Union Campaign Against ‘Going Postal’ Stereotype Greeted with Silence by USPS

APWU discovers a partner in USPS Shipper Program is named ‘Goin’ Postal


When the APWU objected to an E! Entertainment Television series titled Going Postal: 15 Shocking Acts of Violence last month, APWU President William Burrus expected support from the Postal Service, he said recently.

“The title of the series is an affront to more than 700,000 hard-working postal employees who are stigmatized by the cruel stereotype that suggests that postal workers are violent sociopaths,” Burrus noted in a May 13 letter to Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and CEO of Comcast [PDF], which owns E! “Of course, statistics show that postal employees are no more likely to engage in acts of violence than the public at large.”

But after Burrus sent a copy of his letter to Postmaster General John E. Potter, he was puzzled by management’s reaction: Silence.

“Frankly, I was surprised,” said Burrus. “In December 2003, when FOX-TV broadcast a promotional comedy skit that mocked postal workers and portrayed them as violent, USPS management took the initiative to protest and asked postal unions to join their effort,” he noted. The Postal Service withdrew $200,000 of holiday advertising from FOX and instead ran commercials on NBC, he said.

But perhaps the Postal Service’s recent reaction isn’t so surprising after all.

The union has learned that the Postal Service has designated a franchise business called — you guessed it — Goin’ Postal as a partner in the USPS Approved Shipper Program. The national union learned about the partnership from local editors Mike Mazurkiewicz, (Saint Paul’s Postmark) and Cathy Hanson (Minneapolis’ Northern Light), who ventured into a Goin’ Postal outlet in their area. When they identified themselves to a manager as postal workers offended by the company’s name, they were informed that the company plans to open 4,000 stores nationwide.

Burrus has written to the Postmaster General [PDF] inquiring about the relationship between the USPS and Goin’ Postal. “The postal community has rejected the use of the phrase ‘going postal,’ which demeans and stigmatizes more than 700,000 dedicated postal employees,” he wrote on May 30. “I am unable to reconcile our collective disdain for this cruel stereotype with management’s partnership with a company using the same name.

“I would be pleased to be informed of the rationale.”

He has also written to the CEO of Goin’ Postal [PDF], expressing the union’s objections and informing him that the APWU plans to take all appropriate legal steps to inform the American public that the term does not reflect postal workers or the services we perform.

William Young, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, has joined the APWU’s efforts, writing to the president of E! Networks to object to the series’ title, as have numerous APWU members.

Neither Comcast nor E! has replied to Burrus’ letters.