USPS Pressured to Provide Water for All Mail Carriers

USPS Pressured to Present Water for All Mail Carriers


A U.S. Postal Service mail service tries to remain cool below the shade of an umbrella as she walks her route alongside East Grand Avenue in Dallas June 20. (Elías Valverde II/Tribune Content material Company)

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WASHINGTON — Texas lawmakers prodded the U.S. Postal Service on Aug. 9 to supply bottled water to mail carriers in San Antonio, a long-standing observe the employees say stopped final month regardless of the acute warmth roasting the state.

A Dallas letter service, Eugene Gates Jr., collapsed on the job and died June 20 throughout a warmth wave.

“This warmth is especially harmful for letter carriers, who do not need air-con of their automobiles and subsequently endure even increased temperatures of their automobiles than outside,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Postmaster Normal Louis DeJoy and San Antonio Postmaster Robert Carr.

They known as on the Postal Service to create a plan to make sure letter carriers are permitted to take vital breaks from the warmth and have entry to chilly water — with out having to pay out of pocket.

Kimetra Lewis, president of the Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers’ Lone Star Department 132, mentioned carriers’ entry to bottled water and ice machines varies within the Dallas space.

Democratic Reps. Greg Casar of Austin, Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, and Henry Cuellar of Laredo signed the letter. So did Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio).

The pushback coincides with a broader debate about authorities protections for outside employees compelled to endure life-threatening temperatures.

Casar held a thirst strike in July to protest a brand new Texas regulation wiping out native necessities for obligatory water breaks. Proponents have touted the brand new regulation as a manner of releasing companies from onerous rules, however critics say it endangers employees.

The Postal Service didn’t reply on to the San Antonio complaints however mentioned typically that carriers ship the mail in a variety of “temperatures and weather conditions,” together with the summer season months.

“The protection of our staff is a prime precedence and the Postal Service has carried out a nationwide Warmth Sickness Prevention Program (HIPP) for all staff,” the Postal Service mentioned in a press release.

Security Coaching

That program has obligatory heat-related security coaching and supplies that embrace consciousness posters, every day messaging reminders and stickers in each automobile figuring out indicators of heat-related sickness.

Carriers are reminded to remain hydrated, take enough quantities of water with them and speak to 911 in the event that they expertise signs of heat-related sickness.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers not too long ago despatched one other letter to DeJoy requesting air-conditioned automobiles in San Antonio due to the acute warmth. Simply 34% of present Postal Service automobiles have air-con.

Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas), helped lead a bunch of 15 Home Democrats posing a sequence of inquiries to USPS about its labor practices after Gates, 66, died. His widow, Carla Gates, believes his demise was associated to the excessive warmth, though the trigger has not been formally decided.

He labored for the Postal Service for greater than 35 years.

The Occupational Security and Well being Administration is investigating Gates’ demise. Carla Gates mentioned the look forward to solutions has been irritating.

Informed concerning the studies of San Antonio carriers now not being supplied bottled water, she mentioned the Postal Service ought to take excessive warmth under consideration in crafting its insurance policies.

“That’s simply widespread sense, to make the circumstances higher for the employees,” she mentioned.

The Postal Service reiterated its condolences in its assertion Aug. 9.

“The Postal Service continues to be saddened by the lack of life suffered involving our Lakewood Letter Service, Eugene Gates Jr.,” the assertion mentioned. “Our ideas stay along with his household, buddies and colleagues.”

Homer Hernandez, political director of the Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers Alamo Department 421, mentioned administration in San Antonio was instructed to cease ordering bottled water and Gatorade on July 14.

“We, the letter carriers, work exterior for about eight to 10 hours within the excessive warmth. All we ask is [that USPS] proceed to supply bottled water, and to cease intimidating and harassing letter carriers when taking relaxation breaks,” Hernandez mentioned, in accordance with a information launch saying the most recent letter from members of Congress.

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The lawmakers wrote that excessive warmth is endangering employees throughout the state and the nation, with temperatures hovering over 100 levels and a document variety of warmth exhaustion emergencies.

“Letter carriers present an important service to our group and achieve this with diligence and willpower,” they wrote. “They deserve the assets that they should do their job safely.”

The elimination of free bottled water for San Antonio postal employees appeared to run opposite to President Joe Biden’s stance at a July 27 White Home occasion on excessive warmth, when he criticized efforts to roll again obligatory water breaks.

“We needs to be defending employees from hazardous circumstances, and we’ll,” Biden mentioned. “And people states the place they don’t, I’m going to be calling them out, the place they refuse to guard these employees on this terrible warmth.”

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