The following is court information sent to PostalReporter.com regarding a lawsuit filed by three Postal Workers in an attempt to delay voting on the APWU Tentative Agreement.
“A Motion filed by co-plaintiffs Rich Shelley, James Ozanian and Lance Coles in a Case Vs. the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has been Denied and Dismissed by Judge Beryl Howell. This was an attempt from these individuals to stop the Tentative Contract Agreement voting process…..”
Excerpts from the court record:
United States District Court For the District of Columbia
Rich Shelley, et al., vs. American Postal Workers Union
Three union members, who are appearing as pro se plaintiffs in this case, have significant concerns with a tentative collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) negotiated on their behalf by their union representatives, and seek additional time before the ratification vote in order to communicate those concerns to fellow union members. On April 6, 2011, the plaintiffs Rich Shelley, James Ozanian and Lance Coles, who are members of the American Postal Workers Union (“APWU”), AFL-CIO, filed motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to enjoin the defendant APWU from mailing ballots on April 8, 2011, to its members in connection with the ratification of the new CBA between the APWU and the United States Postal Service (“USPS”). The plaintiffs claim the APWU violated the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (“LMRDA”), 29 U.S.C. § 401 et seq, by conducting the ratification vote of the CBA in a way that deprives the plaintiffs of a “meaningful and informed vote.”
The plaintiffs complain that, despite these efforts, the APWU did not include many specific provisions of the tentative agreement in its “highlight summary,” did not afford sufficient time for questions and answers at its meetings, and have denied plaintiffs’ requests for additional time before the mailing of ratification ballots “to organize for a ‘no vote.’” . In response to the union’s ratification vote, the plaintiffs formed a Facebook page, and have distributed flyers and emails to members urging them against ratification of the agreement. The plaintiffs now seek a delay of thirty days in the APWU’s mailing of ratification ballots to afford them more time to inform union members regarding the agreement.
In a Declaration filed by Elizabeth Powell, APWU Secretary-Treasurer:
…the APWU states that the timetable for ratification of the tentative CBA at issue in this case compares favorably to ratification timetables followed in two prior instances, and has given members more, not less, time to consider the terms of the agreement. Specifically, the total number of days from announcement of the tentative agreement to the mailing of ratification ballots was 20 days and 12 days in 2005 and 2006, respectively, compared to 25 days for the instant agreement; and the total number of days from announcement of the tentative agreement to ballot receipt due date was 38 days and 34 days in 2005 and 2006, respectively, compared to 57 days for the instant agreement.
…APWU points out the “potential for very substantial irrecoverable monetary loss to the Postal Service from a delay in ratification,” noting that the “Postmaster General testified that the Postal Service will save $3.8 billion over the 4.5 year period of the tentative agreement. That is an average of $65 million per month.”
The plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that judicial intervention is appropriate in this case, or that they are entitled to the extraordinary relief of a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction.
Plaintiffs’ motions for injunctive relief require the Court to assess prospectively the merits of the plaintiffs’ case and their need for immediate judicial intervention. To demonstrate a likelihood of success on the merits, the plaintiffs must demonstrate that without a thirty-day delay of the CBA ratification vote, the APWU will deny them a ‘meaningful opportunity to vote’ on the CBA in violation the rights afforded to the union members under the LMRDA. The plaintiffs primarily allege that the CBA is complex and they need more time to understand its full implications and to organize an opposition vote. The plaintiffs additionally argue that the APWU has devoted “extensive efforts” to sell the new agreement and have denied the plaintiffs “any kind of equal access.” Despite plaintiffs’ arguments, the Court finds that the plaintiffs’ rights under the LMRDA will not be violated if the APWU proceeds with the ratification vote on April 8, 2011, and that there is no evidence on the record before the Court that the APWU sought to inhibit the plaintiffs’ efforts to mount an opposition to the CBA in violation of the LMRDA. The Court therefore holds that the plaintiffs do not ultimately have a likelihood of success in their legal challenge.
After reviewing the plaintiffs’ motions for injunctive relief, the defendant’s opposition papers, as well as the accompanying declarations, exhibits and applicable law, and following oral argument, the Court denies the plaintiffs’ motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction, and dismisses the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
US District Court Order
US District Court Order Denying Delay on APWU Contract Vote