USPS News Link recently reported on some of the results of the 2017 Postal Pulse employee survey that is given by the USPS to postal employees. The survey is actually a Gallup survey that is administered to many organizations. During the last several years, the USPS has ranked at the bottom or near the bottom on many questions.

The USPS News Link story tried to sound positive, stating that 23 percent of respondents identified themselves as “engaged,” up from 22 percent last year. That is one percentage point on an already abysmal score. Furthermore, the story states that only about 46 percent of the workforce completed the survey. What would the scores have been if the other half of the workforce had completed the survey? Not good, I’m pretty sure.

I know many postal employees who throw away the survey in disgust. They take one look at the questions and ask how does this even concern me? There’s a big disconnect between the questions and actual working conditions for many locations. How do you report abusive management on the survey? Recognition during the past week? Are you kidding me!!! There hasn’t been recognition at my post office in years, except for the 25 and 30 year milestone certificates.

Here, for example, is what’s happening at my post office:

– We’ve had a steady stream of hostile station managers into the post office. Their first reaction is always to start writing people up before knowing employees or understanding the situation.
– They’ve given out so many Letters of Warnings that a LOW now is just shrugged off. So now management is giving out seven-day suspensions for first offenses. I received a seven-day suspension, given on my birthday, for taking off my seatbelt while in the parking lot. Another employee received a seven-day suspension for wearing headphones. (I, for one, had no prior disciplinary action. The suspension has been fully rescinded, thanks to local NALC officials.) At another location, employees have received discipline for being stung by spiders and wasps. A letter carrier whose house had burned down and his family was staying in a motel was threatened with a suspension by the station manager for missing too much work, but the frontline supervisor stood her ground and refused to give the discipline to the carrier. (It would have been nice to see a helping hand extended from the station manager in this situation. Instead it was a middle finger.)
– In many cases, frontline supervisors are reluctant to give out such egregious discipline, but comply when threatened with their own discipline by the station manager.
– It’s not just the craft employees who are receiving discipline. Frontline supervisors are receiving a lot of discipline, mostly “paper” Letters of Warnings and suspensions from station managers and area managers for infractions such as making errors on some of the many reports due each day. And station managers are being similarly threatened by area managers. It’s unclear how far up the chain of command this bad style of leadership management goes.
– Currently I have a frontline supervisor who DOES NOT CARE in any manner, except for the “numbers.” I presented this supervisor with proof that a new CCA was putting the mail into random boxes (for example the CCA would put all DPS mail for an apartment complex in random boxes without even looking at the apartment numbers.) The supervisor said nothing or did nothing. I wanted to call the Postal Inspectors, but to what avail?
– Recently the station manager called a meeting and said since we had been discussing politics on the workroom floor and “someone” had complained about the tone that no one could talk at all about anything. We continue to talk.
– Several employees recently asked me to write a statement that the workplace environment is hostile and that many would sign the statement. One holdout said it wasn’t worth the time because the station manager would be gone soon enough anyway, out the revolving door of management.
– I could go on, and on, but overall the workplace environment is basically one of fear and intimidation ruled by a weird combination of kindergarten and prison rules.

How do you even begin to address such an environment with the Postal Pulse survey? You can’t.

I had a smidgen of hope when Postmaster General Megan Brennan took office that work conditions would improve. There was some talk from her about treating employees better, or something like that. I believe that she was/is sincere. But that hasn’t been the case, at least in my district, where fear, intimidation and undue discipline continue to rule the workplace from top to bottom.

I present these thoughts on the subject in the vain hope that someday, somehow, workplace conditions will improve and the daily nightmare that many employees face by simply going to work will improve.