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NLRB Slams Postal Service For Failure to Bargain over Employee Data Breach

Complaint over Cyber Intrusion Would Set Precedent

Web News Article #: 
078-2015

04/08/2015 - In a first-of-its-kind complaint, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has cited the Postal Service for failing to bargain with the APWU over last year’s massive data security breach. The incident, which was revealed to the union and employees in mid-November, compromised the personal information of hundreds of thousands of current and former postal employees. 

As a result of the cyber intrusion, employees’ Social Security numbers, addresses, dates of birth, and injury claim information were accessed from postal data systems over a period of months.  In response, the Postal Service decided unilaterally to offer employees just one year of free credit reporting.

Upon learning of the breach from then-Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, APWU President Mark Dimondstein demanded that the Postal Service bargain with the union over the issue. The APWU also sought information from the Postal Service about the extent of the breach; what postal officials knew; when they knew it, and what they did or failed to do to protect employee information. 

The APWU filed the NLRB charge just days after learning of the cyber intrusion, after the Postal Service refused to bargain over management’s response to the breach and failed to respond to the union‘s request for information.  At the time, Dimondstein said, “We are outraged that this happened. We do not know at this point whether management did everything in their power to protect our privacy, but they bear the ultimate responsibility.”

The complaint by Region 5 of the NLRB cites the Postal Service for ignoring its legal obligations to bargain with the union.

“By issuing this complaint, the NLRB is recognizing employee rights in the information age,” Dimondstein said. 

In a move typically reserved for the most intractable employers, the NLRB is seeking special remedies for the Postal Service’s unlawful acts. 

“In view of the extensive history of repeated unfair labor practice violations found by the Board and courts,” the complaint says, the NLRB is seeking an order “to comprehensively address the Postal Service’s violations of the law.”

The special remedies include a video featuring a top postal manager reading an NLRB-drafted notice to employees and an NLRB-imposed bargaining schedule, with regular progress reports and pay for union negotiators. 

The Postal Service has until mid-April to answer the complaint.  A trial before an NLRB administrative law judge is expected to take place in May in Washington, DC.