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USPS worker. Credit: Getty Images via CBS News.

USPS drivers bringing mail to areas hardest hit by coronavirus demand hazard pay

Despite all the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, mail delivery has remained one of the most steady parts of society. But as the number of coronavirus cases increases, United States Postal Workers are saying it’s time they receive hazard pay.

A petition on change.org explains the demand for the hazard pay, saying, “we are essential during this epidemic, we should at be paid for it.” It has garnered more than 309,000 signatures.

“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,” the petition reads. “From dealing with the day-to-day struggles of rain, sleet snow, hail or no AC in postal vehicles, limited heating in postal vehicles. no innovations in carriers delivery methods, no innovations in protection clothing or any other areas of the post office.”

The petition mentions 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.”

Postal workers have been deemed “essential employees” by the government during the ongoing crisis. Lawmakers have said that if USPS doesn’t get more support, it could shut down in the next few months.

According to USPS, 293 postal employees have tested positive for coronavirus as of April 3. The agency told CBS News that “the safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority,” and that they have implemented safety measures to help workers cope with the impact of the pandemic.

Those measures, according to USPS, include distributing masks, gloves and cleaning and sanitizing products to more than 30,000 locations; adhering to official guidelines regarding social distancing; eliminated a requirement that customers must sign for packages; updated cleaning policies; updated leave policies “to allow liberal use of leave” and provide 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 in a statement. “The Postal Service is an essential service for purposes of compliance with state or municipality shelter-in-place orders or other social distancing restrictions.”

Social media users have expressed their support for the petition, some saying that employees are risking their health as they commute to work, and drive to various locations.

Twitter user Matthias Rex wrote that his dad has to take the subway to get to his USPS job in New York City. Manhattan has more than 9,300 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to the New York Department of Health.

Others say that postal employees are helping keep businesses running throughout the pandemic.

Film critic Scott Weinberg tweeted, “USPS employees are essential, underappreciated, and ridiculously hardworking people. Give them hazard pay, a raise, PPE, and whatever else they need to do their jobs.”

Author: LI COHEN/ CBS News
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