A Note From the Branch President

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The Branch has recently received inquires regarding the proper procedure for securing CSRS disability retirement. The specific complaints were concerned with the automatic denial of claims by OPM and the roll of the Merit System Protection Board in such actions. Simply put, MSPB is the overseer of adverse OPM actions concerning disability retirement. In two watershed cases, Bracey V. OPM and Ancheta V. OPM, the Merit System Protection Board held that "A modified job in the Postal Service that does not comprise the core functions of an existing position is not a "position" or a "vacant position" for the purposes of determining eligibility for disability retirement. An employee's position of record is the one to which he/she was officially assigned before filing the application for disability retirement." A modified job in the Postal Service in order to be considered a "position" must be a job that, A) when vacated by the disabled person must go up for bid and award. B) Must be abolished when the disabled person retires. If these criteria are not met, then the last job that was an official "position" is City Letter Carrier. This is the job that you can no longer function effectively at, and this is the job in which you have become disabled from. This column is too short to give all the details on disability retirement, but if you have questions regarding this subject, give me a call.
Steve Lipski

Next Meeting Regular Monthly Meeting - November 17

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, November 17, 8 PM, 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, 8 pm, except during the months of July and August.

Next Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings - November 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, November 10, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Stands At $75

Had he been at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on October 20, P. P. McCarthy, a member of the Branch working out of the Pennsville office, would have been the recipient of the $50 attendance prize. The attendance prize now stands at $75, and will accumulate at the rate of $25 each regular monthly meeting up to a maximum of $250 until someone in attendance at a regular monthly meeting has their name drawn. Branch Officers and Shop Stewards not eligible.

Turkey Drawing - November 17

A turkey for Thanksgiving, free of charge, will be chanced off at The regular monthly meeting of the Branch on November 17.

DOIS, Casing Standards & Discipline

Some local managers and supervisors are threatening carriers with discipline for not casing four-feet of mail per hour in accordance with data acquired by way of the DOIS program. In accordance with a national level settlement reached by the parties on July 30, 2001 (M01444), it was mutually agreed that daily counts (PCRS) recorded in accordance with (POST or DOIS) will not constitute the sole basis for discipline. Furthermore, Section 242.332 of the M-39 provides that "No carrier shall be disciplined for failure to meet standards, except in cases of unsatisfactory effort which must be based on documented, unacceptable conduct that led to the carrier's failure to meet standards." Also, pre-arbitration settlement HIN-1N-D 31781, dated October 22, 1985, provides that "there is no set pace at which a carrier must walk and no street standard for walking."

NALC Protesting DOIS & COR Use

NALC President William H. Young announced that the union's Contract Administration Unit (CAU) is currently working on filing two national level Interpretive Step grievances protesting contractual violations in the Postal Service's use of the Delivery Operations Information System (DOIS), and Carrier Optimal Routing (COR), utilized to make route adjustments. Young said that he is deeply troubled that the Post Office is making a number of important decisions on the basis of information contained in the two systems which he thinks are flawed.

Doctor's Note Requirements

Employees are required to submit medical documentation or other acceptable evidence of incapacity only when the absence is in excess of 3 days, the employee is on restricted sick leave, or when the supervisor deems documentation desirable for protection of the interests of the Postal Service. (513.361, 362 ELM)

Medical Release Time

When an employee is released from work and directed by management to go to an on, or off-site health services unit due to illness or injury, all time spent waiting for and/or receiving medical attention on the service day on which the illness or injury occurs and would have been worked but for the medical attention, including all time that the employee otherwise would have been directed to work that day beyond his or her regularly schedule tour, is included and credited as work time. (ELM 17, 432.72).

New Leave Year Begins On Saturday, January 8, 2005

The 2004 leave year ends on January 7, 2005, and the new leave year begin on January 8, 2005. Please remember that you will loose any Annual Leave that exceeds 440 hours if it is not used by Friday, January 7, 2005.

Health Plan Open Season
November 8 - December 14, 2004

The 2004 Federal Employees Health Benefits Open Season is scheduled for November 8 through December 14, 2004. During the open season eligible employees may make any of the following changes using Postal/EASE:
All changes made will be effective January 8, 2005 (pay period 02-05). New premium payments will be reflected in paychecks dated January 8, 2005.

2005 NALC Health Plan Maintains High Benefits

Despite soaring medical costs, active and retired letter carriers can be proud that their Union's health plan - the NALC Health Benefit Plan - will retain all of the same high level of benefits for enrollees in 2005, while continuing to offer rates competitive with others in the Federal Employee Health Benefits program (FEHB). Employee contribution rates effective January 2005 for active letter carriers and annuitants in the NALC Health Benefit Plan are:
Self Only Self & Family
Active Carriers (biweekly) $ 34.65 $ 52.65
Annuitants (monthly) $ 126.34 $ 230.75

For further assistance or information contact Branch Health Plan representative Fred Mendel.

