decided: September 7, 1978.
WALTER WINSTON AND CORRINE CUMMINGS, ON THEIR OWN BEHALF AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS,
UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE; BENJAMIN F. BAILAR, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER GENERAL; EMMETT E. COOPER, JR., IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS POSTMASTER OF THE CHICAGO POST OFFICE; AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION, AFL-CIO, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. No. 75-C-2932 - Alfred Y. Kirkland, Judge.
Before Fairchild, Chief Judge, Sprecher, Circuit Judge, and Miller, Judge.*fn*
This appeal is from the district court's memorandum opinion and order of April 13, 1977,*fn1 holding that the grievance procedures adopted for nonpreference-eligible postal employees by the United States Postal Service ("USPS") and the American Postal Workers Union ("Union") do not violate either the Postal Reorganization Act ("PRA"), Pub.L. No. 91-375, 84 Stat. 731 (codified at 39 U.S.C. §§ 101 Et seq.) or the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. We affirm.
Appellants are former employees of USPS*fn2 and members of the Union; neither was a preference-eligible employee.*fn3 They were discharged from USPS while covered by the 1973 National Collective Bargaining Agreement ("National Agreement") between USPS and the Union. Article XVI of the National Agreement provided that "no employee may be disciplined or discharged except for just cause." As permitted by 39 U.S.C. § 1206(b),*fn4 article XV of the National Agreement set forth a series of steps in the grievance procedure which could culminate in binding third-party arbitration.
The Grievance Proceedings
On July 18, 1973, appellant Winston was given a thirty-day written notice of discharge based upon an allegation that on May 26, 1973, he had "threatened to kill a supervisor who was on duty." In accordance with article XV of the National Agreement, Winston filed a grievance with a representative of the Union. The grievance procedure provided for an employee to be represented by a union representative, who, in this case, was the treasurer of the local union. Step 1 of the grievance procedure consisted of an informal discussion between Winston and his Union representative with his immediate supervisor. The grievance was orally denied on July 19, 1973. Subsequently, a step 2A appeal was filed. On August 2, 1973, the grievance was denied after an informal discussion between Winston and his Union representative with a representative of the Chicago Postmaster.*fn5
Winston filed a step 2B appeal which resulted in an "informal hearing on the merits" between the USPS Chicago District Director of Employee and Labor Relations and another Union representative for Winston. At this "hearing," the Postal Inspection Service Investigative Summary was discussed. It consisted of statements of Winston, the supervisor who instituted the charge against him, and four supervisory employees who had witnessed the May 26, 1973, incident. Winston states in this appeal, without contradiction by appellees, that evidence of his witnesses, whose names he had given to the Union representative, was not submitted, that he was not allowed to be present, and that no witnesses were called, interviewed, or subjected to cross-examination. On December 4, 1973, the grievance was again denied.
Pursuant to section 3 of article XV of the National Agreement, Winston requested that the Union demand arbitration of his grievance, but the request was denied.*fn6 Winston was formally discharged on January 8, 1974.
Appellant Cummings was given a thirty-day notice of discharge on August 30, 1973, based on allegations that she had "misappropriated postal funds in the years 1972 & 1973." She followed the same grievance procedures as Winston, with the same result, and was discharged effective March 1, 1974. Her appeal to CSC was, like Winston's, denied. Cummings states, without contradiction by appellees, that she was denied an opportunity to appear, present evidence, and cross-examine adverse witnesses.
The District Court Proceedings
Appellants contended before the district court*fn7 that the grievance procedure of the National Agreement violated both 39 U.S.C. § 1001(b)*fn8 and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, they alleged that they were discharged without an opportunity for a fair hearing, including the right to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses and to present evidence of their own to rebut the charges against them.
In its order of April 13, 1977, the district court granted summary judgment to USPS and the Union. It concluded that the legislative history of PRA "makes clear that non-preference eligible employees covered by collective bargaining agreements are limited to grievance procedures (under those agreements) in resolving adverse actions." 432 F. Supp. at 1119. It found that 39 U.S.C. § 1005(a)(2) gives preference-eligible employees alternative remedies of (1) appeal to the CSC for a "trial type" hearing, or (2) the collective bargaining agreement procedure. But it found no alternative remedies for nonpreference-eligible employees on the basis that, under 39 U.S.C. § 1005(a) (1), access to the CSC ends when such access would be inconsistent with the "provisions of any collective-bargaining agreement negotiated on behalf of and applicable to them." The court was not persuaded that 39 U.S.C. § 1001 reflects a Congressional intent that a "trial type" hearing be required before dismissal of nonpreference-eligible employees.
