Puerto Rico Area Local Members Rally to Demand Safe Workplace

November 12, 2021

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

On August 27, Puerto Rico Area Local members staged a rally at the General Post Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, demanding that management address the post office’s unacceptable structural issues that have created an unsafe workplace.

The local initially demanded that postal management receive a certification from a structural engineer that deems the post office safe for both employees and customers. The local's larger demand (proclaimed by the rally participants) is for a new, safe building.

The rally followed management’s evacuation of the second floor of the General Post Office on August 20, without telling postal workers the reason. Though management insisted that the first floor was safe, when members investigated the building, they noticed several structural issues similar to those that caused the collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, FL in June.

Though management insisted the first floor was safe, they installed plastic sheets and tape to stop the debris from falling on employees. In Puerto Rico Area Local Members Rally to Demand Safe Workplace response to management’s inaction, many APWU members in the building filled out PS 1767 and 3971 forms to request administrative leave due to the unsafe workplace. In response, the Postal Service informed the first floor the building was to be fully evacuated, but excluded Main Office Window Section (MOWS) and Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) employees.

At the rally on August 27, Puerto Rico Area Local members raised awareness with the press and the public about management’s inaction to protect every single employee and customer at the General Post Office.

“We are tired of the discrimination against us Puerto Rican postal workers. We are tired of putting our lives needlessly in danger. And we demand a better and safer working environment for not only the employees, but for all the people of Puerto Rico,” said Omar Ortiz, Puerto Rico Area Local Metro Area Coordinator. “We want a better General Post Office, and when do we want it? Now!”

“I salute Puerto Rico Area Local President Juan Carlos González Del Valle and the other local leaders and members for stepping up on this important health and safety struggle," said President Dimondstein. "The actions and solidarity of the Puerto Rico postal workers continue to demonstrate to all of us how workers can hit the streets and make change happen.”

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