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Richard Lara Obtains Largest Monetary Settlement EVER for Local Postal Union

Local Postal Union On March 21, 2016, the Southwest Florida Area Local – American Postal Workers Union (SWFAL-APWU) (the “Union” or “Clerks craft”), represented by Mase Lara, agreed to a $5.2 million settlement with the United States Post Office (“USPS”), the largest monetary settlement ever for the Union and one of the largest settlements for a local Postal Union in the United States.

This case stems from the USPS’s decision in the summer of 2000 to improperly assign the “prepping” of flat mail at the Ft. Myers postal facility to the Mail Handlers craft although the Clerks craft had previously performed such work since the facility opened. In August 2000, the Union filed a grievance protesting the USPS’s decision, seeking reassignment of the prepping work along with backpay. After years of grievance proceedings under the parties’ collective bargaining agreement, Arbitrator Edward E. Hales entered an Award in favor of the Union. The Award determined that the initial decision to assign the prepping work to the Mail Handlers was improper and the Clerks craft was entitled to backpay compensation for the lost work. The Award directed the parties to determine the amount of backpay for the Union.

Despite the Award, the USPS ignored numerous requests to come to terms on the amount of the Union’s backpay. At that point, the Union retained Mase Lara instead of their Union attorneys. Mase Lara filed suit to enforce the Award in U.S. federal court in Southwest Florida Area Local, American Postal Workers Union v. United States Postal Service, 2:14-cv-00075 before District Court Judge John Steele in Ft. Myers. After multiple rounds of briefing, the court reaffirmed that the Union was entitled to the backpay and that the parties should return to the grievance proceedings to determine the amount owed to the Union. The parties subsequently returned to the bargaining table and negotiations ultimately led to the $5.2 million settlement, vindicating the Union’s long struggle over the improperly assigned work. The Mase Lara team was led by Richard Lara and Cameron Eubanks.

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