Vice President's Report

Erik Venzke


Michigan State Association of Letter Carriers

      As many of you may have heard or seen on the news there has been a steep increase in robberies of letter carriers recently. The Postal Inspection Service reported that armed robberies of carriers increased sharply between 2018 and 2021, rising from 36 incidents to 154. In 2022 it increased to 412 letter carriers having been robbed, and in just the first half of fiscal year 2023, 305 incidents. Although not a new phenomenon, there was a string of arrow key thefts back in 2011, the increase and frequency of the current robberies is of great concern and must be addressed on a national level to protect our brothers and sisters. To draw attention to the assaults and robberies the NALC has been holding rallies in multiple cities (including Detroit) with the message of “enough is enough” and seeking aid from Congress. This message has not fallen on deaf ears as it is now garnering support to create legislation that would provide assistance for our safety. Currently Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Penn) is drafting legislation to provide funding for the full replacement of the arrow key system, in-crease the number of Postal Inspectors that will be dedicated to prevention and investigation of these crimes, and also place a Prosecutor in all 53 United States attorney’s offices that are dedicated to prosecuting these crimes.


      The Department of Justice (DOJ) already has tools that can help deter and prosecute armed robberies against letter carriers. The law currently provides a penalty of up to 10 years for robbing, attempting to rob, or assaulting with intent to rob a letter carrier or other person having lawful charge, control, or custody of any mail matter or other property of the United States with the possibility of a 25-year-sentence if the victim is injured or in the case of a repeat offender. In addition, any person who receives or possesses property taken in such a robbery, knowing it to be unlawfully obtained, is subject to a penalty of up to 10 years (Sections 2114(a and b) of title 18 of the U.S. Code). However, the DOJ must use these laws to prosecute the offenders and direct funding allocated specifically for the prosecution of these crimes will ensure this.


      These attacks on letter carriers are happening everywhere, urban and rural, and are a traumatic event for the victims that can cause a myriad of psychological impacts such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. In just my branch alone in the last year and a half we have had multiple carriers robbed at gunpoint, assaulted, and/or were witness to violent crimes. Speaking to these carriers you can see the toll that the traumatic event took on them and the fear and anxiety they now have about returning to work and having to go back out on the street.


      The following is excerpted from Well-Being and Functioning at Work Following Thefts and Robberies: A Comparative Study – [Front. Psychol., 20 February 2018 Sec. Organizational Psychology Volume 9 – 2018 |]

“…studies have shown that a robbery may be a traumatizing experience for workers, which may initiate the development of or increase existing mental health problems, such as psychological distress, major depression, acute stress dis-order, and post-traumatic stress symptoms (Van der Velden et al., 1992; Kamphuis and Emmelkamp, 1998; Hansen and Elklit, 2014a,b; Hansen et al., 2014). This, in turn, may lead victims to experience reduced overall job satisfaction (Giorgi et al., 2015b), decreased work productivity (Zatzick et al., 2008), and increased demand for medical and mental healthcare services (Van der Velden et al., 1992; Mucci et al., 2015).”


      In the unfortunate event that you as a letter carrier or a co-worker are the victim of a robbery while in the performance of duty and experience any physical and/or emotional trauma you have the right to file a traumatic injury claim (CA-1) through the office of workman’s compensation (OWCP) and should seek the advice and/or assistance of either your branch’s injury compensation specialist or the NBA’s office.


      Recently the Department of Labor (DOL) has issued a new FECA Transmittal (23-04) in response to the increase in emotional condition claims that are being sought for carriers who are robbed for arrow keys or have other traumatic emotional injuries. Transmittal 23-04 allows for the initial acceptance of emotional injury claims with medical evidence from any doctor, not just a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist as previously required in the FECA Manual part 2 0805 3.d.3.c (and is still required for occupational health claims CA-2) This change makes it easier for carriers to get approval for a traumatic emotional stress claim. Prior to the change it was difficult for members to find a psychologist or psychiatrist who one, accepts OWCP and two, will see the claimant timely to meet the requirements for them to be eligible to receive continuation of pay (COP) from the Postal Service.


      Stay safe out there and remember, if you were or become a victim of a robbery or assault while on duty and experience any physical and/or emotional trauma you have the right to file a CA-1 traumatic injury claim through OWCP.


-- Erik Venzke

Vice President



December 2023