CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WJZY) — The American Postal Worker Union is saying enough is enough, after dealing with months of staffing shortages and what they’re calling a toxic work environment.
Local APWU members gathered to protest in front of the United States Post Office in Uptown Friday. Postal worker protests weren’t unique to Charlotte though, they went on throughout the rest of the country.
“Six days a week, one day off,” said USPS employee Peaches Pinto. “That’s not enough time for you to have time for yourself.”
Pinto said due to severe staffing shortages she’s forced to work overtime, all while being treated poorly by post office managers.
“They don’t respect who you are as an individual,” Pinto continued. “We feel like, we’re just the help. And it shouldn’t be that way.”
Mark Dimondstein, APWU’s president, says the severe staffing shortages in post offices across the country have led to toxic work environments, a higher turnover rate and eventually trickle down to customers with slower mail delivery.
“If the working conditions are horrible, people aren’t going to stay,” Dimondstein said. “There’s tremendous turnover, which exacerbates the staffing issues, which exacerbates the substandard service issues.”
A 2022 audit report from the USPS Office of Inspector General said the agency’s new hires had a turnover rate of almost 60 percent, which is a 20 percent spike from the 2019 rate. The two main causes cited in the report were lack of respect from supervisors and too many hours on the job.
Dimondstein hopes the nationwide protests will instrument change and lead to more postal workers hired and a more positive work environment for current employees.
“Postal management really has to address not just the hiring issue, but what we call the retention issue,” he said. “And when that’s fixed — and that comes down a lot to the working conditions — then people will stay longer. And that’ll help on the staffing side as well.”
USPS responded to the accusations made by employees with a statement saying: “We respect our employees’ rights to express their opinions and participate in informational picketing while off the clock.”