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President Obama: A Living Portrait of Your United States Postal Service

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

 
President Obama: A Living Portrait of Your United States Postal Service

 November 4, 2010

Mr. Ed Ruiz, USPS, Los Angeles District Manager,
Mr. Larry Brown, NALC, President, Branch 24:

Since it’s become clear that the postal service has decided that the best way of handling Ms. Joann Snow’s complaint of document falsification and wage theft is through intimidation, I thought that it might be instructive to provide you with a little information regarding her past history with the postal service and her current concerns.

It is indeed ironic that Ms. Snow was the victim of time fraud and theft at the hands of Station Manager Marci Luna and CSO Tyrone Williams, but after reporting it, she’s the only one that “corrective” action has been taken against. She’s been removed from a higher level position that she’s held for 21 years (which she has no problem with – in fact, she’s come to enjoy, since she’s now only responsible for her own productivity), she’s been issued a Notice of 14-Day Suspension, and she’s been involuntarily bounced all over the city, in spite of her seniority in both craft and career. At the same time, the people cited above who falsified federal documents, in direct violation of federal law, in a conspiracy to deprive her of her rightfully earned wages have not only remained in place, but CSO Tyrone Williams has since been both promoted and awarded a Regional vice President’s award for performance.

So it is clear that after Ms. Snow refused monetary compensation of thousands of dollars offered by Labor Relations Manager Steve Marney because of the quid pro quo that she must drop her demand that the two managers be removed from the postal service, the district has gone to plan B – intimidation. But as the case below clearly demonstrates, while Ms. Snow seems to be a very demure lady and has a history of being extremely accommodating to the postal service, she is not without backbone when she feels that she’s being treated unjustly.

Ms. Snow prevailed in the case below (Under Clarence Thomas, no less) leading to the removal of the manager, and former Postmaster [name withheld] (then, Area Manager) would have also been removed if she hadn’t dropped the charges against him in return for agency concessions to improve the working conditions of her coworkers.

So why am I sending you this document?

First, to alert you that it has been suggested to Ms. Snow that there’s a possibility that she may have been illegally transferred to South Central Los Angeles (for the first time in her 27-year career) to make it easier to justify possibly experiencing bodily harm during after-dark delivers; secondly, to place Ms. Snow’s concerns on the official record; and finally, to clearly establish that District Manager Ed Ruiz is fully aware of what’s taking place on his watch.

President Brown, please make this communication a part of the official record of both of Ms. Snow’s pending cases:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
August 20,1989
Subject: EEO Claim
EEO Rep: Eric L. Wattree
Case # : 5-D-0075-9 Joann Snow vs. [name withheld], et al.

I’d like to file a claim of racial, and sexual discrimination (including harassment, intimidation, and assault and battery) under the purview of Title VII of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972. I am a black female, and I am filing these charges against the following:

Postal Station Manager [name withheld]
Postal Area Manager [name withheld]
Postal Inspector Jensen

At 9:35 on February 17, 1989 I went to my immediate supervisor, Mrs.[name withheld] , to request a little more street time since I was leaving the station after my scheduled leaving time. Her reply was, “You’ve been gone from your case for an hour.” I corrected her by saying that I had only been gone for the time it took to take my 10 minute break and to take my CMU mail to the CMU pack-out area, which was about 12 minutes. Then Station Manager [name withheld] broke into the conversation and said,”No! You be back here on time! You’ve been away from your case for 30 minutes.” John Bihr seemed quite agitated, so instead of standing there arguing and possibly making the situation worse, I just said ok, and went out to load my vehicle. I was upset, but I considered the incident over.

After I left the building, the next thing that I knew [name withheld] had come up behind me. He was arguing heatedly. I didn’t know what was going on. I knew that they had seen that I had given my best effort, and I had also given in to their tactic and agreed to try and get back on time (in spite of the fact that it meant giving up part of my lunch), so I couldn’t figure out what he was doing there. I tried to smile and talk calmly to him but it was useless.

The man was acting crazy–like he was out of control. His hair was uncombed, his clothes were all disheveled, his eyes were wide and watery with white mucus coming out of the corners, and he smelled horrible. He then began to poke his finger in my face (in a poking, not a wagging motion), saying, “You”re not doing your job! You just want to take out 8 feet of mail, and that’s it (poking me in the nose with his finger to emphasize the word “it”)! Two people witnessed his arguing at me and poking his finger in my face.

