Tuesday, January 21, 2014

US Postal workers march for safer hours on Martin Luther King Day in Washington D.C ! If mail carriers are delivering mail in the dark , at hours as late as 11pm ( in the winter time , in areas not safe during the day ) , I agree with the postal workers that safety is a big concern !


Postal workers march for safer hours in D.C.

Tuesday - 1/21/2014, 12:23pm  ET
Postal workers stood near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to demand an end to delivery after dark. They say it's a safety issue. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
WASHINGTON - Some postal workers say they're tired of delivering mail in the dark, in fear for their own safety.
They held a rally and march in D.C. Monday night to demand changes, using call-and-response chants such as "What do we want? Safe delivery! When do we want it? Now!"
The event began at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and continued to U.S. Postal Service Headquarters at L'Enfant Plaza.
Valerie McCambry says letter carriers like her don't receive their mail for the day as early as they used to, and they also have more addresses to deliver to than they had in the past.
The result, she says, is many postal workers still on the job long after the sun goes down.
"Carriers in residential stations are working to 9, 10, 11 o'clock at night."
Letter carrier Karen Nance told WTOP a fellow carrier recently got a scare while trying to deliver after dark.
"She walked up on the lady's porch and she said, 'You're about to get shot if you don't identify who you are.'"
Nance said it would really help if residents would leave their front door or porch light on at night until their mail is delivered.
Postal workers at Monday's event had a list of demands for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, including ending after-dark deliveries, starting letter carriers earlier each day, adjusting what they say are overburdened routes and reopening mail processing plants that have been closed.
The demands follow the death late last year of postal worker Tyson Barnette, who was shot and killed while delivering mail at night on an unfamiliar route in Prince George's County.
The 26-year-old was found dead November 23 near the Cheverly Metro station.
Despite a $125,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, the case remains unsolved.
Barnette's mother Bridget, who lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina, attended the march and spoke about her son.
"He was a pretty laid back, quiet person and he didn't bother anybody. Everybody loved him and the postal workers there took him like he was their own son," she said.
Barnette said she has not been told much about the investigation into her son's death, and she urged anyone with information to come forward.
Nance, who worked with Barnette, wore a t-shirt to the rally that included a photo of him and the words "AKA 50 Cent".
She says fellow carriers gave Barnette the nickname because he looked a lot like the famous rapper.
"He was a good person. We all liked him. He'd been with us a few years, so. We all kind of watched out for each other," Nance said.
The postal service says it understands the concerns of its letter carriers.
Spokesman Dave Partenheimer released this statement to WTOP:
"The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees very seriously. We have a robust safety program designed to heighten awareness of dangers carriers can face while performing their duties and teach techniques to minimize that danger. We are also working with the National Association of Letter Carriers to identify additional actions we can take to keep our carriers safe during daylight hours - when most assaults occur - and while delivering later in the day. Late-day deliveries are sometimes unavoidable due to inclement weather, traffic issues or other unplanned events and seasonal fluctuations in mail volumes. Additionally, the Postal Service is making investments in technology aimed at providing real time product visibility and improving safety. This includes two-way communication capabilities and Global Positioning System functionality, which will allow for real-time communications with carriers."

Postal Service Workers Rally For Safer Delivery Hours At MLK Memorial

Photo by Matt Cohen.
On a day designated to remember the great Martin Luther King, Jr.—who was shot to death while protesting for the rights of garbage workers in Memphis—nearly fifty postal service workers gathered by the MLK Memorial to demand safer work conditions.
For most letter carriers, "safer work conditions" means not having to deliver letters after dark. Last November, Tyson Barnette—a part-time Postal Service employee in Prince George's County—was shot and killed while delivering letters well after the sun went down. Police have yet to make any arrests, and Barnette's killer is still at large. While last night's rally was part memorial for Barnette—with his family coming up from Rock Hill, S.C.—it was also a rally calling for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe to improve working conditions and safety for its employees. "Postal Service had a reputation for being a good middle-class job and it's not anymore," one postal carrier told the crowd during the rally.
Due to budget cuts and the closure of mail processing plants in recent years, letter carriers say that their routes have become overburdened, making it nearly impossible for workers to finish delivering mail before it gets dark. "The post office recently put out a bulletin that said the number of carriers out after dark has gone up from 20 percent to 40 percent," one postal worker said to the crowd over the megaphone. "That's unacceptable."
But this isn't an issue that affects just D.C. and the surrounding region. Postal workers from as far as New York City also attended the rally, frustrated by the long hours and fearful for their safety while on the job. Frank Kuget, a letter carrier working out of a Times Square Postal Service station in New York City, told DCist that workers at his station are also worried about staying safe. "When [Barnette] was murdered on the week of Thanksgiving last year, it really hit us hard," he said. "We saw that it was a direct result of the plant closures and the job cuts that he was out there on that pitch black street making $15 an hour with minimal benefits."
Workers and representatives from a number of unions — including Communities and Postal Workers United, Community Labor United for Communities and Postal Workers United, Community-Labor United for Postal Jobs and Services, Postal Defenders, and the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch — were on hand to march with the Barnette family from the MLK Memorial to the front of the Postal Service Headquarters in L'Enfant Plaza to deliver their message. "A lot of carriers are scared. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this happen," one postal worker told the crowd.
Eugene Puryear, an activist with the ANSWER Coalition (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), expressed his support of the postal workers. "They keep wanting to say that there's something broken with the Postal Service, but from our perspective the only thing broken with the Postal Service is the Postmaster General and the U.S. Congress who continually disregard and disrespect letter carriers in this country," he said.