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Postal Service claims safety issues addressed

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The U.S. Postal Service said it has satisfied maintenance and safety issues at its Albuquerque facilities raised in an Office of Inspector General report in May.

But a representative of the local postal workers union told the Journal last week that only cosmetic changes were implemented and that structural issues remain.

The representative, Dan Huerta, spokesman for the American Postal Workers Union, Local 380, also said hostile work environments at city stations have reached alarming levels as employees continue to endure severe harassment and retaliation that includes managerial falsification of leave requests since the OIG investigation.

“Recently, a dedicated employee at the Pino Station – who has suffered two heart attacks in the past – was forced to walk home after a supervisor took his car keys and refused to call him a cab,” he said. “The employee walked five miles home.”

He also said another employee was denied paid vacation he had already earned when the employee decided to retire a few weeks earlier “as other employees, even managers, often do.”

USPS spokesperson Rod Spurgeon said the Postal Service stood behind its employees, but he did not address the work environment issue. He did discuss structural issues.

“We have satisfied issues identified in the OIG report earlier this year,” he said. “Specifically, we have removed objects blocking fire extinguishers and electrical panels, positioned and properly secured ladders and flammable materials in locations designated for such items, and inspected fire extinguishers identified as possessing out-of-date inspections, replacing them as needed.”

He said the Postal Service implemented a daily monitoring process to ensure consistent and persistent safety compliance for issues identified in the OIG audit report and to identify potential issues proactively.

“This monitoring process relies heavily on early detection to seek out and prevent potential safety issues before they become a problem,” Spurgeon said. “We also did a complete roof replacement at Five Points Station.”

But Huerta said “the unsanitary conditions are much the same.”

“There are holes in the walls underneath the commodes that are literally a passageway for rodents,” he said. Huerta said he spoke with employees who voiced their concerns “that the building will come tumbling down on them as the crack in the walls continue to expand.”

Last week, he said large ceiling tile fell from the ceiling “and fortunately, no one was injured or killed.”

“We desperately lack custodians to maintain our facilities in clean and safe conditions,” he said.

But Spurgeon said the facility has been thoroughly inspected by certified, professional structural engineers and found to be safe.

“To date, no significant concerns have been found and we trust the assessment of the experts,” he said. “Monthly assessments are ongoing and we trust these experts to monitor our buildings.”

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