Methane Detection System
The APWU is happy to post for your review a letter written by Senators Stabenow
and Peters as well as Representative Brenda Lawrence that was sent to PMG
Brennan. We are thankful for their direct involvement and oversight as we try to
make certain the USPS is providing a safe workplace for us all.
In addition we are providing for your review a request for information sent to
management by the local.
We have provided this document to APWU HQ as well as our Congressional
representatives so they are fully aware of what efforts we are taking so we can
all be certain we are working together. Recently OSHA and Great lakes Area were
in the Metroplex. I cannot tell you what exactly they were there for since no
one in Area or District bothered to tell your President that they were coming.
While we welcome OSHA’s further involvement, when we became aware of this visit
I expressed the following to Great Lakes Area Vice President:
“I have a decent working relationship with District Manager Lee Thompson but
after speaking to her about this visit and the fact we received no advance
notice we are not satisfied that management here in the Detroit District or in
the GLA understands the importance of keeping the local union looped in when we
are dealing with such serious issues. Maintenance Manager Mike Brown sought out
some union assistance once OSHA arrived and it was just luck that there was a
APWU steward available to assist. Had management contacted my office in advance
I might have come out myself to assist and make certain the membership we
represent knew we were all working together to find solutions to the problems
and perhaps that show of unity might have gone a long way to calming the fears
in the Metroplex about the working environment.
"I take my job very serious, I do my best to be respectful and to engage with
management in those processes that require a joint effort. Simply put the
employees who work in the MI Metroplex do not trust local management. Failing to
provide advanced notice of these types of visits to local union leadership shows
a disregard for our leadership in addition it further degrades the employees
trust and my leaderships trust in management with respect to this methane
We will continue to push forward and we will not be deterred from seeing the
people we represent have a safe work place.
MI Metroplex Methane Update: March 2016
Metroplex Methane Test Results, March 23rd, 2016 [PDF]
Recently there was a report posted on the internet
that dealt with a concern raised by the APWU regarding issues associated with
the Methane Detection System in place at the Pontiac MI. Metroplex. The report can be found here
After a series of work place fatalities spanning 14 months the 480-481 Area
Local of the APWU reached out to APWU HQ to discuss our concerns. Among
issues we were concerned with, excessive overtime, a tense and at times hostile
work environment, under-staffed machines as well as issues we had with the
methane detection system.
As President - First I called OSHA, then I called APWU HQ in D.C.
APWU National President Mark Dimondstein as well as Vice President Debbie
Szeredy after talking to me reached out to the OIG at the HQ level and the OIG
investigation that resulted in the report linked to above began. An OIG
investigatory team came to the Metroplex and stayed for a few days doing a
series of interviews, Chief Steward Eric Neal and I were interviewed about our
Additionally I reported on this issue at the October 480-481 Area local
Membership meeting. Attached to this update is a document that shows the results
of the methane testing that was conducted in January of 2016.
attached [PDF] notes that on the date of testing there were no immediate health or
safety concerns regarding the methane levels in the Metroplex. The report notes
that there seems to be a problem with the detection system itself.
The USPS is taking measures to see these “faults” are in fact remedied so we can
all be certain this system is working properly. The actions taken are at the
recommendation of the OIG and the oversight is from not only the OIG but all the
impacted unions and management associations.
As a side note, this testing was not done by the USPS, it was done by an
independent outside agency.
All documentation associated with this issue has been forwarded to APWU HQ. I
have had several meetings with our national leadership as well as the OIG on
this issue and I want to assure the members of the 480 481 Area local that we
are engaged in ensuring that there is no health risk associated with the air
quality at the MI Metroplex.
The investigation has yet to be completed and once it is and we have the final
report I will report to you all the results.
I want to thank the Mail Handlers Union for their leadership in this issue as
well as Senior Plant Manager Brian Fisher for providing us the documentation in
a timely manner so we can make certain the OIG’s recommendations are being
followed as well as making sure our leadership at all levels has the data.
I also want to thank our national leadership for taking swift action to see the
OIG investigated this facility and our concerns.
The contract requires that we all follow the instructions of our supervisors
unless of course those instructions could harm us or others. I want to assure
all of you that if your union thought for one second the air in the Metroplex
was a risk to your health we would be out front telling you all to stay out.
Questions or concerns please give us a call,
480-481 Area Local
Sisters and Brothers,
The article posted below sums up with a firsthand account what an utter failure
this Governor's leadership has been in dealing with this disaster that is and
remains the Flint Water Crisis. Were it not for the volunteers on the ground
getting it done who knows what the actual human cost of this man made crisis
might actually be. I too do not have the words to describe what I have seen in
just the few moments I have been there in Flint.
The one word I do come back to time and time again is shame. This should never
have happened in what I truly believe is the greatest nation on this earth.
