The Officers and Shop Stewards of the Branch would like to take this opportunity to personally wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

A Note from the Branch President

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
Just a reminder that the next general meeting will be an abbreviated one. Once we finish with the business part of the meeting we will quickly dispense and enjoy our annual Christmas meeting. As in the past, we will be getting shrimp from Captain Cats in addition to our normal spread. So, please attempt to come out and enjoy some food and beverages with your fellow Brothers and Sisters.
-Steve Lipski

Next Meeting - December 19

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, December 19, 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 12

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 12, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $75
Guaranteed Winner December 19

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, November 21, Juan Chaniz, a member out of the Bridgeton office, would have been the recipient of the $50 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $75 and as has become tradition, it will be given away at the December 19 meeting. Come on out for your chance to win!

Branch Children's Christmas Party - December 16

The annual Branch children's Christmas party will be held on December 16, from 1:00 to 3:00. For more info visit nalcbranch908.com/xmas.html or contact Trustee Donna Villec at 856-287-6215.

Proposed 2008 Branch Budget

The proposed 2008 Branch Budget, which has been approved by the Executive Board, was presented for the review and consideration of the membership in attendance at the regular monthly meeting on November 21. The proposed budget will be open for review, discussion, consideration and vote at the regular monthly Branch meeting on December 19. The budget estimates the receipt and expenditures of $290,698.60 for 2008.

2008 Leave Year

The 2007 leave year ends on January 4, 2008, pay period 1-2008. The 2008 leave year will begin on January 5, 2008, pay period 2-2008. Employees will lose any annual leave that exceeds the 440-hour limit if it is not used by January 4, 2008.

Used Uniforms Available

The Branch has an assortment of cleaned, used uniforms available at the Union Hall for members of the Branch in need of replacement or additional items of uniform dress. Also for our members getting ready to retire, don't give back your unused uniform allowance; order new items so that we can store them at the hall for our new members. Our new TEs are full dues paying members and they only get their uniform allowance 25% at a time every three months, we all know that that will not get them very far. Also anyone with good condition uniforms, rain gear or winter weather gear that has mysteriously "shrunk" over time and no longer fits, bring it up to the union hall or give it to your Shop Steward to take to the hall so that we can help out our newer member on these high ticket items. Any member of the Branch can look through the uniforms available at any Branch meeting.

From The Health Benefits Officer

Just a reminder, if you have any optical bills please submit then to Fred Mendel at 5 Payne Ave., Runnemede, NJ 08078, by December 30, 2007, in order to receive your 20 dollars from the branch. May you and your families have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Chicago Letter Carrier Shot For "Delivering Mail Too Late"

A postal worker was shot in the leg Tuesday night reportedly after a neighbor became angry that he was delivering the mail too late. A Calumet District police captain said a witness heard a person yelling that the 31-year-old postal worker was delivering the mail too late and then heard a shot. "I think they wanted him to deliver the mail faster," the captain said. Police News Affairs Officer Tom Polick said the man was shot in the leg about 6:30 p.m. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in "stable" condition.

TSP To Restrict Interfund Transfers

Citing escalating trading costs, officials overseeing the Thrift Savings Plan are preparing to restrict the number of interfund transfers that participants can conduct each month.
At the monthly Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board meeting on Monday, officials said they would begin allowing participants only two interfund transfers per month. Thereafter, additional transfers would be allowed only into the government securities (G) fund.
The change is a result of a recent analysis by TSP officials of the impact of trading activity on fund management and transaction expenses. Officials studied the fund with the highest costs, the international (I) fund, and found that in September and October, the average daily trade amount was $224 million, far above the daily trade amounts of $49 million in 2006 and $27 million in 2005.
Even more compelling, officials noted, was that 63 percent of the $224 million was attributable to participants who had traded eight or more times in the previous 60 days. And 48 percent was attributable to participants who had traded 12 or more times in the previous 60 days.
"Trade volume is up significantly, and the majority of this increased volume is attributable to less than 3,000 TSP participants engaged in frequent trading," said Tracey Ray, chief investment officer of the plan. TSP has more than 3.6 million participants.
Ray noted that on Oct. 19, $371 million was transferred into the I Fund. Three days later, she said, $391 million was transferred back out of the I Fund, and 2,018 of the participants transferring out were ones who had transferred in on Oct. 19. Additionally, in the previous 60 days, 323 of the 2,018 traders had completed 5,804 exchanges of the I Fund for a total trade amount of $1.9 billion.
"What we have here is a small group of people who are making an awful lot of transactions, destructing the ability to manage the fund and creating expenses," said TSP Executive Director Gregory Long.
As a result, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board voted unanimously to limit the number of monthly transactions. Officials plan to announce the new restrictions in a letter that accompanies the annual statement to participants, which is scheduled to be mailed in early February. Implementation will occur in March or April, officials said.
In the interim, however, officials said they would mail letters to the 3,000 participants who are frequent traders, requiring them to stop their activity or face being restricted to requesting interfund transfers via mail until the automated curbs take effect.
-Source: GovernmentExecutive.com

