Lawsuit Against Arbitration Award Dismissed
(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
By MVS Craft Directors
The National Star Route Mail Contractors Association’s lawsuit against the Postal Service over the American Postal Workers Union’s (APWU) arbitration award regarding Highway Contract Routes (HCRs) was denied by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In an effort to prevent the USPS “from taking any action to implement the portion of the Aug. 18, 2016 APWU-USPS arbitration case No. Q06C-4Q-C 11182451 (Das), in which the arbitrator ordered the Postal Service to terminate 110 HCR routes to PVS,” the Star Route Association filed a lawsuit against the USPS on Nov. 30, 2016. On Dec. 2, 2016, they requested an expedited hearing upon their Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction.
The USPS entered into a motion to dismiss the complaints of the Star Route Association, and the APWU, as the intervenor, also entered into a motion to dismiss.
The case was filed before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“Upon considering of the pleadings, the relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court GRANTS Defendant’s and Intervenor’s Motion to Dismiss and DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction…Lacking jurisdiction over the matter, the Court does not address Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction on the merits, as it lacks the authority to grant such relief.
Finally the Court shall DENY WITH PREJUDICE in this court Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction...
Because Plaintiff has failed to establish standing in this matter which is not yet ripe for adjudication, the Court finds that it would not be in the interest of justice and accordingly shall not transfer this matter to the Court of Federal Claims.”
As we reported in our November-December article, the Motor Vehicle Service (MVS) Craft scored an important victory in this Aug. 18, 2016 ruling by Arbitrator Shyam Das, inet ripe for adjudication, the Court finds that it would not be in the interest of justice and accordingly shall not transfer this matter to the Court of Federal Claims.” which he stated, among other points, that the Postal Service must convert 110 Highway Contract Routes (HCRs) to Postal Vehicle Service (PVS) within six months of the date of the award.
The HCR association’s argument was based on the grounds that they would incur serious monetary damages with the termination of their contracts, and the MVS Craft bargaining unit employees would not suffer equivalent damages without these contracts, as they were not previously performing the work.
The union immediately pushed back against this motion, which sought to overturn Arbitrator Das’ decision and prevent the Postal Service from returning work to the MVS Craft. We have fought for years to bring the USPS in compliance with Article 32 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), as our members continued to suffer loss of work to outside contractors.
The APWU’s argument against the preliminary injunction was strong. We stated not only does the D.C. District Court lack proper jurisdiction in such a case, but the outside contractor also had no legal recourse to demand renewal of their contracts with the Postal Service.
The APWU quoted a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision as further evidence:
“We think it plain that the bargaining unit is adversely affected whenever bargaining unit work is given away to nonunit employees, regardless of whether the work would otherwise have been performed by employees already in the unit or by new employees who would have been hired into the unit.” (Mi Pueblo Foods, 360 NLRB No. 116 (2014))
It is very disturbing to the APWU to have an organization that is not part of the USPS or the CBA between the parties attempt to interfere with the parties’ agreements or processes.
This is not the first time this HCR group tried to interfere with the union’s collective bargaining efforts, as they previously attempted to stop the union from receiving the PS Form 7463A, the negotiated cost of HCR contracts, after the NLRB administrative judge ordered the USPS to provide this form.
Compliance with the Das Award
Early reports from the field indicated local management was attempting to negotiate some of the 110 routes for substitution, which Arbitrator Das allowed for, but not on the local level.
Arbitrator Das stated, “By agreement, the parties may substitute other route(s) to be converted to PVS service pursuant to this order based on particular circumstances.”
In response to the APWU’s requests for information regarding these reports from the field, the Postal Service confirmed that “since this was a National level arbitration we would agree that the parties the arbitrator refers to are parties at the National level.” Local management has no authority to negotiate the substation of any routes from the original 110 named in the award.
We are still in the process of finalizing the list of HCRs to be insourced and will notify the membership once the list is complete.
Dynamic Routing Optimization Pilot Underway
The Postal Service began a Dynamic Routing Optimization (DRO) pilot at several locations, with plans for further testing and possible nationwide rollouts. According to USPS material on the pilot, DRO aims to:
- “Decrease surface transportation costs by reducing mileage using dynamic routes created by a Transportation Management System (TMS).
- “Replace the use of static trips with dynamically generated trips based on mail volume and mail availability forecasts from the Run Plan Generator (RPG).
- “Achieve savings through a combination of reduced mileage and reduction in related transportation costs (i.e. fuel).”
The union met with USPS to discuss this pilot, and we also sent a request for further information as to the possible impact to PVS drivers as well as to potential conflicts with the CBA. Any proposals and material considered prior to the application of the DRO pilot were also requested.
We have serious concerns and doubts about the Postal Service’s rights under the CBA to implement this program and initiated a Step 4 dispute. We will continue to keep you informed about its progress.