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Washington, DC (Nov 22, 2016) In a significant victory for workers, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has chosen to avoid going to trial and instead turn over more than a million dollars that union bosses diverted from the very postal workers they claimed to “represent.”
In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump sum of back pay in an arbitration award. As part of an under the table agreement with the Postal Service, the APWU removed more than 1 million dollars from the award for its own use. In an effort to retrieve the missing money, two of the employees, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine, filed unfair labor practice charges. Worried that the NLRB wasn’t taking their claims seriously, the workers turned to National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys for free legal assistance. The trial was scheduled for Wednesday November 9.
The day before the trial however, the workers were informed that the NLRB had agreed to a settlement with the union. Under the settlement, the APWU is forced to disgorge the money that they had withheld from the arbitration award. The settlement orders $770,804.58, or about 70 percent of the stolen money, to be divided among postal employees, just as the arbiter had originally ordered.
The remaining $330,326.70 is to be placed in a separate escrow account, with spending oversight provided by the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. After the three years any remaining funds will automatically go to the workers.
“It is appalling that the officials of the APWU could so casually take such a large sum from the workers whom they claim to represent.” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “When union officials were caught pocketing over a million dollars from the very workers they claim to represent, merely returning the money taken is a light punishment indeed. The lead union official stated, in a case document available to the public, that they ‘could have taken the whole award,’ but were afraid how embezzling the whole sum would look.”
“The only thing more troubling is that had Foundation staff attorneys not been there to represent the interests of the rank-and-file workers, the NLRB may have allowed union bosses to keep all or part of the monies that the union bosses embezzled, with no hope of recovery.” continued Mix.