NALC Demands an Apology

NALC President Bill Young has demanded an apology from President Bush's re-election campaign general counsel for unsubstantiated allegations made to the Postmaster General that letter carriers were considering withholding the delivery of election ballots and materials to Republican homes.

COLA Increases Set For CSRS, FERS and Social Security Retirees For 2005

Annuitants and survivors in the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) will see a 2.7% cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, commencing with their first annuity checks of 2005. Those in the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will receive a 2% adjustment, and those who also receive Social Security will see an increase of 2.7%.

Hawaiian Aloha Shirts Anyone?

Anyone interested in purchasing a Hawaiian Aloha shirt such as those worn by some of our delegates upon their return from the recent NALC convention in Hawaii, should contact Jim Comuso.

Welcome New Branch Members

Thomas Leisner III (Stratford) Harry Martin III (Glassboro)
Robert O'Donnell (Hammonton) Jamie Harris (Mt. Ephraim)
Brian Aurand (Salem) Devon Carroll (Marlton)
Robert Sampson, Jr. (Voorhees) Jeffery M. Ferry (Williamstown)
Matthew J. Disschert (Williamstown) Debra Hargreaves (Gloucester)

2004 Pay Days Remaining

Pay Period

Pay Period Ending

Pay Days

24 Oct. 30 - Nov. 12 November 19
25 Nov. 13 - Nov. 26 December 03
26 Nov. 27 - Dec. 10 December 17
27 Dec. 11 - Dec. 24 December 31

Coded, Rotating Day Off Calendars

2005 color coded rotating day off calendars are now available on our Branch website at http://www.nalcbranch908.com/05cal.html.

Kids Christmas Party - Sunday, December 12

The Branch's annual kids Christmas party will be held on Sunday, December 12, 1 to 4 pm. As usual Santa will be on hand, children's gifts will be distributed, pictures taken with Santa, and food, refreshments and snacks for all. Assistance needed. Contact Donna Villec.

Dates to Remember

January 9 to 11 - Branch 38 Rap Session, Atlantic City
Congressional Breakfast - March 1 to 3 - Washington, DC
NBA Rap Session - March 6 to 8 - Atlantic City
NJ State Convention - May 15 to 17 - Atlantic City

Death Benefits Reinstated

A Federal law passed last December, the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, restores Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) as well as eligibility for home loans, deduction and burial benefits to surviving spouses of veterans who died of service-related causes who remarried on or after their 57th birthday but prior to the enactment of the new law. One catch: individuals must apply to the VA before December 16, 2004. To learn more about the DIC and the Veterans Benefits Act, call VA toll-free at 800-827-1000. (AARP Bulletin)

USPS Employment & Wages - APS5-2003

City carrier employment 228,016
(Percent Union members) 91.7
City carrier casuals 6,108
(Percent of bargaining unit) 2.7
Transitionals 2
(Percent of bargaining unit) 0
City Carrier per delivery supervisor 18.5
Career USPS employment 707,806
City carrier avg. ST wage $21.02/hr
City carrier OT ratio (OT hrs/total work hours) 13/9%

Interrogation by Postal Inspectors

Article 17, Section 3, fifth paragraph of the National Agreement states that "if an employee requests a steward or Union representative to be present during the course of an interrogation by the Inspection Service, such request will be granted." This sentence reinforces employee's Weingarten rights and clearly informs postal inspectors that stewards have the right to represent employees if requested. However, inspectors are not obligated to inform carriers of their rights to representation; rather the carrier must request it and can insist that questioning not continue until a union representative is present. Federal Courts have extended the right to pre-meeting consultations with a Union representative to cover Inspection Service investigations. (M-01092, USPS v. NLRB, D.C. Cir. 1992)

Flexible Spending Accounts Open Season
October 15 to December 31

Under an FSA, money is deducted from each paycheck and deposited into either a Dependent Care or Health Care account--or one of each. These dollars are not subject to taxation, will lower your taxes at the end of the year, and less tax money will be deducted from your check each pay period. For further information see your November NALC Postal Record, page 11.

Thrift Savings Plan Open Season - Oct 15 to Dec 31
Maximum Contribution Limits Raised

The maximum contribution limits have been raised in the Thrift Savings Plan to 15% for FERS employees and 10% for CSRS employees. See page 14, November NALC Postal Record.