Postal Unions Prevail!
Arbitrator Das Solidifies Administrative Leave for Caucus Voting
On June 21, Arbitrator Shyam Das issued a national award in the arbitration between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), with APWU and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) as intervenors. In Case No. Q11N-4Q-C 16398841, the postal unions united and together prevailed. “This Postal Alliance victory demonstrates that when we come together to protect and enforce the rights of bargaining-unit workers, we can be more successful,” said President Dimondstein.
In arbitration, the USPS disputed the postal unions’ insistence that Employee Labor Manual (ELM) sections 519.321-323 grants of administrative leave for caucuses. The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) was the initial appellant in the case, regarding the denial of paid leave for a letter carrier in a Nevada caucus. Due to their own similar grievances, APWU and NPMHU intervened and participated in the hearing. During the hearing, APWU Des Moines BMC Local President Robert Moyer provided vital testimony regarding his attendance at an Iowa caucus.
The Postal Service argued that the language in the ELM authorizing paid administrative leave for voting applied only to secret ballot presidential primaries. Arbitrator Das found that there was “no meaningful basis” for only allowing paid administrative leave for voting in presidential primaries, but not presidential caucuses. The USPS also argued that it had a long-standing past practice of denying paid administrative leave to vote in presidential caucuses. Arbitrator Das also found no merit in that argument. “The evidence in this record is insufficient to establish the existence of any sort of practice or of a consistent policy… Accordingly, the Unions' position that the policy set forth in ELM-519.321 applies to Presidential caucuses is upheld.”
This joint union success will allow all postal employees to apply for and receive a reasonable amount of paid administrative leave to vote in a presidential caucus, when the granting of leave does not disrupt postal operations and if an employee cannot exercise their right to vote on their own time. This is an important step forward and helps to ensure that all postal employees can participate in the democratic process and have assured voting access.
While Arbitrator Das defended that employees could attend caucuses to vote for a presidential candidate, he did clarify that the ELM does not obligate the Postal Service to provide paid administrative leave to participate in all party business conducted at a caucus.
“Thank you to Assistant Clerk Craft Director Lynn Pallas-Barber and Assistant Maintenance Craft Director A Idowu Balogun for their hard-work on this case,” said Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman.
This award will affect postal employees in the 19 states and territories where caucuses are held, including:
- American Samoa
- North Dakota
- Northern Marianas
- Virgin Islands
To view the full award, click here.