7/16/2012 10:12:01 AM
Before the record is closed on the Rural Carriers’ award, a public record must be made reflecting its incompetency in applying the law and principles of arbitration construction. The arbitrator deliberately ignored the legal standard for postal employees’ compensation and applied his personal application to achieve a pre-determined result. I obviously do not speak for the Rural Carriers or APWU and my remarks should not be construed to reflect their sentiment, but note should be made that the decision is without legal rationalization.
Arbitrator Clarke gratuitously quoted the legal standards of postal employee compensation and then proceeded to ignore it and rely upon a newly established personal standard, the agreement of another postal union (APWU), informing that he was “impressed” by that agreement. He decided to duplicate only the employer’s benefits as though the new wage scale and increased employee health premium contribution were achieved in isolation and represented the only contractual changes. His observation was grossly miss stated in that he was obviously only impressed with that part of the APWU agreement that benefited the employer. After proclaiming no responsibility to create internal equity between groups of postal of employees he only adopted selective provisions of the APWU agreement that were consistent with the pre-determined conclusion.
Following the 1970 postal strike over substandard wages, Congress decided that postal employees compensation would be determined as “comparable to the rates and types of compensation paid in the private sector of the economy of the United States” and “for comparable levels of work in the private sector of the economy,” making no reference to comparing rural carriers wages with APWU contractual provisions, if the arbitrator is “impressed” with their agreement. This legal standard has been applied over 41 years by renowned arbitrators of world standing. The decision blatantly ignores the precise wording of the law and Congressional intent as arbitrator Clarke established no nexus between the legal standard and his award.
The inclusion of a note of appreciation for support of the panel members through a personal tragedy comprising an entire page of the award was misplaced. This arbitration decision is a permanent record that when reviewed years from now should be devoid of personal anecdotes that should have been exchanged in private communications. The decision will affect 50,000 postal employees, each of whom faces their own personal challenges.