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Unfair labor practice charges are filed against Alabama postal workers unions

In recent months, individuals have filed multiple unfair labor practice charges against postal workers’ unions in Northern and Central Alabama.

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Over the last several months, individuals have repeatedly filed unfair labor practice charges against local unions associated with the American Postal Workers Union.

The APWU is the primary labor union that represents American postal clerks, with several affiliated locals based in Alabama. The national APWU represents almost 220,000 current and former postal workers.

APWU Local 303 is the Alabama local responsible for representing APWU members in the Birmingham area. According to the U.S. Department of Labors Office of Labor-Management Standards, Local 303 had around 2,000 members in 2023.

On March 22, the first unfair labor practice charge was filed against Local 303 this year, alleging that the local had violated section 8(b)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it illegal for a union to refuse to bargain in good faith.

On March 29, another charge was filed against Local 303, this time alleging that the local had violated section 8(b)(1)(A) of the National Labor Relations Act, [including] Superseniority, denial of access.

Section 8(b)(1)(A) prohibits labor unions from [restraining or coercing] employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them in Section 7 of the Act.

On April 18, another charge was filed against Local 303 under section 8(b)(1)(A) again.

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On May 1, another unfair labor practice charge was filed against Local 303, this time under both section 8(b)(1)(A) and section 8(b)(3). In a copy of the charges acquired by APR, the basis of the charges were:

  • Section 8(b)(1)(A): Within the previous six months, the above-named labor organization has restrained and coerced employees in the exercise of rights protected by Section 7 of the Act by refusing to process the Charging Partys grievance for arbitrary or discriminatory reasons or in bad faith.
  • Section 8(b)(3): Within the previous six months, the above-named labor organization has failed and refused to bargain in good faith with the employer.

On May 15, another set of charges was filed against Local 303, under the same sections of the act and with the exact same basis, but with a different USPS facilitys address listed as the location of plant involved.

On May 10, identical charges under Sections 8(b)(1)(A) and 8(b)(3) were filed against APWU Local 359, which only has 135 members and covers the Madison area. APWU Local 537, with 39 members and based in Gadsden, had charges filed against it in April.

APWU Locals 303, 359, and 537 all had similar charges filed against them last year, almost all of which ended in the NLRB approving withdrawal requests or issuing dismissal letters.

APWU Local 303 president Camise Sanders says that the number of charges is to be expected for a union as large as the APWU and while it’s “easy for someone to file a complaint,” Local 303 “have never been found guilty of doing anything wrong.”

Supervisors and managers use their family members that work for the postal service to file complaints against the union for filing grievances against that supervisor or manager,” he said.

In recent years, the Birmingham post offices have been a significant source of strife for residents due to a 2011 decision to process Huntsvilles mail in Birmingham facilities. As Huntsville grew rapidly, Birmingham’s postal facilities did not grow to match, overtaxing the existing facilities and slowing down the mail.

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Rep. Dale Strong, R-Alabama, sent a letter to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on May 23 asking for the USPS to invest in another facility in the area. Strong said a major cause of these inefficiencies originates from the overburdened P&DF [processing and distribution facility] in Birmingham, Alabama” and that “the facility has had to recruit outside help and reroute mail to other distribution centers.”

These ongoing problems could potentially have contributed or added to the reasons for the recent filings.

Debra Jean Fetterly, a USPS spokesperson, told APR that “the U.S. Postal Service does not publicly discuss pending labor issues.”

All cases filed this year remain open at the time of writing.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated after an involved party reached out to APR. The article initially stated that the USPS had filed the unfair labor practice stories. This was incorrect. Statements from the APWU Local 303 president were also added after a Local 303 representative initially declined to comment.

Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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