To All Incumbents: Why Should Any of You be Returned to Office?
While writing this series of articles I had the great privilege of being contacted by Dr. Stephen Musacco. Dr Musacco is a therapist, an organizational psychologist, and the author of the book “Beyond Going Postal.” In addition to his credentials as a psychologist, Dr. Musacco also has the specialized knowledge of having worked for the postal service for over thirty years. So I’m going to devote this week’s column to a statement by the good doctor, a man who is uniquely qualified to speak to what he calls the “toxic environment ” that postal workers are forced to endure.
Before addressing issues related to the continual fallout of a toxic postal culture, I would like first to commend the filmmaker, director, and all those involved in the development of the documentary “Murder by Proxy.”
The title is fitting because those individuals committing murders in the workplace including suicides do so not simply because of their “psychological make-up,” these horrific events are also often contributed by preexisting factors stemming from the culture of the organization. Organizations with harsh and paramilitary cultures will likely have a higher incidence of toxic workplace environments and workplace violence, including homicides and suicides. Such organizations are aptly coined violence-prone.
In January 2009, my book “Beyond Going Postal” (BGP) was published. In writing this book, I was cautiously optimistic that it would serve as a catalyst for the national postal unions and management organizations to unite and speak with one voice against the autocratic, paramilitary methods and practices of top postal management. It was my hope that with increased oversight and accountability from Congress the Postal Service would begin to change from a toxic and violent-prone organization to a safe and healthy organization. This optimism, unfortunately, did not materialize. The interested reader can reference my motivation for writing BGP on my website (http://goingpostal-beyond.com/) In addition, a free copy of my book is in PDF format and can be downloaded from my website.
When BGP was released, I sent copies to the four national presidents of the postal unions and the three national presidents of the management associations as well as a cover letter briefly highlighting its content and purpose. Of these seven national presidents, only Charley Mapa, President League of Postmasters, acknowledged receipt of the book and made favorable reference to it on his association’s website in a message to his membership.
In an unprecedented action, Mr. Mapa and his entire executive board notified the Postmaster General of their intention to enlist the support of Congress to address the postal service’s authoritarian practices and methods that are affecting the health and well-being of postmasters.
This noble and worthy action has recently led to a highly significant bill in Congress to address some of these issues.
The last chapter of BGP was an open letter to Congress and is in the public domain. This letter addresses the critical and important role that Congress needs to take regarding its oversight responsibilities of the Postal Service, especially regarding how its negative and authoritarian methods and practices have engendered toxic workplace environments and workplace tragedies in postal installations throughout the nation. In addition to congressional oversight, I highlighted the importance of Congress to hold the U.S. Postal Service accountable in addressing its toxic postal culture. Specific requirements and recommendations were proffered for this purpose.
Moreover, shortly after publication of BGP, copies of the book coupled with cover letters, were sent to key congressional representatives and U.S. Senators with postal oversight responsibilities as well as to the U.S. Secretary of Labor. Sadly, even after several follow-up communications with these government officials, there was no acknowledgment of my inquiries.
Because of the inaction or failure of Congress, two of the three postal management associations, and all four of the postal unions, to make the toxic postal culture and its devastating affect on the health and well-being of its employees a core issue, the postal culture has worsened. The postal culture has not worsened simply because of the 2008-2010 recession. It has worsened instead because of the unfettered continuation and extension of the authoritarian, unethical, unlawful, and unilateral decision-making of top postal management. It has worsened because of the unfettered egregious violations of contractual precedents and agreements, time and attendance fraud, and unconscionable reorganizations and downsizings.