U.S. Postal Employees Work Under conditions of terror

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The postal service is the second largest employer of middle-class workers in the United States, yet, in spite of what President Obama pledged to the Egyptian people abve, the conditions under which postal employees are forced to exist are just as unjust and emotionally brutal as on any plantation.

[Beneath The Spin]

Part One of a series

In a June 9, 2009 speech in Cairo, President Obama told the people of Egypt, “ But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

That was powerful and soaring rhetoric, but talk is cheap. If president Obama is truly concerned about improving the conditions of the poor and middle class, he should start by addressing the gross abuses of same by his very own United States Postal Service. The postal service is the second largest employer of middle-class workers in the United States, yet, in spite of what President Obama pledged to the Egyptian people above, the conditions under which postal employees are forced to exist are just as unjust and emotionally brutal as on any plantation. I recently received the following letter from a Los Angeles letter carrier:

My name is Sylvester Burton.  I’ve been a postal carrier of ten years, and I work out of the Rimpau Station here in Los Angeles. On August 13, 2011, while out on my route I noticed that I had accidently left some of my mail back at the station, which is a common thing carriers do every now and then due to the pressure that management puts us to get us out of the station on time. So I called back to see if the mail left behind was still there. I was going to go back and get it, then charge the travel time there and back against my 30 minute lunch. But I was informed that Juanita Hamblet, my supervisor, was on her way to bring it to me.  So I move to the next block and resume delivery so I wouldn’t have to waste time sitting waiting.

“A short time later Ms. Hamblet pulled up on the opposite side of the corner from where I had parked. Then in a volatile, agitated, loud tone she said, ‘Why are you just realizing you left this mail behind? And why didn’t you call back?’ To which, I told her that I had just reached the part of the route where the mail was missing. I also explained to her that did call. She then said, ‘I'm going to do a street observation!’ I didn’t have any problem with that, so I just got the mail from the back of the vehicle and resumed delivery.
“At 12:02 p.m. I drove to Subway for lunch and finished at 12:32 p.m. I start delivery at 1297 Cochran and finished that swing at 12:52 p.m. Then just after I got into my vehicle Ms. Hamblet pulled up and walks across the street toward my vehicle, and shouting in a very loud voice. ‘Where were you for the last 50 minutes?’ I explained to her that I had gone to lunch for 30 minutes and delivered mail for 18 minutes. I then asked her, very politely, to tone her voice down and stop harassing me.


“So I pulled about 8 feet away from her and parked, wondering if I should follow this woman’s instructions or ignore her and finish delivering mail. Then she walked up to me again, and said, ‘I SAID TAKE YOUR ASS BACK TO THE STATION! THAT’S A DIRECT ORDER!’

When we got back to the station she ran into Mrs. Stanley’s office and told the manager that I called her a bitch, I threatened her, and that I almost ran over her. She also said that I was a coward and she was intimidated by my presence.

There's even a statement from a customer to back up the account:

Customer Statement
Atten: Miss Stanley, Station Manager
To Whom It May Concern:

“My name is Elizabeth Crawford. I along with my wife Michelle Lo, own 1293-1295 S. Cochran. Avenue, Los Angeles, Ca 90019.  On August 13, 2011 we were landscaping our front yard and witnessed an altercation between our mail carrier, Sylvester Burton and a woman whom I later learned was Juanita, his supervisor.

“At first I only heard a woman (Juanita) shouting and cursing. Since my back was to them I did not see who was yelling. Then I saw our letter carrier Mr. Burton drive by in his mail truck and pull over to the curb just past our driveway. A black woman raced over to the now parked mail truck cursing and shouting at Mr. Burton saying “you tried to run me over” and that she was going to “call the police”. As I watched I became very very alarmed because I could not tell at first from the casual attire she was clothed in that she was a postal employee. All I could see was an extremely unhinged woman going ballistic and attacking our mailman. I watched Juanita as she reached inside the mail truck and shook her hand in Mr. Burton’s face as she shouted ‘I don’t give a fuck about you and by the way I think your ass is GAY!’ Then she shouted ‘you take your ass back to the station right now…this is MYROUTE MY ROUTE…and you take your ass back to the station right now...’  She then shouted ‘I’m calling the postal police on your ass you take your ass back to the station right now.’

“Mr. Burton drove away in the mail truck. I don’t know what Mr. Burton was saying in response to all this as he NEVER raised his voice or shouted back during the entire episode.

