Filed under: APWU, oig, postal, postal inspectors, weingarten rights
GREG BELL, APWU DIRECTOR, INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Visits by Postal Inspectors Or OIG Agents- which are usually unannounced – often catch employees by surprise, and sometimes cause them to panic. Our stewards, officers and arbitration advocates are doing an excellent job of defending union members, but this article should remind employees of their rights. After all, when you exercise your rights to the fullest, you help protect yourself the most. And unfortunately, postal inspectors and OIG agents have persisted in conducting overly zealous investigations that have resulted in employees being wrongly accused and issued notices of removals.
?Investigations by postal inspectors or OIG agents usually concern alleged employee misconduct in the workplace, but they also may relate to alleged violations of the law that could result in criminal charges. Whenever inspectors or OIG agents seek to interrogate an employee, the matter should be treated very seriously: Employees should always assert their right to assistance from a union representative. It is also important that employees be alerted not to give oral or written statements to OIG agents or inspectors unless they first have obtained advice from their steward and/or their attorney.
Before submitting to questions, employees should confer with a union representative, and ask inspectors the nature of the investigation. If the investigation potentially relates to a criminal offense, the steward should advise the employee to immediately inform the postal inspectors or Inspector General agents that he or she wishes to consult with an attorney before proceeding. Read more
APWU Challenges Inadequate Response to Union Concerns
re: Weingarten Wallet Card
In a recent letter to the Postal Service, the APWU challenged management’s inadequate response to the union’s concerns over a wallet card for supervisors that attempts to explain employee rights under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision. The letter provides in detail the APWU position regarding this matter. The union encourages members to know your rights and not rely on management’s explanation of your rights.
Read a copy of the correspondence between APWU and USPS.
From APWU’s Industrial Relations:
The APWU sent a letter to the Postal Service raising concerns about a draft notification to supervisors and managers instructing them how to apply employees’ rights under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision. The Postal Service’s instructions were finalized on a laminated, wallet-size card which was mailed to supervisors and managers, as well as other PCES and EAS employees it determined have a need to know about employees’ Weingarten rights. The union’s specific concerns are set out in detail in the letter, and the Postal Service’s response will be made available upon receipt.
Paragraph 1 states that if the employee requests a union steward at any time, before or during the interview, or in any way indicates that he/she wants representation, the supervisor must do one of three things: “(1) you must provide a steward, or (2) you must end the interview, or (3) you must offer the employee the choice of continuing the interview without a steward, or of having no interview at all and therefore losing the benefit that the interview might have given to him or her.” [emphasis added]
Our concerns about this instruction is that it improperly gives supervisors and managers the false impression that they (1) have the right to deny employees’ request for union representation to which the employee is entitled, and (2) they have an option of not conducting a pre-disciplinary interview to which employees are also entitled.
Notwithstanding an employee’s Weingarten Rights, it would be a violation of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement not to grant an employee’s request for union representation to assist and participate in investigatory interviews that the employee has a reasonable belief may lead to discipline. Additionally, separate from Weingarten, not only would it be a violation of our collective bargaining agreement, but it is also unconstitutional for management not to conduct a pre-disciplinary interview. Thus, the reference to “having no interview at all and therefore losing the benefit that the interview might have given to him or her” is not appropriate. I suggest, therefore, that this phrase be eliminated and replaced with a simple statement that the employee has “a choice of continuing the interview without a steward orending the interview.”
Click here for a copy [pdf] of the APWU’s letter detailing concerns about the Weingarten wallet card.