Maine letter carrier sues to stop NALC dues deduction (with a little help from the folks who brought you Wal-Mart)

A letter carrier from Maine has turned to a shadowy anti-labor group partly financed by the ultra-wealthy founders of Wal-Mart to pay for a legal action seeking to stop his payroll deduction for NALC union dues. Brett Johnson of Holden, Maine claims he tried to resign from the National Association of Letter Carriers in April of this year, but that dues are still being deducted from his pay check.

A press release from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which refuses to disclose where its money comes from, says that its lawyers filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on Johnson’s behalf on Monday.

always low wages walmartWhile the foundation tries to keep its finances secret, records uncovered by the Bridge Project show that the Walton Family Foundation contributes a significant amount, as does the Donors Capital Fund, another secretive group said to be a covert pipeline for money from, among others, the infamous Koch brothers, who also created the Tea Party “movement”.

One item curiously missing from the foundation’s press release is the reason for Johnson’s decision to resign from the union. According to USPS records, he is paid a base annual wage of $56,508, which was negotiated on his behalf by the letter carriers’ union. His new friends at Wal-Mart, meanwhile, claim to pay their average full time workers $12.78 an hour, less than half a letter carrier’s wage. Of course, many Wal-Mart employees don’t work full time, and many make so little that they qualify for welfare. They also don’t receive the generous leave, retirement and health benefits Johnson does, also negotiated for him by the letter carriers’ union.

But at least workers at Wal-Mart don’t have to worry about paying union dues!

Local Postal Worker Files Federal Charge Against Postal Service for Failure to Process Union Resignation | National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

Note: this story has been corrected to clarify that the action was filed against the US Postal Service.

  • Joe Golonka

    As always, there is more to the story. A letter carrier can “resign” from the NALC anytime he or she wishes to. However, that has nothing to do with the cancellation of dues, which can only be cancelled within a specified period (about 3 weeks) before and after the yearly anniversary of the date they join the union. Form 1187, which the now scab carrier originally signed to become a member, CLEARLY and directly states this. He failed to timely submit his dues cancellation request, and now wants to play the “victim” for his own error. And, of course, the stridently anti-union “right-to-work” (for less) corporate front group is more than happy to fight the phony cause of his self-induced “victimization.” Of note, the NALC is an “open shop” union to begin with, and yet more than 92% of all career letter carriers voluntarily are members.

    • Gary Miller

      Joe I believe it is a 10 day window NOT 3 weeks. I am an NALC member and was a Steward for about 8 years until I was basically railroaded out by our Union President. I know exactly what he was referring to by NOT getting the representation you deserve sometimes.

      • Joe Golonka

        You are correct about the time period, Gary – not more than 20 days nor less than 10 days from the anniversary date each year. I am a 42-year NALC member, 40 of them as a Branch officer or steward, and thus I am quite aware of the problems that local union politics can create as well as the uniquely difficult role of steward. In my Branch we had a self-serving disaster as president for several years and then we got together and voted him out of office. Not always that easy to do, though.

        • Happily Retired

          I worked in HR and processed these actions prior to HRSSC taking it over. The window period is 20 days, and it’s all on the front side of the anniversary date – not more then 20 days BEFORE the anniversary and not less than 10 days BEFORE the anniversary date. Once you go under 10 days before the date, you’re in for another year – unless you get promoted to an EAS position. The ELM outlines the procedure in that situation. I am retired now, but was a clerk craft employee and a member of APWU. I didn’t always agree with everything the union did, but I did recognize I received the pay/benefits I did because of the union. It wasn’t my place to question an employee who wanted to withdraw from their union, but it always amazed me (if they told me), some of the “petty” reasons for wanting to get out of the union. They didn’t look at the big picture that they were being paid higher wages and had better benefits due to their union.

          • Joe Golonka

            Not to quibble, but the language I quoted is taken DIRECTLY from form 1187 itself, as the well as the NALC handbook for Finance and Administration. As Gary noted, it is a ten day period. This begins 20 days before the anniversary date and ends 10 days before the anniversary date. That is what I wrote and that is what it is. You are quite correct, though, about some of the petty and amazingly shortsighted reasons for cancelling union membership. That is why the annual cancellation period is limited to 10 days; otherwise anyone unhappy about the least little thing, real or imagined, could cancel their dues anytime.

