According to a recent report, The United States Postal Service violated federal law by letting employees participate in union-funded work for Hillary Clinton’s campaign and other Democratic candidates while on leave from the agency.
The Office of Special Counsel determined the USPS “engaged in systemic violations” of the Hatch Act, a federal law that prevents certain government workers from participating in political activities. While employees are still allowed to do some political work on leave, the report said the Postal Service showed a “bias” favoring the union’s 2016 campaign operation.
After receiving multiple constituent complaints from Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, the OSC launched the investigation in October. The constituent, who was identified as a USPS employee, was concerned the Postal Service “incurred unnecessary overtime costs” and “improperly coordinated” with the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) when it released members for several weeks of “union official” leave without pay to participate in campaign work.
“The Labor 2016 program sought to ‘elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country,’” the report said.
According to the report, close to 97 NALC members requested leave without pay to get involved with the campaign efforts. The NALC compensated those USPS workers using the Letter Carrier Political Fund, the union’s PAC.
According to the report, local supervisors were concerned about the impact this would have on postal operations and even objected to releasing them, but USPS managers forced local supervisors to let the workers participate.
“We concluded that the USPS practice of facilitating and directing carrier releases for the union’s political activity resulted in an institutional bias in favor of NALC’s endorsed political candidates, which the Hatch Act prohibits,” Adam Miles, OSC acting Special Counsel, said in prepared testimony before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is set to hold a hearing Wednesday.
In response, USPS Postmaster General Megan Brennan said that “senior postal leadership did not in any way guide union leadership in selecting the candidates for whom NALC employees could campaign” and that USPS “did not approve or choose candidates for the unions to support” or “ask the union to advocate for political candidates on behalf of the Postal Service.”
“I also note that our postal unions do not speak for the Postal Service, and the Postal Service does not speak for our unions,” Brennan wrote in her prepared testimony, insisting USPS did not seek to assist the NALC’s “favored candidates.” “This especially applies in a political context, but it is inherent in any collective bargaining relationship.”
In the report, OSC suggested that going forward, USPS management should not require, direct, or even suggest local supervisors allow union members to participate in political activity.