A Note from the Branch President

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The Postal Service's final contract proposals will go down in history as the most insidious attempt to privatize the Postal Service and destroy collective bargaining. As I reported at the November union meeting, the Postal Service is attempting to contract out any new deliveries that add up to four hours or more of work. These private contractors would bid on the sections and delivery them on a daily basis. During contract negotiations the Postal Service expanded on their idea of Privatization and wanted the union to agree to further outsourcing of delivery work. In addition to this attempt to Privatize the United States Postal Service management is attempting to destroy collective bargaining. Introducing the most anti-labor proposals that I have ever seen, the Service has reached new lows in regressive bargaining.
For starters: COLA's earned as lump sums, not as wages. Increased employee contribution of up to $1300 a year for health benefits. No wage increased for the first year and then a whopping 1% in future years. Elimination of the no lay-off clause and reductions in sick leave and annual leave etc. etc. Brothers and Sisters the days of labor peace in Washington are over. It's time to get on with the business of being a union, with one goal, protecting our rights!
On a lighter note, please don't forget that our December meeting is our Christmas meeting. We will have excellent food including shrimp from Capt. Cats. Please come out and enjoy some laughs with your fellow carriers.
Thank You,
Steve Lipski

Next Meeting - December 20

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, December 20, 8 p.m., at the American Legion Hall, 502 Colonial Ave., North Woodbury. The regular monthly meetings of the Branch are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8 p.m., except during the months of July and August.

Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings Wednesday - December 13

The Branch Board of Officers and Executive Board meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. The Board of Officers at 7:30 p.m., and the Executive Board at 8 p.m. The next meeting of the Board of Officers and Executive Board will be on Wednesday, December 13, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $250
Guaranteed Winner in December

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, November 15, Keith Mitchell, a carrier out of the Bellmawr office, would have been the recipient of the $225 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $250 and at the regular Branch meeting on December 20, we will award the $250 to a member in attendance. Here's an easy chance to pick up some quick Christmas money. You can't win if you don't show up!

Ham And Turkey Giveaway

In addition to a chance at winning the $250 door prize, every member in attendance at the December meeting will have a chance to win a Christmas turkey or ham. Branch Financial Secretary Paul Poniatowski has donated a turkey and a ham to the Branch, and we will have a drawing for those also on December 20. Come on out and join your fellow Branch members and possibly win some money for Christmas and your Christmas dinner too!

OPM Extends Open Season

Open season for the Federal Health Benefits Program has been extended by the Office Of Personnel Management for active letter carriers and other postal employees until 5:00 CST on December 29. The deadline remains December 11 for annuitants and other federal employees.

Welcome New Members

Michael Hanna - Sewell
Lisa Marie Thistle - Paulsboro
April M. Rabenberg - Woodbury

