Respect workers’ Rights – Emancipate United States Postal Workers
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 in 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, the conditions under which its 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.
“She then walked up to me, her hand in my face and said, ‘I CAN HARASS YOUR ASS AS MUCH AS I WANT, AND I WILL CONTINUE TO HARRASS YOUR ASS. I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU BURTON – I THINK YOUR ASS IS GAY. TAKE YOUR ASS BACK TO THE STATION, I’M GONNA CALL THE POSTAL POLICE ON YOUR ASS!’
“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.
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
Much more to come on this story. I’m being flooded with additional documentation on both this lady’s behavior, as well as the postal service’s tendency to turn a blind eye to employee abuse.
Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)