BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
“We also found that union representatives received excessive payments from grievance settlements. Union representatives in four districts (Colorado/Wyoming, Alabama, Mid-America, and Capital) were involved with the allocation of class-action grievance settlements for six grievances that resulted in union representatives receiving payments that were significantly more than other members of the class. Specifically, union representatives received $33,447 (or 24 percent) of $141,639 in settlements for these six grievances. One union representative in the Mid-America District received as much as 35 percent of a grievance settlement, while other payees received less than 1 percent.
- “In the [Name Withheld] a class-action grievance paid the local American Postal Workers Union president $16,934 (or 30 percent) of the total settlement of $56,448, which was more than the amount most other grievants received. The grievance was settled through arbitration. To abide by the settlement, two local unions and the postmaster negotiated a total settlement amount. Once the amount was determined, the union president decided who to include in the settlement and how much each grievant would be paid. The local union president allocated 30 percent of the total settlement ($16,934) to himself. In addition to the president, there were eight other grievants. Four grievants received $1,128.96 each (or 2 percent); two grievants received $5,644.80 each (or 10 percent), and one received $22,579.20 (or 40 percent). One grievant filed an unfair labor practice complaint based on allocation of the payment. The union settled the case out of court for the amount paid to the local union president, according to Western area officials.
- “In the [Name Withheld] in FY 2009, we found the local union president received $9,000 from two class-action payment settlements. He received $4,000 of a $25,000 settlement and $5,000 of $30,000 settlement for union expenses. The Postal Service’ Labor Relations team settled this grievance at a significant discount for the Postal Service, but the union also allocated the payments, including the payment of union expenses to the local president.
- “In the [Name Withheld] a local union president received $5,850 (or 35 percent) of a $16,928.73 settlement. The person most affected by the contract violation received $2,000.73 and 67 other individuals received between $110 and $1,000 each.
- “In the [Name Withheld] we noted a union steward named in two class-action grievances received the highest payments —$805.46 (or 18 percent) of a total settlement of $4,457.32 for 25 grievants and $857.56 (or 10 percent) of a total settlement of $8,805.28 for 34 grievants. For one of the grievances, he received almost twice the amount of the next highest payee. We determined that, although the Postal Service calculated the settlement, it was the union steward who identified the individuals eligible to receive payment based on his knowledge of who was available for overtime and the documentation provide to the dispute resolution team (DRT). The DRT settled the grievance but did not receive any additional information from local management to dispute the union’ information, so there is no way to know whether the allocation was distributed accurately.
- “The Postal Service has no procedures in place to review the allocation of settlements and ensure the payees identified by the union are part of the class action. Once the Postal Service negotiates a settlement they often have no involvement with its allocation. Union representatives may be receiving unwarranted payments by filing grievances and potentially violating fair labor practices with regard to Postal Service employees.”
It is clear that many within the institutions that the poor and middle-class have depended on to protect them in the past can no longer be relied upon. At best, they’re turning a blind to our best interest, and at worst, they’re picking our pockets while we sleep. That isn’t to say that all politicians or all unions are corrupt, but too many of their number are beginning to reflect the corrupt nature of our society for us not to come together to protect our own interest.
I’ve been contacted by Lewis Maltby in response to the series of articles that I’ve been doing on the Postal Service since March of this year. Mr. Maltby is an attorney, former Director of the Employment Rights Division of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), author of the book, “Can They Do That,” and current president of the National Workrights Institute.
He indicted that he was aghast at what he read was going on in the postal service, and that he’s prepared to bring a class action lawsuit against the postal service that could very easily reap tens of millions of dollars on behalf of postal employees. From there he intends to broaden his focus to address the assault on the middle-class as a whole.
Eric L. Wattree is a writer, poet, and musician, born in Los Angeles. He’s a columnist for The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Black Star News in New York, and a Staff writer for Veterans Today. He’s also the author of A Message From the Hood.
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