May 1999 Newsletter

Next Meeting - May 19

The regular monthly meetings of the Branch are held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month, except in July and August. The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be on Wednesday, May 19, 8pm. At the Colonial Manor American Legion Post home, 502 Colonial Ave., N. Woodbury.

Branch Officers, Executive Board Meetings - May 12

The Branch Officers and the Executive Board meetings are held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. The Board of Officers meets at 7pm. and the Executive Board at 8pm. The next meetings of the Board of Officers and the Executive Board will be on Wednesday, May 12, at 7 and 8pm. respectively.

Benevento, Sewell Carrier, Misses Out On $125 Attendance Prize

The Branch meeting attendance prize now stands at $150. Had he been in attendance at the April monthly meeting, Branch member D F Benevento, a Sewell carrier, would have been $125 richer. The prize increases in increments of $25 monthly, capped at $250, until someone in attendance at a Branch meeting has his name drawn by the Sgt. at Arms.

Life Insurance Open Season
April 24 - June 30

The Office of Persennel Management has announced a rare open season for the Federal Employees Group Life Insurance Program (FEGLI) that will run from April 24 through June 30 of this year. OPM also announced that the FEGLI premium rates for your current Basic and Optional coverages are decreasing in April. Other changes have also been mandated by the Federal Employees Life Insurance Improvement Act recently passed. This open season provides an opportunity for federal employees who had previously decided not to participate in the FEGLI program to enroll for Basic and Optional coverage. Current FEGLI enrollees can add Option A, if not previously selected, and they can also add or increase Option B and Option C coverage. (Insert, Fed Emp News Digest)

Welcome New Members

B Menehhofer - Sewell
L E Donahue - ???
C A Kyser III - Mantua
D A Underwood - Riverton
M J Dorisco - Magnolia
B M Gaskill - Voorhees
T Meloni - Williamstown
E B Legenski III - Wenonah
G C Crandall Jr - Pitman
S J Watson - Woodbury

Recent Retirees Retain Membership

The following recent retirees have retained their membership in the NALC and the Branch:
Richard D Davis - David M Ireland
Edward W Horton - Lawrence F Lore

Contract Goes To Arbitration

The NALC and the Postal Service will enter binding arbitration after a last-ditch effort at voluntary mediation failed to produce a negotiated agreement between the parties. For more information, call the NALC Arbitration Hotline at: 1-877-235-6252

**Call To Action**
Nationwide Picketing Scheduled For June 9

The NALC Executive Council voted to conduct nationwide informational picketing by all NALC Branches in front of post offices on Wednesday, June 9 to deliver a message to both postal management and the American public that letter carriers deserve and demand a fair contract and a substantial wage increase. To coincide with the nationwide picketing, the NALC Executive Council has ordered the placement of ads in 26 of the most influential newspapers in the country. The Branch will be discussing their plans with relation to the picketing and placement of ads in local newspapers at the Executive Board, Board of Officers and the May regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 19. Be There!

Toll Free Hotlines

1-877-235-6252 Contract Hotline 1-800-876-7060 National Fraud Hotline 1-800-205-9381 Uniform Balance Update 1-800-325-7733 Census Employment

Annual Branch Picnic - Sept. 19

The annual Branch picnic will be held at Clementon Lake Park on Sunday, September 19, 1999. Tickets are $10 pp. For further information and details, contact Bill Baitinger

Total TE's Employed By The District

On Rolls - 41
Authorized - 29

NALC Membership Lapel Pins

The NALC is now awarding suitable lapel pins for every five (5) years of NALC membership commencing with the 25th year. For example, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, and so forth. If you think that your years of membership in the NALC entitles you to a lapel pin, contact John Vito at PO Box 1222, Voorhees, NJ 08043. He will forward to you a form for completion and return subsequent to which he will order your pin from NALC Headquarters.

TSP Open Season May 15 Through July 31

The Thrift Savings Plan has scheduled an open season extending from May 15 through July 31. The open season is a designated period in which you can begin contributing to the TSP, change your TSP contribution amount, or adjust where your new TSP contribution amount, adjust where your new TSP contributions are invested.

Employee Assistance Program

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a formal, nondisciplinary program designed to assist employees and their immediate families in recovering from alcoholism and drug abuse and in dealing with other problems -- mental, emotional, familial, marital, financial, legal, and others -- that may adversely affect both an employee's job performance and personal life. Assistance is provided through consultation, evaluation, counseling and/or referral to community resources and treatment facilities. Participation is voluntary and will not jeopardize the employee's job security or promotional opportunities. Inquiries regarding participation in EAP counseling are confidential, pursuant to the provisions of ELM 874.4. To contact EAP Counselors, call 1-800-327-4968. (ELM 13, Employee & Labor Relations Manual)

EAP Referrals - Employees Cannot Be Forced

Recent revisions in the EAP provide that a manager/supervisor can no longer force an employee to attend the first session. The employee has the option to refuse the referral and the employee cannot be disciplined for noncompliance, except for last chance agreements or when the employee has signed a settlement agreement to participate in the EAP. (Wendy Scharpf, Employee & workplace Intervention Analyst)

