7/25/17 WASHINGTON – Last week, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) expressed his concerns in a letter to the Postmaster and the Labor Secretary about the unacceptable working conditions in the Westhampton post office sorting room.
“I am pleased to announce that I have heard back from the Department of Labor and the immediate problem has been addressed,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “While the air conditioning unit is, unfortunately, still not functioning, my understanding is that steps have been taken to protect workers.”
The sorting area was previously without air conditioning and employees were expected to continue to perform their tasks. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) informed Congressman McEachin that United States Postal Services (USPS) addressed the elevated indoor temperatures at the post office by:
- Securing a rental chiller unit that provides cool air into the building;
- Placing portable air conditioning units to cool the workplace; and
- Purchasing extra water for the post office employees.
“I would ask the post office to move as quickly as possible to a permanent solution, but I am pleased that the immediate crisis has been remedied,” said Congressman McEachin.
Congressman McEachin is still trying to address constituents’ concerns about late or non-delivery of mail in the Richmond area and the still-closed post office branch in Church Hill. He remains in contact with the Postmaster General to attempt to remedy these situations as soon as possible.
McEachin to Postmaster General, Labor Secretary: ‘USPS Workers in Unacceptable Conditions’
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) sent a letter to Postmaster General Brennan and Labor Secretary Acosta requesting immediate attention to the dangerous working conditions at the Westhampton Station post office in his congressional district.
“Due to the perilous setting of the Westhampton Station, USPS workers were forced to walk off the job this week, leaving the post office unable to effectively perform its duties and responsibilities. This situation not only harms the hard-working employees of the USPS, but it also negatively impacts my constituents who rely on this post office to process and deliver their mail daily,” wrote Congressman Donald McEachin (VA-04).
Postal workers, one of whom filed a complaint with Mr. McEachin, were forced to walk off the job due to health concerns. The indoor temperatures at Westhampton Station post office reportedly reached 90 degrees in the mail sorting area, without adequate air conditioning.
“USPS employees cannot remain healthy and do their jobs to the best of their ability when they are in a hazardous work environment without adequate air conditioning,” said Congressman McEachin. “Knowing that the heat index can exceed 100 degrees during Richmond summers, USPS should have better equipped their dedicated employees.”
Occupational heat exposure poses significant health risks for workers, potentially resulting in a range of maladies, including: exhaustion, heat cramps, and strokes.
Full letter text below.
July 14, 2017
Mr. R. Alexander Acosta
Secretary of Labor
United States Department of Labor
200 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20210
Ms. Megan Brennan
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20260
Dear Postmaster General Brennan and Secretary Acosta:
The hazardous working conditions at the Westhampton Station post office in Richmond, Virginia require immediate attention — and I ask you to ensure that those conditions are immediately addressed. As of Thursday, United States Postal Service (USPS) employees were working without functional air conditioning in the mail sorting area, with indoor temperatures reportedly reaching 90 degrees. Occupational heat exposure poses significant health risks for workers, potentially resulting in a range of maladies, including exhaustion, heat cramps, and strokes. The heat index in the summer in Richmond often exceeds 100 degrees, and it is unacceptable for USPS employees to work in such conditions without adequate air conditioning.
Due to the perilous setting of the Westhampton Station, USPS workers were forced to walk off the job this week, leaving the post office unable to effectively perform its duties and responsibilities. This situation not only harms the hard-working employees of the USPS, but it also negatively impacts my constituents who rely on this post office to process and deliver their mail daily.
I understand that the USPS has installed or will soon be installing portable air conditioning units to address the problems at Westhampton Station post office. Until and unless these units are installed and fully functional, the sorting area should be closed so that workers are not exposed to such unacceptable conditions. I urge you to ensure that a permanent solution to this problem is swiftly implemented, so that USPS employees can do their jobs safely and that my constituents can continue to receive their mail in a timely fashion.
Please keep me updated on any actions taken to correct this problem by contacting Tara Adams, my District Representative, at 804-486-1840 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to resolving this issue.
A. Donald McEachin
Member of Congress