USPS discipline issued to APWU Steward Over ‘Outburst’ Flouted Labor Law, NLRB Says

NLRB-GIFLaw360, New York (August 1, 2016, 5:33 PM ET) — The U.S. Postal Service engaged in an unfair labor practice when it issued a written warning to a worker and union steward who berated a supervisor during a 2012 meeting over employee grievances, the National Labor Relations Board said Friday.

Partially overturning an administrative law judge’s decision, the NLRB majority said Cheryl Walton didn’t lose protection under the National Labor Relations Act during the meeting, despite acting in a way that was “loud, profane, disrespectful and obnoxious.”

The complaint alleges that the United States Postal Service (Postal Service or Respondent) violated Section 8(a)(3) and (1) of the of the National Labor Relations Act (the Act) when it issued a written letter of warning to the employee and union shop steward. The complaint further alleges that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act when a supervisor filed for and obtained in State court a stalking protective order against an employee who also worked for the Union as a shop steward and director of City Stations.

According to Walton’s testimony, when discussing Smith’s grievance, Babb became upset and proceeded to say, repeatedly,
“So, is it this way or that way?” Walton did not know what Babb meant. After not receiving a response to the grievance,
Walton said, “I can be a bitch or I can be nice, you know . . . which way would you like it?” Babb responded, “This way or
that way, which way do you want it?” Walton said, “Okay, is this your decision?” Babb repeated herself and Walton said,
“Okay, that’s your decision” and proceeded to write it down. Walton moved on to the next grievance from lead sales service
associate Marilyn Telfor, which asserted Babb was working as a lead sales associate in violation of the rules. Babb started
fidgeting in her chair and stated, “I can’t believe this” and told Walton she had nothing to support the grievance. When Walton
disagreed, Babb began swaying in her chair and denied the grievance. When asked for a reason Babb said, “Because I said
so.”

Babb then stood up, leaned across the table pointing at Walton and said, “Cheryl, you’re a f—-ing bitch.” Walton responded,
“Now, now, Gina, we shouldn’t be talking that way.” Babb went around and stood at the edge of the table toward
where Walton was sitting. She ranted about the step 1 procedure and how Walton was always swearing, and said she was
going to leave. She then leaned in toward Walton, who was sitting and doing paperwork. Walton moved off to the side and
said, “Okay, just go then. If you’re leaving, just go.” Babb continued and Walton said, “I’m not going to take your f—-ing
bullying or intimidating me. It’s just not going to happen. If you’re going to go, just go.” Babb responded, “That’s it,
you’re threatening me” and screamed at Walton to leave. Babb was standing at the exit door and Walton testified she continued
to stand right where she was. When prompted, Walton said she was actually sitting, because Dunsmore had told her that there
were times she may come across as aggressive because she is vocal, so she should keep seated. After Babb left, Walton
grabbed her belongings and left. Walton proceeded to try to enter the secure main office finance area. Babb screamed to
clerk Dayna Jones not to open the door and screamed at Walton to leave. Walton went out through the lobby area to clock out.
As she was leaving, Babb and a male were right behind her. When they got to a swinging door, which is waist high, Walton
said “excuse me” so the man backed up and she “just shut the

The Respondent, United States Postal Service, Portland, Oregon,
its officers, agents, and representatives, shall
1. Cease and desist from
(a) Pursuing and enforcing any lawsuit that is preempted by
Federal law;
(b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining,
or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed
them by Section 7 of the Act.
2. Take the following affirmative action necessary to effectuate
the policies of the Act.
(a) Seek expungement of the Temporary Stalking Protective
Order from Cheryl Walton’s record, and notify the Union and
Walton that this has been done.
(b) Within 14 days after service by the Region, post at all of
its Portland, Oregon facilities copies of the attached notice
marked “Appendix.”20 Copies of the notice, on forms provided
by the Regional Director for Region 19, after being signed by
the Respondent’s authorized representative, shall be posted by
the Respondent and maintained for 60 consecutive days in conspicuous
places including all places where notices to employees
are customarily posted. In addition to physical posting of paper
notices, the notices shall be distributed electronically, such as
by email, posting on an intranet or an internet site, and/or other
electronic means, if the Respondent customarily communicates
with its employees by such means. Reasonable steps shall be
taken by the Respondent to ensure that the notices are not altered,
defaced, or covered by any other material. In the event
that, during the pendency of these proceedings, the Respondent

Download (PDF, 303KB)

 

Source: USPS Warning Over ‘Outburst’ Flouted Labor Law, NLRB Says – Law360

 

8 thoughts on “USPS discipline issued to APWU Steward Over ‘Outburst’ Flouted Labor Law, NLRB Says

  1. After reading some of the downloadable pdf file I would not want this steward representing me. Sounds like she is most of the names she calls others. The law protects stewards from statements made in the heat of an argument. That does not give stewards or managers the right to be ongoing obnoxious assholes.

    I am a union member and was a steward for several years.

  2. Each incident requires lenient measures. Sometimes loud or what some may say obnoxious is not productive. Whenever, you’e faced with any mayors a cool level head is expected. Many cases are created by the refusal of the creep representing management to hear others. Often this exacerbate the situation and a good knowledgable steward will blow off steam, and rightfully so. Its the emphasis and the ignoring of simple solutions, leading up, and to out bursts of discontentment. Not very helpful but needed some times. Its attention grabbing sought for in the beginning. Rationale; More flies with honey than vinegar, Well?

    • I agree I have been a shop steward and now a clerk craft director for over 22 years. I believe we are equals. Most of the time we are professional but when you get that one management official who wants to yell and curse at you on the workroom floor and threaten to put you out you have to give back what they give you!

    • Well said. I’ve been a steward and officer for a couple of decades now. I have clenched my teeth and hissed at supervisors. The only time I’ve yelled at them is out on the floor in the plant when it was so noisy I couldn’t hear myself. That said, a few supervisors, when cornered with their bs, claimed I was yelling or raised my voice just to change the subject. And, of course, when faced with a new supervisor who doesn’t know me, they’ll test me every time. Stay focused and stay professional.

  3. When acting in an official union capacity, stewards are considered equals to management and not “employees” under their direct supervision. It’s an important rule and management has in plenty of offices tried to circumnavigate that rule by blurring the definition between the craft and management when a union official was under 613 time.
    As a long time steward/branch president, I have had to carry out tons of meetings with management, get involved in hostile situations, and defend those being unfairly disciplined, or in the case of one locally infamous supervisor, abused terribly. I made sure I was not the aggressor at all times. Your position as a steward is a touchy one, and regardless of your time served or dislike for a particular manager or supervisor, you must always maintain the professional attitude and respond with more anger only when you are being directly insulted, yelled at or abused by a management person.
    I don’t know the whole story here, but I don’t see where the supervisor was being loud or profane, only the steward, who by all accounts was a very belligerent and rude person, fond of cussing and being very disrespectful.
    As the old saying goes, that ain’t the way to build a railroad. Although I am retiring soon and don’t hold office now, I must stress that being confrontational at all times will only make it much more difficult to deal with anybody, and I know that you can gain much more for your membership by being polite but firm than being an obnoxious asshole. We demand professional adult behavior from management, and we should set the example.
    I had to file a lot of joint statements against violence and behavior in the workplace, and I would not have been successful in eventually getting this horrible supervisor out for good, forced into retirement, if I had initiated any loud profane behavior. It’s okay to defend oneself, and sometimes you will get very mad, but never be the instigator. As a union rep in any craft, you should know better.

Comments are closed.