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Challenger seeks to overturn results of postal union election

Jeremy Lazarus | 1/16/2016, 8:14 a.m.
One of Richmond’s oldest labor organizations — the Old Dominion Branch Local 496 of the National Association of Letter Carriers ...
Ms Hunt, Mr. Milner

One of Richmond’s oldest labor organizations — the Old Dominion Branch Local 496 of the National Association of Letter Carriers — is engulfed in an election fight.

The fight is over the election of Thelma J. Hunt as the first female president in the branch’s history, which dates back to 1893.

One of her rivals for the top post, Michael C. Milner, is claiming irregularities in the conduct of the election. He is seeking to have the results thrown out and a new election held.

Ms. Hunt ran for president after serving 19 years as vice president. She served during the 22-year tenure of union president Ronald E. Hinton Sr., 67, who did not seek re-election.

She and Mr. Milner then sought election to lead the 625-member union branch.

Mr. Milner, a shop steward for the local, lost by 11 votes. He has filed an appeal seeking to have the election voided, citing 11 violations of NALC election rules in his request.

Among other things, he alleges that more than 35 members of the local never received ballots, including the girlfriend of Tyrone Curry, the third-place finisher. He claims the chairman of the election committee, Stan “Gus” Brown, refused to send out additional ballots after being notified.

Mr. Milner also alleges that 53 ballots were counted even though the names of the persons casting the ballots could not be verified as belonging to members of the local, as required. One ballot Mr. Brown allowed to be counted was submitted with the name Malcolm X, Mr. Milner said.

Mr. Milner also claims that Mr. Brown violated the rules by collecting ballots in advance of the Dec. 16 count and that some ballots that arrived by the deadline at the collection box in Sandston were never picked up and counted.

Mr. Brown was not immediately available for comment.

Mr. Milner said he submitted his appeal to Mr. Brown within the five-day deadline as required. He said he is hopeful the local’s members would see the justice of his request and order another election.

However, he said that if his appeal is rejected at the branch level, he is prepared to take it to the national office and ultimately to the U.S. Labor Department, which has final oversight over union elections.