APWU and Retiree Sue USPS, Accounting Manager

The APWU and a retired union member filed a complaint [PDF] in federal court against the Postal Service and a manager in the Accounting Service Center in Eagan MN on April 2, charging they have violated the Debt Collection Act and the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint contends that the USPS and the manager routinely violate the rights of retired employees who have appealed Letters of Demand by improperly instructing the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to withhold portions of retirees’ monthly annuities. Letters of Demand are issued when management alleges an employee is responsible for a financial loss to the Postal Service. The letters are subject to appeal through the grievance procedure and collection of alleged debts must be postponed until appeals have been exhausted.

The complaint asserts that the Postal Service issued a Letter of Demand to Rosebud Grant for more than $75,000, on April 21, 2009, when she was a Self Service Center Technician. Grant disputed the alleged debt, contended she was not responsible for the loss, and filed a grievance, which has not been adjudicated. In accordance with Article 28.4 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) and the Debt Collection Act, collection of the alleged debt should have been held in abeyance until disposition of the grievance.

The USPS manager disregarded these provisions, the complaint asserts, despite pleas from the local union, the national APWU, and even local managers. Instead, the manager falsely certified that Grant had received “due process” and asked OPM to deduct half of her annuity check each month. OPM honored the manager’s request.

Grant has suffered great financial and emotional distress as a result, the suit says. She “has exhausted her savings and been unable to pay other debts which she would have been able to pay had she received the full annuity payments to which she was entitled. Grant has had to forgo the retirement she has earned and to take on a job to be able to afford the basic necessities of life,” the complaint asserts.

The case is part of a consistent pattern by the manager, which postal officials have failed to correct, the suit alleges.

The complaint notes that:

“The APWU at the National Level has asked the Postal Service’s national labor relations officials to intervene to correct [the manager’s] unlawful practices, and the Postal Service officials reported to the APWU that they are unable to stop [his] practices. As recently as July 8, 2011, Headquarters level labor relations management officials informed the APWU that they have had ‘no luck’ convincing [the manager] to change his unlawful practices.”

Furthermore, the complaint says:

In early January 2012, the Union again brought the situation to the attention of Postal Service officials, including the Postmaster General of the United States. Postal officials promised to investigate, but to date have taken no action to correct the unlawful deductions from annuitants’ retirement payments authorized by [the manager’s] false certifications to OPM on OPM Standard Form 2805.

An Unusual Case

The case is unusual for two reasons: It names an individual manager (along with the Postal Service) as a defendant. This is permissible is this case, APWU attorneys explain, because Grant has no other forum to address her complaint. As a retiree, she didn’t have access to the grievance procedure to protest the violation of her legal rights.

A new provision of Article of 15 of the 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement allows retirees to file grievances to challenge alleged debts. Despite the new language, however, the manager in question continues to refuse to hold debts in abeyance, the complaint notes.

The case is also unusual because of the admission by top-ranking postal officials that they are powerless to force the manager to adhere to the Collective Bargaining Agreement and federal law.

APWU President Cliff Guffey commented: “The Postal Service’s treatment of Sister Rosebud Grant is outrageous and unjust. Unfortunately, Sister Grant is not the only one in this predicament. This has been a standard practice by the manager named in the lawsuit.

“What is most outrageous is the Postal Service’s inability to make the manager obey the Constitution, the Debt Collection Act and the Collective Bargaining Agreement.”


14 thoughts on “APWU and Retiree Sue USPS, Accounting Manager

  1. In my previous office, a senior clerk who was being excessed did try to file a grievance because a junior employee was allowed to remain due to her union steward status. She passed the grievance on to the business agent for the union who very nicely explained that superseniority protection is granted to stewards and that he could not file the complaint. The senior clerk responded with a PS form 1188. last I heard, the senior clerk now takes home more money than the steward. How about that…instant raise!

  2. I will file this under under other memorable APWU pursuits such as:

    The size of lockers in postal facilities, lack of feminine sanitary items in bathrooms, parking spots in lots not being clearly marked, vending machines in swing rooms not giving change, front employee entrance doors being hard to open, lack of cable TV in swing rooms, clerk union office being smaller than mailhandler union office, stewards not being allowed to go on the clock to McD, additional parking stalls just for union stewards, additional clerk staffing to push the off buttons on automated equipment, internet not being provided in steward office and on and on. Yessirree buddy….the APWU hard at work. Someone needs to file grievances on junior non vet stewards allowed to bump senior war veteran employees and see what that gets ya from your union steward. Keep paying dem duesn dues assessments bruthas n sistas!

  3. A postal inspector was sued as an INDIVIDUAL and was ordered to pay plaintiff $50,000 for his mis-deed. Another district manager was sued INDIVIDUALLY and was ordered to pay restitution and damages. These were Federal Tort Claim actions. You are NOT covered under tort if you commit a action that is not within the scope of your authority.

  4. First off, the APWU attorney who states, it is permissible to name an individual manager as a defendant, is entirely wrong…this approach will ensure that the case is dismissed for failure to name the proper defendant (Postmaster General). If you don’t believe this try looking up the Federal Rules of Civil Procedures. Secondly, I must agree with “lsw”…can you spell “failure to negotiate in good faith”. The Letter of Demand, in this case, was issued while this person was still an employee, therefore she had all the “Remedies Afforded to her as an employee”, which she is also required to exhaust before proceeding to federal court. If more employees were vigilant about meeting filing deadlines for APWU, EEO, and MSPB, we would not be having this discussion. Sorry, but we all have the responsibility to ensure our complaints are followed up, in a timely manner, or forfeit the right to complain.

  5. $ 75,000 missing? Rosebud come on. A single machine holds what- 3,000 in stamps?

    Did the job for 8 years and watched 3 “coworkers” marched out after greed took over. Watching over my stock, doing the math and locking up afterwards kept me safe. They would have pulled from my stock and money with no hesitation.
    The largest loss was a paltry $ 17,249.31.

    75G’s——— Hats off. Sorry about your emotional distress. Lets give her a quarter mill.

  6. Rosebud should have added the APWU as a defendent to her lawsuit for failure to timely process her original grievance, now 2 years old, also. Why does it take so long to settle these cases?

  7. Imagine if higher level officials are saying there’s nothing they can do?? They should be fired because if they can not control their subordinates, what use are they, why are they working for the USPS?? If the PMG cannot do anything about this, then he should be removed as well. Alas, Obama, the foolish will do nothing, but seems he’s gonna do something about those Secret Service agent, working people.

    This is our government now, people out of control not following the law and nothing being done to the higher ups. Similar to the private sector, no one is held accountable only in the private sector they get big fat cash bonuses.

  8. Managers have NO responsibilities, they can do what they want. Hopefully a FEDERAL Tort Claim was instituted against this INDIVIDUAL.

  9. This is an outrage against this employee and this Manager should be held accountable in every aspect. This employee will prevail in this matter and the spineless Postmaster General is going to have to pay her. Even if she did take the money which she probably didn’t the Postal Service must prove she took it. Plus while the investigation is being conducted the loss is put in abeyance. And I do not buy the there is nothing that can be done to this Manager to force him to stop violating the contract that’s a bunch of bunck.

  10. Yes the USPS could make the Manager in this case follow the rules and such the law… EAS and PCES employees have no agreement besides pay respective to NAPS (low level supervisers) and NAPUS (Postmasters). Follow the law or face termination is allows an option and if the USPS doesn’t then a huge payday for people going through this undue stress.

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