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NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF POSTAL & FED. EMPLES. v. KLAS

January 22, 1974

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF POSTAL AND FEDERAL EMPLOYEES et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
E. T. KLASSEN, Individually and as Postmaster General of the United States, et al., Defendants, and National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, Defendant-Intervenors


Charles R. Richey, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

I. INTRODUCTION

 Plaintiffs, a postal labor union *fn1" and several individual postal workers, have brought suit in this Court against the Postmaster General of the United States and the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board, hereinafter NLRB or Board, to enjoin the operation and enforcement of Sections 10(a) and 1202, 1203 of the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, 39 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq., as applied by the Postmaster General to confer exclusive recognition upon several national craft unions. The complaint also seeks a declaratory judgment to the effect that the statute as applied is unconstitutional, the statute did not authorize the Postmaster General and the craft unions to negotiate and execute the collective bargaining agreement of July, 1973, and the conduct of the Postmaster General and the craft unions in executing the July, 1973 bargaining agreement constituted an unfair labor practice pursuant to Section 8(a) (2) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(a) (2). Plaintiffs finally ask for a permanent injunction directing the Defendant Postmaster General to enforce the provisions of Section 8(a) (2) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), supra. Plaintiffs assert that this Court has jurisdiction of the claims for relief stated in the Complaint by virtue of 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1361 and 2201, and Title 11, D.C. Code § 521. However, Plaintiffs have applied for the reconvening of the Three Judge District Court convened in National Postal Union v. Blount, 341 F. Supp. 370 (D.D.C. 1972) to hear their claims for relief. The convening of a Three Judge Court is sought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 2282 and 2284. Defendants have opposed both this request and Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, and they have also moved for the dismissal of the Complaint or Summary Judgment.

 The Court has before it Plaintiffs' application for the convocation of a Three Judge Court, their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, Defendants' Opposition to the foregoing, and Defendant General Counsel's Motion to Dismiss the Complaint or, in the alternative, for Summary Judgment. For the reasons set forth in this Memorandum Opinion, the Court will deny Plaintiffs' Motions and grant that of Defendant General Counsel in the following manner:

 1. Partial Summary Judgment is granted against Plaintiffs' constitutional claim that Sections 10(a), 1202 and 1203 of the Postal Reorganization Act were construed and applied by the Postmaster General to permit the exclusive representation of postal workers by the transitional bargaining representatives designated by Congress in Section 10(a) of the Act beyond the expiration of the transitional bargaining period and thereby denied Plaintiff union and the individual Plaintiffs the equal protection of the law;

 2. Plaintiffs' claim that the Postmaster General's decision to accord exclusive recognition to certain craft unions pursuant to Chapter 12 of the Postal Reorganization Act, 39 U.S.C. § 1201 et seq., constituted an unfair labor practice under § 8(a) (2) of the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 158(a) (2), is dismissed with prejudice;

 3. Plaintiffs' claim that the Postmaster General committed an unfair labor practice pursuant to § 8(a) (2) of the NLRA, supra, by negotiating new collective bargaining agreements with national craft unions during the pendency of numerous representation petitions filed with the National Labor Relations Board in 1971 and 1973 is dismissed without prejudice, to renew said claim at an appropriate future time and in the proper forum.

 II. BACKGROUND

 The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, supra, creates the "United States Postal Service" as an "independent establishment of the executive branch" and sets forth a special body of law for the regulation of labor relations in the Postal Service. The Act confers upon postal employees a statutory right of collective bargaining and subjects the Postal Service, with certain modifications, to the provisions of the National Labor Relations Act, 39 U.S.C. § 1209(a).

 Plaintiffs challenge the operation, execution and enforcement of Chapter 12 of the Act, supra, as applied by Defendant Postmaster General when he voluntarily recognized five national craft unions as exclusive representatives of postal employees and proceeded to enter into collective bargaining agreements with them. Plaintiffs contend that the accordance of exclusive representations to the craft unions and the execution with them of a bargaining agreement effective through August 1975 violates Plaintiffs' statutory rights of collective bargaining and denies them the equal protection of the law. Plaintiff labor organization contends that the Act affords it the right to compete with the craft unions through Board-held elections for the right to represent postal workers prior to the execution of a collective bargaining agreement such as that challenged here.

 The Court is of the view that the Postmaster General's decision to accord majority representative status to the craft unions after expiration of the transitional bargaining period established in § 10(a) of the Act had firm basis in the language of the Act and in the opinion of the Court in National Postal Union v. Blount, supra, which held the Act constitutional, 341 F. Supp. at 372-373. In Blount, the Court reviewed the two-stage congressional scheme for effecting the Postal Service transition from limited postal worker participation to comprehensive labor-management relations comparable to those in the private sector. Specifically, the Court declared the constitutionality of Section 10(a) of the Act which appointed seven postal craft unions as exclusive collective bargaining agents to represent 600,000 postal employees in labor relations matters during a specified "transitional bargaining period." In this regard, the Court made the following comment:

 
"In the aftermath of a very serious postal workers strike, Congress built into the Act a transitional bargaining mechanism designed smoothly to incorporate with some modification the status quo in labor representation among the postal employees. While this may be open to criticism as an inaccurate reflection of the appropriate bargaining units, resolution of that question is reserved by the Act to the National Labor Relations Board." 341 F. Supp. at 373. (Emphasis added)

 Upon completion of the transitional bargaining period, the permanent bargaining system begins pursuant to Chapter 12 of the Act, supra, wherein the question of appropriate bargaining units is expressly reserved to the Board. The statutory mandate is found in Sections ...


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