In August of 2018, Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg struck down the Postal Service’s unilateral implementation of changes to ELM Section 510 and to PS-Form 3971 regarding union leave for political activity such as in relation to voter registration and get out the votes efforts. The changes required employees taking Leave Without Pay (LWOP) for union business to certify that they would not be participating in any partisan political activities. (Click here for web news article on the award). The Postal Service claimed these changes were necessary to comply with the Hatch Act. However, Arbitrator Goldberg agreed with the APWU that the changes violated Articles 5, 10, and 19 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and could not be implemented without bargaining.
The Postal Service challenged the arbitrator’s award in federal court seeking that the award be vacated. On Friday, April 23, 2021, the Postal Service agreed with the Court to dismiss the case.
With this dismissal, the arbitrator’s award is final and binding. All of the changes to the ELM and PS-Form 3971 will be rescinded. Employees will not have to certify they will not be participating in partisan political activity while on union LWOP. It should be noted that this does not mean that all PS-Forms 3971 in circulation will be automatically removed from use. However, it does mean the certification language is null and void.
This again shows that the APWU is continually fighting to have the language of our collective bargaining enforced. It also reenforces that the Postal Service must in fact bargain and negotiate with the APWU when they are going to make changes to any handbook, manual, or form that directly affects the wages, hours, and working conditions of those the union represents.
“On behalf of the members I congratulate Industrial Relations Director Zimmerman, the attorneys and staff, who led in the original successful arbitration award and now have defeated management efforts seek to overturn our victory in the courts,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “This is a victory for the union and its members to be more fully involved in the political process.”