Addressing the constitutional issue, the district court held that postal workers, as federal employees, have a sufficient property interest in continued employment to entitle them to Fifth Amendment protection, but that "the grievance procedure established by the agreement between USPS and the Union satisfies Due Process." 432 F. Supp. at 1121. Citing the plurality opinion by Mr. Justice Rehnquist in Arnett v. Kennedy, 416 U.S. 134, 94 S. Ct. 1633, 40 L. Ed. 2d 15 (1974), the court stated:
Since Congress created the property interest in continued employment in the Act (PRA) and in the same Act set forth the procedure for protection of that interest, this Court may find that employees of USPS were entitled to no Due Process protection beyond that afforded by the collective bargaining agreement . . . .
Nevertheless, the court, assuming that an independent examination of the grievance procedures was required, concluded that due process does not necessarily include a "trial type" hearing and is satisfied where, as here, the grievance procedures provide: (1) notice to the employees of the pending charges; (2) an opportunity to be heard by presenting grievances through a "representative of their own choosing," I. e., the Union; and (3) authority for the representative to bring further proceedings before a neutral arbiter and to be sued if failure to bring the case to an arbiter "was a breach of duty to fairly represent."*fn9
I. Statutory Interpretation Issue
Relying on 39 U.S.C. § 1001(b), appellants argue that Congress specifically provided for the full protection of their right to be heard on any adverse actions. They also argue that the "fair hearing requirement" of section 1001(b) includes "the rights of confrontation and cross-examination of witnesses, and the right to present evidence, as an alternative to grievance procedures."*fn10 This is predicated on their contention that the "fair hearing requirement" is not qualified by or subordinate to any grievance procedures negotiated by USPS and the Union through collective bargaining. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that legislative history clearly demonstrates Congressional intent that nonpreference-eligible postal employees who are covered by a collective bargaining agreement are to be limited solely to the grievance procedures of that agreement in appealing adverse actions.
Legislative History of PRA
The legislative history of the PRA provides a unique source for determining the intent of Congress underlying its postal reform since, as the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee's report on H.R. 17070*fn11 observes: "Rarely has any subject received as much careful and intensive consideration by a committee of the Congress as this committee has given to the very complex and important subject of postal reform." H.R.Rep. No. 91-1104, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 2, Reprinted in (1970) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 3649, 3651 (hereinafter cited as "House Report").
The first bill to address the subject of postal labor relations with a view to replacing the procedures of traditional government labor relations with those of the private sector was H.R. 4, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. (1969).*fn12 H.R. 4 kept postal employees within the competitive civil service system (Id. § 2125) and gave both individual employees and their union "the right to present and process grievances and to submit to arbitration unresolved grievances" (Id. § 3711(b)). Section 3711(c)(3) required the grievance procedures to include "the right to call, question, and cross-examine witnesses." It is this right which appellants argue is contained in 39 U.S.C. § 1001(b).
Later in 1969, a bill was introduced in behalf of the Administration (H.R. 11750, 91st Cong., 1st Sess. (1969)), under which postal employees could be removed from the competitive civil service (Id. at § 209). There was No provision for the grievance procedures to include an employee's right to call, question, and examine witnesses.*fn13 The President's recommendations made clear the intent that nonpreference-eligible employees would have recourse to only the procedures provided under a collective bargaining agreement. House Comm. on Post Office and Civil Service, 91st Cong., 1st Sess., Recommendation of the President of the United States on H.R. 11750, at 152, 160 (Comm. Print 1969). It is to be noted that H.R. 11750 became the model for subsequent bills, amendments, and ultimately the PRA.
