August 09, 2023

Castro, Casar, Cuellar, Gonzales Urge USPS to Bring Back Water for San Antonio Letter Carriers

In the middle of a historic heat wave, San Antonio’s letter carriers are no longer receiving the water bottles they used to get at the start of work

SAN ANTONIO – Today, San Antonio Representatives Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Greg Casar(TX-35), Henry Cuellar(TX-28), and Tony Gonzales(TX-23) are calling on the United States Postal Service (USPS) to resume providing water for letter carriers on their routes. According to San Antonio letter carriers, USPS had previously provided water bottles but stopped during this summer’s historic heat wave.

The members released a letter today urging USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and the San Antonio Postmaster to “immediately create a plan to ensure letter carriers have access to cold water and are safe while on their routes.”

Reps. Castro, Casar, Cuellar, and Gonzales also recently sent another letter to the Postmaster General asking for air-conditioned vehicles to be sent to San Antonio USPS workers because the current vehicles can reach over 110 degrees without A/C. Earlier this summer, a Dallas letter carrier named Eugene Gates Jr., 56, collapsed while delivering the mail and died as the heat index reached 115 degrees.

“San Antonio’s letter carriers are dedicated public servants who keep our city connected, but they can’t do their jobs safely in record-breaking heat without cold water to keep them hydrated,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro “USPS must ensure that all workers have access to drinkable water without penalties. Every San Antonian deserves the basic right to a water break.”

“San Antonio’s working families deserve to be safe in this heat wave, including the men and women who provide the vital service of delivering the mail six days a week,” said Congressman Greg Casar. “Why would USPS choose to make it harder for workers to get a drink of cold water on a 105-degree day? When San Antonians need a package delivered, or when we need medicine shipped, we can count on our letter carriers to deliver in support of our community. The least USPS can do is make sure that no letter carrier suffers heat stroke while they provide this vital service. Every single worker deserves the right to a basic water break.”

“South Texas letter carriers work in the grueling Texas heat to deliver for our community. We must ensure they stay healthy and hydrated amidst triple digit temperatures that threaten heat exhaustion and heat stroke,”said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “I applaud my colleagues, Congressmen Casar, Castro, and Gonzales, for joining me in fighting for our letter carriers.”

“I have worked for the Post Office for 20 years, and USPS has been providing bottled water during the summer months. On July 14, 2023, management were told to stop ordering bottled water, Gatorade, and canteens,” said Homer Hernandez, Political Director of the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Alamo Branch 421. “We, the letter carriers, work outside for about eight to 10 hours in the extreme heat. All we ask is to continue to provide bottled water, and to stop intimidating and harassing letter carriers when taking rest breaks. We have had some letter carriers fall out due to the extreme heat, as record breaking daily temperatures reach 103 degrees and higher.”   

Several San Antonio letter carriers shared the following quotes anonymously, for fear of retaliation:

“I have worked for the post office for 30 years, and I’m coming to the end of my service to the American public as a city letter carrier. Postal management has absolutely no concern for my well-being – my postal truck reaches temperatures of 130 degrees inside. I feel defeated, concerned, and afraid of how the lack of water and extreme conditions I’m required to work in are going to shorten my lifespan or affect my quality of life.”

“I have been a city letter carrier for 23 years, and the weather has been extremely hot for the last few weeks. Management used to provide us with bottled water, and suddenly they just stopped when we letter carriers needed it the most. Temperatures are now going over 105 degrees.” 

“In the past, we used to get water in the station. But since the summer began, there has not been a single bottleof water. The summer weather is so hot, to the extent that some of my coworkers feel drowsy, including me.” 

The letter urges DeJoyto create a plan to ensure that letter carriers are permitted to: 

  • Take necessary breaks from the heat without retaliation.
  • Access cold water without having to pay out of pocket.
  • Visit a store or return to the station to pick up water bottles without penalty.

“Letter carriers provide an essential service to our community and do so with diligence and determination,” the members wrote. “They deserve the resources that they need to do their job safely. We strongly encourage you to reverse your recent decision to cut water bottles for San Antonio letter carriers.” 

The letter can be viewed here