A Note From The Branch President

The phone has been ringing off the hook concerning the recent layoff of Branch TE's. It seems the district exceeded the contractual cap for total TE's allowable in the district. They decided that the prudent measure to rectify this contractual violation was to terminate random TE's employment. The problem with this mindset is that contractually TE's are entitled to work their "guarantee" unless terminated as per the discipline procedure contained in the TE memo or laid off due to a lack of work. In many of these situations that I have reviewed neither of these two conditions were met. I urge all Shop Stewards to review all TE layoffs to insure that the Postal Service is contractually compliant. If a violation occurs, a grievance should be filed to protect all NALC TE's. If you have any questions concerning this please don't hesitate to call.
-Steve Lipski

Next Meeting – May 21

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, May 21, 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 – May 14

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, May 14, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $125

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, April 16, Rick Bacon, a retired member out of the Bridgeton office, would have been the recipient of the $100 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $125 and will increase $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $250, until a member in attendance has their name drawn.

From The VP’s Case

It looks like we have to give another lesson on the rules of determining under-time. It appears from the calls we have been receiving lately, the overzealous, uninformed supervisors and 204 wanna B's are at it again with their DOIS under time shenanigans!
We have said this until we are blue in the face, YOU, not DOIS nor, your manager can tell you how much time your route will need on any given day. Just direct them to the M-41 section 131.4 that explains your reporting requirements.
With the summer mail volume approaching we can expect management to try and squeeze every little bit of under time they can from us.
As I stated before, if your office has not been inspected lately, the numbers management will be using will not be accurate and the DOIS projections they will be trying to bully you with will not be a true reading of your route, even though they will try to convince you they are!
You have a right to see what numbers they are using to determine your daily workload but you must ask to see them. If they refuse, which I am sure they will; tell them they will have to accept your estimate, since you are basing your time with your own professional knowledge of your route, not some program that spits out garbage.
It's time for all carriers to stand up to these bullies and start kicking the sand back into their faces. Read your contract and manuals so you can fight back with knowledge, because I can tell you from experience, most managers have never opened the contract or manuals and have no idea what they contain. Remember the old saying, "If you don't know your rights, you don't have any."
-Gary DiGiacomo

New Contact Number For Branch President

As voted on at the regular monthly meeting on March 19, the Branch has now purchased a cell phone for use by the President. The new number is 856-906-2026. Please feel free to use this number to contact President Steve Lipski with any questions or problems.

Branch 908 Dinner/Dance and Retiree’s Banquet

On April 19 the Branch held our Dinner/Dance and retiree’s Banquet at Nicolosi’s Banquet Hall in Woodbury. If you weren’t one of the 80 members who showed up, you missed a great night.
Branch Recording Secretary Norm Spence, acting as the emcee for the night, kept the business part of the evening short while still getting everything accomplished.
Invited guest attending included National Director of Health Benefits Tim O’Malley, who brought greetings from National President Bill Young, National Business Agent Bill Lucini, RAA Dave Napadano and RAA Ray McDonald.
After the business part of the evening was concluded, that left plenty of time for enjoying the terrific food that Nicolosi’s is known for and drinking, dancing and socializing.
Special thanks go to Jake Evison, a Branch member out of our Woodbury Office. Jake is an outstanding DJ and he donated his services for the evening. Jake kept the party going and even managed to get NBA Bill Lucini out onto the dance floor showing off his moves. Anyone who’s looking for a DJ for his or her event, can’t go wrong giving Jake a call, he can be reached at 856-853-0419, or www.TheHotSounds.com.
Thanks to everyone who came out for this special night. I know everyone I talked to had a great time and they hope that we make this a yearly event.

Shop Steward Of The Year

At the Branch Banquet on April 19, we awarded the first annual Shop Steward of the year award. The winner, chosen from nominations made by the membership, was Branch VP and Blackwood Shop Steward, Gary DiGiacomo. The members from the Blackwood office came out strong in support of Gary for Steward of the Year and made the decision of the awards committee an easy one. Congratulations Gary! Keep up the great work!

Branch Scholarship Drawing In June

The Drew Walters Memorial Scholarship for 2008 will be drawn at the regular Branch meeting on June 18, 2008. This scholarship fund of $2,000 ($500 a year for four years) was established in 1991 and is available to all children, grandchildren, step-children (living with a member) and adopted children of active or retired members. Applicants must be a high school graduate eligible for college or vocational school admission. Applications for this drawing are available on the branch web site at nalcbranch908.com/scholarship.pdf, at the monthly meetings, by calling Scholarship chairman Steve Rutkowski at 856-542-0027 or 856-582-5089, mailing a request to Steve Rutkowski, 36 Long Bow Drive, Sewell NJ 08080 or by e-mail at Rutkowski@nalcbranch908.com. Applications are accepted up until the drawing on June 18, 2008.