          • Gary Miller

            So technically the window is only 10
            days. No sooner than 20 days before the anniversary date and no later than 10.

  • Breaker boy

    It is not unusual to be poorly represented by your union (postal ) if your not liked. As I have quite often directed those that do not like what is happening to withdraw from the union. Even though I stuck it out 27 and a half years I was disappointed many times by the union actions at the USPS and should have went to a watch dog group even as a member of the union. I do not know the his situation so I will not pass judgement. Many had left properly and union dues was still subtracted and I don’t know why other then the forms were sat on. In solidarity but realistic to the fact people are unhappy.

    • common sense

      Well I won’t pass judgement on you Breaker boy, but if you were so dissatisfied with the union, why didn’t you find a job elsewhere? Given that the members choose the leadership, obviously the majority were satisfied- what were you dissatisfied with? How could you “stick it out” in a bad job for that long? More importantly, why would you?

    • Clay Hixson

      Why don’t you tell us what you should have went to the watch dog group for? It’s never to late to do the right thing.

    • PostalChick

      The release form comes from management and must be filed through Human Resources Shared Services (again management). They, then, stop the dues withholding and notify the union. Suing the wrong entity.

      • fred

        This article contains false information. He IS suing the USPS. The author here is just trying to incite a backlash against an organization that is trying to allow workers to negotiate their own job situations.

    • Rick

      Well Breaker boy if you felt that way why didn’t you do something about it and become a Steward. Maybe because the job isn’t as easy as you try to make it sound. Many times when the Steward checks out the facts there is no grounds for a grievance or the carriers will knowingly break the contract for their own benefit then try to file on something else. The Union is you and all those other carriers not just the Stewards or the President of the local. Think about that when you want to blame others for your lack.

  • Gary Honeycutt

    As one of the recent early retirees from USPS! I can state that the union has shown itself to be a neccessary watchdog and I encourage membership among the employees.
    They do, however, make it difficult to get out. When you have been in there for more than 2 decades you might not remember what day of the year you originally joined, which may differ greatly from their date on file due to processing your request. If you decide to leave the union just after your anniversary date they get to collect your money for another year.
    The postal unions are good, but this particular practice needs to be made more convenient.

    • Toejam

      Goodness……….I joined waay back in the early 80’s…..I don’t even know what MONTH I joined……..LOL. And, those that choose to LEAVE the Union…..fine for them. They need to “re-negotiate” their SL, AL, and wages, along with terms of getting a route…………

  • Freeman

    It’s really ironic (but quite sad) to witness postal employees make fools of themselves by claiming Tea Party membership. There appears to be no limit to their ignorance.

    • Shes too fat for me

      These brainwashed scumbags will continue to vote against themselves.

  • Mad Jack

    Then get a job at Walmart loser!


    Go work at Wal-Marts for 12.78 an hour with NO benefits sounds like someone of your lack of common sense deservers. This guy is definitely more than a few cards shy of a full deck ya think?.

  • TheTruth

    Well, at $12.78… No Benefits WHATSOEVER, Walmart NOT THAT MUCH DIFFERENT from what USPS paying new CCA’s…

    • gpf1947

      But unlike Walmart employees, CCA’s have a career path into becoming regular letter carriers eventually reaching the same pay level as this disgruntled carrier. Depending on the office, some CCA’s may have already entered career status as there were many unfilled routes in some offices having few, if any, PTF’s to fill them-another job classification being eliminated. During the arbitration proceedings, the Postal Service heavily lobbied the panel for a $10/hr-or less-wage for the CCA’s, the NALC wanted status quo of what the TE’s were making: the arbitrator ruled on the current CCA wage and carrer path. So, if left to the generous Postal Service, CCA’s would be making $10/hr-or less-more a glorified Casual employee…a category currently extinct in the Letter Carrier craft.

      For the record Form 1187-dues withholding authorization- and Form 11188-dues cancellation- are Office of Personnel Management (OPM) documents used government wide for these purposes. Their use in the Postal Service are governed by the ELM (Employee & Labor Relations Manuel), easily found on an internet search. I would be interested to know his reason for resigning, some are serious, but most are petty crap…often because the emploee was not allowed to do something outside the rules or got caught doing same and was called on it.

