The United States Postal Service has asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for “temporary relief” from the administration’s vaccination mandate for organizations with more than 100 workers.
“The Postal Service’s request for additional time in implementing the [mandate] is directly related to our critical and unique role in American life,” said a Jan. 4 letter to OSHA from Doug A. Tulino, deputy postmaster general and chief human resources officer.
The USPS provided a copy of the letter to The Washington Times.
Mr. Tulino’s letter stated the agency is in the midst of its “Peak Season,” a period running from mid-October through January, a period he called “our busiest and most challenging time of year” and not just because of the holiday packages.
The Postal Service also delivers “critical items like Treasury checks, COVID-19 tests, and pharmaceuticals. Moreover, mail and package delivery enable the American people to spend more time safely at home, rather than frequenting crowded indoor establishments, which is a benefit to public health,” he said.
A quasi-governmental corporation established in 1971, the Postal Service employs nearly 650,000 workers in 30,000 locations across the country.
The agency said it lacks adequate staffing to comply with the vaccine mandate’s requirements, particularly in terms of record-keeping and compliance with the eight collective-bargaining agreements the USPS has with various labor unions.
“The Postal Service is seeking temporary relief because it wants to ensure that its ability to deliver mail and packages is not hindered amid the current disruptions in the nation’s supply chain,” a USPS statement said.
The agency also asked for “an interim order that would allow the organization to continue using its current COVID-19 mitigation policies and protocols while the temporary relief request is being decided.”
The Nov. 5 Biden administration mandate has been under challenge in federal district courts across the nation, and the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on lawsuits seeking to overturn the mandate on Friday, Jan. 7.
On Monday, Judge Reed O’Connor of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas blocked the Defense Department from taking action against Navy SEALs and others seeking religious exemptions from the department’s vaccine mandate.
The Times has contacted two of the USPS’ labor organizations, the American Postal Workers Union, and the National Association of Letter Carriers, for comment on the agency’s exemption request.