I think that [name withheld] actions constituted racial, as well as sexual harassment and discrimination. I’ve never known him to carry himself in this way with white carriers, and I know that if I had been a man he wouldn’t have poked me in the nose. In fact, it seems to me that putting his hands on me is prima facie evidence of sexual harassment. All of this man’s actions on that morning were contrived to harass and intimidate me–and he succeeded.

I was really afraid then, because he had crossed the line by poking me. In my mind, I knew that I should protest, because I knew that if I didn’t it would make it that much easier for him to put his hands on me the next time. But I couldn’t do anything but stand there. I had heard rumors about his substance abuse, and I was afraid that if I protested it might push him over the edge.

He also frightened me when I went out on the route. As I was attempting to deliver the mail, I saw him in his car following me. It’s not unusual for supervisors to go out on street observation, but when they do, there’s usually two of them in the car. On this occasion he was the only one in the car–not saying anything, just following. I was afraid that he was considering doing me bodily harm.

Later, when I returned to the station, [name withheld] was standing next to the time clock berating me in front of Eric Wattree, Trevor Barnes, [name withheld], and any, and everyone else that happened to be in earshot. He was saying that I didn’t even know the names of the people on my route. He was referring to some political mail that had come into the station that was improperly addressed. When I picked up a handful of the letters to make a point, he slapped the mail out of my hands onto the floor. Eric had a handful too, but he didn’t slap him. Eric Wattree, Trevor Barnes, and Supervisor [name withheld] witnessed the incident.

Here again, I claim racial, as well as sexual discrimination. The man was on the middle of the work-floor slandering me, and he assaulted me for the second time in one day. As I said before, Eric had a handful of mail too, but it wasn’t slapped out of his hand, and the reason why is clear–he’s a man.

At first I was afraid to report these incidents because I was concerned about being backed-up by the guy that was shop steward at that time. He was trying to get into management, and I felt that he had a conflict of interest. But when Eric Wattree became shop steward–who witnessed one of the incidents–I decided to proceed.

On March 1, I contacted the Postal Inspection Service. I spoke to an agent who identified himself as Inspector Jensen. After I told him of the two incidents he began to ask me the following questions:

1. Who put you up to calling me?
2. Why didn’t you call sooner?
3. Do you think he really meant to poke you?

He went on to say that he didn’t think that the incident was “violent enough” for him to get involved. That immediately brought two questions to mind. First, why is it that when two black supervisors got into a minor shoving match a few weeks earlier, the postal inspectors swung right into action and had them both out of the station the same day, and yet, when a black woman is assaulted by a white supervisor, it’s not “violent enough” for them to get involved? And secondly, how violent does he have to be before the postal inspectors considers it “violent enough”? Do I have to wait until he goes over the edge and hurts me seriously? Maybe then they’ll get involved. But maybe, too, it may be too late for me. Just because this man is a station manager doesn’t mean that he isn’t crazy–lunatics come from all walks of life.

As far as I’m concerned, Postal Inspector Jensen is guilty of racial discrimination.

Finally, Inspector Jensen said that there was nothing that he could do for me. He did say, however,
that he would call my area manager–and he must not of wasted any time. Less than an hour later Area Manager [name withheld] was at my case. I immediately asked for union representation. Mr. [name withheld] then asked, Who do you work for, the post office or the union? I replied, the post office, but I still want representation. He then asked me to come into the office. He then told me that if I had a problem, come to him. He went on to say that anyone who went to the union instead of him, as far as he was concerned, they should be treated differently, because they didn’t trust management.

When my shop steward came to the office to see if I wanted representation, Mr. [name withheld] blocked his access to me. In spite of the fact that I was in tears and was asking for representation, [name withheld] gave my shop steward a direct order to get back to his case. Before my shop steward left, he advised me not to talk to them and not to let them intimidate me.

After [name withheld] had ordered my shop steward back to his case, I was left alone inside the office with three supervisors–Area Manager [name withheld], Station manager [name withheld], and Station Superintendent [name withheld]. At first Area Manager [name withheld] tried to apologize for what [name withheld] had done to me. He went on to say, “but was under a [name withheld] lot of pressure, so he can understand how he had done what he did.” When I was unreceptive to that they started threatening to fire me. Finally I just started crying and left the office.

Area Manager [name withheld] then called me and my shop steward back to the office and the threats and intimidations started all over again. He told us both, “if we went through with this he would see to it that we were sorry.” He also told [name withheld] to keep the shop steward at his case, and not allow him to investigate anymore carrier complaints.