  • hrdcorefan

    “On April 10, 2013, Johnson sent a letter to the NALC union resigning his membership and refraining from union dues payments. Johnson hand-delivered the same letter to his postal service human resources representative the following day.

    Postal workers have the right to refrain from union membership and union dues payments. However, according to the union’s monopoly bargaining agreement, Johnson has only a ten day period starting on April 10 each year when he can revoke his union dues deduction authorization.

    Despite his requests, the human resources representative failed to forward his letter to the proper human resources department officials for processing until June 10, 2013. As a result, the USPS continues to deduct union dues from Johnson’s paychecks, and he cannot ask again to stop dues payments until next year.”

    His beef should be with management…not the union.

    • Union Man

      It’s BS having open shop anyway. We should have a closed shop and right to strike. If not for this wonderful union, he would bear the face of an alley cat searching for a fish bone in a garbage can. Sounds like the many self centered “scabs” that we dues paying members drag along everyday.

  • Reality

    The facts are indisputable that union spend an inordinate amount of their time protecting the bottom level of employees who are constantly in trouble due to their attitude or inability to follow simple rules. The unions spend huge monies trying to get employees who drink on the job reinstated. We can only hope their brother kills someone in the postal family when their drunkenness leads to a terrible accident. Employees who steal. lie, assault other employees or managers, have substance abuse issues, etc. have the ear of the steward. Pay your dues for years, keep your head down and get a legit annual leave request denied by a manager then see how willing the overworked union man responds to you. Don’t think they don’t cut deals to expend some to save others. They are certainly not worth what you pay monthly. But it’s your money, and since stuffing paper into metal boxes is highly technical in nature, you have no worries about the future…

    • common sense

      Are you a union member? If so, then you’re part of the problem you’re complaining about. I doubt any of the crap you spout is true, but if any of it is, what have YOU done about it? Posting vague charges on anonymous comment pages doesn’t count.

      If you’re not a union member, then sorry, but none of this is any of your business.

  • TheTruth

    Yeah, the NALC says its Managements fault, and Management says , no, it’s the NALC who is wrong, meanwhile, the carrier is left out, “hanging in the wind…”
    I’m sure the carrier does not care who’s fault it is, he or she JUST WANTS THE UNION DUES TO STOP…

    • common sense

      No, in this case the carrier just wants to be the Tea Party’s latest poster boy in the war against working Americans- probably sees himself as the new “Joe the Plumber”! (Remember that low-life slob?) If the carrier “does not care who’s fault it is”, why didn’t he take action against the USPS? The NALC doesn’t have control over his paycheck.

  • fred

    fyi, the letter carriers pay and benefits were MANDATED by an arbitrator, not negotiated by that union. Why should this worker pay for non-services he doesn’t even want?

    • truth

      FYI, letter carrier wages and benefits are the result of collective bargaining- the NALC negotiated the wages letter carriers receive. The arbitrator’s award wasn’t plucked from thin air- it’s based on wages and benefits won by the union. (Or do you think you get paid that much because you’re such a wonderful person?)

      Who ever said that the scab should be forced to pay union dues? He has always had the option of quitting the USPS and ending his union problem once and for all!

  • criminal

    12.78 hr at walmart, not much less than new cca. Cca gets no benifits either. No sick leave. Union let cca happen. Why? to collect dues off them. Union also let cca’s who already been working for years get a $5 hr pay cut. There response, at least they got a career path now, dont hold your breath cca’s. Save the at least they have a job speech, people working at job over 4 years getting paid less than when they started. Cca shouldnt be in the union, then you would see the union working to get them to be regulars, to get those dues.

    • it’s Me

      The Union didn’t create CCA’s. An arbitrator did. What the Union did was fight for the right for a path to a career job. That is what CCA’s have the TE’s did not have. No one got a $5 an hour cut in pay. The Postal Service did away with TE’s all together. They lost their jobs. Anyone that is a CCA applied for that new job. Sucks, I agree. But at least they have a chance to have a better life and a job with benefits. They didn’t have that as TE’s.

      • Noah

        So, how many of your CCAs have been promoted? We get a vacancy and we don’t promote, it goes to eReassign.