Following hearings on these bills, H.R. 4 was reported out of committee;*fn14 however, the sections pertinent to our analysis had been changed to substantially conform to the sections of H.R. 11750.*fn15 Under section 209 of the revised H.R. 4, postal employees were not to be covered by other laws relating to federal employees. Section 801(a) required the Postal Service to establish procedures, subject to collective bargaining contracts, "to assure its employees of an opportunity to be heard before adverse actions are to be taken against them." The Lloyd-LaFollette Act (appeal procedures for adverse actions), chapter 75 of title 5, was made applicable Except when there was a collective bargaining agreement in effect.*fn16 See H.R.Rep. No. 91-988, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 20-21, 32-33 (1970).
In the aftermath of the March 1970 postal strike, direct negotiations regarding the format of postal reorganization were undertaken between representatives of the President and the unions. Their "Memorandum of Agreement" of April 16, 1970, committed the Administration to "collective bargaining under a statutory framework . . . over All aspects of wages, hours, and working conditions Including grievance procedures (emphasis added)."*fn17 The President transmitted a new proposed bill, introduced as H.R. 17070, Supra note 11, in accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement. Section 201(a), in pertinent part, provided:
The Postal Service shall establish procedures, subject to subchapter II of this title, . . . to assure its employees full protection of their employment rights by guaranteeing them an opportunity for a fair hearing on adverse actions, with representatives of their own choosing. Subject to subsection (b) of this section, the provisions of chapter 75 of title 5 shall apply to employees of the Postal Service except to the extent of any inconsistency with
(1) the provisions of any collective bargaining agreement negotiated on behalf of and applicable to them, or
(2) procedures established by the Postal Service and approved by the Civil Service Commission.
The reference to subchapter II was to the "Employee-Management Relations" portion of the bill which made the National Labor Relations Act applicable to the Postal Service, granted recognition to the unions, and authorized collective bargaining agreements to include procedures for resolution "by the parties of grievances and adverse actions arising under the agreement" (section 227(b)), with arbitration as the final step. H.R. 17070 also included a "fair hearing requirement," guaranteeing employees "an opportunity for a fair hearing on adverse actions, with representatives of their own choosing."*fn18
The personnel and employee relations sections of H.R. 17070 emerged essentially intact from the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service. The House Report summarizes the "fair hearing requirement" in words similar to those contained in section 801(a) of the revised H.R. 4:
(T)he Postal Service is required to establish procedures to assure its employees . . . of (an) opportunity to be heard before adverse action is taken against them.
House Report at 9-10, (1970) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 3658. We have found no suggestion in the legislative history, and appellants have shown us none, that the above-quoted portion of section 201(a) of H.R. 17070 was intended to expand postal employees' rights beyond those provided in section 801(a) of the revised H.R. 4; or that the "fair hearing requirement" was meant to provide an alternative, for appeal of adverse actions, to that of a collective bargaining agreement. Moreover, the House Report makes clear that H.R. 17070 would limit grievance procedures for nonpreference eligibles*fn19 to those negotiated in a collective bargaining agreement.*fn20 It states that section 201(a)
Provides that existing law on adverse actions shall continue to apply to employees of the Postal Service Except as modified by collective bargaining agreements or except as new procedures are approved by the Civil Service Commission. (Emphasis added.)
Id. at 27, (1970) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 3676.
A review of the House debate on H.R. 17070 also demonstrates that the "fair hearing" was to be provided through a collective bargaining agreement. Congressman Udall, a member of the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee and a sponsor of H.R. 17070, explained the status of the "new postal worker after reform" and declared that he would "become a new kind of Federal civil servant" and that, because of collective bargaining, he would become "a viable force in creating real changes in his working conditions." 116 Cong.Rec. 20229 (1970). Mr. Udall added that
every law, rule and regulation that covered the rights of the postal employee subject to collective bargaining would continue in force until they are changed through negotiations between the employees and management. Thus, this worker will continue to be guaranteed his job, his merit appointment and promotion procedures, his health benefits everything like this until such matters are changed through collective bargaining.
Id.*fn21 Congressman Derwinski, another member of the committee, asserted a similar understanding:
All other terms and conditions of employment in effect when the Postal Service commences operations including rates of pay, fringe benefits, seniority, rights on adverse actions, and so forth will continue to apply unless changed by the Postal Service, and as far as employees who are represented by collective bargaining agents are concerned, any such change will be subject to collective bargaining as a matter of law.