Area Manager [name withheld] is guilty of sexual harassment, intimidation, and retaliation for trying to deprive me of my right to union representation, causing me undue stress by closing me up in a small office with three hostile supervisors and threatening me for going forward with this claim.

Then, on Thursday March 9, 1989 at about 8:10am, [name withheld] came to my case, ostensibly to check an address. He then proceeded to press his body against my butt in such a way as to force me to tell him to back off (Kimberly Patrick was at my case at the time, and she witnessed the incident). I immediately reported it to acting shop steward Trevor Barnes. He reported it to my immediate supervisor , Mrs. [name withheld] The incident was ignored.

Sexual harassment:

I don’t know what’s wrong with this man, but his behavior is certainly not that of a normal functioning individual. Anyone would think that since he knows that I’ve already brought charges against him that he would stay as far away from me as possible. But what does he do? He seeks me out! He’s a station manager, not a carrier foreman. He doesn’t have any reason to come into direct contact with the carriers.

I’ve been told, however, that what he’s trying is the oldest game in the post office: First, you’re treated badly and intimidated; then, suddenly, you’re treated with extraordinary kindness. The object is to make you so appreciative of their new-found kindness that you’ll be willing to go to “any length” to prevent them from reverting back to their old ways. The bottom line is, if I had just stood there and allowed him to rub against me, I would have been his toy from that day forward.

As representatives of a United States government agency these “gentlemen” should be at the forefront of the fight for individual rights. Instead, they’ve not only run rough shod over my civil rights, but they’ve demonstrated a blatant disregard for my rights as a human being. In light of these facts, I’m asking that Station Manager [name withheld] be removed from the postal service, Area Manager [name withheld] be removed from all areas of managerial responsibility for not less than two years, and that Inspector Jensen be placed on suspension for 14 days without pay. And also, since this has been an ongoing situation for a number of years, I’m asking for $200,000 damages for pain and suffering, and $100,000 in punitive damages.

Joann Snow
Regular Carrier
Bicentennial Station

Mr. President, the above EEOC complaint was filed 21 years ago, and since that time, working conditions within the postal service have become significantly worse – back then, at least, even Clarence Thomas stepped up to take aggressive action. Today such behavior is so routine that when its reported government officials will look at you and say, “Okay, so what’s the problem?” – just like they’re doing in Ms. Snow’s current case.

We’ve brought this issue, and others to the attention of the White House on several occasions, and we’ve been completely ignored. Mr. President, you are the chief executive officer of this agency, so you could improve the working conditions of nearly 600,000 American citizens with a mere phone call.

Having to deal with politicians who were elected to protect the interest of the poor and middle class is like dealing with zombies. They completely ignore us between elections, then when the election cycle comes around they show up with so many rousing speeches and promises that you can’t escape them. They act like we’re suppose to completely forget how they ignored us when they didn’t need us.  Well, we don’t forget it – and CARMA is going to make it a point that the people don’t forget during 2012 primaries.

Those 600,000 postal employees, along with their families and friends, might have made a big difference in the last election, but can you blame them for asking themselves, “Would this abuse still be going on if Glenn Beck complained about it?”  Frankly, I don’t think it would. And can you blame them for asking, “Where is all that change we’re supposed to believe in?” I’m asking that question myself, and I was one of your biggest supporters when you 37 points behind in the pools in the Black community.

I don’t understand this new brand of Democratic politics where you’ve decided that it’s prudent to be more responsive to the people who hate your guts than you are to the ones who voted you into office. Please pardon my stupidity, but that srikes me as a patently ridiculous policy. So as I’ve told you before, Mr. President, I love you madly, but if you’re not going to protect my interest, what’s love gotto do with it?

But of course, you ignored that too, so with this writing I hereby pledge to both you, and to all currently sitting officeholders in Washington, D.C., that if this issue is not addressed in the current cycle, I guarantee you that we will not be ignored in the 2012 primaries. This administration, and the Democratic Party as a whole, are gonna have to be taught a fundamental lesson – “You dance with the people who brung ya.”

The Black community didn’t turn out in unprecedented numbers to simply elect the first Black president; we turned out to elect a strong Black president.  In that regard, as a student of history, I hope you recognize that you’re dealing with a Rosa Parks moment here, and you’re completely missing the boat.  Do you see the strong stand being taken by that one courageous and solitary Black woman above?  That’s what we elected you to do.

Eric L. Wattree
wattree.blogspot.com
[email protected]

Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.

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