WASHINGTON – Shouts of “Hey,ho,night delivery has got to go” echoed through the streets Monday night as postal workers from around the country marched to end nighttime deliveries and ensure employee safety.
The march was organized in memory of Tyson Jerome Barnette,26,who was shot and killed while delivering mail in the dark in Landover,Md.,just outside of Washington,on Nov. 23.
“I didn’t know Mr. Barnette,but he was a carrier so he was one of my brothers. So when he went down,we fell down in Rockville as well,” Kevin Abernathy,a mail carrier from Rockville,Md.,said. “The last thing we need to be worried about is watching our backs when we are delivering in the dark and we are being pressed and pounded by management to get back at an unreasonable time because our routes are overburdened.”
Organized by Community and Postal Workers United,the march began at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and ended a few blocks away outside the U.S. Post Office in L’Enfant Plaza.
“We are here on MLK day because MLK fought for civil rights,” Johnnie Stevens,a member of the Chelsea Coalition on Housing for Tenants Rights,said. “People have a right to their job and their labor power. They shouldn’t be forced to work in the dark or to work after hours and to work 10 and 12 hour days for multinational corporations.”
Those who participated hope to raise awareness for postal worker safety. Among their wishes are earlier work hours to avoid finishing routes in the dark,more postal workers to shorten routes and to stop closing mail sorting centers so mail can be processed faster.
“We need more. We need a lot more all over the country because carriers don’t get the opportunity now to go out and enjoy dinner with their families because they are working so late at night,” Abernathy said.
Marchers laid a wreath outside of the post office in honor of Barnette and left a letter for the postmaster general detailing their demands.
Members of the Barnette family participated in the protest.
“We thank all of the mail carriers for all of the support,” Felita Guy,Barnette’s aunt,said. “It has meant so much,and we hope and pray that you get the changes and results that you are looking for so that you can continue doing the job that you love doing in a safe manner.”
The family members shared their thanks to the Post Office for paying for Barnette’s funeral.
“We can’t get Tyson back,we will never get him back now,” Guy said. “But hopefully this will never happen again.”
Reach reporter Caitlin Turner at [email protected] or 202-326-9865. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.