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USPS Must Post NLRB Notice After Failing to Provide Information in the Possession of the OIG to NRLCA

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On July 5, 2022, the NRLCA filed an unfair labor practice charge against the Postal Service with Region 9 of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”). The charge alleged that the Postal Service violated the National Labor Relations Act by withholding information that the Union requested in order to process a grievance. The grievance involved a rural letter carrier who was suspended and then removed based upon an OIG investigation and allegations of stealing gift cards. The Postal Service took the position that it had no obligation to provide USPS-OIG investigators’ notes, copies of the gift cards and other information because the USPS-OIG controlled the information and is a separate entity from the Postal Service. The Union took the position that the USPS-OIG is part of the Postal Service and that the information had to be provided.

 

Initially, the Regional Director of Region 9 agreed with the Postal Service and dismissed the case. However, the Union appealed the decision to the NLRB’s top prosecutor – General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo – who reversed the decision and ordered the Regional Director to issue a complaint against the Postal Service. In April 2024, the day before the case was to go to trial, the Postal Service entered into a settlement agreement which required it to post the notice reprinted below in the Frankfort, Kentucky post office for 60 days. It also required the Postal Service to act in good faith to obtain information in the possession of the USPS-OIG and to provide explicit explanations for any failure to or delay in doing so.

 

This case is significant because it reminds us that the Postal Service cannot refuse to provide information to the Union simply because that information is in the hands of the USPS-OIG. Stewards handling grievances that involve OIG investigations, should take the following steps:

 

1.        Request all relevant information related to the grievance, specifically including:

a.        Anything relied upon by management to issue or support the contractual violation or discipline that is the subject of the grievance;

b.        All OIG (or Postal Inspection Service) notes of interviews and investigation;

c.        All reports of investigation;

d.        Copies of all statements and evidence, including video or audio evidence, obtained by the OIG regardless of whether such information supports, contradicts, or was determined to be not-relevant to the charges/issues related to the investigation.

2.        Provide a deadline for providing the information.

3.        If the Postal Service refuses or delays providing the information:

a.        Contact your ADR or DR immediately so that they can inform the National Office.

b.        Management must make a documented effort to obtain information possessed by the USPS-OIG, and you should request evidence of those efforts.

c.        Request the specific reasons – in writing – that management is refusing or delaying the information. Just because management or the OIG alleges that information is confidential or otherwise protected does not make it so.

d.        Do not give up. Make repeated requests for the information, carefully document your requests and management’s responses (a log with dates of requests and responses is best practice) and keep your ADR/DR apprised of the situation.

 

The notice that the Postal Service is required to post can be found here. We encourage you to educate your fellow members about this issue by sharing the notice and posting it prominently on union bulletin boards in your own offices.

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