April 23, 2013
By Neal Tepel
With complaints increasing from American Postal Workers Union and their members, postal officials have now assured APWU President Cliff Guffey that they will continually update union officials about incidents involving ricin, or other deadly poisons found on letters or in post offices.
Additional tests are being performed on two letters that recently tested positive for ricin in tests at the sorting facility. One letter was addressed to President Obama; another was addressed to Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS).
The APWU complained that union officials and postal workers learned of the recent ricin incident through media reports and that information was not provided to the union until many hours later.
Although management claims, “We have no reason to believe that any Postal employees are at risk from handling the suspect letter as it passed through the mail stream from Memphis, Tennessee to Washington, D.C.,” the scientific basis for that assertion is unclear, Guffey said. The briefings to workers took place in Southern Maryland where the letters were discovered, the V Street facility in Washington DC where government mail is handled, and in Memphis TN, where the letter to Sen. Wicker was postmarked.
“The safety of postal workers must be management’s first concern in an incident like this,” Guffey said. “Postal workers have a right to be informed immediately and to have the assistance of their union immediately to make sure that everything is being done that can be done to protect their safety.”