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A Tale of Two Representations—Continued
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS National President
Hello, my NAPS brothers and sisters. I hope you all had a wonderful, blessed Christmas and New Year with your families. I write this column as we approach a new year full of hope and promise as we continue pursuing increases in pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees—including postmasters.
As I pointed out in my January column, the famous opening line from Charles Dickens’ novel, “A Tale of Two Cities”—“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”—highlights a significant conflict between family and love, hatred and oppression, good and evil, light and darkness and wisdom and folly.
For NAPS, this quote is applicable to the current times we are facing, considering the affirmations received in the Feb. 22, 2022, decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, No. 20-5280, NAPS, Appellant, v. USPS & UPMA, Appellees. You can find all the documents regarding this case at https://naps.org/Forms-and-Documents.
In my January 2023 column, I discussed representation in terms of disciplinary and adverse actions as the first of two representative paths facing NAPS within the USPS. This month, I want to focus on the representative path of “pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees, including postmasters.”
The foundation of NAPS’ claims to represent all EAS employees is found in the following language from page 27 of the Appeals Court’s opinion. The court’s language clearly establishes that NAPS, as a supervisory organization, may represent all EAS personnel (meaning all supervisors, postmasters and managers). In contrast, a postmaster organization may represent only postmasters—clearly, it may not represent supervisors.
“While postmasters’ organizations are expressly prohibited from also representing supervisors, and managerial organizations are prohibited from also representing supervisors or postmasters, no such restriction is placed on supervisory organizations. Supervisory organizations—beyond having to show they represent a majority of supervisors—are not limited in who else they can represent. This precisely crafted statute thus presents a ‘nested’ structure, in which Congress placed deliberate restrictions on postmasters’ organizations (which may not represent supervisors) and on managerial organizations (which may not represent either supervisors or postmasters), but conspicuously left the supervisory organization free to represent either postmasters or managers alongside supervisors.”
Just before this language, beginning on page 26 of the opinion, the Appeals Court distinguishes between the various percentage-threshold requirements imposed by section 1004(b) of Title 39 and why there can be only one supervisory organization (because of the majority requirement), compared to the possibility of as many as five organizations representing postmasters (because of the 20% threshold requirement).
“The carefully worded language of section 1004(b) presents different requirements for supervisory organizations than for postmaster or managerial organizations. In requiring that a supervisory organization represent ‘a majority of supervisors,’ Congress made clear that there can be only one such organization authorized to consult on behalf of supervisors. 39 U.S.C. § 1004(b). Multiple organizations cannot each represent ‘a majority of supervisors,’ only one can. However, because any given postmasters’ organization must only represent ‘at least 20 percent of postmasters,’ as many as five postmasters’ organizations could qualify under the Act. Likewise, a managerial organization must only represent ‘a substantial percentage of managerial employees,’ so many managerial organizations could qualify. This distinction sets the supervisory organization apart from the start.”
As to the representation of USPS Headquarters and Area EAS employees, the Appeals Court stated on page 23:
“The Postal Act plainly obligates the agency to consult with respect to compensation for supervisory and other managerial employees regardless of their designation by the Postal Service as ‘Field,’ ‘Headquarters,’ or ‘Area’ employees.”
The “nesting” structure, referenced in the first text cited from page 27 of the opinion, is illustrated with this drawing from page 28 of the opinion. Affirmations from the Appeals Court are clear and unambiguous that NAPS is the only management association authorized by federal law to represent all EAS employees in pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees.
In the months since this historic decision was handed down, I have received forwarded emails that show individuals are using the USPS infrastructure to recruit EAS employees to join the other management association, which is being condoned by the USPS while denying NAPS the same access. We are receiving articles from the other management association’s magazine, written by local leaders, detailing their successes in recruitment.
While these actions have made it necessary for me and my fellow resident officers to reevaluate the data we are providing to the Executive Board for dissemination to local NAPS leaders, NAPS Headquarters must speak out.
On Nov. 16, 2022, under sworn testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Government Operations of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the UPMA president stated:
“On Nov. 1, 2021, I became the second elected national president of UPMA. Our organization is recognized statutorily under Title 39 of the U.S. Code. The statute directs that we consult with the United States Postal Service to participate directly in the planning and development of pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees.”
Based on all the facts that encompass the federal law on this issue, this statement is inaccurate. It contributes to the deception being perpetrated by EAS employees against EAS employees using the USPS infrastructure. I have a problem with this misinformation being perpetuated; it should not be part of any effort to chase membership.
At the end of the day, as stated by federal law, NAPS is the only management association authorized to negotiate pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees (including postmasters). That is fact and the law.
As EAS employees, we should be looking to lift and support each other in facing these daily battles to get America’s mail delivered—despite the efforts of an executive leadership team that seems to work to not provide the necessary resources to make that happen. We are stronger together—NAPS strong!