Contract Talks End - NALC Prepares For Arbitration

The following message is from NALC President Bill Young:
Despite three months of arduous effort, I regret to inform you that negotiations for a new National Agreement have failed. Unfortunately, the United States Postal Service will not agree to a contract that meets the needs of America's city letter carriers. The parties worked long and hard to fashion such an agreement. We came close, but the final decision-makers at the Postal Service's L'Enfant Plaza headquarters have forced us to seek a contract through the law's dispute resolution process. That we will do with all the energy and resources at our disposal.
Sadly, the Postal Service has decided to abandon more than five years of growing cooperation with NALC that dramatically improved labor relations and city delivery operations with the DRT and Intervention processes. In this round of bargaining, we sought to build on that progress by working to fashion the most far-reaching and revolutionary proposals in the history of postal collective bargaining. We were prepared to fundamentally restructure city carrier work to secure the long-term future of the USPS while sharing literally billions of dollars in savings. We were also prepared to tackle the problem of skyrocketing health care costs through a new and dramatically innovative approach to the issue. Our price tag for doing this was a decent economic package and a commitment by the USPS to forgo any attempt to contract out existing city carrier work. The USPS was not willing to give us that commitment.
The Postal Service had a choice in this round of bargaining: Build a durable partnership with the NALC to capture the "last mile" of delivery for the USPS, or give in to the siren call of Wal-Martization and contracting out. Unfortunately, it has made the wrong choice and has signaled its intention to pursue the disastrous policy of outsourcing city carrier work.
How postal management expects us to make fundamental changes and to work cooperatively with them to build a positive future for the Postal Service, while at the same time telling us they want to get rid of our jobs, is beyond me. In taking this course, the final decision-makers at L'Enfant Plaza have not only placed our jobs in jeopardy, they are also threatening the survival of the U.S. Postal Service. This union will not stand idly by and let them do this; we will fight for our members and fight for all Americans who want and deserve high-quality universal postal services.
Although the Postal Reorganization Act provides for a fact-finding process, it appears that the terms and conditions of city carrier employment will be determined through interest arbitration. The NALC Bulletin and The Postal Record will provide full details about the dispute resolution process in the weeks and months ahead. In the meantime, I will work with the other members of the NALC Executive Council to organize a special National Rap Session early next year to fully discuss the revolutionary goals we tried to achieve in this round of bargaining and how we will fight to achieve them through interest arbitration.
I am disappointed about this turn of events, but I am determined to fight for a fair contract for our members and am confident that we will put on the best possible case on their behalf. I want to thank the entire Executive Council for their extraordinary efforts over the past several months. I also want to thank the members of our great union for sticking together and fighting for each other to defend a decent standard of living. I especially appreciate the patience of the membership with our decision to forgo the use of an 800-number hotline this year. We decided that such hotlines are of limited value since they are open to postal managers and other non-NALC parties. We will work tirelessly over the next few months to fully inform the membership on the challenges ahead.
I wish you all happy holidays and look forward to a happy new year. As long as we stick together, I have no doubt that it will, indeed, be a happy one.
In Solidarity,
William H. Young

Postal Service's Contract Proposals

As previously agreed, the United States Postal Service delivered its final proposals to us on December 4, 2006. Those proposals represent what management thinks about the contributions city letter carriers have made to the success of the USPS. I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I am-and how determined I am to stop this outrage in its tracks. The Postal Service has offered no wage increase for the first year of the contract, just a lump sum. Then it offered increases of 1 percent in the second year and 1 percent in the third year. USPS proposed that all COLAs be lump-summed (not included in wage rates)-and that the COLA clause be eliminated at the end of the contract.
To add insult to injury, USPS proposes that the nation's letter carriers who have family health insurance coverage pay an additional $1,300 a year, more than wiping out the meager pay increases proposed. And, to top it off, USPS proposes that current employees suffer an additional 1 percent payroll deduction to "pre-fund" future retiree benefits. If postal reform passes in its current form, that would give USPS double payment for future retiree benefits-out of letter carriers' hides.
In addition, USPS proposed big cuts in annual leave, sick leave, night shift premium, Sunday premium, and overtime premiums. Magnanimously, USPS proposes a 2.5 percent annual increase in uniform allowances. Management's non-economic proposals are just as absurd. They want to eliminate the "no layoff" clause; eliminate local negotiations; increase the number of low-paid, no-benefit workers; and permit managers to perform bargaining unit work.
So there you have it! The Postal Service's wish list for Christmas. I know I speak for all letter carriers when I say that we may have a surprise in store for them. My late mother used to say that it wasn't the gift, it was the thought behind it that counts. Maybe we can teach postal management a lesson by letting then know what we think of the thoughts behind their proposals. That certainly would be more fun than trying to stop them from destroying the Postal Service, an exercise that has almost consumed us for the last 5 years. As you prepare to celebrate the holidays, you can be certain your union will be hard at work preparing to arbitrate this dispute. Our case will be strong and compelling, and we will insist letter carriers be given proper respect and rewarded for their contributions to the success of the Postal Service. We are determined and we will prevail.
In Solidarity,
William H. Young

Our Newest Gold Card Member

Cecil Laverne, a Branch retiree out of the Blackwood office was the latest recipient of an NALC Life Membership Gold Card, which is issued by the NALC to those who have been members for 50 years. The Life Membership Card of Gold entitles the bearer to all of the privileges of NALC membership without the payment of dues, per capita tax or special assessments from the date of issuance. Congratulations Cecil! If you believe that you have attained the requisite amount of year's membership for the receipt of a gold card or a lapel pin, contact Branch membership chairman Paul Poniatowski at Paul@nalcbranch908.com.

