Background

Under its national agreement with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the U.S. Postal Service must make every effort to promptly pay monetary grievance settlements and
arbitration awards.

The Postal Service uses the Grievance Arbitration Tracking System (GATS) database to manage grievance payments and conduct labor relations activities, such as researching appeals, disputes, and decisions.

On December 5, 2014, the Postal Service and the APWU reached a $56 million settlement on the Global Remedy dispute, a long-standing grievance regarding postmasters and supervisors performing bargaining unit work designated for clerk craft employees. 

The settlement directed the Postal Service to pay $44.8 million directly to clerks and establish an escrow of $11.2 million to be disbursed in a manner determined by the union. In January 2016, the Postal Service paid $40.2 million to employees; however, it subsequently notified the APWU of errors in these initial payments. 

Separately, on November 12, 2014, the Postal Service and the APWU reached a $4.8 million settlement regarding the Kelly Services, Inc. dispute, resolving payments to employees who were excluded from a previous settlement regarding the 

Postal Service hiring over 200 temporary employees between 1996 and 1999. The original $19 million Kelly Services settlement, reached on March 26, 2007, gave a lump sum payment to individuals who were postal clerks at the time of
the settlement. 

Our objective was to assess the accuracy of payments related to the APWU Global Remedy and Kelly Services settlements.

What the OIG Found

The Postal Service did not accurately process and disburse about $13.2 million in initial payments for the Global Remedy ($11.5 million) and Kelly Services ($1.7 million) APWU grievance settlements during January 2016 and December 2015, respectively.

The payment errors included non-payments, underpayments, overpayments, and payments to employees not entitled. Since April 2016, the Labor Relations Systems and Payroll groups have been collaborating to correct the errors; however, as of December 2016, all errors have not been resolved. 

These errors occurred due to inadequate or ineffective internal controls over how settlement payments are processed. Specifically, the procedural guidance is not comprehensive to help ensure processing of settlement payments are consistent and timely. Also, the procedural guidance does not address a reconciliation process to help ensure settlement payments are accurate and dispersed to appropriate employees.

Due to inadequate internal controls, the Postal Service underpaid employees by $3,043 and overpaid by more than $3.4 million. In addition, management erroneously paid $75,129 to eight employees who were not on the APWU’s list of employees entitled to payment.

What the OIG Recommended

We recommended management finalize resolution of outstanding underpayments and collect outstanding overpayments in both settlements, enhance procedural guidance to be more comprehensive, and implement a reconciliation process.

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Comments (2)

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  • anon

    GATS (grievances arbitration tracking system) is mentioned in this report....Have you ever done a study on the information within GATS? It would seem that this is could be a useful database wherein you could discern trend and patterns of grievances. One would tend to believe that you could see patterns of grievances within areas, districts and even facilities. It may be possible to develop patterns of types of grievances. I am sure Human Resources and direct line management would like to be able to see such trends. Any trend of grievances scream to be investigated for failure of leadership. A grievance by definition is a statement of unhappiness with a specific situation. A grievance upheld indicates the unhappiness with the specific situation was correct. This database is a treasure chest of upheld incorrect situations....What good leader wouldn't want to dig into this chest and find ways to improve her/his operations? How can you help them to better our organization?

    Feb 14, 2017
  • anon

    Our manager and supervisor clocks carrier in all the time because they are great friends with most of them I think that the postal service should change managers and supervisors at every 6months to these types of things from happening Carrier's bring them food ever day so they can get and have what ever they want sad story but it's true and you wonder why we are in so much debt in the postal service getting paid and not even at work brook hollow station Dallas Texas favoritism strong would be nice if we all could come to work at 10am and get clocked on at 8am USPS

    Feb 07, 2017