another load, and “doesn’t move fast enough.” Mind you she returns with or before the other carriers who have been around longer. Damned near every day is a different route–she’d need more than two hands to list them, so factor in learning new routes, each with their own “bugs” and weird buildings. She gets sent out with paperwork that, though it should be filled out detailing the relays prior to her departure, is blank with just her name and a supervisor’s signature on it. She’s been told “well use your GPS on your phone to figure out where to go.” They keep her out so long that her scanner DIES before she finishes her route.

    She gets called out a lot–she’ll wake up and be told they don’t need her yet they’re ALWAYS understaffed. She has to drive to two or three different offices in order to get days. Most days, she isn’t home until 9-10 pm,definitely never before 8:30, but on occasion, I’ve seen her come in around 11 as well.

    So it’s not MY experience, but I’ve been watching this all unfold and you know what? It’s sickening. She’s been telling me to work there because I’m not doing enough (mental illness, actively working a part-time/borderline full-time and searching for a full time)but this would only make it worse. I’m not subjecting myself to torture and abuse for “good pay.” There’s plenty of other jobs out there, and if you’re looking, I hope you only do this if ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

    TL;DR – It’s like a job out of hell.

  2. Kyuu

    November 21, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Adding to my prior post , every day my mother comes home WITH her lunch because SHE DOESN’T GET A BREAK. She actually came home ONE day, excited beyond words and said “I actually got to eat lunch today!”


  3. Renee

    November 21, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Kyuu. I can’t apologize enough for the abuse your mom is being subjected to at the hands of the USPS. I know first hand as I too was a single parent and letter carrier for 13 years. Your mom should request to speak to EAP – I would suggest a union rep but finding a good one will be difficult. God Bless!

  4. Andrew Mattes

    November 21, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    My girlfriend works as a supervisor at the post office. Her postmaster constantly takes off leaving her no help. For the last week she has gone in 6 days straight from 5am or earlier and the earliest she has arrived home has been 830pm. She doesn’t get to take lunch and now is being told she will have to work Sunday to do amazon making it a 7 day 90+ hour week and since she is salary they say she will get no OT compensation for all the extra hours which last time I checked is illegal in the state of NY where we live. This is a constant and ongoing thing. 3 years sent to multiple office and hours Noone should have to do. Sometimes 16 hours in one day last time I checked that 2 days work for 1 days pay. Sounds fair and right to anyone!

  5. Laurie

    November 25, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I was a casual mail handler at a facility recently for the holidays for all of ten days. The job was physically demanding having to push heavy carts full of trays of mail, lifting heavy and awkward shaped boxes and other things, but that is not the reason I am no longer there. I did my job the best I could, but unfortunately I had the supervisor from hell who criticized everything I did pretty much from the get-go. Just three days into the job she threatened to let me go because I wasn’t “fast” enough. Huh? There was a lot to learn about this job and it would take about at least two weeks to get everything down if that. I cannot understand what this person had against me because I thought they wanted people who put in a good, honest day’s work though I was told by a couple of co-workers she could be the type that can pick on certain individuals and to just do the work and not let it get to me. Unfortunately things went from bad to worse as the week went on. I was chewed out again for something I was unfamiliar with and was threatened to be let go again. There were times I just felt like quitting because it wasn’t worth the hassle, but I needed the money and I never was one to quit anything. I would just tough it out as long as I could. The last straw came the other day when I was working in the low cut department where I had to put trays of mail with certain zip codes into matching cages and then move them out when they were full for the next step. There were two conveyor belts which two people each were supposed to work but I worked one all by myself for most of the time. I noticed one of her lackeys going through all my carts and trays checking all the labels on which the zip codes were written and only pretty much on my side. I kept being asked if I was putting the trays in the cages with the labels facing front and I was assuring her I was because I was very careful to do it that way. Later when I went on my break she told me she was letting me go because according to her I was not catching on and even said she witnessed me putting the trays in backwards. That was a bold faced lie because I knew I was doing it correctly. It later dawned on me that the lackey checking my trays could have done that on purpose under my supervisor’s instructions and blame me for it though I can’t prove it since there were no witnesses. In hindsight I wished I checked the trays to see if that actually happened because at least I know what I did. I guess I didn’t realize such childish games were going on since we are all adults there. I didn’t finish my shift because I was so angry and disgusted I just wanted to get out of there. I’m just sorry I am leaving my coworkers as they were fantastic for the most part in being friendly and helpful when I had questions and concerns. I feel sorry for the other casuals still there because they will be probably be the next victim of this vile, despicable person. I was told she has been there twenty-odd years so I’m sure I was far from the only one targeted, but I can’t understand how she’s kept her job for so long. At most any other place she would have been long gone. At least I can hold my head up that I didn’t break down and quit and left with dignity even though I am unemployed again. Of all of my 35 years of working life this has been the worst and most bizarre experience I have ever been through.

    I would not discourage anyone from being a casual or seeking a job with the post office because not everyone will have the same horrific experience I did and the pay is decent,but should that happen, RUN AWAY FAST! You deserve better!

  6. Donald Smith

    November 27, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I worked with 6 usps employees who worked part time at Houston intercontinental airport and all bragged about how they slept on the job to be fresh for the airport job. They were lazy on both and proud of it.

  7. Tywona Matthews

    November 30, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    My experience with the postal service is unbelievable If I thought this was going to be crazy experience not a wonderful good enjoyable job I would have never applied. As a veteran I am truly heartbroken and disappointed. Thank God I graduate in one year with my masters,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *