A Note From The Branch President

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
There seems to be a misconception concerning the joint route inspection process that will be employed across the nation. The new inspection process is designed to adjust routes to 8 hours. I know this seems like a simple truth, but some people have hinted that if a route is over 8 hours it won't be cut. Nothing can be further from the truth. Others have suggested that if an entire installation is over burdened and needs additional routes to handle the workload, none will be forthcoming. Once again, nothing can be further from the truth. This new inspection process is data driven, if that data says add a route we add a route! Some of our offices have been adjusted three times in the past four years and are at their saturation point. The law of "Diminishing Returns" and the rush to judgment attitude on declining mail volumes may just be the welcome relief that these offices need.
Just a reminder, our December meeting will be our annual Holiday celebration. Please try to attend and share good times with your Brother and Sister letter carriers.
-Steve Lipski

Next Meeting – December 17

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, December 17, 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.

Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings Wednesday – December 10

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 10, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $100
Guaranteed Winner December 17

Had she been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, November 19, Branch retiree Florence Morgey, would have been the recipient of the $75 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $100 and as has become tradition, it will be given away at the December 17 meeting. Come on out for your chance to win!

From The VP’s Case

Well, I guess the door has been shut closed right in our face. Just last month I was telling everyone they should not take any deals on minor route adjustments, but instead request a full-blown route inspection, because I believed this was the best way to get a fair evaluation of our routes, since many of our offices haven't had an inspection in over 10 years. (Never mind)
Well, no sooner did I go on record to voice my opinion, our national president signs a memorandum of understanding with the postal service on a joint method of evaluating routes. For those of you who haven't been involved in this process as of yet, you will, and for those in the midst of this know what I am referencing.
The idea behind this process is one that we have advocated for a long time. The time a carrier spends on his route should be the time his route should be evaluated. If we are given the proper volume entries, and all of the clock rings are correct, there should be no arguments on what the times of our routes should be, right?
I am amazed president Young was able to get management to go along with this premise, since many managers believe we are continually "screwing" them everyday, and would be the last to agree with this type of evaluation.
The one thing that is bothering me about this process is why management is in such a hurry to get these adjustments implemented. It appears our offices are being given a very short time to digest all of this information, and are being pressured to sign off on these adjustments immediately. This bothers me because if we are trying to fairly adjust routes, we should take all the time necessary to assure everything is being done right, wouldn't you think?
This brings out the devils advocate in me. Why are they in such a hurry? Is there something they have to gain by finishing up these offices in such a short time? You don't think there is an added bonus involved here do you? Only time will tell, but I am sure they have an ulterior motive!
I hope everyone has a Happy and safe Holiday Season, and hope to see you at the Christmas meeting.
-Gary DiGiacomo, Vice - President

Postmaster General earned $857,459 in FY 2008

At a time when postal supervisors and postmasters are being asked to forgo their performance based salary increases, the Postal Service paid its Chief Executive Officer, Jack Potter, a performance bonus of $135,041, and other compensation that more than tripled his $263,575 salary. The information on bonuses for the PMG and other officers is included in the USPS 10K Report, filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission on Wednesday.
Because the Postmaster General’s pay is capped at the $263,575 figure, additional bonus payments are “deferred” until after the PMG leaves office, at which point the money will be paid to him over a ten-year period. With this year’s bonuses, the PMG’s accumulated deferred compensation balance now stands at $593,648. The USPS also pays interest at the generous rate of 5% on the deferred payment balance. The $857,459 annual earnings figure is based on actual compensation received, plus the increase in the value of Potter’s deferred compensation balance and pension.
In addition to the deferred compensation, when the PMG retires, he will also be the beneficiary of a supplemental retirement fund worth $1,350,318. This fund is above and beyond the CSRS pension the PMG will be entitled to. The 10K report says that the added benefit is payable to Mr. Potter for his employment as Postmaster General for his attainment of required performance objectives over the six-year period from June 2001 – June 2007 and was not based on his years of service to the Postal Service. Since 2007, the Board has not continued the USPS Pension Benefit and has frozen the amount of that benefit. Instead, since that time, Mr. Potter has been eligible for a performance incentive each year if he meets required performance objectives. The above amount of USPS Pension Benefit will be paid to Mr. Potter in monthly installments during his lifetime after he leaves postal employment, with a survivor annuity equal to 55% of the amount payable to Mr. Potter.
On top of all that, the PMG is also entitled to severance pay:
The Postmaster General is entitled to a monthly severance payment, which when added to his CSRS benefits and Postal Service pension benefit, will equal 1/12th of his annual salary at the date of the termination of his Postal Service employment. This benefit would continue for one year after the Postmaster General leaves his employment with the Postal Service. Had he terminated his employment as of September 30, 2008, the annual value of this benefit would have been $71,732. No other named executive officer may receive severance payments.
The USPS would also provide outplacement assistance to the PMG for up to two years if requested, and continue paying the full cost of his FEHB health insurance coverage for one year after he leaves the USPS.

