Blogging Postal Worker, Ryan Bradford, Finds Fame But Loses Job

Postal Worker Ryan BradfordHe said it was tantamount to slavery. Of course, when Ryan Bradford was describing his experience as a transitional employee ("TE") of the United States Postal Service, he knew he was being overly dramatic.

Bradford, who was fired from the USPS after working for them in the greater San Diego area, is in his heart a writer first. As he's busy launching his career -- he's only 26 -- Bradford signed on to work as "TE" in the California 92106 ZIP Code to pay the bills.

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But at the same time he has also maintained his blog, on which he gained internet attention for a post called "All the Dogs Want to Kill Me." The post, published in May, documented his experiences fending off canines while delivering mail under the California sun, and garnered his site more than 15,000 unique visitors, he says, as well as press coverage from outlets as varied as Gawker, NPR and MSNBC.

And it was his writing that got him into trouble with the Post Office.

"When I got fired, they never even mentioned the injustice article [in which the slavery comment was included]," he says in an interview with AOL Jobs. "The main reason they say I was fired was because I said there was no incentive. They don't want to shine a light on their problems."

Bradford was referring to one of his appearances in the press, this time as the subject of an article in an alternative San Diego weekly, called City Beat. In it, some of Bradford's views about the USPS were shared, including ones that he has written about in a self-published zine he shares with friends, family and others upon request. He calls it Slave Labor Makes You Look Great!: A Brief Memoir of Carrying Mail in San Diego.

After he got word on June 29th that he was being let go from the Postal Service, he took to his blog to defend his critique of the USPS. When referring to his meeting with branch manager of the Point Loma Post office Frances Meena, he had this to say:

"I should have been more nervous: with more than 25 years of postal-service duty under her belt, the Point Loma Post Office branch manager possesses the intensity that comes from persevering in an industry content on giving 59% at any given time," which was in keeping with views he shared with City Beat and what he says he shared in his personal zine.

He went on to rail against the conditions of a "TE" worker: "So I should have been more nervous, but honestly, I had spent that day carrying 8 hours of mail with no assistance, no lunch and one brief bathroom break. To put that in perspective, most of the routes at Point Loma are clocked at around 5 hours, which carriers are expected to complete within the 8 hours they're on the clock -- the extra time allotted is for travel, loading/unloading, lunch, breaks, etc. 8 hours of mail is a helluva lot to carry in one day, and I was so tired that I could've faced the postmaster himself with the same resign."

The USPS did not respond to requests for comment from AOL Jobs. The extent to which Bradford was let go for his critique of the service, or perhaps because of job performance, must be balanced with an understanding of the trying time for both the Postal Service itself and all temporary employees. According to reports filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission, the USPS reduced its workforce by 22,334 employees over the 12-month period ending in March. And as has been widely noted, companies including agencies like the Postal Service have adopted the policy of bringing on teams of temporary employees, many of whom, like Bradford, go without benefits. Indeed, temporary hiring accounted for 26.2 percent of all private sector hiring for all of 2010.

But Bradford says that he doesn't want to be a poster child for any cause.

"I was just hoping to do something that will get me a job," he says.

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Filed under: Bosses, Employment News
Dan Fastenberg

Dan Fastenberg

Associate Editor

Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.

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Bill Davies

TEs have the same expectations as all carriers, he's entitled to 2 10 minute breaks and a 30 minute lunch every day! if he didn't take advantage of this its his fault!!! i
'm sure he was making more money than any other temp job he could get and bathroom breaks are not counted against you- there are 3 TEs in my office and all are hardworking and glad to have the job!

August 21 2011 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
penny

Unfortunately, it only takes a few bad apples to ruin the batch, most of my coworkers that are TEs are very hard workers and would just about give anything to become "regular" employees with benefits, yet they push on because they know that at least they have a job. As others have said here, this guy doesn't want to work, he just wanted to push his agenda. Everyone is working harder and longer with the economy as it is, not just people in the USPS...this guy needs to get a clue.

August 06 2011 at 10:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Monique

For a guy who wishes to be a writer, he didn't even begin to scratch the surface about WHY the postal service is the way it is...he only whined and took cheap shots at his employer (which I'm sure will make it easy for him to get another gig.)
How about comparing our Postal Service to other country's service (I lived in Europe...I know the US postal service is far superior to theirs).
How about exploring the loss of constitutional rights workers have in the work environment?
How about delving into the reasons when such a high number of employees in the private sector are hired as "temp" workers?

The only good news here is that someone else will have an opportunity to have that TE job.

August 05 2011 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sharon

what a whining whimp ass. I know guys and girls that did that work for 30 years and didn`t complain as much as he has in a few weeks. . I would suppose he got fired because he didn`t have enough balls to handle the job.

August 03 2011 at 1:38 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
camp4bell

A shout-out to the best mail carrier, Patricia. Our route was just canceled and she was sent to another route in Point Loma/OB. We miss you! On Patricia's day off, we would get the wrong mail or no mail. It's a tough job and a hilly neighborhood but good service is appreciated. Enjoy your mail while you can, people!

August 03 2011 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
maj4045

Writing is a sacred right. Everyone should be free to express their feelings, impressions, and opinions regardless of the controversy. Freedom of speech should be especially"free" in written prose. Writers need that liberty to serve honest expression. It is the responsibility of the reader to sort out fact from fiction and opinion from truth. That, actually, can be part of the joy of reading.

August 03 2011 at 10:48 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
debco53

Anyone defending the Postal Service on this has obviously never worked there.

August 03 2011 at 10:37 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to debco53's comment
Aloha and Maholo

After 16 1/2 years (most of it inside as a clerk) I could NOT agree with you more......the got us with the $$$$ back then and that's what made it hard t leave. PO never defended it's employees, constantly berated people on the floor, backstabbing, bickering, and ,in my case, unions reps who basically fought for those in their clique. So glad to be out of there....

August 04 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gale Daniel

I worked for the postal service for 20 years in Boca Raton until 2001. I absolutely loved my job and I think most workers would but their idea of management is to take your best friend and make them whip you daily for a little extra pay. Too many of us died on the job and never saw retirement, After my heart stopped in a moment of bliss while at a mall for no apparent reason they wouldn't let me return until i could prove I wouldn't die anymore, I excepted retirement but they never took me off the rolls even though their own doctor who I was sent to told them I was stage four cancer and I would die before the ink dried on my paper work. Management is absurd there.

August 03 2011 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
floridaguy0008

If you miss the rudeness by the USPS, don't worry, you will still continue some of it with certain people on AOL. Before Online banking which I do use, if there are 20 stamps in a book, how many bill's can Little Jimmy have?? The USPS is saying they raise rates and losing money because of other competition. Some examples, E-Mail, faxing ,UPS, FED EX etc. You can even go to a food store to get a book of stamps, without dealing with the Post Office!! Let's not go back to far when you actually had to lick a stamp!! Now that you don't need them anymore, I guess you don't get a Christmas Card or a gift for an occasion!! Do you give an E-Card!! You don't want to put Hallmark out of business either!! By the way, you actually pay for AOL!! Take Care!!

August 03 2011 at 6:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
oreo cookies

TEs only work for a set amount of time, after 181 days they are let go. what a non story

August 03 2011 at 6:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to oreo cookies's comment
EAT ME

181 days? They work a year, then put off the books for a week (te vaction). Then are rehired, unless they stunk at it. I know 5 te's, all worked at least 4 years. Working 6 days a week, no drop day, no sick leave, sent to different stations to work. The wonderful union allowed it because they can join the union, and collect more dues. Union selling out for $.

November 04 2012 at 9:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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