A Note From the President

I hope everyone had a safe enjoyable Summer. It was, unfortunately, a very busy Summer for the Branch with record numbers of grievances and workplace interventions. If Summer was this busy, Fall should be very interesting. The first order for the Branch will be the Presidents Workforce Subcommittee report on reforming the USPS. There are four areas that give us the greatest cause for concern. Collective Bargaining, Pay Comparability, Health Care and Outsourcing. In all of these the Commission has recommended sweeping negative changes. Changes that if adopted, will completely destroy our ability to control our economic future. I cannot go into specific details in this limited forum, however I will have a complete report at September's meeting. To combat these changes for now, the National has asked us to deliver on two specific fronts. First, we will assemble a core group of Branch members who will serve as legislative liaisons. These members will focus on the PWS's recommendations, and petition Congress on the NALC's stance. The National along with the Branch will provide training and materials to these members. Secondly, the Branch will be running an aggressive COLCPE Check-off Campaign. We will attempt to elicit every Letter Carrier to contribute a small portion of their wages through payroll deductions to support political action. If every carrier could give 1 to 2 dollars a pay, we would be well on our way in supporting candidates who will support us. This fight looks like the real thing. With one stroke of a Congressional pen - in seconds - we could lose everything it took years to gain.
Steve Lipski

October 15 - Next Regular Monthly Meeting

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, October 15, 8 PM, at the American Legion Hall, 502 Colonial Ave., North Woodbury. Regular monthly meetings of the Branch are held on the 3rd Wednesday of the month except in July and August.

October 8 - Next Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings

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, October 8, 7:30 and 8 PM respectively.

October 12 - COLCPE Casino Bus Trip

The Branch COLCPE Casino Bus Trip has been scheduled for Sunday, October 12, the day before the Monday Columbus Day Holiday. The bus will leave the hall at 11 am for Trump Plaza Casino and return at 6 pm, after which there will be a free 2-hour beef and beer at the Union Hall. Tickets for the trip are $20, which includes $14 back in coins and a $3 food voucher at the casino, the bus trip, and the beef and beer.

eRMS (absence control unit) Out Of Business

Effective Saturday, October 4, 2003, the eRMS (absence control Unit) went out of business. Employees will call their respective offices when calling out sick, etc.

Nominations for the Election of Branch Officer, Shop Stewards and Convention Delegates
Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Nominations for the election of Branch Officers, Shop Stewards, and Convention Delegates will be called for at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, October 15, 2003. Nominations shall be made from the meeting floor or in writing to the Branch Recording Secretary, mailed or presented to him prior to or at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on October 15. Each eligible member of the Branch nominated for office shall accept or reject nomination for the record, in person or in writing, prior to the adjournment of the October 15 meeting. Failure to accept nomination prior to adjournment of the October 15 meeting will invalidate the nomination. Shop Stewards shall be nominated and elected by the membership he/she will represent from the office where he/she works. Elections shall be by secret mail ballot of the eligible Branch membership held as soon as possible after nomination. All Officers, Shop Stewards and Convention Delegates will be elected to a term of two (2) years. Offices up for nomination and election include that of the: President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Assistant Recording Secretary, Chairperson Trustees, Trustees (4), Health Benefits Representative, Housing Chairperson, Sgt. At Arms, Shop Stewards (38) and Compensated Convention Delegates (approximately 21).

2004 NALC Health Plan Rates

The Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) open season commences on November 10. The NALC Plan rates for 2004, announced September 16, reflect only modest increases, well under the average 10.6 percent hike in premiums for plans in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program:

Self Only

Self & Family

Active Carriers (biweekly) $29.76 $42.75
Annuitants (monthly) $ 111.98 $201.03

Thrift Savings Plan Catch-Up Contributions

On November 27, 2002, the President signed Public Law 107-304, which permits eligible Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) participants to make catch-up contributions into their TSP accounts beginning in or after the year in which they turn age 50. Catch-up contributions are supplemental tax-deferred employee contributions, which are in addition to regular contributions. These supplemental contributions can be made by participants age 50 or older who would like to make contributions above the maximum amount they could otherwise make to the TSP.

