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Sadness in Euphoria
By Ivan D. Butts
NAPS National President
Hello, my NAPS brothers and sisters. I write this column as we still digest the decision handed down by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Feb. 22, 2022, in the matter National Association of Postal Supervisors v. United States Postal Service and United Postmasters and Managers of America.
The news of this decision by our legal team led by Andy Freeman, attorney, Brown Goldstein & Levy, brought joyous excitement at the vindication of long-standing issues on pay, the consultation process and representation. Having this judicial body make a historic decision on settled law will stand forever as a marker in our association’s rich history. Please ensure that you take time and read this landmark decision.
Since I was honored to be elected NAPS’ Eastern Region vice president in 2008 on the 100th anniversary of our association, the USPS consultative response that NAPS does not represent USPS Headquarters EAS employees always bothered me. It wasn’t the reply, but that the reply never was supported by any policy, procedure or law.
When I was elected executive vice president, I got more oversight that helped facilitate further questioning of the USPS’ statement on representation. That question was, “Where is it written?” The USPS never answered that question; then, the answer was found in the documentation at NAPS Headquarters. The long-expired MOU between the USPS and past NAPS President Don Ledbetter established a three-year moratorium on NAPS representation of USPS Headquarters EAS employees. This MOU expired in 1981.
So, the Appeals Court stating, “We reject the Postal Service’s position that it may deny employees the representation rights granted by Congress by simply declaring employees not to be supervisory or other managerial personnel,” finally answers a question that has been asked of the USPS by every NAPS president since Don Ledbetter.
Participation is the lifeblood of our postal management association. This access denied for 44 years (since 1978) has had a tremendous impact on NAPS. First, in the active discouragement by USPS Headquarters in its statements to EAS employees entitled to representation that “NAPS can’t do anything for you.” And by the thousands of EAS employees denied representation at the table per federal law.
It is very reassuring to finally have resolution to this issue by the courts as we move forward in addressing the issues of planning and developing pay policies and schedules, fringe benefits programs and other programs relating to “supervisory and other managerial employees” per 39 USC § 1004(b).
But there is an accompanying sadness for me that tempers this tremendous, euphoric step forward for NAPS members. The Executive and Administrative Schedule employees who serve as the managerial unit of the USPS have been called on since the Post Office Department was constitutionally enacted by federal law to lead employees in binding Americans through post roads.
This role has expanded to over 600 various EAS job titles that make up this managerial unit. We always hear executives speak of this higher standard to which we EAS employees are held. At the same time, our treatment by some of these leaders conveys a colder, less noble meaning.
As the lyrics of Billy Joel’s “Summer, Highland Falls” on his 1976 album, “Turnstiles,” say:
They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own
Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover’s eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It’s either sadness or euphoria
Despite this sadness in euphoria, I am committed to working for the members of this great association to achieve more in all areas. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”