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Finding the Truth in Fact-Finding
By Brian J. Wagner
After a very long pay consultation and fact-finding process, NAPS received the final “Report and Recommendations” from the fact-finding panel on April 30. NAPS began the FY16-19 pay consultation journey back in September 2017 when it received the Postal Service’s initial FY16-19 pay proposal. What has this journey taught us?
Here is the scoop:
The fact-finding panel basically supported NAPS’ position that the Postal Service’s EAS pay rate and pay system have serious flaws—their term, not mine. The panel agreed with NAPS on nearly every aspect of its challenge to the USPS pay plan and recommended substantial changes to the agency’s pay rates for EAS employees, as well as their calculation.
Now that the fact-finding report has been received, the Postal Service, as required by law, must “give full and fair consideration to the panel’s recommendation(s)” and issue its final pay package within 15 days of the panel’s report. The law also requires the USPS to explain in writing any differences between its final decision and the panel’s recommendation.
That does not mean the Postal Service must agree with any or all of the panel’s recommendations in the final EAS pay decision to NAPS. The recommendations are just that—recommendations that are not binding to the USPS.
In NAPS’ opinion, the panel’s report validates the longstanding concerns NAPS and many EAS employees have had about the fairness of their pay and how it was determined and administered by the Postal Service.
I encourage members to read the panel’s report. Go to www.naps.org and click on “News.” You will note the panel determined the USPS’ Pay-for-Performance (PFP) system is broken and counterproductive. In the panel’s opinion, the PFP program, as currently designed and administered, is seriously flawed in that it does not accomplish its objectives or comply with the requirements of the Postal Reorganization Act.
Furthermore, the panel strongly recommended that NAPS and the USPS establish a joint work group to examine and report on the issues of locality pay, Supervisor Differential Adjustment (SDA), PFP and, possibly, a permanent cost-of-living adjustment for career, non-bargaining unit employees who are in field EAS positions.
NAPS is pleased with the fact-finding results, not only for what they mean for all our members, but what they mean for all EAS employees. Why? NAPS took a stand—a big step forward—to hold the Postal Service accountable in accordance with Title 39 to ensure all EAS employees receive the proper respect and compensation in pay and benefits.
NAPS was challenged many times during the pay-talks process. But we were not willing to step down, roll over or cave to accepting an EAS pay package that was less than desirable for our members or, for that matter, all EAS employees.
NAPS presented a solid business case at fact-finding with relevant documentation, credible witnesses, facts and the truth. Yes, pay consultation and fact-finding took longer than NAPS Headquarters and our members expected. Getting to the truth took time and patience.
The few extensions in time granted to the panel gave it the time necessary to review the facts and find the truth about the flawed EAS pay rates and pay system. I commend the panel for its thoroughness and unbiased review of the facts and recommendations.
I also want to commend our NAPS pay talks team. This was nothing less than a team effort by everyone involved in this pay process. When called on, everyone stepped up to be the leaders NAPS needed to get the job done. This includes our excellent legal counsel, NAPS witnesses, resident officers and entire Executive Board.
I commend all NAPS members for being part of the pay team, too. Indirectly, members played a vital part in our pay talks and fact-finding process. Members participated in our NAPS pay survey in 2016 and provided NAPS with information related to PFP and pay anomalies, SDA and salary levels, to name just a few. More importantly, our members contributed when it counted by being patient, understanding and trusting in their national officers while awaiting the fact-finding report and recommendations.
NAPS members now know the fact-found truth and can be proud that the panel’s report validates NAPS’ position that its EAS members deserve better pay rates and a better pay system. Now that fact-finding is completed, we must wait to see if the truth will present itself in an EAS field pay decision from the Postal Service.
Besides being pleased with the fact-finding panel’s recommendations, I also am pleased with my ice cream flavor of the month recommendation for June: true vanilla.