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NATIONAL ASSN. OF POSTMASTERS OF THE U.S. v. RUNYO

May 25, 1993

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF POSTMASTERS OF THE U.S., Plaintiff,
v.
MARVIN RUNYON et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: CHARLES R. RICHEY

 I. INTRODUCTION

 The above-captioned case was transferred to the undersigned Judge on March 9, 1993, from the docket of the Honorable Gerhard A. Gesell. Now pending in the case is the Plaintiff's Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, the Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, and the Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. The Court heard argument on the parties' respective motions on May 18, 1993. At the hearing, the parties agreed that there were no genuine issues as to any material facts. The parties also agreed that the Court had before it all of the relevant evidence in the case, and that the Court could consolidate the hearing with a trial on the merits of the case pursuant to Rule 65(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 The Court, after careful consideration of the submissions of the parties, the exhibits, the arguments of counsel, the applicable law, and the entire record herein, concludes that the Defendants fully complied with their obligations under the Postal Reorganization Act, 39 U.S.C. § 1004(b) ("PRA"), and the 1974 Agreement ("the Agreement") between the Plaintiff and the Defendants which sets forth, in detail, the Defendants' obligations under § 1004(b). The exhibits presented to the Court indicate that the Plaintiff had an ample opportunity, as required by § 1004(b) and the Agreement, to participate and make recommendations in the recent changes enacted by the United States Postal Service ("USPS"). The Court shall therefore enter Judgment for the Defendants. The following shall constitute the Court's Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, pursuant to Rule 52(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 II. BACKGROUND

 The Plaintiff, the National Association of Postmasters of the United States ("NAPUS"), is an organization of postmasters employed by the USPS. NAPUS brought suit against Marvin Runyon, Postmaster General of the United States, ("Runyon") and the USPS, because of certain actions taken by the USPS in 1992. The relevant facts are undisputed by the parties. On July 6, 1992, Runyon took office as Postmaster General. At that time, the USPS faced a projected deficit of more than two billion dollars. Almost immediately, Runyon directed senior management officials to begin devising plans for the streamlining and restructuring of the USPS.

 On August 7, 1992, Runyon made a public announcement outlining the plans for streamlining the USPS. The plans were designed to reduce layers of management, resulting in the elimination of approximately 30,000 positions. No postmaster positions were included in the planned streamlining. At the same time, Runyon announced that many employees, including postmasters, would be offered certain incentives to take early retirement. The plan was designed to place those employees who were displaced by the restructuring into the vacancies created by early retirement. Runyon also imposed a temporary hiring freeze, which affected both postmasters and other postal employees.

 The early retirement deadline was first set at October 3, 1992, but later extended to November 20, 1992. On November 13, 1992, the hiring freeze was lifted, and the USPS issued a set of employee placement guidelines, replacing previous regulations. The new guidelines focused on the placement of those employees whose positions had been eliminated by the restructuring. Although the new guidelines made some allowance for the advancement of postmasters, those employees who had been displaced were given preference for the vacant postmaster positions created by the early retirement offer. This policy of preference was contrary to the employment regulations then in effect, which extended to postmasters the right to compete for any vacant postmaster position on a strictly competitive, merit-based system.

 The Defendants began filling vacant postmaster positions pursuant to the new employment guidelines, and the Plaintiff brought suit on January 15, 1993. The Plaintiff concedes that the Defendants acted within their authority in conducting the restructuring, offering early retirement, and issuing new placement guidelines. The Plaintiff claims, however, that the Defendants failed in their duty to consult with the Plaintiff and permit it to "participate fully" in the development and execution of the new plans. The Plaintiff seeks declaratory relief and a prospective injunction that would prohibit the Defendants from continuing the new promotion procedures that were allegedly adopted without the necessary participation by the Plaintiff.

 III. BOTH THE RELEVANT STATUTE AND CASE LAW INDICATE THAT THE PLAINTIFF HAS STATED A LEGITIMATE CAUSE OF ACTION OVER WHICH THIS COURT HAS SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION.

 The Plaintiff relies upon § 1004(b) of the PRA and the Agreement signed by the parties in 1974 as an explication of the Defendants' duties under § 1004(b). § 1004(b) provides, in pertinent part:

 
The Postal Service shall provide a program for consultation with recognized organizations of supervisory and other managerial personnel . . . . Such organization or organizations shall be entitled to participate directly in the planning and development of pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs, and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees.

 The 1974 Agreement recognized NAPUS as a legitimate organization within the meaning of § 1004(b) and contained a method of implementation of § 1004(b). The Agreement provides, in relevant part:

 
1. The provisions of this Agreement apply to pay policies and schedules, fringe benefit programs, and other programs relating to supervisory and other managerial employees. . . . ...

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