BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
"This occurred because the Postal Service has not established procedures for reviewing the allocation of settlements to ensure that payees whom the union identifies are part of a class action. Once the Postal Service negotiates a settlement, they often have no involvement with its allocation. As a result, union representatives may be receiving payments to which they are not entitled.
"We noted during our audit that union representatives received excessive payments resulting from grievance settlements. Union representatives at four districts were involved with allocating class-action grievance settlements for six grievances that resulted in union representatives receiving a significant percentage of the settlement amounts, while the grievants received very small percentages of the settlement amounts. A union representative in the received as much as 35 percent of one grievance settlement, while other payees received less than 1 percent. For the grievances we reviewed, union representatives received $33,447 (or 24 percent) of $141,639 in settlements for these six grievances. The following items describe theindividual examples of union representatives receiving more than most of the grievants.
"In the [Name Withheld] a class-action grievance paid the local American Postal Workers Union president $16,934 (or 30 percent) of the total settlement of $56,448, which was more than the amount most other grievants received. The grievance was settled through arbitration. To abide by the settlement, two local unions and the postmaster negotiated a total settlement amount. Once the amount was determined, the union president decided who to include in the settlement and how much each grievant would be paid. The local union president allocated 30 percent of the total settlement ($16,934) to himself. In addition to the president, there were eight other grievants. Four grievants received $1,128.96 each (or 2 percent); two grievants received $5,644.80 each (or 10 percent), and one received $22,579.20 (or 40 percent). One grievant filed an unfair labor practice complaint based on allocation of the payment. The union settled the case out of court for the amount paid to the local union president, according to Western area officials.
"In the [Name Withheld] in FY 2009, we found the local union president received $9,000 from two class-action payment settlements. He received $4,000 of a $25,000 settlement and $5,000 of $30,000 settlement for union expenses. The Postal Service' Labor Relations team settled this grievance at a significant discount for the Postal Service, but the union also allocated the payments, including the payment of union expenses to the local president.
"In the [Name Withheld] a local union president received $5,850 (or 35 percent) of a $16,928.73 settlement. The person most affected by the contract violation received $2,000.73 and 67 other individuals received between $110 and $1,000 each.
"In the [Name Withheld] we noted a union steward named in two class-action grievances received the highest payments —$805.46 (or 18 percent) of a total settlement of $4,457.32 for 25 grievants and $857.56 (or 10 percent) of a total settlement of $8,805.28 for 34 grievants. For one of the grievances, he received almost twice the amount of the next highest payee. We determined that, although the Postal Service calculated the settlement, it was the union steward who identified the individuals eligible to receive payment based on his knowledge of who was available for overtime and the documentation provide to the dispute resolution team (DRT). The DRT settled the grievance but did not receive any additional information from local management to dispute the union' information, so there is no way to know whether the allocation was distributed accurately.
"The Postal Service has no procedures in place to review the allocation of settlements and ensure the payees identified by the union are part of the class action. Once the Postal Service negotiates a settlement they often have no involvement with its allocation. Union representatives may be receiving unwarranted payments by filing grievances and potentially violating fair labor practices with regard to Postal Service employees."