UNION UPDATE. January 25th, 2018

1. Impasse:

As you most likely know by now, the PPOA and USPS have reached impasse in Contract Negotiations. As such, the Union requested mediation-arbitration. (This is where the mediator becomes the arbitrator if a deal can’t be worked out.) Given our Agency’s history of delay (the Union had to file NLRB charges just to force them to admit we were at impasse), we may or may not receive a response to our request (see attached). If the Agency is non-responsive, then we will file another set of Board Charges. 

 

As information, our 2007-2012 contract expired in April, 2012 and we didn’t reach an arbitrated decision until April, 2014 (two years after expiration).

 

Therefore, believe it or not, we’re actually ahead of schedule as compared to our last impasse. We are hoping that we’ll be in mediation-arbitration, or perhaps directly to Interest Arbitration, this spring. If so, we would have either a Settlement (which must be ratified by the membership in order to be finalized) or a binding Award by summer 2018. 

 

 

2. Surveymonkey: 

Please take the Union's Survey. We still do not have enough respondents yet. This survey will be used as evidence against the Postal Service for higher PPO wages during mediation or possible Interest Arbitration.

 

Directly below is the link:

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/N6W8GG7

 

3. EEO:

Apparently, more than a hundred PPOs filed EEOs against the Postal Service regarding the Agency’s interference with the PPOA’s attempt to resolve the severe PPO hiring difficulties. Because of the number of complaints received, the EEO is proceeding under a representative case in order to achieve class standing. We fully expect the Administrative Judge to rule that the case does, in fact, have class standing. If so, every PPO will be included. Unfortunately, the formal EEO process is a notoriously lengthy process, so please be patient. Information will be provided as it comes in. 

 

 

4. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: 

All PPOs have the right to Union representation during investigatory interviews conducted by Postal Police management, Postal Inspectors or OIG agents. It is important to understand your rights in any of these situations, but it is critical to understand the different types of warnings a Postal Inspector or an OIG agent may issue when an investigatory interview crosses over into the realm of a possible criminal investigation. 

 

The 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision in NLRB vs. J. Weingarten gives each PPO the right to representation during any “investigatory interview which he or she reasonably believes may lead to discipline.” These rights are commonly referred to as Weingarten rights. The Postal Service is not required to inform you of these rights. A steward cannot exercise these rights for you. If you are asked a question by management that you believe could lead to discipline, you are responsible for requesting your shop steward. Management can request that the interview continue but you do not have to agree to it. Instead, insist that you want a union steward. Management is required to provide a steward upon request. 

Once a steward has been provided, you have the right to a private discussion with the steward before the interview continues. You also have the right to a steward’s assistance, not just a silent presence. The employer is violating your Weingarten rights if they refuse to allow your representative to speak, or tried to restrict the steward to the role of a passive observer. 

 

When an investigatory interview is being conducted by Postal Inspectors or an OIG agent, an employee may be read warnings. The most well-known warning is Miranda. 

As we all know, once this warning is given, anything you say can be used in a court of law to try to prove guilt. If you are given a Miranda warning, you should consult with an attorney before answering any questions. In plain English, you need to SHUT UP and request a lawyer. Postal Inspectors and OIG agents often present a PS Form 1067, "Warning and Waiver of Rights" and request that employees sign it. By signing this form, a PPO would waive their Miranda rights. NEVER sign this form without consulting an attorney. 

 

Unfortunately, ELM Section 665.3 requires that all postal employees, including PPOs, must cooperate with postal investigations. Therefore, the Postal Service can take disciplinary action against you if you refuse to cooperate during a normal investigatory interview. This would appear to put the employee in an impossible situation; either answer the question and risk criminal charges, or refuse to answer and risk the possibility of discipline for “failure to cooperate” in an investigation. 

 

This dilemma was resolved by the federal courts in the Kalkines and Garrity decisions. 

 

The Kalkines Warning requires employees to make statements and cooperate, even if it could lead to being disciplined or discharged, but provides criminal immunity for their statements. An example of a Kalkines warning, though the exact wording may vary, could read something like this: 

 

"You are being questioned as part of an internal and/or administrative investigation. You will be asked a number of specific questions concerning your official duties, and you must answer these questions to the best of your ability. Failure to answer completely and truthfully may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal. Your answers and any information derived from them may be used against you in administrative proceedings. However, neither your answers nor any information derived from them may be used against you in criminal proceedings, except if you knowingly and willfully make false statements."

 

This warning means PPOs must be truthful, but can do so without their answers being used against them in criminal proceedings. 

 

A Garrity Warning advises employees of their criminal and administrative liability for any statements made, but also gives the PPO the right to remain silent. An example of a Garrity Warning, though the exact wording may vary, could read something like this: 

 

You are being asked to provide information as part of an internal and/or administrative investigation. This is a voluntary interview and you do not have to answer questions if your answers would tend to implicate you in a crime. No disciplinary action will be taken against you solely for refusing to answer questions. However, the evidentiary value of your silence may be considered in administrative proceedings as part of the facts surrounding your case. Any statement you do choose to provide may be used as evidence in criminal and/or administrative proceedings. 

 

The Garrity Warning allows Inspectors and OIG agents to use your statements statements against you in both administrative and criminal investigations. If you are given a Garrity Warning, you should remain silent and consult with an attorney before answering any questions. 

 

Be safe,

Frank