USPS Postal Workers have to struggle to do their jobs amid both COVID-19 and political debates. Nearly 10% of postal workers nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19. Postal workers have fears for their health and safety and their family and loved ones’ health and safety. Postal workers continue to worry about the spread of coronavirus among their coworkers and are concerned with the current political climate. The Postal Service has recently implemented new policies and cutbacks set in place by the new postmaster general, Louis DeJoy.
Postal workers must continue to communicate with customers and even some employees who refuse to follow CDC Recommendations. Workers worry about having to work knowing that some supervisors will not notify them if they have been in contact with other employees who tested positive for the Covid-19 so they can be tested. For employees who tested positive for coronavirus, many had very little time off or hazard pay (if any) and had to return to work still feeling ill from the virus. There is also the growing concern of not having enough PPE for all employees and increasing concern of making sure processing centers are adequately cleaned and disinfected following the CDC’s safety guidelines. The complaints are nationwide among postal workers, leaving many postal employees choosing between their lives and livelihood.
With the pandemic still affecting many Americans, voters plan to cast ballots by mail. The US Postal Service urges voters to send in their ballots as soon as possible to avoid Election Day problems. Since March, coronavirus outbreaks have caused slower delivery times. First-class delivery has slowed down significantly with delays in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Houston, and Southern California. Post offices short-staffed before the pandemic face more challenges, especially with Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s cost-cutting plans.
The USPS has been the subject of much political debate during this election year. Trump has repeatedly targeted the USPS, with unsubstantiated claims that mail-in voting would cause voter fraud. Trump has even opposed requested federal funding for the USPS because he does not want to see it used for mail-in voting in this year’s election. President Trump’s rhetoric has overshadowed a significant threat to the Postal Service’s ability to handle the expected to millions of mail-in ballots this fall.
With vote-by-mail ballots, a rapid rise in the number of workers out due to COVID-19, and the cost-cutting measures ordered by the Post Master General, Postal employees feel the government is attacking the post office and politicizing a non-partisan agency. The government has removed processing machines and has not hired temporary workers, due to a hiring freeze, to help the agency during election and holiday season. Workers are concerned about the backlog and ability to send ballots out promptly.
Postal employees are being hit on all sides, now understaffed, overworked, and continuously at risk of being exposed to coronavirus. Despite the cutbacks and lack of empathy for workers’ safety, most postal workers continue to say they are proud of their role in facilitating Americans’ right to vote but are worried about the extraordinary number of ballots that will come into the processing center.
Postal Workers-struggling to do their jobs amid COVID and political debates find themselves having to choose their life or work, and for many, this is the same.
Contributing Writer, Shera Strange is a Fitness Professional & Writer living in Chicago. Find her on social media @StrangeFitnessInc on Facebook and @SheraStrange on Linkedin.