Why Our Health Care Premiums Are Lower Than The Rest Of The Federal Government

When it comes to paying health premiums, postal workers pay less than other federal workers. They get the same coverage as employees with the IRS, DARPA, Interior or Agriculture. But they pay about half as much for coverage.
Why?
It's a long story, best summed up in two words: union contract.
The USPS is the most heavily unionized federal agency. One of the major benefits unions won out of contract negotiations is that the USPS pays a larger share of employee premiums.
For most white-collar feds and for federal retirees, the government pays an average of about 72 percent of the premium. But the USPS pays a bigger chunk and it shows.
Example: A long time (Category 2) postal worker enrolled in Blue Cross Basic self-only plan next year will pay only $460 in premiums. A newer employee (Category 1) under a different formula will pay $510 for the same coverage. But a white collar fed, at Justice, GAO, or Homeland Security, will pay $1020 for the same Blue Cross Basic plan and coverage.
Postal workers got the health premium perk the hard way. They belong to a union. Most white-collar workers do not belong and pay dues to a union, even if they are covered by a union contract. But roughly 8 of 10 postal employees are a card-carrying union member.
Another reason to be thankful to our Union and to try and make non-members see the error of their ways.
-Source: Mike Causey's Federal Report

Screw That Bulb: How GE Is Plugging Into the Green Movement to Move Jobs and Advanced Technology to China

Save the environment or save a U.S. job? That's the choice General Electric is forcing on U.S. consumers and its own workers.
GE is promoting new, energy saving light bulbs known as compact fluorescents, or CFLs. These bulbs last longer and use less energy than the typical incandescent bulbs found in most U.S. homes - but can cost up to 10 times the price.
GE is asking consumers and its employees to sign a pledge to "go green" and start purchasing the CFL light bulbs, which are imported from China. The problem is that each pledge leads to the loss of jobs in U.S. lighting plants. GE is actually asking workers in its lighting plants to pledge to put themselves out of a job! As a company, General Electric is synonymous with the light bulb: Thomas Edison's incandescent bulbs built GE into the global corporation it is today. But if GE has its way, it will no longer manufacture light bulbs in the United States. Since 1980, employment in GE lighting has dropped by 68%. If everyone switched to the Chinese-made CFL bulbs, all U.S. plants would close.
But it doesn't have to be this way. The growth of "environmentally sustainable technology" was supposed to be a breakthrough on par with the discovery of incandescent bulbs. Green manufacturing was supposed to stimulate our economy, not lead to further deindustrialization. Cutting-edge products like the CFLs should lead to more jobs and profits. GE is making the profits but it is sending the jobs to China, a country known for exploiting workers and polluting the environment.
GE supported a European Commission ban on Chinese-made CFLs so CFLs bought in Europe are manufactured in Europe. But GE is refusing to invest in advanced technology for its U.S. plants so workers here can have a future too.
Please join with us, the workers at GE lighting, to ask GE to manufacture green in U.S. plants, so we all can benefit. We shouldn't have to choose between a clean environment or a pink slip for American workers.
For more information and to sign a petition asking GE to manufacture green in US Plants, go to: ScrewThatBulb.org

From The Trustee Chairman

Trustee meetings are held the last Thursday of every month (except July and August) at the hall at 7:00pm. Anyone wishing to come and observe what we do has the right to do so. Trustee duties are as follows but not LIMITED to the below listed duties. Mike DiGiacomo: Death Benefit Fund; Fred Simpkins: Sick & Welfare Fund; Steve Rutkowski: Branch Scholarship Fund & Supplies; Donna Villec: Branch MDA, kids Christmas party, & Fund Raising.
-Chairman of the Board of Trustees Jim Comuso Sr.

Christmas Cards For Our Soldiers Update

From the Walter Reed Army Medical Center web site:
Walter Reed Army Medical Center cannot accept packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier'. The U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.
However, through a unique partnership between the American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc., communities across America are invited to mail cards along with personal messages of support to wounded service members at military hospitals around the country.
With the support of the U.S. Department of Defense and Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and with help from Pitney Bowes Government Solutions, the American Red Cross will collect, review and distribute holiday greeting cards to wounded military personnel. For security reasons, the Red Cross will be able to accept only holiday cards but not packages. Red Cross volunteers will receive and bundle the cards, which will be shipped by Pitney Bowes Government Solutions. Then, Red Cross volunteers at the medical facilities will distribute the cards throughout the holiday season.
Please address your holiday cards to:
We Support You During Your Recovery!
c/o American Red Cross
P.O. Box 419
Savage, MD 20763-0419
Be sure to affix adequate postage. Cards must be received no later than December 27. Cards received after this date will be returned to the sender. Again, senders are reminded that "care packages" are not part of the program--send only cards and notes. Also, please refrain from using glitter or any other inserts that would not be appropriate in a hospital environment. People who want to express their appreciation to American service members may also consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You" website, www.americasupportsyou.mil Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:
http://www.usocares.org/
http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/tooursoldiers/
http://www.redcross.org
The outpouring of gratitude and encouragement from the general public, corporate America and civic groups throughout the past year has been incredible. Our Warriors in Transition are amazed at the thanks and support they receive from their countrymen.

Happy Holidays!!!