February 27, 2013
Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher
Washington DC – One of the highest-ranking National Guard noncommissioned officers in the Army’s Special Forces won a hard-fought battle to regain his job in December 2012, 12 years after he was improperly fired by the Postal Service. Disgracefully, the USPS has appealed the ruling.
Late last year, an Administrative Law Judge ordered the USPS to reinstate Sgt. Major Rick Erickson and awarded him an estimated $2 million in back pay, attorney fees, and benefits, making it one of the costliest individual employment rulings against the USPS.
As appearances go, the USPS is a staunch supporter of the brave men and women who proudly serve our country. The Postal Service employs 130,000 veterans, reservists and members of the National Guard. It has been recognized for its military outreach efforts, and participates in an advisory committee that suggests best practices and offers guidance about veteran’s employment, a highly disturbing fact in light of the circumstances. The USPS displays signs urging customers to support U.S. Service members and has issued numerous stamps to honor the sacrifices of our military — most recently the Purple Heart Medal Forever stamp.
But Rick Erickson, a member of the Southwest Florida Area Local and a Purple Heart recipient, learned that the Postal Service is not always “military-friendly” when postal officials issued him a Letter of Removal in April 2000 for taking “excessive military leave.” Unable to obtain other federal employment because of the postal termination, and without a job to come home to, the single father of three re-enlisted in the National Guard. Erickson faced dangerous combat missions in Afghanistan with his Special Forces team and lost precious time with his family.