I ask you all read the story, then call your governor - call your state Senator
and House Rep and demand they get off their butts and focus on this crisis until
it is resolved.
Contact information for all is listed below the story.
The struggle is real and it does in fact continue.
480-481 Area Local
By: Beverly Davidson, LMSW
Yesterday two of my friends and I had the honor of volunteering in Flint, MI for
a small NGO called Crossing Water. This is a volunteer organization started by
some members of the National Association of Social Workers-MI chapter. The goal
of this group is to create connections among community groups in Flint to help
serve impoverished communities who are deeply affected by the current water
crisis. What I saw was heart-breaking beyond words. And it was only one day
there. I am trying to imagine living this way and I can’t.
We came to a low-income housing complex run by the Flint Housing Commission. I
saw a case of water on people’s doorsteps that had been delivered earlier in the
day by volunteers. There was no governmental system in the complex to test
water, distribute water, or provide lead-testing to the children. This is a
complex managed essentially by HUD. Where are the government leaders?
We knocked on one door to deliver filters and water. A young man answered who
was happy to see us. “Do you have a filter?” He does, but it did not fit, so we
gave him another one which would work in his unit. I asked if he had had his
water tested, and he was not sure. He showed me the testing bottle he had from
his aunt’s house, which was on the floor of his car, but he could not find the
paperwork to go with it (which is used for tracking and data analysis). I
explained how he had to get his water tested, making sure he understood to use
unfiltered water that had been in the tap for at least 6 hours. He had no idea
he had to do this, as he had not heard that filtered water was not safe to drink
either. Children under six live with him, and they cannot drink even the
filtered water. He had no idea, no one told him, and he does not have access to
the internet to get all of the updates online. My brilliant friend had the idea
that instead of the Governor hiring PR firms to spin his reputation, perhaps he
should hire PR firms to get a coordinated message out on safety and testing to
ALL the people of Flint.
The next house four young children answered the door gleefully, as if they knew
we were delivering water to them. The little girl joyfully showed us her
newly painted nails as we talked to her young auntie who was caring for them
while their mom was at work. We explained to the aunt about how to get her
water tested, and she had no idea of the process. She at least had a filter and
we made sure she knew the kids could only drink the bottled water. Then, the
young boy strongly and sternly put out his arms for the case of water. I said,
“It’s pretty heavy, kiddo,” but he persisted with “I can do it!” I gave him the
case and he proudly held it and brought it into the apartment. All I could
think about was that this little boy should not have to be so strong and sturdy
that his little arms have to carry a case of water for his family, he should be
holding out his arms to catch a ball or grab a swing. But he was eager and
ready for water. Water he should be getting out of his tap, not out of a
Knock. knock. A young mom answers her door and we ask if she needs water or a
filter. She needed both, and I asked if there were any urgent medical issues.
She said her baby had a bad skin rash after a bath the other day, “but it’s ok,
it went away today.” NO, NO, NO, it’s not ok. In the state of Michigan in
2016, a mother should be able to joyfully give her baby a bath and trust that
her baby will be safe from skin rashes. The saddest part is that this young mom
just accepted this without much anger or question. She has learned to live in a
world that has treated her less than for so long that she readily accepts that
her home is giving her baby skin rashes.
A few doors down, a young man answers the door for his elderly male relative who
is homebound. We give him some jugs of water and ask if they have a filter.
“yea, someone came by one day and gave us one.” Did you know that you have to
change your filter regularly, like every 2 months? He yells to his relative and
asks about the filter. “no, we didn’t know that, ya got any?” So we gave him a
replacement cartridge. Did anyone tell you to test your water? “Nah, how do you
do that?” We give him a test kit, the instructions, and realized that the
water testing being done is abysmal.
A woman runs out to our car and asks if she can have some water because her
daughter is pregnant. Her apartment is not on our targeted list but of course
we will give her water. “Do I need to sign something for the water?” My
friend reassures her “No, no, you do not need to sign anything, we are not
checking anything, we just want you to have water.” She knows that her pregnant
daughter cannot drink even filtered water, but she does not know how to get her
unit tested. We give her a test kit. “We need to get our blood tested, do you
know where we can go?” I look up test sites on my Iphone, give her some
information and tell her to take care of herself and her daughter. She thanks
us profusely, and we get in our car and scream. How can this be happening?
I ask another woman if anyone from the Housing Commission has been out here.
“Nah, but we got some water delivered once by a guy in a big Budget truck.”
Good God, this crisis has been going on for 2 years and no one from Housing &
Urban Development (HUD) or the Housing Commission has been out here to educate
its residents or test the water?
