USPS falls short on pay requirements for managers, supervisors, federal appeals court finds

A federal appeals court finds the Postal Service isn't meeting legal requirements to ensure managers and supervisors are paid close to what they could make in t...

A federal appeals court finds the Postal Service isn’t meeting legal requirements to ensure managers and supervisors are paid close to what they could make in the private sector, and ensure their compensation is higher than what the employees they oversee earn.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, in a ruling last week, also determined that the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) is able to represent nearly all USPS supervisors and managers, regardless of whether the agency classifies them as field, area or headquarters employees.

The decision puts NAPS one step closer to representing a broader swath of the 49,000 USPS supervisors, managers, postmasters, and other professional and administrative workers that fall under its Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS).

More than 1,000 job titles and levels are covered under the EAS pay scale. These employees operate under the leadership of about 500 USPS executives.

NAPS currently has more than 27,000 members who are active and retired supervisors, managers and postmasters.

The appeals court’s ruling also gives NAPS greater leverage in advocating for higher pay and benefits for its members.

A three-judge panel found USPS violated the Postal Reorganization Act by failing to ensure its supervisors are paid a rate above the employees they oversee.

The court also found USPS violated the law by failing to provide NAPS with a reason for rejecting its recommendations during pay talks covering fiscal years 2016 through 2019.

NAPS claims USPS took no steps to compare compensation or benefits to the private sector before issuing its initial field pay package.

The association also claimed USPS did not consider high-wage locations or provide locality pay, refused to offer bonuses and did not adjust pay in line with inflation.

The case now heads back to the Federal District Court for D.C. for further proceedings.

USPS spokesman David Partenheimer said USPS “disagrees with the court’s decision, is considering its options,” but declined to comment further.

NAPS President Ivan Butts said the association looks forward to broadening its representation in the days ahead and to move forward with a pay consultation process “that conforms to the expectations of the law.”

“We are elated over the Circuit Court’s historic decision that finally vindicates the right of all EAS personnel, regardless of where they work, to be represented by NAPS in consultation with the Postal Service over their pay and benefits,” Butts said.

USPS, prior to the lawsuit, recognized NAPS as an organization that represented EAS employees in the field, but not EAS employees designated as area or headquarters workers.

The three-judge panel, however, said the USPS offered “no evidence” to support its claim that area or headquarters employees don’t work in supervisory positions.

“We reject the Postal Service’s position that it may deny employees the representation rights granted by Congress by simply declaring employees not to be supervisory or other managerial personnel,” the judges wrote.

The appeals court also upheld NAPS’s claim that USPS failed to compare the compensation of USPS supervisors and managers to private-sector compensation and benefits.

NAPS claimed that the current pay structure resulted in thousands of field supervisors earning less than the employees that they supervised.

The association also claimed that many clerks and carriers received more total compensation than their supervisors, because they earned overtime at higher rates and after fewer hours, and also received larger and more regular pay raises.

Under the Postal Reorganization Act, the salaries of rank-and-file employees, such as postal clerks and letter carriers, are determined through collective bargaining with postal unions.

Supervisory and managerial personnel are excluded from representation in any collective bargaining unit, but the legislation directs USPS to “provide a program for consultation with recognized organizations of supervisory and other managerial personnel who are not subject to collective-bargaining agreements.”

USPS told the federal district court that provisions in the act authorizing the adoption of pay scales merely state “policy goals,” and that the agency “should attempt to achieve,” not mandatory and enforceable directives.

The judges, however, rejected that argument.

“Congress effectively mandated certain policies to be followed by the Postal Service, leaving no discretion for the agency to do otherwise,” the judges wrote.

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