A National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled that the U.S. Postal Service cannot sell stamps or other products through Staples office supplies superstores, in an apparent victory for postal labor unions.
But don’t expect that this ruling will stand up in a pro-corporate NLRB during the Trump administration.
The USPS will no doubt waste no time in appealing this ruling to the five-member board. When Trump takes office the NLRB will have three Republican members.
In the unlikely event that this decision stands the postal service will likely further appeal it to a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
So it looks like this case might be tied up in court for a long time.
What remains uncertain now is how Trump might resolve conflict of interest accusations against his two nominees for the NLRB. What does seem sure is that he might well be able to rework the agency that took action against him over alleged violations committed at two of his Las Vegas hotels, according to CNN
In his decision issued earlier this month NLRB administrative law judge Paul Bogas ruled that the postal service had violated a subcontracting provision in its collective bargaining agreement with the American Postal Workers Union http://www.apwu.org/sites/apwu/files/news-attachments/Administrative%20Law%20Judges%20Decision%20%283%29.pdf
Specifically, Judge Bogas upheld an earlier complaint charging that the USPS intentionally and illegally violated a provision in its collective bargaining agreement with the labor group by subcontracting work to Staples employees without regard to how this would affect postal employees.
The overall effect of the postal service’s arrangement with Staples and others was to undermine the strength of the unionized workers and have the USPS replace them with inexperienced retail employees whose wages—and benefits, if any—were much lower. The postal service estimated that doing this could cut its labor costs by 66%.
For the past few years the APWU and other unions have been demonstrating at individual Staples locations in several cities across the country with support from such other unions as the American Federation of Teachers.
Going forward, labor groups are generally girding their loins for what they see as a long uphill fight over the coming years, according to Reuters http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-unions-idUSKBN1343LU.
Another thing standing in the way of protecting postal jobs overall is the USPS’s massive deficit caused by an obligatory annual payment to cover the healthcare costs of future retirees until the next century. In year ended Sept. 30, the USPS reported a net loss of $5.6 billion, driven almost entirely by this requirement
The mandatory payment, which no other federal agency has, was inserted into the 2006 postal reform law and was widely as a way to help kill off the postal service, if not high paying unionized postal jobs.
Consequently since 2011, the USPS has been closing post offices and distribution facilities also resulting on the losses of thousands of union jobs.
Given his stated opposition to government jobs in general, Trump is quite unlikely to do anything to preserve unionized postal positions. But Trump probably has a lot more high profile issues he’d rather work on first.