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President Brian Wagner, Executive Vice President Ivan D. Butts and Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Mulidore were present for the June 19 consultative meeting with the Postal Service. Executive Board Chair Tim Ford attended via telecom. Representing the Postal Service were Bruce Nicholson, Phong Quang and Henry Bear, USPS Labor Relations Policy Administration.
Agenda Item #1
NAPS Headquarters has received advocacy cases where the USPS denied the appellant’s request for ELM 650 mediation. NAPS noted these cases are of a nature that has afforded the appellant access to an ELM 650 mediation process as part of the appellant’s due process in the past.
NAPS contends the USPS is taking unilateral action to deny due process to EAS employees under a broad definition of “egregious” for allegations that, in the past, always have warranted and provided for the due process of an ELM 650 mediation.
NAPS requested a statistical review of ELM 650 mediation requests over the past three fiscal years (FY14-FY 17).
Eloise Lance, manager, EEO Compliance/Appeals; Tracy Wattree-Bond, manager, EEO Programs; and Will Farley, EEO Regulatory Policy & Compliance, Diversity, attended to address this agenda item.
Chapter 650 of the ELM covers disciplinary, grievance and appeal procedures, including due process and mediation for eligible non-bargaining employees. Whether the Alternative Dispute Resolution process of mediation is approved or not, employees continue to have their appeal/due process rights.
Requests for mediation are reviewed and approved by the ELM 650 facilitator under the authority of EEO Compliance and Appeals—not by the proposing official or district office. Mediations are considered on a case-by-case basis and in accordance with ELM 652.51. If mitigation requests are found to be inappropriate, the reasons will be provided to the employee.
Mediation may not be found appropriate when it is determined that the charges involve egregious misconduct, criminal activity, repeated misconduct, inability to perform and other conduct as determined by the Postal Service. The following are examples of requests for mediation that have been deemed inappropriate in the past by EEO Compliance and Appeals:
• Falsification or misappropriation
• Violence or threats of violence
• Sexual misconduct
• Misuse of position
• Misuse of user ID
•Misuse of government credit card
• Intentional delay of mail
• OIG or Inspection Service investigations
• Criminal activity
• Repeated misconduct
NAPS responded that its concerns continue to center on the definition of “egregious” and the fact the determination of egregious behavior relies solely on the discipline file. Appellant input is not sought or necessarily included as part of the discipline file. Therefore, the ELM 650 facilitator is relying only on one part of the story in determining egregious behavior and denying an appellant the right to have a 650 mediation meeting.
Agendas Item #2
NAPS Headquarters has been made aware that the Lakeland District has been hosting quarterly meetings with management association representatives. The NAPS reps have had the choice of attending in person or via WebEx (telecon).
At the latest quarterly meeting, the district manager said she would like everyone to attend in person in the future. After the meeting, which the NAPS representative attended via WebEx, the district secretary sent out an email regarding the next meeting in June and asked who planned to participate. The NAPS representative said they would attend via WebEx. The secretary stated there would be no WebEx as the district manager wanted as many as possible to participate in person.
An email was sent to the district manager, asking if the district would pick up the travel per USPS Handbook F-15. NAPS did not receive a reply from the district manager. At the Great Lakes Area meeting with NAPS and UPMA in April, the NAPS representative personally asked the district manager if the district would pick up travel per Handbook F-15. She responded the district would not pay; she canvased other district managers in the Great Lakes Area and none has paid that expense.
The Great Lakes Area HR manager was in attendance and, after the meeting, was asked for clarification. The response was not immediately forthcoming. The Great Lakes Area is saying it has no policy regarding inviting management representatives to a meeting and paying them and is leaving it up to the districts to decide how to handle this issue.
NAPS contends that the policies and procedures for management association travel are found in the F-15: 2-2.1.3 For Employees Representing Employee Organizations
“Approving officials (see Appendix C) may approve travel of employees who are representatives of employee organizations. However, the travel must pertain to one of the following:
“a. Activities of joint employee-management cooperation committees when the activity is primarily in the interest of the Postal Service—for example, preventing accidents, reducing absenteeism, improving communication, ensuring equal employment opportunity, or maintaining employee productivity and morale.
“b. Special consultation or special negotiation sessions when called by postal officials.
“See Chapter 9, Handling Expenses for Special Travel Situations, for more information.”
9-5 As a Representative of an Employee Organization
“If you are a representative of an employee organization, you may be approved to travel depending upon the purpose.”
If Your Travel Pertains to …
a. Activities of joint employee-management cooperation committees when the activity is primarily in the interest of the Postal Service—for example, preventing accidents, reducing absenteeism, improving communication, ensuring equal employment opportunity, or maintaining employee productivity and morale.
The Postal Service may approve travel.
b. Special consultation or special negotiation sessions when called by Postal Service officials.
The Postal Service may approve travel.
c. Internal employee-organization business—such as attending meetings, conferences or training—sponsored by an employee organization.
The Postal Service does not authorize travel. Exception: Such travel will be authorized if these activities meet the needs of the Postal Service and the Postal Service requires the employee to attend.
d. Regularly scheduled negotiation sessions for negotiating an agreement.
The Postal Service does not authorize travel.
NAPS finds that USPS policies and procedures make it permissible for the agency to authorize USPS travel for NAPS representatives attending meetings initiated by the USPS for attendance. NAPS requested that if the USPS requires in-person attendance at USPS meetings, the travel be approved per the policies.
Attendance by local leaders of the management associations at these district and area meetings are by invitation—not a requirement. Management has the authority to set specific parameters for these meetings. This authority includes discretion in approving travel for these events in accordance with Handbook F-15 Travel and Relocation, Section 2-2.1.3, For Employees Representing Employee Organizations, which reads in part, “Approving officials may [emphasis added] approve travel of employees who are representatives of employee organizations.”
Therefore, compensation for travel costs is at the discretion of management as long as the purpose of the travel meets business activities defined in Handbook F-15, 2-2.1.3 and Chapter 9-5, As a Representative of an Employee Organization.
NAPS responded it continues to believe that if Postal Service leadership is hosting a meeting and not providing any other method of attendance besides attending in person, then the Postal Service should cover the travel expenses of NAPS representatives. NAPS believes the term “may” in Handbook F-15, Section 2-2.1.3, should be changed to “must.”