“My entire family including my seven year-old niece had to witness this entirely unprofessional vulgar outburst. The cursing and swearing peppered with the f-word and the homophobic remarks was nothing less than shocking and completely inappropriate.  I was extremely offended by her homophobic remarks and I am myself gay, not to mention the cursing and swearing in front of our child.

“Don’t know and I really don’t care what prompted Juanita’s tirade. I was shocked to see someone in a so-called “supervisory position” treating someone who works for her so brutally. Needless to say law in the state of California the law prohibits the attack on Mr. Burton based on his sexual identification in the workplace! You should take note of this.

“You need to DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS WOMAN. While representing the USPS no one should be able to behave that badly and make that big of a scene in public plus publicly attacking a subordinates sexual orientation and be allowed to keep their job.

“If Mr. Burton sues for harassment I will gladly be a witness on his behalf.”

M. Elizabeth J. Crawford

There was also an employee statement dated September 10, 2011 from Vyonnie Garbutt, attesting to Mr. Burton, as a respectable and hardworking, while noting that, "I would also like to attest to the fact that I have personally witnessed Carrier Supervisor Juanita Hamblett unprofessionalism and lack of dignity and respect for several employees at Rimpau Station."

Then there's the response from the Postal Services Human Resources Manager, Kathlyn J. Robinson, which in essence can be summarized as "we spoke to her - but we can't tell you what we said - now, go away."

The fact is, the postal service doesn't see this sort of thing as a problem. Instead of viewing this as not only unprofessional behavior, but a serious civil rights issue that needs immediate attention, the postal service views it as business as usual. The only reason it's being addressed at all is because this particular employee is making such a big fuss over it that it needs to be managed just to keep his mouth shut.

Clear evidence of that is the fact that the above letter to Mr. Burton came from the manager of Human Resources. If the postal service thought the matter required corrective action, Mr. Burton would have been contacted by the manager of Labor Relations. He's the one who handles corrective action, but Labor Relations claims that the matter hadn't even been brought to their attention.  That's hard to believe since it was brought to the attention of the union. So what's going on here?  How could the union and Human Resources know about a matter as serious as this, but not Labor Relations?

And what happened to the supervisor's claim that she'd been threatened by Mr. Burton, that he tried to run over her, and she felt intimidated by his presence?  Those allegations seemed to have simply evaporated once it was found that there were witnesses to the incident.

Over the past two years we've written over twenty articles on the postal service's abusive tactics against it's employees, because we've long since recognized that the United States Postal Service is a microcosm of the United States as a whole, and its employees represent a change in our government's attitude towards poor and middle-class Americans as a whole.

You see, the postal service doesn't merely treat its employees with disdain, it also has little respect for its customers - that is, unless the customer has wealth and power. But if you happen to be poor or middle class, they'll bat you away like a fly.  So this is far from simply a labor issue.  It's a political issue that has a direct impact on ALL 99ers, so it needs to be embraced by the "Occupy Movement," and shoved directly in Obama's face during this political season.

This is the perfect issue to see exactly where President Obama really stands with respect to the poor and middle class in this country. Since the postal service is a United States government agency, Obama doesn't need congress to bring its abuses to an end. He could bring it to an end with a phone call during lunch. So the question is, why is he allowing this employee abuse to go on? After all, the Postmaster General is merely an overseer. The President of the United States is the plantation master.

So we should all follow this case and the many others like it.  They represent the perfect barometer for measuring the decline of the American middle class. They also clearly demonstrate that the institutions that the American people once depended upon to defend their interests are now nothing more than collapsible, movie-set backdrops, designed to give Americans the illusion of justice. But don't take my word for it, try suing a major corporation. You'll find in very short order that while justice may be blind, it's only blind to the abuse of the poor and middle class. It has 20/20 vision when it comes to protecting the interest of the rich.

So if we want this to remain America, we've got to turn this around - if it's not already too late.

The following video posting also reveals much.

Doesn't the postal service claim they're suffering from a lack of business? Now you see why, and you also see what our government thinks of 99ers. We've got to get their attention.  As the lady in the above video indicated, ALL government officials are OUR employees, not the reverse.

And finally, how can we honor our veterans while abusing our postal workers?  After all, veterans are postal workers too.
So don't preach us a sermon Mr. President; live us one.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

For more writings by columnist Eric L. Wattree see wattree.blogspot.com
Contact: Ewattree@Gmail.com
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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