Mt. Airy residents appear divided over whether two postal carriers caught drinking on the job should be fired.
Some residents, where the postmen deliver, say the two deserve a second chance. But many others, many who have expressed their feelings on online forums, remain adamant that drinking on the job and then getting behind a vehicle crosses the line.
Rudy Gray and Melvin Ingram, two long-time employees of the United States Postal Service (USPS), were featured in a Fox29 investigation that secretly filmed the uniformed pair drinking several beers at McMenamin’s Tavern before returning to their shifts.
Gray and Ingram were removed from their daily routes and placed on unpaid leave after the report aired.
Since then, a group of neighbors representing the 300 block of Wellesley Road (where Ingram worked) and the Mt. Airy-Nippon-Bryan-Cresheim Town Watch (where Gray worked) have rallied around their beloved mailmen and asked USPS to reinstate them.
Town Watch members have placed petitions in support of Gray in neighborhood businesses. They additionally placed accompanying signs asking residents to “Give Rudy a Second Chance! Petition Here!”
Signatures collected from Chef Ken’s Café, the Food For All Market and the High Point Café were reportedly delivered to the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the union representing mailmen.
A smaller group of neighbors from Wellesley Road have drafted a letter in support of Ingram.
Thursday’s strategy session
On Thursday, neighbors from both sections will meet with NALC Local President Randy Zebin during the Town Watch’s regularly scheduled monthly meeting to discuss the status of Gray and Ingram and how residents can help with getting the two back on the job.
“What we’re trying to do is to see to it that there is due process and that [Rudy], if given a second chance, will actually reform and do what he has to do to get his life together and be the kind of mailman that we’ve always highly prized, ” said Steve Stroiman, who heads the Town Watch group.
“We’re not going to support someone who’s a derelict,” added Stroiman.
In particular, Stroiman said neighbors are interested in knowing if the McMenamin’s incident is isolated or if Gray and Ingram have a record of misconduct on the job. Stroiman, for his part, said he had no reason to suspect Gray could be problematic until the Fox29 report.
“Rudy presented to us a very competent individual. Not just competent, but also very caring. He went out of his way for neighbors,” he said.
The dissenting voice
But while support for Gray has sprung from the hearts of many Town Watch members, there are also those who aren’t on board with the group’s efforts.
Kathleen Furin, who has lived in Mt. Airy for more than a decade, agrees with Stroiman and others that Gray is a “good guy”. But she opposes Town Watch’s decision to take up his cause as a collective group.
“My understanding was that the mission of the town watch was to keep our neighborhood safe and to deal with quality of life and safety issues,” said Furin. “I don’t see how supporting someone who was clearly about to drive under the influence was keeping the neighbors safe.”
Furin said she wouldn’t be upset if neighbors wanted to show their support independently of the organization, but added she isn’t sure why they would.
“Where ever you work, you can’t steal from the job, you can’t bring drugs into work. There are certain things that you’re going to get fired for without a warning,” she said.
“If he’s driving the mail truck drunk he can’t be a mail carrier,” Furin added. ” I’m sorry. It just can’t happen.”
The postal carriers were not fired
President Zebin said the union wants Ingram and Gray reinstated and that the community’s support of that goal “can’t hurt.”
“We’re not saying what they did was right. They made mistakes,” said Zebin. “But they have some serious issues that need to be addressed instead of just throwing them away. They need help.”
Zebin said with some help, the two could rejoin the postal service. Though that day, he said, would likely be months away.
The two have been placed on “emergency suspension”, according to Zebin.
“[Gray and Ingram are] not terminated. Not yet,” he said.
Officials with USPS said the federal agency does not comment on administrative actions.
Gray and Ingram worked out of the post office at 5209 Greene St. in Germantown.
NewsWorks wants to know what you think should happen to the two postal workers.