Postal workers go postal with picket

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*SEE UPDATED RESPONSE FROM RON MALIG BELOW*

A group of local postal workers are hitting the streets this afternoon, Friday, and going postal on their boss who they say won’t stop going postal on them. Okay, that’s not the best way to put it. Local postal carriers say there’s a guy working as a supervisor at the Bryant Annex Post Office in the Mission named Ron Malig who’s simply out of control. This postal boss, they allege, has long abused and discriminated against his underlings, behavior they describe as “obnoxious” from finding ways to punish fellow postal workers he dislikes to claiming certain colleagues are “disrespecting” him.

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The highly publicized postal shootings of the ‘90s helped create an unfortunate image of letter carriers. But two union officials from the AFL-CIO’s National Association of Letter Carriers, Golden Gate Branch 214, told us that over the last few decades, their local hasn’t resorted to pickets all that often, maybe a handful of times. Mostly a quiet bunch, says union vice president Bill Thornton, at least compared to the ILWU, which briefly shut down West Coast ports this week on May Day to protest the Iraq war.

“We don’t picket. It has to be a really bad situation,” said Don Limin, a steward for Branch 214.

In fact, the last time Bryant Annex employees did hit the streets was for a vigil in late 2006 when a postal supervisor named Genevieve Paez from the 180 Napoleon St. post office in the Bayview was shot to death execution-style outside of her home in Visitacion Valley. Paez, who Limin said once worked at the Bryant Annex, had been involved in a dispute with another postal employee named Julius Tartt. The next day, Tartt himself was found in a Livermore parking lot dead from what the Alameda County Coroner’s Office declared was a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police believed Tartt killed Paez and then took his own life.

As for Bryant Street postal manager Malig, he apparently worked at another location for two years, the Pacific Carrier Annex on Ortega Street in the Sunset, where his alleged obnoxiousness became so severe, mail carriers petitioned congressional representatives from the Bay Area to do something about him, which led to Malig being moved to the Bryant Annex, Branch 214 claims.

And that brings us to today’s allegations that Malig hasn’t ceased his mean-boss conduct over the last six months that he’s been at Bryant Street. Union vice president Thornton says approximately 200 grievances have been filed against Malig with his post office superiors and about 30 more complaints were lodged with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, typically a vehicle for more serious allegations of discrimination that can often lead to a lawsuit.

Now the union carriers have a demonstration planned in front of 1600 Bryant Street for today, May 2, where they’ll ask the U.S. Postmaster to fire or at least remove Malig from supervising carriers. Limin said that although Branch 214’s contract prohibits strikes, the union voted for the action against Malig anyway and no workers would be picketing on the clock or in uniform.

“We hope [Malig will] no longer work for the post office or work with postal carriers, because he’s got an ego problem,” Limin said. “He’s a bully with a big ego.”

Branch 214 also sent us a letter signed by dozens of workers demanding that post office managers intervene:

“[Malig] constantly threatens most of the employees with discipline even without basis just to harass and intimidate us. He yells and screams at almost anyone who disagrees with him. His continued unprofessionalism created a … hostile environment for all the employees under his supervision. He lacks integrity, honesty and truthfulness in every interaction with the employees … This strange, erratic and sarcastic behavior is of great concern to each and every one of us.”

We made two calls attempting to reach Malig at the Bryant Street Annex but he wasn’t available.

*UPDATE -- Ron Malig called us back on Tuesday to give his side of the story. Malig says the workers at Bryant Street are resistant to a changing work environment in an increasingly tough economy. He said he can't guarantee overtime for workers if the volume of mail they're distributing doesn't justify it. He calls the perception of his management style "subjective," says he doesn't yell at the carriers and insists all of his disciplinary actions against them have each been based on a reasonable concern about the performance of the carrier. Malig said he wasn't removed from the Pacific Carrier Annex because of his conduct there, but he didn't volunteer the reason why he's now working at the Bryant Annex. "They're the ones who are verbally abusive to the supervisors," Malig said of the carriers. "I'm just doing my job." He added that a Branch 214 shop steward has allegedly called him "crazy," "stupid" and "retarded." "They're retaliating against me for holding them accountable to do their job," he said. Malig said he has heard that the union will meet with post office management regarding last Friday's picket, but he hasn't confirmed it for sure. Until then, he said, "I will still do my job because it's part of my responsibility."

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