APWU Clashes with Management on New 3971 Language

(This information has been provided by Vance Zimmerman, National Industrial Relations Director)

The Postal Service’s Request for or Notification of Absence (Form 3971) has been amended to include a new section applicable to those going on leave without pay (LWOP) for official union business.  This new section states:

LWOP – Union Official (Required Certification)
By signing this form, I certify this request is not for the purpose of engaging in partisan political activity as defined by the Hatch Act and its implementing regulations

 This certification is an overreaction by the Postal Service to the July 14, 2017 report by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC).  The Report of Hatch Act Investigation: Facilitating Labor Union’s Political Activity Through Use of “Union Official” Leave Without Pay stated that “The postal unions and individual employees and members are permitted, and should be encouraged, to maintain PACs, endorse candidates, and enlist union members to support their electoral agendas on their own time.”

The Postal Service grossly overreached and is trying to suppress postal employees from exercising their First Amendment rights as protected by the Hatch Act. Furthermore, by  changing PS Form 3971 and changing the ELM 514, the Postal Service is violating the APWU/USPS Collective Bargaining Agreement.

APWU has filed a national dispute, a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, and is reviewing other possible legal action to overturn these changes.

APWU members are not second-class citizens! We refuse to be denied or intimidated into not fully using our political voices on issues and candidates who will protect a public and thriving Postal Service.

For information on the Hatch Act, please see below.

What You Can and Can’t Do at Election Time

Your active participation in the political process is essential! As public employees, postal workers need to be familiar with the Hatch Act, which limits how we can participate in party-related political activities.

Postal employees:

  • MAY be candidates in non-partisan elections.

When NOT on postal property, in uniform or on the clock, postal employees:

  • MAY register to vote and register others to vote.
  • MAY donate money to candidates.
  • MAY attend political rallies and meetings.
  • MAY campaign for – or against – candidates and issues.
  • MAY get out the vote.
  • MAY distribute campaign literature and express opinions.

Partisan politics on the clock, in uniform, or on postal property could violate the law, so please keep the rules below in mind.

  • NO partisan political activity while on the clock.
  • NO partisan political activity in a postal or federal building.
  • NO partisan political activity while in a postal uniform.
  • NO partisan political activity while driving a postal vehicle.
  • NO partisan political activity using official postal equipment.
  • NO partisan political activity via social media (including email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) while on duty or in a postal facility.

What is Partisan Political Activity?

Partisan political activity includes any actions that are supporting or opposing a candidate in an election (federal, state or local) when he/she is running as a member of a certain political party (Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Green, etc.). On a ballot, if there is a letter after their name, it is a partisan candidate. Most positions in federal and state elections are partisan, for example Governor or U.S. Senator, but there are some local seats which are not, for example a school board member.

Partisan political activity also includes asking for money or volunteers for a candidate and/or political party to utilize in an election. This also includes inviting any co-workers to a rally or event supporting any political party. Making political contributions yourself is also partisan political activity and can not be done while on the clock, in uniform or on postal property.

However, any activity surrounding a piece of legislation or political issue is NOT partisan. Encouraging co-workers to call their members of Congress to support or oppose a bill, like the Postal Service Reform Act (H.R. 756), is allowed while on the clock. For those able to wear buttons/stickers on the job, wearing one that supports a Vote by Mail ballot initiative is permissible.

If you have any further questions concerning permissible activity please contact the Legislative & Political Department at 202-842-4211 or by email at legislative@apwu.org.