Letter: Royal Oak Post Office Shootings Remembered
Charlie Withers was working at the Royal Oak Post Office on this day in 1991 when 31-year-old Thomas McIlvane went on a rampage after an arbitration hearing that did not go well. When it was over, four co-workers were dead, four others were injured.
The following letter was sent to Royal Oak Patch by Charlie Withers, a Royal Oak resident:
Today will mark the 21st anniversary of the tragedy at the Royal Oak Post Office—a tragedy that was preventable if management hadn’t created a hostile work environment. The Post Office, 21 years later, still refuses to accept any responsibility.
In 1991, the Royal Oak Post Office was under the guise of the Detroit District that chose to ignore complaints about the conditions that prevailed at the Royal Oak Post Office. If anything, they condoned the extreme actions that were being taken against the workforce and lower level managers who would not go along with the authoritarian mentality.
Once again, the Royal Oak Post Office is under those at the Detroit District. There doesn’t seem to be much difference of the attitude toward the workforce by the upper echelon of management in Detroit. The local management team in Royal Oak is no problem; it is those in the Detroit District who once again push their policies of bullying.
These are the ones who originally denied those of us who were here during the Royal Oak shootings to commemorate the 20th anniversary with a tree planting and commemorative plaque. We ended up getting these things, but not without having to battle to get them. When the 20th anniversary date arrived, we had planned a moment of silence in front of the Post Office where the tree and plaque were to be positioned. At the last minute the Detroit District stepped in to forbid it. They lied to the media and used the excuse that the employees didn’t feel comfortable with the press being present.
We all knew the press was going to be there. Why wouldn’t they? It was the 20th anniversary of the shootings.
It wasn’t the employees who felt uncomfortable, it was the Detroit District.
We look at it this way—Royal Oak isn’t their office, they weren’t there. It was just one more way to deny the event that this organization refuses to acknowledge.
Live with it? We have been doing that for 21 years. Deny all you want. This organization will always have blood on their hands.