Arbitrator says postal workers are entitled to admin leave to vote in caucuses

From the National Postal Mail Handlers Union:

We are pleased to enclose a copy of a decision by National Arbitrator Shyam Das, concluding that postal employees including mail handlers are entitled to administrative leave (voting) under ELM 519.32 when they participate in presidential caucuses. The case was filed by the NALC, and the NPMHU and the APWU intervened. Notably, fifteen states and several territories held party caucuses rather than primary elections in 2016.

Arbitrator Das’ ruling should be self-explanatory:

The policy expressed in ELM 519.321 encourages Postal employees to exercise their voting rights. It provides that — consistent with the needs of the service — employees are to receive a reasonable amount of paid time off (administrative leave) so as to permit them “to vote … in any election or in any referendum on a civic matter in their community.” It is clear from 519.323 that administrative leave will only be granted when necessary to make it possible for an employee to vote. If the employees can exercise voting rights on their own time, they are not entitled to administrative leave. And even when entitled to such leave, which must be approved in advance, it is only for a reasonable time for the purpose of voting and the granting of such leave is subject to operational needs.

The issue in this case is whether the policy expressed in 519.321 and the provision for paid leave therein extends to participation in local party caucuses in which registered voters express their preference for a candidate to receive the party’s nomination for President of the United States. The results of such caucuses play a direct role in the selection of delegates who ultimately determine the party’s nominee. Participation in such caucuses constitutes “voting” in an “election” and equates to voting in a primary secret ballot election in terms of an employee’s “exercise [of] their voting rights. From the stand point of the policy expressed in 519. 321 there is no meaningful basis for distinguishing between voting in a Presidential nomination caucus and in a Presidential primary election for which administrative leave is granted in accordance with the provisions of 519.32 The reference “to exercise their voting rights,” in the context of the rest of 519.321, is a reference to civic voting, not to voting in private elections, such as the Union or book club elections hypothetically cited by the Postal Service.

To the extent other party business is conducted at a particular caucus, ELM 519.321 does not require the Postal Service to grant paid leave for that purpose.

Accordingly, the NPMHU has prevailed in its position that administrative leave is applicable to participation in caucus primaries and other types of civic voting.

Click here to view the complete decision text (.pdf file).