Update: Hatch Act Dispute

July 25, 2019

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

In Nov. 2017, the APWU filed a dispute over the Postal Service’s unilateral implementation of changes to Leave Without Pay (LWOP) rules for bargaining unit employees, in reaction to Postal Service managers’ criticism about Hatch Act violations. The Hatch Act restricts federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity. The rule changes were an over-reaction to mistakes by managers that tried to shift responsibility to bargaining unit employees.

The NPMHU and the NALC joined the APWU’s dispute last year, in which we successfully litigated that the Postal Service could not make mid-term unilateral changes to the leave rules without following the contract. After we won the arbitration and the Postal Service was ordered by the arbitrator to rescind the changes, the Postal Service went silent as the Congressional mid-term elections came and went. Then, six months after the Award was issued and three months after the mid-terms, the Postal Service hurriedly served the APWU with a lawsuit to vacate the arbitration award.

The Postal Service had quietly filed the lawsuit with the court three months earlier, but never served it or raised it with the APWU, even as it claimed in its pleadings that the absence of the rule changes meant the Postal Service was constantly violating the Hatch Act. However, as the APWU pointed out to the federal court in DC, the lawsuit was served several months late because the Postal Service was obligated by the law to both file and serve the suit to vacate the award within 90 days, which it did not do. The APWU’s motion to dismiss the Postal Service’s procedurally defective lawsuit is pending before the court.

The hypocrisy evident in this system was noted by Special Counsel Henry Kerner, who criticized the difference in punishment of postal employees and White House officials, including staffer Kellyanne Conway, found to have violated the Hatch Act: “In interview after interview, [Conway] uses her official capacity to disparage announced candidates, which is not allowed,” Kerner said. “What kind of example does that send to the federal workforce? If you’re high enough up in the White House, you can break the law, but if you’re a postal carrier or a regular federal worker, you lose your job?”

NALC's 'Stamp Out Hunger' Food Drive a Success

ApWu Youngstown Area Local President Jim Varner (right) with NALC Branch 385 Trustee Helen Hancock during the 2019 Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive on May 11

On Saturday, May 11, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) held their 27th Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive. The event, already the largest single-day food drive in the country, was a massive success: NALC carriers collected more than 76.1 million pounds of food, the third-largest amount in the history of the event.

The drive, annually occurring on the second Saturday of May, is a major provider of food and non-perishables for pantries across the country, a major necessity as many food banks reach the end of their supply by the end of the spring. The event re-stocks these pantries in the critical summer months, when children in need do not have access to free and reduced-price school lunches while schools are out of session.

This year’s figure brings the total amount of food collected since the first drive in 1993 to about 1.75 billion pounds.

“This is a labor of love for letter carriers, and we are proud to see how it has grown in impact over the years,” said NALC President Fredric Rolando. “It’s an honor to be able to help people in need all across the country – and to do so in a way that brings out the best in so many Americans.”

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