Id. at 20231.
The legislative history of the Senate bill, S. 3842, Supra note 11,*fn22 is also persuasive that grievance procedures must be handled solely in accordance with collective bargaining agreements. This bill would have required Both preference and nonpreference eligibles to appeal adverse actions solely under the grievance procedures of a collective bargaining agreement. The report of the Senate Post Office and Civil Service Committee commented on this requirement as follows:
Employees who have competitive status under the Civil Service Act of 1883 shall automatically achieve career tenure under the postal career system, but thereafter the provisions of title 5, United States Code, relating to the competitive service shall not apply to officers and employees of the Postal Service. The Postal Service shall establish, pursuant to its collective bargaining agreements with postal labor unions and its programs developed for the offices (sic) and employees not subject to such agreements, a system which will assure career development and protection of employment rights. . . .
Veterans' preference shall apply to officers and employees in the Postal Service, but may in certain circumstances be subject to modification by labor-management agreements or programs developed for supervisory personnel. The committee recognizes the significant departure from the present status of preference eligibles which this provision makes, but we believe that if collective bargaining is to work, it must have the power to establish a seniority and retention system based primarily on postal career service.
S.Rep.No.91-912, 91st Cong., 2d Sess. 5-6 (1970). Although an amendment preserving existing veterans' preference rights for postal employees was subsequently adopted during debate on the floor (116 Cong.Rec. 22337 (1970)), there was no amendment with respect to the appeal rights of nonpreference eligibles. Thus, it is clear that the Senate understood that appeal rights of nonpreference eligibles to adverse actions were to be solely determined by collective bargaining agreements.
Based on the theory that among the postal reform bills there were conflicting goals*fn23 (securing full Lloyd-LaFollette Act coverage for all postal employees versus subjecting all employment conditions to the collective bargaining process), appellants argue that two changes made by the Conference Committee to section 201(a) of the bill resulted in a substantial alteration of the meaning of what became section 1001(b) of PRA,*fn24 thus:
The final bill approved by the Conference Committee and passed by both Houses of Congress, then, represents an obvious comprise (sic), intended to satisfy both the need for greater administrative efficiency and the committment (sic) to retain the fundamental requisites of due process for employees subjected to adverse actions. The cumbersome regulations requiring not one but two full evidentiary hearings on adverse actions were eliminated. Instead, the new Postal Service would be required only to provide one hearing, within the agency, without any right to appeal to the Civil Service Commission. Moreover, the Postal Service was left free to negotiate grievance procedures which could be chosen by an employee as an alternative to requesting the hearing made available pursuant to s1001(b). This compromise solution preserved the right of postal employees to at least one evidentiary hearing, while also providing flexibility and administrative efficiency for the new Postal Service.
However, we have several difficulties with this argument.
First, there is no indication in the Conference Report that either of the changes was substantive, and there is nothing to support appellants' contention that these changes were considered "crucial" and were the result of an "obvious compromise."*fn25 Second, as related earlier, by the time H.R. 17070 was reported out of committee there was no conflict over whether the terms and conditions of postal workers' employment would be determined solely by a collective bargaining agreement or whether full Lloyd-LaFollette Act protection would be granted. Finally, an analysis of the changes themselves reveals that they were "minor technical and clarifying changes," as described by the Conference Report. The need for the first change (putting the last sentence of section 201(a), which dealt with the applicability of chapter 75 of title 5, into section 1005(a)(1) of PRA) is obvious from the heading of section 1005, "Applicability of laws relating to Federal employees." The second change (substituting "in accordance with this title" for "subject to subchapter II of this title") did not alter the meaning of the affected sentence and was necessitated by the first change. The language of section 1001(b) of PRA was required to subject the "fair hearing requirement" to all collective bargaining provisions of PRA. Section 201(a) of H.R. 17070 had done this by reference to subchapter II; however, because of the first change, the "fair hearing requirement" would not have been subjected to section 1005(a) (1). Therefore, the Conference Committee substituted the broader language "in accordance with this title."