From The Health Benefits Officer

Don't forget that this year, as a NON-FEHB offering, the NALC is offering the CIGNAPlus Savings (discount dental program). It is a discount dental program that provides members access to discounted fees with participating dental providers. This program is available only to NALC Health Benefit Plan members and their dependents. The monthly Self Only premium is $3.75 and $5.50 for Self and Family. This is a discount program and not insurance, and the member must pay the entire discounted charge for dental services. You can still join. The dental offering is still available. You can sign up and pay monthly, or sign up for a year. For additional information, or to join, call 1-877-521-0244 or visit www.cignaplussavings.com. At this web site you will also be able to check to see if your dentist is participating in the network or locate another dentist.
- Fred Mendel

Protect Your Medical Information

When employees are injured on the job management has a checklist of forms to provide to the individual. Included on this checklist is PS FORM 2488. This form is not REQUIRED nor is it MANDATED to be signed. Once this form is signed by the employee, it gives the Postal Service authorization to obtain any and ALL medical information that pertains to the employee, AND NOT JUST THE INJURY. That’s right, ALL MEDICAL CONDITIONS. You waive your right to PRIVACY! Please be aware of what you may be signing and what PERSONAL information you may be allowing unwanted eyes to be seeing. When employees are injured most times they are not in a clear frame of mind and fill out whatever forms they are presented, thinking this helps their cause and medical attention. You have rights and have time to fill out most of these forms when you are settled and have a clear mindset. If you find yourself in a pressured situation to sign or fill out forms, please talk to your shop steward or call one of your union officers. We are all reachable by phone and or e-mail. (Reference M-01430)
-Paul Poniatowski

Non-Member Listing As of 3/31/08

L. A. Stauffer (Atco) J. Ruggieri (Blackwood)
R. Phillips (Clayton) S. M. Reber (Clayton)
D. R. Sanders (Glassboro) R. C. Severino (Gloucester)
J. A. Dodge (Gloucester) D. E. King (Hammonton)
W. J. Lyons (Hammonton) L. K. Luciana (Voorhees)
S. W. Bockman (Voorhees) M. R. Bretz (Mantua)
W. P. Green (Maple Shade) M. W. Jones (Maple Shade)
F. Doncheva (National Park) G. E. Kessler (Pitman)
W. T. McAllister (Pennsville) M. E. Marley (Sewell)
W. A. Breitenstine (Runnemede) J. Sanchez (Woodbury)

Many Thanks To Norm Spence

Many thanks go out to Recording Secretary Norm Spence for all the hard work in putting together our first Branch Dinner/Dance and Retirees Banquet. The event went over well with presentations being short, sweet and subtle, most of the evening was spent dining, drinking, dancing and socializing with friends and co-workers. Everyone in attendance expressed their delight with the event and suggested we do it again next year. We look forward to seeing more branch members next year, and those of you that attended, PLEASE spread the word of what a good time it was. THANKS AGAIN TO NORM SPENCE!
-Paul Poniatowski

Maintaining Health Benefits After Retirement

The issue of maintaining health insurance coverage is very important for federal employees getting close to retirement. Those who carry insurance under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program into retirement enjoy annual health benefit open seasons, continued government contributions toward the cost of premiums and coverage for family members.
To be sure you can continue your valuable FEHBP coverage into retirement, it's important to know the program's rules regarding retirees.
The Basics
According to the Office of Personnel Management, when you retire, you are eligible to continue health benefits coverage if you meet the following requirements:
  1. You will retire under a qualifying retirement system for federal employees.
  2. You will receive a retirement benefit that will begin within the month after you leave, or you are eligible for a reduced MRA+10 retirement under the Federal Employees Retirement System but you choose to postpone receiving the benefit to avoid some or all of the reduction. (In this case, your health insurance can be reinstated when you begin receiving this annuity.)
  3. You have been continuously enrolled (or covered as a family member) in any FEHBP plan for the five years of service immediately before the date your annuity starts, or for the full period of service since your first opportunity to enroll, if less than five years.
Note that you aren't required to have been the one paying for FEHBP coverage continuously. You simply must have been covered by an FEHBP enrollment. This includes time as a family member under another person's FEHBP enrollment or time under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program (also known as TRICARE or CHAMPUS), as long as you were covered under an FEHBP enrollment at the time of your retirement. (You must enroll in FEHBP within 60 days after you lose coverage under the Uniformed Services Health Benefits Program for that time to be considered as part of continuous FEHBP coverage.) Coverage under Medicare does not count in determining continuous coverage. Neither does service as a nonappropriated fund employee.
Employees who leave federal service, then return later and reinstate their FEHBP coverage, do not necessarily need to be re-employed for five years in order to carry the coverage into retirement. Coverage in their prior appointment counts toward having five years of continuous service as long as they re-enroll within 60 days of being rehired.
Questions and Answers
Here are some typical questions about FEHBP regulations that have come up in the retirement seminars I conduct:
If I have self-only coverage and I want to cover my spouse later (maybe even after I retire), can I change to family coverage, or does my spouse also need to be enrolled for five years?
As long as you meet the five-year coverage test, you can change from self-only to self and family coverage during any open season period before or after you retire. You also can change to self and family enrollment if your spouse loses his or her health coverage (or cancels it) even if that takes place outside of an open season.
If I die before my spouse, can they carry FEHBP as my survivor?
In order for your nonfederal surviving spouse to continue health benefits after your death, he or she must have been covered by your self and family enrollment on the date of your death. If you are retired, you also must have chosen to provide at least a partial survivor annuity for them.
I recently switched health plans. Do I need to stay in the new one for five years before I retire?
No. You don't need to have been in the same plan for five years, just in the FEHBP as a whole. Remember, you can change plans in retirement just like you were able to do as an employee.
I had been covered under my spouse's FEHBP self and family enrollment because we had children eligible for coverage. Last year our youngest son turned 22, and we decided it would be cheaper to enroll in two self-only plans. Will I be eligible to continue my FEHBP coverage into retirement if I just enrolled last year?
Coverage under your spouse's self and family FEHBP enrollment counts towards your five years of coverage. Be sure that you tell your retirement specialist that you had prior FEHBP coverage under your spouse so that they can document this when your retirement is being processed.
Source: www.nitpinc.com - Tammy Flanagan is the senior benefits director for the National Institute of Transition Planning Inc., which conducts federal retirement planning workshops and seminars. She has spent 25 years helping federal employees take charge of their retirement by understanding their benefits.