Criminal Assault on the Middle Class, and the Illusion of American Justice
Thousands of people have been following the story of Ms. JoAnn Snow’s pursuit of justice within the Los Angeles District of the United States Postal Service. This woman was literally being forced to work for free, as are many others within the postal service to this day. Then when clear evidence was revealed to document her abuse, the officials and governmental agencies mandated to protect her interest closed ranks to protect her abusers, and thereby, the agency’s very lucrative status quo.
Prior to deciding to stand up for her rights, Ms. snow was not only coerced into working twelve hours a day and more, but robbed of her compensation. Then when she decided not to take it anymore, she became the subject of reprisal for having the audacity to complain to the Office of Inspector General–and not only from her bosses, but the OIG’s office itself. But she wasn’t surprised. She was prepared for it, because this is business as usual within the United States Postal Service. As late as yesterday, a manger who is also considering coming forward advised me that she was also being force to work twelve hours a day, six days a week, without proper compensation.
So the interest in this case has been with good cause, because Ms. Snow’s ordeal is the perfect metaphor for the blatant corporate, and now, governmental assault on the American middle class as a whole. But when I promised to keep you abreast of the twists and turns in this particular case, I thought it was simply going to be the story of a middle-class worker’s struggle to finally obtain justice. But instead, it has not only become the story of governmental extortion, threats, and collusion, but the clear demonstration that justice has become nothing more than an illusion for the American middle class.
What makes Ms. Snow’s story so unique, however, is unlike most of us, this lady not only has the backbone to stand up against her own union, but one of the nation’s largest and most brutal agencies. And in doing so she’s refused to be swayed by either money, or the systemic pressure and reprisals that have allowed the government to sweep its gross assault on middle-class workers under the rug. Ms.Snow is motivated by the conviction that shining a light on the millions of dollars a day that the postal service is extorting from its employees should take precedence over the $8,000 of hush-money that they offered to pay her to drop the case. She says, the pursuit of justice also takes precedence over the reprisals that she’s been forced to endure for refusing to cave in.
“Somebody’s got to stand up, so I guess it’s got to be me. I didn’t ask for this, but sometimes God just drops things in your lap. That means he want’s you to hanldle it, so I’m gonna do it.”
But the postal service had yet another card up its sleeve. It got Ms. Snow’s union, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), to sign off on a settlement, without her knowledge or consent, awarding her a cash payment, even after she specifically demanded in writing that her union not accept any monetary settlement without bringing those who falsified her official time records to justice. But the NALC signed off on it anyway. And she didn’t even receive so much as a Decision Letter until she demanded it after noticing $7,866.26 mysteriously showing up in her bank account. Obviously they expected her to simply accept the money, along with the fact that her fight for justice was in vain. But obviously, neither her union nor the postal service understood the kind of woman they were dealing with. The letter reads in part:
Dear Mr. Jackson:
“Calvin Brookins and I discussed the above captioned grievance on at least two occasions, the last being April 15, 2011.
“After a full review of the information, contentions, and arguments, both parties have reached the pre-arbitration settlement. In reviewing TACS records and the other information contained in the file it was agreed that the grievant is entitled to compensation.
“The Grievant will receive a lump-sum payment of $7,866.26 as compensation.
“This agreement is entered without prejudice to the position of the parties and constitutes full settlement of the issues pertaining to this grievance.
Manager Labor Relations
This brings up several questions that are begging to be answered. First, why would the NALC sign off on a “pre-arbitration agreement” in spite of the fact that the grievant specifically told them not to settle on any money agreement without also agreeing that the perpetrators of the crime against her be brought to justice?:
President Larry Brown:
“I am formally requesting that you have someone handle my case who is both knowledgeable, and has some modicum of integrity. And DO NOT RESOLVE THIS CASE WITHOUT THE PEOPLE WHO PERPETRATED THIS CRIME, AT THE VERY LEAST, BEING REMOVED FROM THE POSTAL SERVICE. Nothing else is acceptable.”
Secondly, why would the NALC even consider settling a matter knowing that it was an open-and-shut case proving agency misconduct that leads to the extortion of millions of dollars, possibly per day, from their membership across the country?
In addition, the decision letter indicates a January 6, 2011 arbitration date. How can the above agreement be a “pre-arbitration agreement” if it was entered into 14 weeks after the arbitration was scheduled to go forward? And finally, why is the union grieving criminal conduct administratively in the first place. We’re dealing with a federal crime here. Why isn’t this matter being handled criminally? If an employee is robbed in the parking lot is the NALC going to handle it like a simple grievance? What kind of crime does the postal service have to commit for the NALC and OIG to do their jobs?
Eric L. Wattree
Citizens Against Reckless Middle-Class Abuse (CARMA)