We conclude that there is no basis for appellants' contention that these changes effected a substantive change, much less reflected an intent that adverse action procedures for nonpreference-eligible postal employees not be solely a matter left to collective bargaining. We note that this conclusion is consistent with what would be expected to follow from PRA's stated purpose, namely: that the labor-management provisions "would bring postal labor relations within the same structure that exists for nationwide enterprises in the private sector." House Report at 13, (1970) U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 3662.
Appellants further argue that, to make the "fair hearing requirement" of section 1001(b) of PRA subject to section 1206(b) (which makes grievance procedures a subject of collective bargaining), would ignore the cardinal rule of statutory construction that specific terms prevail over general ones. However, this ignores that the section creating the "fair hearing requirement" specifically requires that it be "in accordance with this title." Throughout the legislative history of both the House and Senate bills, the "fair hearing requirement" was similarly limited.*fn26 Moreover, the "fair hearing requirement" was, since its first appearance, qualified by the phrase "with representatives of their (postal employees) own choosing." As discussed Infra, it is through their union representatives that postal workers receive the "fair hearing" which satisfies the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. Since there has been no argument to the contrary by appellants, grievance procedures which satisfy the due process clause may be presumed to pass the "fair hearing requirement" of 39 U.S.C. § 1001(b).
Accordingly, we hold that the grievance procedures adopted for nonpreference-eligible postal employees by USPS and the Union do not violate the Postal Reorganization Act.
II. The Constitutional Issues
Appellants' argument that the grievance procedures of the National Agreement violate their rights to due process raises two issues:
(1) Did appellants have a property interest in continued employment with USPS; and, if so,
(2) Did the grievance procedures of the National Agreement satisfy the constitutional requirements of due process for protection of that property interest?
Fundamental to the due process issue is the fact that appellants are employees in a national collective bargaining unit subject, under 39 U.S.C. § 1209(a), to the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151 Et seq. Through PRA, Congress brought USPS employees into the labor relations mode of the private sector. Thus, postal employees are represented by a union, which negotiates as the Exclusive representative for all of the employees in the collective bargaining unit.*fn27 39 U.S.C. § 1203(a). Cf. Vaca v. Sipes, 386 U.S. 171, 194-95, 87 S. Ct. 903, 918-919, 17 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1967). The rationale for such action has been explained in Cox, Rights Under a Labor Agreement, 69 Harv.L.Rev. 601 (1956).*fn28 Professor Cox's views were succinctly set out in Ostrofsky v. United Steelworkers of America, 171 F. Supp. 782, 790-91 (D.Md. 1959), Aff'd, 273 F.2d 614 (4th Cir.), Cert. denied, 363 U.S. 849, 80 S. Ct. 1628, 4 L. Ed. 2d 1732 (1960), thus:
A prime function of a grievance procedure is to secure uniformity in interpreting the agreement and building up a "law of the plant" with respect to matters not spelled out in the agreement. In grievances arising out of problems not foreseen at the time of contract negotiations, although the issue is nominally framed by the past, the important question is often what rule shall govern the parties' conduct in the future. The group may be affected by future implications of the ruling to an extent that far outweighs the individual's claim for damages. Vesting the Union with control of all grievances increases the likelihood of uniformity and reduces "a potential source of competitions and discriminations that could be destructive of the entire structure of labor relations in the plant". It prevents dissident minorities from pressing real or imagined grievances in an effort to squeeze the last drop of competitive advantage out of each grievance. Allowing an individual to compel arbitration whenever he is dissatisfied with the company-union adjustment would discourage day-to-day cooperation between union and company in which grievances are treated as problems to be solved. Public officials and arbitrators, as well as employers, constantly remind union officials that they have a duty to discountenance disruptive and frivolous claims. If they are to accept this responsibility, union officials should be given the power to make their decisions effective. (Footnote omitted.)
The exclusive representative must, of course, represent all employees fairly and in good faith. Vaca v. Sipes, supra ; Emporium Capwell Co. v. Western Addition Community Organization, supra.
