Union officials outrageously claimed legal right to take additional $7.5 million
This story was published in the January/February issue of Foundation Action. To read this issue or other previous issues please click here. To sign up for your free copy of the newsletter via mail please see the form at the bottom of the page.
Washington, D.C. – In the culmination of a two year long fight, US Postal Service workers receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation have won their battle with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), forcing the union officials to disgorge over one million dollars taken by the union from money intended for the workers.
In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump payment of back wages as part of an arbitration award. To the workers this was a windfall victory, but to the officials at the APWU, this was an opportunity to pad union coffers. Steven Raymer, an APWU national director involved with the arbitration, colluded with the Postal service to divert over one million dollars from the total award of 8.64 million dollars into the coffers of the APWU.
In April 2016, two postal workers, Louis Mazurek and Scott Fontaine became aware of the award and filed separate NLRB charges against the APWU in NLRB Region 5.
In an affidavit filed with the NLRB during the proceedings, union official Raymer went to some length to attempt to justify his decision to divert that sum from the money intended for the very workers he claimed to “represent.”
Raymer even admitted that he had considered taking more of the funds away from the workers. “I had thought briefly about keeping the entire amount…I think I would have been justified in keeping it all…” His testimony showed that his concern was not for the workers the APWU claimed to represent, and that had he thought he could get away with it, he would have diverted more money away from the workers.
“This battle just emphasizes the disconnect between the workers, and union brass,” said Mark Mix, President of the Foundation. “Sadly, the only reason that these workers saw any money at all was fear of getting caught, not genuine concern and care for the workers.”
As the case proceeded Fontaine and Mazurek approached the Foundation because they were concerned with what would happen to their case in the NLRB. Foundation staff attorneys assisted them in the hearings that were scheduled between the NLRB and union lawyers. A full hearing before an administrative law judge was scheduled for early November.
Less than 24 hours before the hearing, the NLRB came to the rescue of the union officials and issued a settlement in the case sparing union officials’ another round of embarrassing testimony about their sellout of the rank-and-file.
Under the terms of the settlement, the APWU must disgorge the full 1.1 million dollars that it stole from the workers. 70% is ordered to be paid out immediately to workers with each of the approximately 7,200 employees eligible to receive a pro rata share of $770,804.58.
The remaining 30% of the stolen money, $330,326.70, will be placed in a separate escrow account under the direct supervision of the NLRB Regional director for the next three years. Any funds remaining at the end of this three year period will be divided evenly among the workers who received payments as part of the settlement.
“This is an unprecedented victory for union employees. Never before has a union been caught so dramatically taking this large a sum, and then being forced to return the money to its rightful owners,” said Mix. “The workers are fortunate that they were able to take advantage of the free legal aid offered by the Foundation, else they might not have seen any of this money ever again.”