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 Veterans Preference and the U.S. Postal Service

The following is a Memorandum sent to an House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by the Congressional Research Service regarding veterans preference. The memorandum is in response to House Committee's request for information on veterans preference and the U.S. Postal Service. source: Troy Rorman, APWU National Business Agent, Maintenance Division. (posted October 1, 2007)


       Memorandum                                                                           September 21, 2007

TO: House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

Attention: Denise Wilson

 

FROM: Christine Scott

Specialist in Social Policy

Domestic Social Policy Division

SUBJECT: Veterans preference and the U.S. Postal Service

This memorandum is in response to your request for information on veterans preference and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Specifically, you asked the following questions:

  • Does veterans preference come into play when a USPS employee requests light duty or limited duty?

  • Does veterans preference come into play when the USPS closes a mail facility (i.e. do veterans get treated differently than other employees when it comes to receiving new job assignments)?

This memorandum provides a general description of veterans preference for federal government employment followed by the answers to your specific questions. If you require additional information, please contact me at extension 7-7366.

Veterans preference for federal government employment

Under federal law, an honorably discharged veteran who has served on active duty in the armed forces meeting the duty period and length of service requirements defined in 5 U.S.C. $2108 is considered a preference eligible. As a preference eligible, the veteran receives additional points (above the individual's earned rating) under 5 U.S.C. $3309 for appointment in the competitive service.' Preference eligibles also have special considerations in reductions in force, as federal law (5 U.S.C. $3502) requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to establish regulations for a reduction in force that reflect military preference. Under OPM regulations (5 CFR Part 35 I), for a competitive area (as defined by the agency), the order of retention for employees in competitive service is based on tenure of employment, veterans preference, length of service, and performance. In addition to being a factor in the order of retention, veterans preference also has an impact on length of service as active duty military service is generally included in computing length of service. Similar regulations exist for excepted federal service employment. In addition, 5 U.S.C. 3502(b) states that a preference eligible disabled veteran with a compensable service-connected disability of 30% or more who has a performance rating that is not unacceptable is entitled to be retained in preference to other competing employees.

' Federal law governing the USPS (39 U.S.C. 1005(a)(2)) requires the USPS to provide veterans preference for appointment to USPS employment in the same manner as provided in the competitive service.

Does veterans preference come into play when a USPS employee requests light duty or limited duty?

Veterans preference is not a factor that is considered in requests for light or limited duty. Light and limited duty requests are determined based on the collective bargaining agreements, the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), or Workers' Compensation program laws as appropriate, none of which provide for veterans preference.

Does veterans preference come into play when the USPS closes a mail facility (i.e. do veterans get treated differently than other employees when it comes to receiving new job assignments)?

The impact of closing a mail facility on employees will depend upon whether the employee is a member of a bargaining unit with a collective bargaining agreement with the USPS. For non-bargaining unit employees, the USPS would follow the OPM regulations for a reduction in force (5 CFR Part 35 1).

The collective bargaining agreements contain provisions (generally Article 12 of the agreements) that permit the involuntary reassignment of career bargaining unit employees when a facility is downsized. The provisions for involuntary reassignment of career bargaining unit employees do not reflect a veterans preference. According to the USPS, these provisions have been used on a regular basis.

As part of the collective bargaining unit agreements, the USPS and the unions have a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that career bargaining unit employees at the USPS on a specific date (generally the date of the agreement) are protected against an involuntary layoff or reduction in force (RIF) during the term of the collective bargaining agreement (contract). Therefore, only recently hired (after the date specified in the MOU) bargaining unit employees are not protected from an involuntary layoff or RIF.

The recently hired career bargaining unit (or "non-protected") employees may be subject to an involuntary layoff or RIF. For these employees, non-preference eligibles are subject to layoff and preference eligibles are subject to RTF.

The collective bargaining agreements outline the provisions for bargaining unit employees related to an involuntary layoff or RIF (generally Article 6 of the agreements). According to the USPS, these provisions have not been used. The order of the provisions is:

  • Minimize overtime to the extent possible within the craft, seniority group, and installation.

  • Reduce casual (temporary) employment to the fullest extent possible within the craft and installation.

  • Minimize part-time flexible career work hours to the extent possible within the craft, seniority group, and installation.

  • Place impacted employees in vacant assignments within the installation (or the local commuting area) not less than 20 days prior to the layoff or RIF. If there are not enough vacant assignments, proceed to a layoff or RIF.

  • Layoff remaining non-protected, non-preference eligible employees.

  • RIF non-protected preference eligible employees. If there are protected non-preference eligible employees, do not proceed to a RIF because a preference eligible employee may not be released prior to release of all non-preference eligible employees.

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