NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD v. U.S. POSTAL SERVICE
NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD, Petitioner,v.UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, Respondent.
United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.
October 27, 2011.
This case involves a clash between two federal entities and two different important values. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) § 8(a)(5), 29 U.S.C. § 158(a)(5), imposes on the United States Postal Service (USPS) the duty to bargain collectively, which includes the obligation to furnish relevant information to a labor union for purposes of collective bargaining. NLRB v. Acme Indus. Co., 385 U.S. 432, 435-36 (1967). The Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a(b), meanwhile, imposes on USPS the obligation to protect the privacy of its employees’ personal information unless they consent to disclosure.
The National Labor Relations Board found that USPS committed an unfair labor practice under section 8(a)(1) and (a)(5) by refusing to provide the National Postal Mailhandlers Union, Local 313, with the personal aptitude test scores of twenty-two USPS employees unless the Union first obtained their consent. Both sides agree that the test scores are relevant to the Union for collective bargaining purposes and could be disclosed with appropriate employee consent.
The Board’s unfair labor practice finding, on which it seeks enforcement, rests on its reasoning that no privacy interests are at stake in this case and so no balancing of interests was required as between the Union’s interest in the information and the employees’ interest in privacy. USPS argues that its employees have a substantial privacy interest in their test scores, recognized under federal law.
We vacate and remand the Board’s decision, and hold that the twenty-two USPS employees have a legitimate and substantial privacy interest in their test scores and that the Board, accordingly, is required to engage in the balancing of interests omitted from its original analysis.