USPS workers concerned agency isn't doing enough to protect essential workers from COVID-19

Nearly 10% of postal workers nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19

ByJason Knowles and Ann Pistone WLS logo
Friday, August 14, 2020
USPS workers say agency isn't doing enough to protect them from COVID-19
United States Postal Workers are telling the I-Team their health and safety are at risk. Some workers saying the federal agency isn't doing enough to protect their essential worker

CHICAGO (WLS) -- United States postal workers told the ABC 7 I-Team their health and safety are at risk. Some workers said the federal agency isn't doing enough to protect their essential workers.

According to the United States Postal Service, nearly 10% of all postal workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

A number of Chicago area postal workers contacted the I-Team, saying COVID19 safety guidelines by the CDC are not being followed.

"At my facility they are not being proactive in making sure all employees are safe," a postal employee at the South Suburban Processing and Distribution Center in Bedford Park, said.

The worker, who asked not to be identified, said she fears for her health and safety. She and other workers who spoke to the ABC 7 I-Team, asked their identities be protected because they fear losing their jobs

"I don't want to contract it and bring it home to one of my loved ones where I could probably fight off the virus, and they can't," said a second employee.

We spoke to eight Bedford Park workers; five spoke on camera. They said that more than 30 employees in their facility have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began. USPS would not disclose the number of employees who tested positive here.

"It's very stressful, my anxiety is high every day. I am afraid to talk to the people I have been talking to for years because they won't wear a mask. They won't wash their hands, they won't wear gloves because they don't have gloves to wear," a third worker told the I-Team.

These employees said that the south suburban postal facility lacks personal protective equipment (PPE) and that employees are told wearing a mask is optional.

"We are talking about a facility that works 24 hours a day, seven days a week that has hardly no materials to make sure that we are safe. No sanitizer, no gloves and not enough masks. Even supervisors are not wearing a mask," said our first postal worker.

They also told the I-Team the facility has not been professionally cleaned as recommended by the CDC.

"Just close it down and have a deep cleaning. Yeah. Have your workplace cleaning so your employees can feel motivated, if nothing else to come to work," a fourth employee said.

They also claim there is little to no social distancing.

"My biggest concern, there's really no way that you can be in a safe distance from another person in the facility," said our second worker.

"The CDC said you must wear your mask you must practice physical distance no one was doing that. It was like don't nobody care," said our fourth worker.

The US Postal Service wouldn't talk on camera. In a statement they disputed the local workers claims saying "We're ensuring our employees have masks, gloves, and that cleaning and sanitizing products are available. "

They said they reinforce employees staying at least six feet apart "when entering, exiting or working at any USPS facility..."

Similar complaints have been made by postal employees around the country. Denver health officials ordered a postal distribution center closed for disinfecting after they heard of a Covid19 outbreak but were refused access by USPS. The Post Office denies an outbreak occurred, according to the Denver Post.

Workers in 11 different U.S. locations complained the Postal Service wouldn't tell them of confirmed cases of Covid19 in their workplaces. They found out from colleagues, according to a report from ProPublica.

In their statement, USPS also said they have "a dedicated COVID-19 Command Response leadership team that is focusing on employee, operational, business, and customer continuity during this unprecedented epidemic...The safety and well-being of our employees is our highest priority..." adding that its following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

USPS said management, the union and a registered nurse communicate regularly about protocols being followed. Union representatives and employees at the Bedford Park facility continue to dispute this.

"I don't feel safe. You have to say if I'm choosing work or my life," the fifth worker told the I-Team.

USPS said that there have been some deaths nationwide. Nearly 10% of the agency's 630,000 employees nationwide have tested positive for COVID-19.