From The Health Benefits Officer

We would like to thank the Officers and members of Branch 908 for the many flowers and cards during our time of mourning for my Mother. Thank you very much.
-Fred & Jeanne Mendel & Family

Wenonah Carrier Needs Your Help

One of our Union Brothers needs our help. Earl Breslin has been a carrier in the Wenonah Post Office for over ten years.
Earl has a history of back problems and was just recently out of work for surgery. For him to accomplish this, he was not only advanced leave, but also used leave without pay and was a leave donor recipient.
Earl is once again out of work awaiting more back surgery. He is out of leave and has submitted his paperwork to be a leave donor recipient.
Earl really needs our help, especially at this time of year. He has a wife, three young children, a mortgage, car payments, along with all the other everyday bills, and he is now not receiving a paycheck. Any help you can give to help Earl and his family get thru holidays and beyond is greatly appreciated. We are trying to get Leave donations, Monetary donations, Gift Cards, Food donations, or anything else you can think of that would help Brother Breslin is his time of need.
Above all Earl has said that the one thing he really needs is company. If you have some free time, drop in a pay him a visit to see how he’s doing.
To visit or to send donations, Earl’s contact information is below:
Earl Breslin
315 May Ave.
Woodbury, NJ 08096
For more information on how you might be able to help, contact the Wenonah Shop Steward, Karl Schluth at 609-280-2904.

2009 Leave Year

The 2008 leave year ends on January 3, 2009, pay period 1-2009. The 2009 leave year will begin on January 4, 2009, pay period 2-2009. Employees will lose any annual leave that exceeds the 440-hour limit if it is not used by January 3, 2009.

Delivery After Dark

With the end of Daylight Savings Time, seasonal shorter daylight hours, and later starting times, carriers are once again dealing with delivering mail after dark. There is no blanket policy regarding delivery after dark because the very core issue to contend with is whether a particular carrier on a particular route can SAFELY make mail delivery. Bottom line, each carrier must weigh their individual circumstances about the type of delivery to be carried (door-to-door walking, mounted, apartments, cluster boxes, etc.), their surroundings (unfamiliar, high crime, many steps and hills, etc.), weather conditions and their past experiences with after dark delivery.
Some mail delivery may be able to be made safely even after daylight hours. Most apartments have lighted entryways and don’t present the safety hazards that walking on uneven terrain, going up and down stairs, and going door to door would. Because carriers have the most experience and best knowledge of what is safe or unsafe in the performance of their jobs and are also responsible for accidents and injuries that might occur while completing those duties, only they can make the decisions on whether delivering after dark is safe.
So, if you are concerned about your safety on any given day because of being out on the street after dark, here’s what you need to do:
  1. Inform your supervisor in the morning of your need of auxiliary assistance to complete your street duties before dark. Fill out a Form 3996!
  2. Notify your supervisor prior to heading out to the street that you may not be able to complete your duties on the street by dark.
  3. When out on the street you realize that you will definitely be out after dark, call your supervisor and make them aware of that reality. Stress your concern for your safety and again request auxiliary assistance.
  4. Assuming no help arrives and you are faced with darkening conditions, attempt to continue.
  5. IF while attempting delivery you experience safety hazards (i.e., stumbling, tripping, falling, etc.), call your supervisor, explain the situation, and inform you cannot safely continue delivery. Return to your station and complete Form 1571 (curtailment form) for the undelivered mail.
  6. Be sure to hand the curtailment slip to the supervisor and request Form 1767, Notice of Hazardous Working Condition, to document your report of safety hazards you encountered while attempting delivery after dark.
It is important to note it is not the intent of any carrier or this Branch to endorse or encourage the unnecessary curtailment of any mail. It is about each carrier’s safety and the protection of the mail in our charge and management’s responsibility to manage. This is also not a blanket policy or approach. It very simply is the responsibility of each carrier to measure their safety and report to their supervisor any unsafe conditions they encounter. It is management’s responsibility to provide a safe environment. PERIOD.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM BRANCH 908!!!

An End To Saturday Delivery?

- by Gregg Carlstrom, FederalTimes.com
The Postal Service’s financial troubles will likely mean big changes in the next few years. One possibility: the end of Saturday delivery.
“I think ending Saturday delivery is something the 111th Congress will consider,” said the CRS (Congressional Research Service) analyst, who asked to remain anonymous because the agency had not authorized an interview. “It would be very beneficial, and their reasons for not ending it already seem largely symbolic.”
The Postal Service has studied ending Saturday delivery before; a 1980 report found it would save about $1 billion annually. That’s about $2.5 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars, and experts say that figure might still be low, because of today’s higher fuel costs and the larger delivery network.
The 1980 study also surveyed public opinion, and found that 79 percent of Americans supported ending Saturday delivery; only 17 percent opposed the idea.
The Postal Service also discussed the idea in 2001, when a similar combination of rising costs and falling volume put pressure on its finances. But the idea was eventually dropped.
Another option is closing facilities. The Postal Service, in a summer report, called for dozens of facility closures across the country. But some industry experts say it doesn’t go far enough. Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce, said the report ignores many underutilized facilities that aren’t closed because of congressional pressure.
Two years ago, for example, the Postal Service announced plans to close the processing and distribution facility in Sioux City, Iowa. A report from the Postal Service’s inspector general found the closure could save $1 million annually and improve service levels. But members of Congress — including Rep. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa — vehemently opposed the plan.
The plan was dropped, and last week, the Postal Service announced that it would no longer try to close the facility.
“I understand the importance of employment within each congressional district,” Del Polito said, “but the ability to fund a universal delivery system is in jeopardy.”
Barring these kinds of big changes, experts say, the Postal Service has few options. It could increase prices on its so-called “competitive” products, like package services, because prices on those products are not capped. But higher prices would make the Postal Service less competitive compared with private couriers like UPS and FedEx.
The Postal Service could also ask Congress to increase its statutory debt ceiling — currently $15 billion — or to subsidize its operations with a loan.
“I don’t think Congress would relish the idea of a subsidy,” Del Polito said. “But if you’re Congress, the fate of the Postal Service is in your hands.”