From the NRLCA
Recently, an Area Arbitrator affirmed the NRLCA’s position and reiterated our rights under Article 10.2 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Being able to take our annual leave on the days we want has always been very important to rural carriers. Our contract says that you should be granted annual leave in accordance with your personal wishes, provided a leave replacement is available (meaning not committed to serve another regular rural route). This grievance was filed when the Postal Service denied leave for several rural carriers, declaring that its “operational needs” such as heavy mail volume, increased parcels and pandemic circumstances override our rights to leave. Simply put, management chose to schedule RCAs to carry parcels and denied leave requests, claiming operational needs.
Arbitrator Snider was very clear in his decision:
“The Arbitrator therefore concludes that the Postal Service violated Article 10, Section 2, A when it denied annual leave requests for May 26 and May 27, 2020 by regular rural carriers and denied annual leave requests for May 26, 2020 by regular rural carriers. The Arbitrator recognizes that this decision limits management’s ability to deny annual leave, regardless of operational needs. Nevertheless, that is what the parties agreed to in the language of the collective bargaining agreement and the Arbitrator is obligated to apply that contractual language.”
As for the remedy in this case, Arbitrator Snider agreed with Arbitrator Odom from a 2018 Award:
“Arbitrator Odom concluded that the appropriate remedy for the denial of a request for four days of annual leave when a leave replacement was available was the payment of one day’s wages for each of the four days of leave that was denied to the grievant. Arbitrator Odom noted that even though the grievant in that case did not suffer a financial loss, the denial of leave had a negative effect on him that was real and deserving of reasonable compensation. This remedy was reasonable, according to Arbitrator Odom, because the grievant could not be put back into the position he was in before the wrongful denial of his leave request.
The Postal Service in this case does not contest the Union’s proposed remedy of a full day’s wages for each day each carrier was not granted annual leave (Postal Service Post-Hearing Brief, pg. 12). Accordingly, the Arbitrator grants the relief requested by the Union.”