Postal workers hold rally for safer working conditions after dea - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Postal workers hold rally for safer working conditions after death of mail carrier

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Tyson Barnette Tyson Barnette

On this Martin Luther King Day, a group of U.S. Postal Service workers held a rally at the MLK Memorial. They are calling for safer job conditions and justice for letter carriers injured or killed while delivering in the dark.

It follows the death of 26-year old Tyson Barnette in Landover, Md. He was shot and killed on November 23, 2013 while working a route after dark.

Postal Inspectors have been working alongside Prince George's County police and have offered a $125,000 reward in the case, but so far, there is no word on a suspect or motive.

Barnette's family came in from South Carolina to show their support. His mother, Bridget, had a message for the Postmaster General.

She says, "Don't let another life be taken by something that can be fixed as easily as pushing the (shift) times back in the morning."

Over the past few years, the declining volume of mail has led to a shutdown of dozens of processing plants nationwide. Carriers say that means they can't hit the streets as early as they used to, and they often end up working well past sunset.

Carrier Kevin Abernathy, based in Potomac, Md., explains: "Now they don't have that late night tour where we had clerks in there two or three o'clock in the morning getting the mail ready to be shipped out to us."

He says, "Now they come in at 6 a.m., the time that we used to come in and already have the mail. They're just getting there and have to disperse the mail to us and it's a domino effect."

Barnette was working a double shift when he was killed. Those who worked with him in Landover say since his death, managers have been bringing in more temporary workers to help get carriers off the street by 6 p.m.

Karen Nance, a colleague of Barnette's who has been a Postal Service employee for nearly two decades, says she would like to see that happen nationwide.

The U.S. Postal Service provided this statement on Employee Safety:

"The Postal Service takes the safety of our employees very seriously. We have a robust safety program designed to heighten awareness of dangers carriers can face while performing their duties and teach techniques to minimize that danger. We are also working with the National Association of Letter Carriers to identify additional actions we can take to keep our carriers safe during daylight hours - when most assaults occur - and while delivering later in the day. Late-day deliveries are sometimes unavoidable due to inclement weather, traffic issues or other unplanned events and seasonal fluctuations in mail volumes. Additionally, the Postal Service is making investments in technology aimed at providing real time product visibility and improving safety. This includes two-way communication capabilities and Global Positioning System functionality, which will allow for real-time communications with carriers."

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