THE LOCAL IS GUILTY AS CHARGED!
Click Here for May 22, 2014 U.S. DOL Letter to APWU
Pittsburgh Retiree Chapter President John P. Richards
(letter added to this post June 10, 2014)
That is the conclusion of the US Department Of Labor in a May 22, 2014 finding that evaluated the Local’s conduct in the 2013 APWU Election Of Officers, to wit, “Thus, Local 81 violated section 401(g) of the LMRDA and the APWU election rules by publishing the executive board’s endorsement.”
Last years APWU election of officers was a highly charged contest coming on the heels of the disastrous Collective Bargaining Agreement. Local President Chuck Pugar was a key figure in negotiation and ratification of that (ugh) agreement. He was a member of the APWU Rank And File Bargaining Advisory Committee, where he not only fully supported that agreement, as was evidenced by that infamous video in which he touted and praised the agreement, but he also supported ratification here at home.
Pugar was a crony of then APWU President Cliff Guffey, having been previously appointed by Guffey to the plum Convention Constitution Committee. Guffey was opposed in the election by Mark Dimondstein, who fielded a slate of candidates against a number of resident APWU officers who were on the Guffey slate.
THE LOCAL EXECUTIVE BOARD
The Local’s Executive Board considered the election at meetings on July 30, 2013, and August 21, 2013. At the August 21 meeting, the Executive Board took no position on the top offices, but did endorse other candidates. Pugar later circulated a letter to the Executive Board seeking endorsement of his pal Cliff Guffey and the vice president on the Guffey slate. Pugar went on to state that the results of that proffer would determine the Executive Board’s endorsements.
THE LAW AND APWU POLICY
The conduct of Union elections is under the jurisdiction the US Department Of Labor. It is well settled that under the law that governs union elections, the endorsement of executive boards may not be published throughout the local. Moreover, the APWU has adopted a policy through the APWU Postal Press Association that aIso prohibits publication of executive board endorsements. Pugar knew or should have known these restrictions. Only the endorsements of the membership, determined at membership meetings, may be published throughout the local. Pugar was unwilling to put the issue before the membership, apparently fearing what action the membership might determine.
Moreover, these restrictions were forcibly and clearly expressed to Pugar since it was apparent that he intended to circulate the Executive Board’s ‘endorsements throughout the Local. Nevertheless, with blatant total disregard of the law and APWU procedures, Pugar caused to be printed and posted on well over 200 Local Bulletin Boards throughout the Local, a Bulletin that set forth the Executive Board’s endorsements.
Thus the breach of the, law and policy occurred!
PROBLEMS FOR THE ELECTION AND THE LOCAL
By taking that action, Pugar put the entire APWU election and the Local’s votes at risk. He was apparently willing to risk it all to lend support to his buddies in Washington. It is not without notice that almost all of his endorsements were defeated!
Pugar’s illegal actions were duly appealed to the APWU National Election Appeals Committee, chaired by Cliff Guffey, who sat on it without taking any action. At the appropriate time, that inaction and the merits of the issue were appealed to the US Department Of Labor. Their finding is set forth above.
Thus the Local’s votes for those identified races were in peril, since the election was tainted by the improper Bulletin. As the election played out, only the margin of victory in the identified races and the weak voting in the Local, saved the Union from a costly and embarrassing rerun election! That is the peril Pugar created by his provocative and illegal action!
One can only wonder what is going on in the Local? First, Pugar was a major player in negotiating and forcefully endorsing the disastrous Collective Bargaining Agreement. Following on the heels of that debacle, his wanton and total disregard of the law and APWU procedures in the election to support his pals for reelection, risking a costly re-run election and embarrassment for the Local, came next. One cannot help but speculate about what the future holds! Has Pugar lost touch with the work floor, enamored with a perception that the lush offices and the high salary of his office make him immune from the norms and responsibilities of mere mortals? Whatever his problem is, the membership is put at risk by his behavior. It is a shame that Pugar illegally misused the bulletin boards, which belong to the Local, not Pugar. They are the life blood of information to the rank and file. They should be used for legitimate purposes, conveying vital information to the membership, not used for narrow illegal political purposes.
Currently the Union is confronted by the attack Staples is making to take our work and our jobs away from the Post Office. It is the most serious threat against continuation of clerk customer services jobs in our lifetime. A massive reaction and response to that threat is necessary to attempt to dissuade Staples and PMG Donahoe from that course.
As this is written one demonstration at the McKnight Road store has been held, and another protest there is in the planning stages. So far the Local’s response has been lukewarm. At this point, Pugar has not mobilized the membership, while massive action all over the country has occurred. In our area, retirees and rank and file, supported by Branch 84 NALC, have carried the load. It is high time that Pugar get over the defeat of cohorts Cliff Guffey et al and begin tending to the Local’s current issues. National is
providing direction and support. It is beyond time that Pugar gets the Local involved!