Coming Together to Battle Workplace Harassment

May 1, 2018

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(This article first appeared in the May-June 2018 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Vice President Debby Szeredy 

We are all aware of the surge of workers mobilizing against sexual harassment, and their stories and experiences have been both sad and inspiring. The APWU has joined with other national unions to come up with ways the labor movement can work to create the conditions at work that will put an end to harassment and hostile work environments.

Recently, some APWU National officers (myself included) joined other union officers and staff to talk about what it means for unions to be part of the solution to ending workplace harassment. Speakers from organizations like the #TimesUp campaign and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) made it clear that legal fights alone will not end harassment – change must happen in the culture of a workplace. That change, we all know, is neither easy nor fast, but it can happen.

The Postal Service has an Anti-Harassment Workplace Policy addressing harassment based on "race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity including transgender status), national origin, age (40 or over), mental or physical disability, genetic information or uniformed (military) service." However, too often, supervisors and managers fail to live up to the policy.

Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy at an American Federation of
Government Employees rally.

Harassment hurts all of us, but together we can help bring it to an end. It requires more than just the victims of harassment to be brave and speak out. We need to show support for victims and confront problems. I encourage you to speak up, report and write statements when you witness sexual and other harassment, and hostile management actions against our co-workers.

Based on what we hear, a hostile work environment continues to be a significant problem in the Postal Service. Illegal discrimination is not the only thing creating hostile work environments. The stress, constant change and unreasonable work demands generated by understaffing also contribute to a workplace harmful to employees. These challenges you face at work are why we are pushing to end all forms of harassment.

Every worker deserves dignity and respect. At work, there should not be any discrimination or harassment. Together we will be the voice for decency and fairness, creating an environment in which we can work together safely and honorably.

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