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Mail service has remained steady amid the coronavirus, but as the number of cases continues to rise, a petition is demanding hazard pay for United States Postal Service workers.
"As we get deeper and deeper into this coronavirus epidemic, postal employees are being forced to work and do overtime upwards of 12 hours a day," a petition on Change.org read.
Workers are dealing with "no innovations in carriers delivery methods" during the pandemic and "no innovations in protection clothing or any other areas of the post office," according to the petitioner, a group called Carrying Mail 365.
CORONAVIRUS DRIVES ESSENTIAL FEDERAL EMPLOYEES TO SUE GOVERNMENT FOR HAZARD PAY
A United States Postal worker makes a delivery with gloves and a mask in Warren, Mich., Thursday, April 2, 2020.(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The petition noted that postal employees carry "blood, sweat, and tears" every day, "at the expense of time with our families, wear and tear on our bodies, [and] mental and emotional abuse from USPS management" and alleges that USPS CEO Megan Brennan "hasn't sent any supplies" for employee protection and instead read a "very vague statement" about following CDC guidelines.
As of Sunday afternoon, the petition has garnered more than 446,000 signatures.
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A spokesperson for USPS said that the allegations being made in the petition are "completely untrue."
"The safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority," the spokesperson said. "The United States Postal Service is proud of the work our more than 600,000 employees play in processing, transporting, and delivering mail and packages for the American public. We provide a vital public service that is a part of this nation’s critical infrastructure."
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According to a press release, USPS has a Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Command Response team dedicated to "focusing on employee and customer safety in conjunction with operational and business continuity during this unprecedented epidemic" and they continue to "follow the strategies and measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health departments."
Those measures, according to USPS, include distributing masks, gloves and cleaning and sanitizing products to more than 30,000 locations, adhering to official CDC guidelines regarding social distancing by adding "signage, floor tape, and “cough/sneeze” barriers" in retail and mail processing facilities, eliminating a requirement that customers must sign for packages, updating cleaning policies, updating leave policies "to allow liberal use of leave" and providing 80 hours of paid leave to non-career employees for "issues related to COVID-19" and allowing some employees to work remotely.
"The Postal Service delivers much needed medications and Social Security checks, and we are the leading delivery service for online purchases," the agency said. "The Postal Service is an essential service for purposes of compliance with state or municipality shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions."
A United States Postal worker makes a delivery with gloves and a mask in Philadelphia Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
The World Health Organization says "there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures." As of Sunday, USPS says 349 of the more than 630,000 employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.