Property interests are not created by the Constitution, but rather "they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits." Board of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564, 577, 92 S. Ct. 2701, 2709, 33 L. Ed. 2d 548 (1972). In the instant case, appellants' interest in continued employment did not flow from the statute, but from the terms and conditions of employment negotiated in their behalf by their exclusive representative (39 U.S.C. § 1206(b)) and set forth in article XVI of the National Agreement, which provides that no employee shall be disciplined or discharged "except for just cause," and in article XV, which contains procedures for securing that protection. Thus, appellants had an expectancy, derived from "rules or understandings that secure certain benefits," to remain in their jobs unless just cause for removal could be shown. Arnett v. Kennedy, supra ;*fn29 Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593, 92 S. Ct. 2694, 33 L. Ed. 2d 570 (1972).
Accordingly, we hold that appellants had a property interest in continued employment with USPS that was entitled to due process protection.
Due Process Protection*fn30
As observed by the Supreme Court, "(t)he very nature of due process negates any concept of inflexible procedures universally applicable to every imaginable situation." Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers Union, Local 473 v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886, 895, 81 S. Ct. 1743, 1748, 6 L. Ed. 2d 1230 (1961); Accord, Morrissey v. Brewer, 408 U.S. 471, 481, 92 S. Ct. 2593, 2600, 33 L. Ed. 2d 484 (1972). To determine whether the PRA's procedures governing nonpreference eligibles are constitutionally sufficient requires consideration of the governmental and private interests affected. Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 90 S. Ct. 1011, 25 L. Ed. 2d 287 (1970); Hostrop v. Board of Junior College District No. 515, 471 F.2d 488, 494-95 (7th Cir. 1972), Cert. denied, 411 U.S. 967, 93 S. Ct. 2150, 36 L. Ed. 2d 688 (1973). These are:
First, the private interest that will be affected by the official action; second, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards; and finally, the Government's interest, including the function involved and the fiscal and administrative burdens that the additional or substitute procedural requirement would entail.
Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 335, 96 S. Ct. 893, 903, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18 (1976); Accord, Ingraham v. Wright, 430 U.S. 651, 97 S. Ct. 1401, 51 L. Ed. 2d 711 (1977). The procedures actually afforded appellants must also be examined.*fn31
Appellants were each given a thirty-day notice of discharge (with pay), which included the reason for the discharge. National Agreement, art. XVI, § 3. They were given the right to file grievances, and they personally discussed their cases with their immediate supervisors, accompanied by their Union representative.*fn32 Id. art. XV, § 2, step 1. They exercised their right, through their exclusive representative, to two additional appeals to successively higher levels of management, at which the reasons for denying the grievances were discussed. Id. steps 2A and 2B. Their exclusive representative had the legal right to fully investigate the grievances and to obtain from USPS any information or documentation reasonably necessary to process the grievances. NLRB v. Acme Industrial Co., 385 U.S. 432, 87 S. Ct. 565, 17 L. Ed. 2d 495 (1967); P. R. Mallory & Co. v. NLRB, 171 N.L.R.B. 68, Enforced, 411 F.2d 948 (7th Cir. 1969).
Finally, appellants through their exclusive representative, had an opportunity to request arbitration of their grievances.*fn33 National Agreement, art. XV, §§ 2 and 3. Although their representative declined their requests to demand arbitration, appellants could have sued the Union for breach of its duty to fairly represent them if the refusal to demand arbitration was not in good faith. 39 U.S.C. § 1208(c); Vaca v. Sipes, supra at 194-95, 87 S. Ct. at 918-919.*fn34
Considering the governmental and private interest factors set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, supra, it is, first of all, true that the private interest of appellants is substantial. However, "the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used" under the National Agreement appears minimal, as does any "probable value . . . of additional or substitute procedural safeguards."*fn35 The exclusive representation of nonpreference-eligible postal employees in labor-management relations under the PRA is no different from that of private sector employees under the National Labor Relations Act. Just as in the private sector, the Government has a vital interest in seeing to it that a union representing government employees has authority to meet its "duty to discountenance disruptive and frivolous claims" in order to avoid conditions of disorder and instability which could be disastrous to the economy. Ostrofsky v. United Steelworkers of America, supra at 791.
In view of the foregoing, we hold that the grievance procedures adopted for nonpreference-eligible postal employees by USPS and the Union do not violate the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.*fn36
The judgment of the district court is affirmed.