USPS moves up shifts after Dallas postal worker dies in heat, union says

A week after Dallas letter carrier Eugene Gates Jr. collapsed during his route, and later died at a hospital, USPS shifts in Texas will start earlier.

Postal workers sent FOX 4 a flyer and alerts informing them their shifts would be moved to start at 7:30 in the morning.

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"We're still in kind of limbo as to the exact cause of death, but we know it was extremely hot on the day that Eugene passed," said Kimetra Lewis, the Lonestar Branch 132 President of the National Association of Letter Carriers. "Carriers are really, you know, they're a little terrified about having to work out in the elements that we're faced with here in Dallas and in the whole Metroplex."

Lewis told us the shift change started Monday, with consecutive triple-digit temperature days in the forecast and dangerous humidity.

She also said the change is statewide, but USPS officials would not confirm that information to FOX 4.

"Letter carriers are concerned about being out there when it's at the highest point of the day. And it has, and that's their biggest concern," said Lewis. 

READ MORE: Dallas USPS worker dies after passing out during excessive heat

On the day Gates collapsed the heat index reached 115 degrees.

Tuesday morning, at the new start time of 7:30 a.m., the air temperature in Dallas was already 85 degrees.

At the normal 9 a.m. start time for workers, it was 93 degrees.


Wife of USPS worker who died on the job awaiting autopsy results

Eugene Gates' wife says he always came prepared for the heat, bringing water, a cooler, tea and juice with him on the job. She says he always brought dedication to his work, oftentimes coming in early.

Lewis says the goal is for letter carriers is to work an 8-hour route.

Moving the start time up would mean workers should finish before the hottest part of the day.

Lewis had a message for the Gates family.

"I want them to know and understand that Eugene did not die in vain. That Eugene will be remembered. If not for nothing else, but for the attention that our loss of him brought to the Postal Service, the other postal employees and to the community," she said.

It is unclear if the time change will last all summer.

USPS would not provide a statement to FOX 4.