Later in the afternoon we go further into the East side of Flint. The
dilapidated homes are surrounded by barren lots, old abandoned buildings, a
trailer park with gutted trailers tagged with graffiti all next to a junk yard
and old factory. One house we are trying to reach has a disabled adult who is
homebound. His dog is outside and greets us, doing his duty and barking and
protecting his home. We respect him, but then I see a person looking out the
window. We hold up some water, but no one comes out. I wonder, would I come
out and get water and a filter from a complete stranger? Would I want to show
my vulnerability and inability to perhaps walk or move, and come face to face
with a stranger who reminds me daily that I cannot drink water from my own home?
No, I do not think I would. We understand this, we understand that this dog is
not menacing, but protecting its owner, and we gently leave the cases of water
and filter on the driveway. I hope they understand we do not judge, we do not
want to cause shame. We just want them to be safe.
My friend knocks on the next door, and an elderly woman doesn’t get up but let’s
her peek in. “We are here with Crossing Water to deliver water to you.” She
does not want us to come in and really does not want us to ask any questions.
We know she is homebound, is isolated, and has cancer from the canvassing done
earlier, which is why we are there. We want to make sure she is medically ok,
has a filter and understands the risks. My friend tells her we have 3 cases of
water for her. “I only want 2.” No, really, we have three for you. “I only
want 2.” Respectfully, we leave two cases for her. And I know my friend will
never be able to get this woman’s face out of her mind. What will happen to
her? 2 cases of water does not last long.
Across the street we go and knock, knock, knock. A young mother of four races
out to greet us in her driveway. “Oh, my god, I’m so glad to see you guys, I
just had a baby 3 weeks ago and I’ve been drinking water from the tap my whole
pregnancy. I don’t have a car because someone stole the ignition out of it. I
have some water for the formula but I have to wash his bottles with the tap
water.” We give her a filter, a test kit, and extra jugs, breaking the rules of
how much water we can deliver to each house. My heart breaks. I work with
infants, I know the effects of neurotoxins during pregnancy. This baby likely
has had massive lead exposure that is yet to be discovered. This mom may have
known the risks but HAD NO CHOICE
but to use her only source of water for the last 9 months. Her older daughter
is watching us from the window. She looks sad. But is she mirroring my face?
The city was eerily quiet, with a myriad of In and Out marts, gas stations,
bars, vacant lots, run-down houses, and churches surrounding the East side. I
wondered where all the water trucks were, where the National Guard were, where
are all the governmental leaders? This city has its entire water distribution
destroyed, and all we could see were private volunteers at churches and
businesses handing out cases of bottled water to people through a make-shift
assembly line. We can go to the Middle East, bomb and destroy entire cities,
rebuild these cities, and we can’t fix this? Where are the temporary water
systems that our government could set up? Where are the military personnel and
trucks who could deliver cases of water and filters to people who have no
resources nor transportation? Folks are supposed to go to a local fire station,
pick up a filter, a test kit, some water, and then return the test kit to the
fire station for testing? That’s the plan? Seriously? In 2016, that’s the
I thought we’d see a local Command Central in an abandoned building, a church,
or a school where there was a base of operations for water testing, water
distribution, and lead testing. I thought we’d see National Guard going
door-to-door collecting water samples from each home so that accurate testing
and mapping of the city could be done in an organized and coordinated manner. I
thought we’d see Red Cross tents throughout the poorest parts of the city. What
I did see were local groups and amazing volunteers of people from churches,
social service groups, and unions meeting people in their homes so they could at
least have bottled water and filters. What I did see was good people trying to
help, perhaps restoring some kernels of hope for people who have been beaten
down. More importantly, what I did see were poor people who, instead of being
outraged at the indignity and destruction their government has created for them,
have been so disenfranchised and are so impoverished that they have been
conditioned to believe they are not worthy of even a basic human right such as
Not only does the infrastructure need to change, but so does an entire belief
system on how we treat the poor.
In the words of Hubert Humphrey, “The moral test of a government is how it
treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the
twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick
and the needy, and the handicapped.”
In this city, in this state, our government has failed this test immeasurably.
View the original blog post.
Flint's Water Crisis
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Our local has been receiving a lot of calls asking how people might assist the
citizens of Flint in dealing with this current water crisis.
I have done some research and if you would like to contribute directly to the
campaign to help please point and click your way to:
The United Way of Genesee County has set up this fund for the purchase of
filters, bottled water, emergency support services and prevention efforts.
100% of the fund is used for these projects and no Administrative Fee is
The UWGC has sourced more than 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement
filters, ongoing sources of bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan
and also supports a dedicated driver for daily distribution.
This is by far the best way to donate cash.
If you wish to donate water feel free to bring water to our next scheduled
general membership meeting and we will make arrangements to get it to the folks
on the ground assisting the Flint’s people.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
We can make a difference.
480-481 Area Local