        • N2u2Doll

          Every single one of my CCA’s (previously TE’s) were converted to Full-Time Career employees including one CCA that had less than 20 months service. And that is in California who was late to the game in conversions of CCA’s.

      • scott

        wrong I was a TE for 4 years making 22 an hour….when they decided to do away with the TE position I had to re apply and start all over again and become a CCA…I have been in the postal service as a rural carrier and TE for 10 years with nothing to show for it until 2014 when I made career…so yes I lost 5 an hour until I made regular and even then WTF???

    • Jimee77

      That is the average salary at Walmart. The median is $8.74. In otherwords, the huge salaries of a few people are being used to pretend that the VAST majority of employees aren’t making minimum wage. An illusion of “statistics”.

  • Root’n Toot’n Union!

    You knew it was a union job when you signed on. Now, after years when the union went to bat for you for better wages, health plans, etc., you want to cut the hand that fed you all these years? SCAB! Go work at Wal Mart. You’ll be back at USPS within a day wanting your union job back!

    • san

      you are so typical of the unions attitude..i am out..this is a brainwashing dictatorship…

    • CavGuy147

      Learn the meaning of what a “scab” is.

  • NotUnionProud

    Its like joining the mafia because once your in… they won’t let you out without a fight. you have to jump thru hoops to get out.. only one week a year… mail it certified etc… really? but you can join on a whim

  • 1188

    If you want to break this union monopoly how about stopping the automatic payroll deduction. Would probably save the USPS big money. Now how many of the dedicated union members would actually write that check to the NALC religiously each month? I’ll bet membership would plummet

  • Jimee77

    When you join, you agree to pay Union dues. You can leave whenever you want. You can only stop your payroll deductions in the month of your anniversary date (ie if you join in October, you have to leave in October). Union dues for a year for a letter carrier are about $650. Mr. Johnson received a Union negotiated raise that will cover his “losses” in November ’13… times 3. He will receive another COLA in January ’14 that will cover his “losses” times 3-4.

    On a side note, if you are really stupid and don’t want to be represented by the Union, the USPS will only do a certain number of payroll deductions for you. Go set up some additional ones until you “can’t fit” your NALC dues deduction on your paycheck (I think the total you can have is 2-3). Tell your Postmaster you need to have a deduction sent to such and such a bank (same as your checking account) and they can add it for you or you may be able to do it yourself via PostalEase but they will have to remove one first. Have them remove the NALC one.

  • Nio Walters

    I am a union member that is getting out. You can slam me all you want but my reasons are clear. I have looked into the unions financial spreadsheets, I have looked at their methods of representation, and many other items. In my particular case, I had to use almost 6 months of leave fighting a fitness for duty item that eventually got dismissed. The union steward and local president did absolutely nothing to help me. Less than one year later both the steward and local president faced federal embezzlement charges. Neither served any jail time or paid back a single penny that they had stolen. In my station I have seen the union go after non-union members for doing things that union members are doing. Both groups did something wrong but the union covered for members while head hunting the non-members.
    Take a look at compensation of executives. The president of the nalc receives a salary more than 5 times the highest paid letter carrier. The president is paid back for medicare and social security taxes. He is given a union backed credit card with a rate lower than any average carrier. He draws per diem any time he performs any kind of postal action outside his office, so if he goes to lunch with a v.p. and talks shop for 5 seconds, he draws a full day’s per diem.
    When you look at the union magazine, you can see how far to the left the union falls. For example, in volume 128, number 11, November 2015: the Cincinnati Ohio scribe Jim Meale from branch 43 spent his whole time excoriating republicans and then openly calling for the election of Bernie sanders. The entire entry is a political hit piece. In the past, I have seen this type of entry on numerous occasions. Anyone who does not fit the left wing mold is trashed by the union both in person and through media.
    YES, I am quitting the union after 18 years because the union no longer represents the values that I hold. For all you union members that want to call me a scab or ungrateful, so be it. You can say what you want but I stand by my decisions.

  • john Marcrum

    why put down the group trying to stop someone from paying union dues..forced dues should be illegal..they the union wants power but when they dont give representation they dont want you to stop paying…disgrace

    • john Marcrum

      yes im a 25 yr letter carrier trying to leave branch 283 for no