WASHINGTON – Some postal workers say they’re tired of delivering mail in the dark, in fear for their own safety.
They held a rally and march in D.C. Monday night to demand changes, using call-and-response chants such as “What do we want? Safe delivery! When do we want it? Now!”
The event began at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and continued to U.S. Postal Service Headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza.
Valerie McCambry says letter carriers like her don’t receive their mail for the day as early as they used to, and they also have more addresses to deliver to than they had in the past.
The result, she says, is many postal workers still on the job long after the sun goes down.
“Carriers in residential stations are working to 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night.”
Letter carrier Karen Nance told WTOP a fellow carrier recently got a scare while trying to deliver after dark.
“She walked up on the lady’s porch and she said, ‘You’re about to get shot if you don’t identify who you are.'”
Nance said it would really help if residents would leave their front door or porch light on at night until their mail is delivered.
Postal workers at Monday’s event had a list of demands for Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, including ending after-dark deliveries, starting letter carriers earlier each day, adjusting what they say are overburdened routes and reopening mail processing plants that have been closed.
The demands follow the death late last year of postal worker Tyson Barnette, who was shot and killed while delivering mail at night on an unfamiliar route in Prince George’s County.
The 26-year-old was found dead November 23 near the Cheverly Metro station.
Despite a $125,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction, the case remains unsolved.
Barnette’s mother Bridget, who lives in Rock Hill, South Carolina, attended the march and spoke about her son.
“He was a pretty laid back, quiet person and he didn’t bother anybody. Everybody loved him and the postal workers there took him like he was their own son,” she said.
Barnette said she has not been told much about the investigation into her son’s death, and she urged anyone with information to come forward.
Nance, who worked with Barnette, wore a t-shirt to the rally that included a photo of him and the words “AKA 50 Cent”.
She says fellow carriers gave Barnette the nickname because he looked a lot like the famous rapper.
“He was a good person. We all liked him. He’d been with us a few years, so. We all kind of watched out for each other,” Nance said.
The postal service says it understands the concerns of its letter carriers.
Spokesman Dave Partenheimer released this statement to WTOP:
“The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees very seriously. We have a robust safety program designed to heighten awareness of dangers carriers can face while performing their duties and teach techniques to minimize that danger. We are also working with the National Association of Letter Carriers to identify additional actions we can take to keep our carriers safe during daylight hours – when most assaults occur – and while delivering later in the day. Late-day deliveries are sometimes unavoidable due to inclement weather, traffic issues or other unplanned events and seasonal fluctuations in mail volumes. Additionally, the Postal Service is making investments in technology aimed at providing real time product visibility and improving safety. This includes two-way communication capabilities and Global Positioning System functionality, which will allow for real-time communications with carriers.”