SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Postal workers went on strike yesterday outside of a Salt Lake City United States Postal Office, and USPS said what they are protesting is unreal.

The protest was put on by the leadership of the American Postal Workers Union. According to Rod Spurgeon, a spokesperson for USPS, “The position being presented here by the leadership of the APWU is absent of anything based in reality.”

Postal Workers on strike held signs up that said, “Respect at work, safer conditions,” and “Better postal staffing, better postal service.” They stood right next to a USPS “now hiring” sign. You could hear them chanting, “What do we want? Dignity. Why do we want it? Respect.”

They had support from the Union UA 140 Plumbers & Pipefitters, the American Federation for Teachers in Utah, the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

“We are having a nationwide protest for our dignity and respect in the workplace.” Russ Franklin, President of the Salt Lake City area of the American Postal Workers Union said. “We’re facing a short staffing nationwide in postal service, and what that does is it makes it harder for the workers who are there because they’re short staffed, customers are impatient, and yell at them.”

Franklin said that because of this short staffing, employees are additionally working longer hours. “The supervisors get tired, they get cranky, and we’re tired of the abusive work environment,” Franklin said.

However, USPS has a different story. Spurgeon said that over the past two years, USPS has worked diligently with their union and management associations to address shared goals. He said this included employee recruitment and retention, workplace safety, and career training and advancement.

“We have focused steadily on stabilizing our workforce resulting in employee availability and overtime requirements being at the most favorable levels in many years,” Sturgeon said.

USPS said they have converted 125,000 pre-career workers to full-time career employees since October 2020, including 50,000 conversions between April 2022 and March 2023.

Franklin indicated that it was not enough. “The post office needs to hire more people, and treat us better at the workplace,” Franklin said.

USPS said they have also worked hard to reverse years of declining service reliability.

“Now, 98 percent of the nation’s population receives their mail and packages in less than three days,” Spurgeon said. “And we are working hard to correct service-related issues in the other limited areas.”

For additional details on USPS’, you can read their report, Delivering for America  Second-Year Progress Report released this week. To support the local union, you can visit their website.