Administration, USPS Condemned for Withholding
Information About Discovery of Ricin-Tainted Mail
Burrus Update #04-04, Feb. 5, 2004
The American Postal Workers Union today condemned the Administration and the U.S. Postal Service for their failure to notify the American public and the union about a package containing the deadly poison ricin that was mailed to President Bush last November.
"Published reports indicate that the USPS was notified Nov. 12 that the contaminated mail passed through a mail processing center in Chattanooga," APWU President William Burrus said, "but the Postal Service never shared that information with the union."
"As the ricin incident in the U.S. Senate has unfolded in recent days, I have withheld comment or criticism," Burrus said. "I have avoided inflaming the fears and passions that postal workers feel at times like this.
"However, I am appalled that when there was clear evidence that workers could have been endangered last year, the Administration and Postal Service failed to inform and consult with the workers' representative, the American Postal Workers Union. This unfortunate failure to communicate with the union is regrettably reminiscent of the uneven handling of information during the anthrax terrorist attacks two years ago."
"The USPS-APWU collective bargaining agreement," Burrus added, "requires the parties to cooperate to ensure the safety of postal workers. By withholding this information, the Postal Service has reneged on its commitment to its workers, and has seriously breached their trust.
"I intend to call for a congressional investigation of this matter."