Postal Workers Are Always Essential

Debby Szeredy

November 12, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the November/December issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Your labor of love and survival has really made a difference to so many people over the last two years. Your job exposed you to COVID-19 – original and variants*. You persisted as you watched your coworkers, family, friends and your communities getting sick or dying. You were called “Essential Workers,” though many in our country never realized that you have always been essential!

Essential workers who also were union members had a clear safety advantage the last year and a half. For postal workers, stewards and officers were there to help enforce the many Memorandums of Understanding that were signed at APWU Headquarters, and they enforced the CDC, and Biden Administration Executive Order protections making sure the USPS was following the rules to protect you on the job.

You worked hard to make sure that all individuals in this country were able to exercise their right to vote. This was lifechanging because the results brought congressmembers and a U.S. President who took COVID-19 seriously as a disease, not dismissing it as ‘fake news.’

Hundreds of thousands of postal workers were exposed to COVID-19, and over 200 postal workers died. The PMG admitted in his Ten-Year Plan (March 2021) that the cumulative number of employees quarantined was over 100,000 (out of 644,000 postal employees). Non-career employees’ turnover rate continues to increase. There is the need for more nursing staff and better cleaning protections.

In some cases, COVID-19 caused smaller post offices to temporarily close due to employees quarantined. The PMG and the Board of Governors had the audacity to start up consolidations of mail processing facilities, in addition to excessing employees, equipment and moving first class mail away from its communities, and degrading the service standards. To take this action during a pandemic while heading toward our peak season and the upcoming 2022 elections is sabotage. The plan should be to improve service standards like we had in 2012. We still need more congressional members to cosponsor H. Res 119 to bring the right standards back; please make sure your representative has signed on.

The Holiday Season is upon us, and I pray you continue to stay strong. Members unite – our fight is not over. We must get our standards back, and battle for our future.

There are thousands of stories where your locals and states stood strong stepping up and volunteering to make our workplace better. We all hope and pray for a better contract; one that members will be proud to help us enforce on the workroom floor. There is work to do. Blessed Holidays and stay safe APWU Family.

*If you tested positive for COVID-19, look into your right to file an OWCP claim.

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