OWCP Changes

Following are some of the changes made to the Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA):
>The employer is prohibited from modifying OWCP forms or using substitute forms.
>The employer must give a copy of both sides of the CA 1 and CA 2, notice of injury or occupational disease, as well as the Receipt of Notice that is attached to each of these forms.
>The employee must begin using COP within 45 days of the injury or disability recurs.
>The employee must submit medical evidence to support disability for work within 10 calendar days.
>The employer is not required to issue form CA 16 (authorization for medical care) more than one week after the occurrence of claimed injury.
>The employer must advise an injured employee of his right to his or her initial choice of physician.
>OWCP will determine what constitutes suitable work available within an employees demonstrated commuting area.
>The employer is prohibited from contacting an attending physician by phone or personal visit. The employer can only contact the physician in writing about an employee's work limitation or possible job assignments.
>OWCP may apply sanctions if an employee refuses to cooperate with an OWCP nurse.

Danger Pay

President Clinton has signed an executive order designating the area around Yugoslavia as a combat zone, thus entitling qualified service members to danger pay of $150 per month. Service members are also entitled to tax breaks including extensions for filing and payment. Additionally, pay for the months served in the combat zone is exempt from income tax. (Fed. News Digest)

Branch Scholarship Available

Application for the award of our annual Branch Scholarship of $500 for each of four years to an accredited college or vocational school, for the children and grandchildren of active and retired members of the Branch, is open for the period from April to June. Drawing will take place at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on June 16, 1999. For Branch scholarship applications and further information, contact Vice President Steve Lipski.

OSHA Complaints

Employees or their representatives have a right to request an inspection of an establishment if they believe there is a violation of a safety or health standard that threatens physical harm, or an imminent danger. A complaint is considered a request for an OSHA Inspection.

Branch Grievance Results

Pre-Arb Settlements
Bridgeton - 9/9/98 letter of warning will be expunged 9/9/99. (092298)
Westville - 14-day suspension record will be expunged 7/9/98. Grievant will receive 5 days backpay. (080598)
Arbitration Award
Deptford - 7-day suspension reduced to a letter of warning and grievant made whole for loss of pay and benefits. (080498A)
Step 1 Settlements
Williamstown - 1 grievant paid 1.87 hours at OT rate, and 2 others will be paid .75 units at regular rate for use of non-OTDLs in lieu of OTDLs. (032999)
Paulsboro - Grievance sustained. Grievant paid OT and penalty OT for OT performed by non-OTDL carrier. (011399)
Paulsboro - OTDL carrier paid 1.34 hours OT for OT performed by non-OTDL carrier. (011999)
Paulsboro - OTDL carrier paid 1.45 hours OT for OT performed by non-OTDL carrier. (012199)
Paulsboro - OTDL carrier paid 1.10 hours OT for work performed by non-OTDL carrier. (012999)
Paulsboro - Transportation to be provided grievant for two comfort stops daily. (013099)
Paulsboro - Grievant paid 8 hours OT for not given opportunity to work the holiday. (021999)
Paulsboro - Letter of warning to be removed in 6 months. (030199)
Paulsboro - 2 carriers to be paid 2 hours penalty OT for work by non-OTDL carriers. (010999)
Paulsboro - Grievant paid 1.6 hours at OT rate for OT performed by non-OTDL. (010899)
Paulsboro - Three OTDL carriers paid from .50 to 1 hour penalty OT for OT worked by non-OTDL carrier. (010299)
Paulsboro - Grievant paid .75 units penalty OT for OT worked by non-OTDL carrier. (010799)
Williamstown - Grievant given 6-month letter of warning for unsafe practice. (030299B)
Williamstown - Letter of warning for alleged time-wasting practice to be removed in 6 months or if and when grievant transfers. (030299A)
Step 3 Settlements
Voorhees - Letter of warning for deviation to be recinded 6 months from date of issue. (121598A)
Voorhees - 14-day suspension recinded. Grievant to be paid 16 hours back pay. (071797D)
Voorhees - 7-day suspension recinded. Grievant to be paid 16 hours back pay. (071797C)
Voorhees - 7-day suspension recinded. Grievant to be paid 16 hours back pay. (100297)

Post-Realignment Route Adjustments

Within 60 days after implementing the route realignment, the local parties must reexamine the adjustments to ensure that routes are as near to eight hours as possible. If not, they will be adjusted in accordance with the M-39. Where the most recent route inspection data is less than 18 months old at this point, then after that data may be used to make any necessary post-realignment adjustments. However, if the data is more than 18 months old, then a new mail count and inspection must be conducted unless the local parties agree otherwise. (Handbook M-39, Section 243.614)

Congressional Annuities

The typical annuity for members of Congress retired under the CSRS retirement system is just above $50,000, while those under the FERS system receive just above $48,000. As of September 1997, there were 423 retired members, all but 43 of them under CSRS. Members of Congress receive higher benefits than do other enrollees for their early years of service on the theory that their covered careers tend to be shorter, although figures show that the average length of service for a retired member was about 20 years. Members pay one percentage point more of salary toward the retirement fund. (Fed Times)

Newest 50 - Year Member

Marion Howell - Retired Penns Grove Carrier