COLCPE Donation

Branch COLCPE chairman (and Gold Card member) Norm Task has informed us the he mailed a COLCPE donation from the Branch to National for $1569! This money was raised by the Eagle ticket raffle as well as the beer that is chanced off at the end of our monthly meetings. All of our members who contribute are to be commended.

Branch Sick & Welfare Benefits Changed

Article 9, Section 1 of the Branch By-Laws provide for Sick and Welfare benefits for Branch members. Members who are out of work are currently paid $10 per week for up to 5 weeks per year. In the past, we have accepted the Shop Stewards word that the member has been out of work for the period claimed. However, in order to bring the Branch into compliance with Department Of Labor regulations, we must have documentation to back up these payments. Therefore, from this point on, any member wishing to claim sick and welfare benefits from the Branch, must submit copies of his pay stub showing him/her in a sick leave or LWOP status, to his Shop Steward for the weeks being claimed. The Steward must then submit a Branch chit sheet to the sick and welfare chairman, Jim Comuso, who will then issue a check. We apologize for the extra steps involved and we are not trying to say that anyone was abusing the system, but in the event of a DOL audit, as a Branch we need to protect ourselves.

Dates To Remember

Branch 38 Rap Session - Jan 7 - 9 (Bally's, Atlantic City)
Region 12 Rap Session - Mar 4 - 6 (Tropicana, Atlantic City)
NJ State Congressional Breakfast - Mar 13 - 15 (Wash., DC)
NJ State Convention - May 20 -22 (Hilton, Atlantic City)

From The Health Benefits Officer

We the members of the NALC would like to thank Christina Hardy, Human Resource Specialist for fine job in coordinating the District Health Fair. The Health Fair was very successful and Christina has many fresh new ideas for this annual event.
Don't forget, if you have any optical bills please submit then to Fred Mendel at 5 Payne Ave., Runnemede, NJ 08078, by December 30, 2006, in order to receive your 20 dollars from the branch.

Congratulations To Trustee Jim Comuso

Congratulations to Branch Trustee and National Park Shop Steward Jim Comuso on his recent wedding. We wish him and his bride Shannon many years of happiness.

Children's Christmas Party A Huge Success

The Branch held it's annual children's Christmas party on Sunday, Dec. 3rd and once again, it was a huge success. The party was well attended and all the children received American-made presents from Santa. Everyone received photos with Santa and the kids got a big kick out of the clown that was on hand making balloon animals for them. A big thank you goes out to Trustee Donna Villec for organizing the event and Branch Officers Norm Spence, Tom Barnett, Paul Poniatowski, Joe Walder, Fred Mendel, Jim Comuso, Jim Livingston as well as their wives for all the hard work they did to make the day special for the children and grand children of our members.

Penalty Overtime Exclusion Period - 12/2/06 to 12/29/06

In accordance with Article 8, Sections 4 and 5 of the National Agreement, the December period (during which penalty overtime regulations are not applicable) consists of 4 consecutive weeks.
This year the December period begins pay period 25/06, Week 2, (December 2, 2006), and ends pay period 01/07, week 1, (December 29, 2006).

2007 Leave Year

The 2006 leave year ends on January 5, 2007, pay period 1-2007. The 2007 leave year will begin on January 6, 2007, pay period 2-2007. Employees will lose any annual leave that exceeds the 440-hour limit if it is not used by January 5, 2007.