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A ‘Law’ Time Coming!
By Brian J. Wagner
For some, it has been a long time, or law time, coming that the National Association of Postal Supervisors has taken legal action to challenge the Postal Service’s violation of 39 U.S.C. §§ 1003 and 1004 (Title 39) in relation to EAS pay and representation of all EAS employees. Here’s the scoop!
On July 26, 2019, NAPS’ Executive Board, by unanimous vote, authorized our association to initiate legal proceedings against the USPS in federal court in Washington, DC, to pursue all declaratory and injunctive relief necessary on three legal issues related to violations of Title 39: 1) EAS pay; 2) Representation of USPS Headquarters and area office EAS personnel; and 3) Recognition of NAPS as a postmaster’s organization.
Before the close of business on July 26, NAPS filed the respective lawsuit. The following provides an overview of what precipitated our current legal action against the USPS:
First, a year earlier in July 2018, NAPS requested that the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) hold a fact-finding proceeding regarding the USPS’ final 2016-2019 pay package for Field EAS employees. The fact-finding hearing took place in December 2018. At the hearing, NAPS contended that the USPS’ final EAS pay decision did not meet the requirements of Title 39.
The FMCS fact-finding panel concurred with NAPS on nearly all the issues raised. The panel held that the Postal Service’s Pay-for-Performance (PFP) system was seriously flawed, the supervisor differential was not calculated properly, PFP does not attract and retain qualified EAS employees and overtime and locality pay need to be addressed.
The panel recommended that NAPS and the USPS form a workgroup with a mediator and a pay-compensation expert to help resolve these issues. Despite these definitive findings, the Postal Service disregarded most of them and issued its final May 15, 2019, pay decision that denied EAS personnel the pay improvements unanimously recommended by the three-member fact-finding panel.
Following our legal counsel’s close review of the Postal Service’s decision, NAPS concluded that the decision did not adhere to the specific statutory requirements of Title 39 that require the USPS to: 1) Provide for an EAS pay package comparable to the private sector; 2) Provide a reasonable pay differential to those supervised at the craft level; 3) Attract and retain qualified EAS employees; and 4) Provide for a well-motivated EAS workforce.
Second, Title 39 clearly states that NAPS may represent all Postal Service supervisory and other managerial personnel, except postmasters, when certain criteria are met. NAPS concluded that the Postal Service, in violation of Title 39, failed to recognize NAPS as the representative of all USPS EAS Headquarters and area personnel and to consult with NAPS on their pay and benefits before issuing the final pay decision.
Third, per 39 U.S.C. § 1004(i)(4), when a postal management association represents at least 20% of postmasters, the association may petition the USPS to be recognized as a postmaster’s organization. As of mid-2018, more than 20% of postmasters were NAPS members, leading NAPS to petition the USPS on Oct. 1, 2018, to recognize NAPS as a postmaster’s organization.
The Postal Service denied NAPS’ representation petition in February 2019. This decision prompted NAPS, in its lawsuit against the USPS, to seek a court order directing the Postal Service to recognize NAPS as a rightful representative of postmasters for pay and benefits consultation.
The FMCS fact-finding panel agreed with NAPS that the USPS pay system for managers and supervisors is seriously flawed and fails to meet the expectations of the law. Given the USPS’ continued resistance to the pay administration requirements of Title 39, its failure to recognize NAPS as the representative of all EAS personnel (field, area and Headquarters) and its refusal to recognize NAPS as a postmaster’s organization, NAPS had no choice but to seek the legal relief to which all supervisors, managers and postmasters are entitled.
In its lawsuit against the Postal Service, NAPS is urging the court to direct the USPS to: 1) Implement the fact-finding panel’s entire April 30, 2019, findings and recommenda-tions; 2) Acknowledge NAPS’ right to represent all EAS employees—field, area and Headquarters personnel; and 3) Recognize NAPS as an official postmaster’s organization, entitled to represent postmasters in pay and benefits at consultation.
NAPS is not willing to concede its members’ rights as established under the law. To do otherwise would be an injustice to our members by denying them their statutory consultation rights to pay, benefits and appropriate representation. Until the USPS agrees to uphold NAPS’ positions in the three areas addressed here, we will remain determined to exercise our rights under the law and seek a final resolution for our members through the federal court.
I, too, will remain determined and provide you with my ice cream flavor-of-the-month recommendation for October: strawberry lemon cheesecake!