American Postal Workers Union v. US Postal Serv., Civ. A. No. 87-3199.

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
PartiesAMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION, AFL-CIO, and National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 87-3199.
Decision Date20 December 1988

701 F. Supp. 880

AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION, AFL-CIO, and National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 87-3199.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

December 20, 1988.


701 F. Supp. 881

Anton G. Hajjar, O'Donnell, Schwartz & Anderson, Washington, D.C., for American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO.

Richard N. Gilberg, Sophia E. Davis, Cohen, Weiss and Simon, New York City, for National Ass'n of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO.

Jay B. Stephens, U.S. Atty., John D. Bates and Wilma A. Lewis, Asst. U.S. Attys., of counsel, Charles D. Hawley, Catherine V. Pagano, Law Dept., U.S. Postal Service, for defendant.

INTRODUCTION

CHARLES R. RICHEY, District Judge.

The United States Postal Service (the "Service") enjoys a statutory monopoly over the delivery of mail in and from the United States. This monopoly, as the Supreme Court recently noted, "has prevailed in this country since the Articles of Confederation," and is intended to ensure "prompt, reliable, and efficient services to postal patrons in all areas." Univ. of California v. Public Employment Relations Bd., ___ U.S. ___, 108 S.Ct. 1404, 1408, 99 L.Ed.2d 664 (1988) (quoting 39 U.S.C. § 101(a)). The monopoly is embodied in the Private Express Statutes (the "PES"). 18 U.S.C. §§ 1693-1699; 39 U.S. C. §§ 601-606. The monopoly serves its purpose by ensuring that the revenues available to the Service are not endangered by private competition in less costly, and thus more profitable, segments of the mail delivery market.

Although Congress has granted the Service a complete monopoly in the PES, Congress has also granted the Service the power to suspend that monopoly in certain situations. Under 39 U.S.C. § 601(b), the Service "may suspend the operation of any part of the PES upon any mail route where the public interest requires the suspension." This lawsuit concerns the Service's decision to voluntarily suspend its monopoly under the PES with respect to that part of the mail-delivery market known as "international remailing." The regulation which suspended the Service's monopoly effectively defines "international remailing" by its description of what is permitted: the regulation "permits the uninterrupted carriage by private entities of letters from a point within the United States to a foreign country for deposit in its domestic or international mails for delivery to an ultimate destination outside of the United States." 39 C.F.R. § 320.8. The Service issued the regulation on August 20, 1986.

The plaintiffs, the American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers (hereinafter the "Unions"), filed this suit on November 25, 1987.1 They allege that the Service's decision to permit private international remailing violated the APA in two respects. First, they claim that the decision was arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Second (and not so differently) they claim that the decision was in excess of the statutory authority granted the Service under 39 U.S. C. § 601(b), and therefore in violation of 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(B). In a nutshell, the Unions contend that the Service applied the wrong legal standard in deciding to suspend international remailing monopoly. They further contend that the Service failed to develop an adequate record upon which to base its decision, and that it drew incorrect inferences from the record that did exist. The Service has met the Unions' contentions on the merits, and has argued in addition that the Unions lack standing to challenge its decision.

701 F. Supp. 882

The matter came before the Court on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. On October 17, 1988, the Court granted judgment in favor of the Service. As further explained herein, the Court concluded that the Unions do not enjoy standing to challenge the Service's decision in this matter, and further, that the Service's decision did not violate the APA.

DISCUSSION

1. Standing

The Service contends that the Unions lack standing because they have not been able to show an actual or threatened injury to their membership, and because they are not within the "zone of interests" that the PES are designed to protect. This Court disagrees that the Unions have not shown a sufficient actual or threatened injury, but agrees with the Service that the Unions are not within the "zone of interest" that the PES are designed to protect.

An essential element of standing in an Article III court, whether suit has been brought to review agency action or otherwise, is that the plaintiff must be capable of showing actual or threatened injury. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 498, 95 S.Ct. 2197, 2204-2205, 45 L.Ed.2d 343 (1975). The Service contends that the Unions have made no such showing here, in that they have offered no proof that their respective memberships have lost jobs or been expressly threatened with the loss of jobs.

The Service is correct; the Unions have made no such showing. However, the Unions have not attempted to make such a showing. Instead, the Unions allege that the decision to permit private international remailing, with its attendant loss of revenue to the Service, inflicts harm upon its membership through the loss of "employment opportunities." Compl. at ¶ 16. The Unions reason that, even if no jobs are directly lost, the relinquishment of international remailing to the private sector reduces the current membership's opportunity to engage in international remailing, and thereby reduces the membership's opportunity to obtain "work time, overtime, employment opportunities, future benefits and ... morale." Pl. Mem. at 8 (quoting National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO v. Independent Postal System of America, 470 F.2d 265, 270 (10th Cir. 1972)).

The Court agrees with the Unions that the reasonable prospect of reduced employment opportunities, even if no specific loss currently can be shown, satisfies the "threatened injury" requirement of standing. There is authority from the Tenth Circuit for this finding in a context virtually identical to that presented here. See American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO v. React Postal Services, 771 F.2d 1375, 1380 (10th Cir.1985) (whenever private entity permitted to perform postal functions contrary to the PES, the "employment opportunities of the postal workers are inevitably reduced"); National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO, supra, 470 F.2d at 270 (injury in fact due to "significant" loss of employment opportunity where PES not complied with). This conclusion is further consistent with authority in this Circuit arising in slightly different contexts. See, e.g., Intern'l Union of Bricklayers v. Meese, 761 F.2d 798, 802 (D.C.Cir.1985) (union had standing because guidelines allowing aliens to enter workforce would interfere with jobs which "would otherwise likely go to union members"); Autolog Corp. v. Regan, 731 F.2d 25, 31 (D.C.Cir.1984) (alleged loss of "employment opportunity," though no loss of present jobs shown, sufficient to confer standing); National Treasury Employees Union v. Horner, 659 F.Supp. 8, 12 (D.D.C. 1986) (union had standing where agency action would permit outside competition with membership).

However, the Court disagrees with the Union on the question of whether the interests asserted here fall within the "zone of interest" implicated by the PES. In Clarke v. Securities Indus. Ass'n, 479 U.S. 388, 107 S.Ct. 750, 93 L.Ed.2d 757 (1987), the Supreme Court expanded upon its prior holdings that, in addition to the constitutional requirement of injury in fact, a plaintiff seeking review of agency action under

701 F. Supp. 883
5 U.S.C. § 702 must show that he or she falls within the "zone of interests" protected by the statute at issue. This additional requirement, termed a "gloss on the meaning of § 702," 107 S.Ct. at 758 n. 16, serves as "a guide for deciding whether, in view of Congress' evident intent to make agency action reviewable, a particular plaintiff should...

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1 practice notes
  • Air Courier Conference of America v. American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1991
    ...summary judgment in favor of the Postal Service and ACCA. American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO v. United States Postal Service, 701 F.Supp. 880 (1988). The Unions appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and that court vacated the grant of summary judgment. A......
1 cases
  • Air Courier Conference of America v. American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 26, 1991
    ...summary judgment in favor of the Postal Service and ACCA. American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO v. United States Postal Service, 701 F.Supp. 880 (1988). The Unions appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and that court vacated the grant of summary judgment. A......

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