Injured Postal Employees Taken Off The Job

     UPS has a long history of targeting injured workers for special treatment.  They rank problem workers by number of injuries. They give these workers special treatment, they follow them around and watch them. They look for ways to get rid of injured workers who they feel aren’t working safely. 
     UPS even makes workers earn their comp. money for the first month with its TAW (Temporary Alternate Work) program. While UPS regards TAW as a benefit, most workers think of it as punishment. They have even gone so far as to try to reduce or eliminate workers comp. payments to workers they felt had caused their own injuries by not following proper work methods. (That idea took advantage of a little known Colorado law, but fortunately didn’t work out for them.)
     The Post Office has a similar problem but has come up with a program that they hope will get rid of their injured workers. They are taking them off the job and sending them home. They used to try to accomodate injured workers, but now they are not  trying so hard. The new approach works like this:

DENVER (CBS4) ―People are sending less mail and that’s left the U.S Postal Service with a huge deficit and now employees are losing their jobs. Some workers injured on the job say they’ve become targets.

It’s the first-ever layoff at the Postal Service. Although they’re technically not calling it a layoff, it’s a work force reduction that specifically targets workers with work-related injuries.

Postal workers say the layoffs will result in longer lines and reduced services.

Bonnie Holloman started as an automation clerk, but after four years of repetitive motion, she got hurt.

“I got tendonitis, I got a sprained back and sprained knee, and this put me into limited duty,” Holloman asid.

So Holloman moved to the manual unit.

“You take the tray of mail, and each tray holds about 600 pieces of mail, you take each letter and you manually throw it,” she said.

She’s done the job nearly seven years and the repetitive motion caused four ruptured disks in her neck. But she still worked up until Feb. 3.

“They called me into the office and they said, ‘Due to your restrictions we have no work available, so get off the clock and go home.'”

Holloman is one of nearly a 100 postal workers in metro Denver being sent home.

“The Postal Service contends they are running out of money, and in 2006 they rolled out this national reassessment program designed to attack permanently injured employees,” said Gary Scott, Denver metro area local American Postal Workers Union President.

The national reassessment program involves limited duty and permanently injured Postal Service workers hurt on the job. Phase 1 of the program started in 2008. It consisted of reviewing medical records of those employees. Phase 2 rolled out this year. The Postal Service identified what jobs were available at each facility. It then attempted to match the employee with the necessary work, and if there was none, the employee was notified that no work was available.

“It’s not a dismissal, you’re basically sent home until your medical restrictions improve,” Scott said. “The Postal Service hopes you go into disability, retirement, or are permanently assigned to the Department of Labor’s workman’s comp program.”

“I was healthy when I got the job. You can’t break me and then show me the door,” Holloman said.

Holloman wants her job back.

“The work is there, even though it’s not an actual job they say, the work is available because they had to pull me out of a job to tell me there’s no work,” she said.

The postal workers union hopes to get the case in front of an arbitrator within the next year or two. Meanwhile an attorney in Texas is working on putting together a class action lawsuit against the post office.