American Postal Workers Union has launched a major congressional lobbying push to get guaranteed-in-law job safety regulations for the nation's 600,000 postal workers. Postal employes have one of the highest injury rate levels in government; ranging from industrial type accidents to traffic accidents and dog bites.
Of major concern, says APWU legislative director Patrick J. Nilan, are the problems caused by increased mechanization. Big city post offices are 24-hour factories with conveyor belts and heavy machinery that pose dangers. Unlike private industry, however, postal and federal installations do not have to admit OSHA inspectors for spot checks of working conditions.
Another APWU official, organization research director Ted Valliere, said recently that the postal service should shut down its 21 bulk mail centers (BMCs) until they are checked for health and safety violations. A worker was killed recently in an accident at the New York BMC, located in New Jersey.
But a spokesman for a group called Postal Workers Defense Committee says shutting down the BMCs would play into the hand of management. The unofficial committee, which is largely concerned with amnesty for employes fired for striking, believes there is a conspiracy to shut down BMCs to punish activists working there.