The APWU filed a complaint with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Sept. 5, 2013 charging that the USPS is failing to comply with its own service standards and is depriving individuals, small businesses and organizations of the service they are entitled to by law.
The Postal Service’s failure to comply with the law is the result of an arbitrary decision to accelerate mail processing facility closures that were scheduled to take effect in 2014. The closures have resulted in the “regular and systematic violation” of first-class mail service standards
From the current lawsuit:
The Postal Service adopted a reduced mail distribution system without first seeking an advisory opinion from the PRC, in violation of 39 U.S.C. § 3661(a).
The APWU also alleged that the Postal Service knew or should have known that closing mail facilities would result in the systemic noncompliance with First Class Mail service standards.
PRC dismissed the complaint for lack of standing on February 27, 2014. The PRC subsequently granted the APWU’s motion for reconsideration on May 27, 2015, vacating its dismissal for lack of standing. However, the PRC granted the Postal Service’s Motion to Dismiss on the merits, holding that service standards promulgated under 39 C.F.R. § 121.1 are unenforceable “expectations”
The American Postal Workers Union filed a Petition for Review on May 29, 2015. The APWU seeks review of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s (“PRC’s” or “Commission’s”) Order No. 2512 issued May 27, 2015, dismissing its Complaint in PRC Docket No. C2013-10.
The Postal Service is subject to service standards promulgated under 39 U.S.C. §§ 3653 and 3691 and 39 C.F.R. § 121.1. Are these service standards unenforceable “expectations,” as the PRC ruled, or enforceable requirements under 39 U.S.C. §§ 3662-63 and 3691(d)?
The PRC held that the APWU’s allegations of nationwide noncompliance with service standards were consistent with the PRC’s own Annual Compliance Determinations. The PRC held that this foreclosed further action on the APWU’s Complaint. May the PRC refuse to process meritorious § 3691(d) service complaints, on the ground that they allege violations proven by the PRC’s own findings?
May the Commission refuse a remedy for service complaints, on the ground that its Annual Compliance Determination has encouraged the Postal Service to improve without further sanctions?
APWU provided examples of USPS nationwide noncompliance with service standards:
In Waco, Texas, the closure of processing operations resulted in First Class Mail originating in Waco being transported to Coppell or Austin, Texas for processing. After processing, the mail is transported back to Waco. APWU Local 739 in Waco regularly mails First Class letters to its members that originate in Waco and are delivered in Waco. Local 739’s members regularly receive their mail up to four or five days after they should have received them under the one-day service standards.
Brooklyn, New York
As part of its Network Consolidation Plan, the Postal Service moved originating mail processing from Brooklyn, New York to Manhattan. First Class Mail from Brooklyn is transported to Manhattan for processing even if it will eventually be delivered to a Brooklyn address. APWU Local 251 in Brooklyn uses First Class Mail to send materials to its members within Brooklyn. The delay caused by consolidation and the movement of mail processing means that mail sent by the Local from Brooklyn to its members in Brooklyn no longer meets the service standards.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
In Colorado Springs, Colorado, as a result of the consolidation of processing facilities, First Class Mail originating in Colorado Springs must be transported to Denver, 80 miles away, and then transported back to one of the ten Colorado Springs postal stations. As a result, APWU Local 247 in Colorado Springs sends mail to its members in Colorado Springs that encounters delays of one to several days beyond the service standards. Local 247 members have reported receiving mail from the Local days late since the implementation of the consolidation
National test mailing
To quantify the degree of service violation, the Union conducted a test mailing on December 5, 2013 of forty (40) letters from its national headquarters in Washington, DC to APWU members at specified locations across the country. The letters entered the mail stream before the Critical Entry Time on December 5, 2013. Twenty-five percent (25%) of these letters were not delivered within the time required by the service standards, under 39 C.F.R. § 121.1.
To avoid addressing this complaint, the Postal Regulatory Commission now holds that service regulations are unenforceable. Contrary to all past pronouncements, the Commission now declares that service standards cannot be “violated” in any legally meaningful sense. It concludes that the regulations at 39 C.F.R. § 121.1-.4 are only aspirational “performance goals,”
APWU is asking the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the District of Columbia to grant review of the PRC’s order and remand PRC’s order to modify its rule consistent with the Act.