NALC Not Party To DOIS Assumptions

Contrary to what some supervisors, postmasters or managers have told some of our members, the NALC does not agree with management's assumptions relating to the DOIS times and figures relating to the casing and delivery of mail on carrier routes.

New Branch Retirees

V. D. Catroppa - Blackwood
N. J. Seher - Woodbury/Deptford
W. T. Ward - Williamstown

Attendance Prize Stands At $250

Had he been there, P E Cary, a retired member of the Branch, would have won the $250 attendance prize drawn at the regular monthly meeting held on Wednesday, September 17. The attendance prize now stands at $250, and will remain at that level until a member in attendance name is drawn.

2004 Dates To Remember

2/22 - 2/24 Regional Rap Session, Atlantic City
3/2 - 3/4 State Association Washington Breakfast
6/5 - 6/9 NALC State Convention, Atlantic City
7/19 - 7/23 NALC National Convention, Hawaii

Branch Retirees Opt To Retain NALC Membership

The following members of the Branch who recently retired from the Postal Service have opted to retain their NALC Branch membership:
Alfred N. Hulme - Voorhees
Vincent D. Catroppa - Blackwood

OWCP New Consolidated Bill Processing and Medical Authorization System

All mail and bills for Federal workers' compensation cases should be sent to:
US Department of Labor
DFEC Central Mailroom
PO Box 8300
London, KY 40742-8300

Telephone inquiries regarding bill payment or reimbursement matters can be made directly to a toll-free number:
(856) 335-8319
Requests for medical authorization: (856) 335-8319
Urgent medical authorization requests can be faxed to: (856) 214-4901.
This information is provided by the law office of Jeffrey P. Zeelander, 1608 Walnut St., Suite 1300, Philadelphia, Pa., 19103, and (215) 545-2132.

Payroll Deduction Available For COLCPE Donation

The first of several efforts to inform and mobilize NALC members in the union's fight to save letter carrier jobs and the Postal Service has begun. A letter from NALC President William H. Young has been mailed to all active members with information on how they can contribute to NALC's Committee on Letter Carriers Political Education (COLCPE) through payroll deduction. For as little as $1 deducted from their paychecks carriers (members and non-members) can join in the Union's fight to help defend their wages, benefits and job security.

Marlton - Notice Of Removal Rescinded

The Step B Dispute Resolution Team resolved an issue at Marlton wherein a carrier was issued a notice of removal for not getting cleared for a registered letter left on the clearing clerk's desk after returning from the street. The decision was based on a finding by the Team that in the absence of a clearing clerk and/or supervisor, it had been an acceptable practice to leave accountable mail on the clearing clerk's desk for clearance. The decision provided that the carrier be returned to work and paid for all lost time.

Welcome New Members

Veronica Castonguay - Williamstown Carolyn Lloyd -Lawnside
Peter Dela Garza, Jr. - Marlton James Kilgore - Marlton

Kathryn Remsing - Pennsville

No Manager Immune From FMLA Liability

"According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, individuals having "significant control over the terms and conditions of employment," whether owners, managers or supervisors, can be held individually liable under the FMLA. And at least one court has determined that includes not just direct supervisors, but the HR manager as well."
(Ashley Kaplan, Employment Law Attorney, G.Neil)

Boston In 2008

The NALC Executive Council has voted to designate Boston, Massachusetts, as the site of the 66th Biennial NALC Convention in 2008. The Boston event will follow next year's convention in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the 2006 convention in Miami Beach, Florida.

Sign Up For the NALC e-Activist Network

"We need the help of all letter carriers to assist the Union in continuing its historic mission of defending letter carrier wages, working conditions and job security because the battle to save the Postal Service has just begun," President Young emphasized. To sign up directly from the NALC homepage, members should enter their e-mail address and click the Sign Up button. After entering you e-mail address, you will be connected to a page containing information form that, when completed, will put you on the e-Activist Network list.

Branch Income & Expenses 6/1 to 8/31/03

Income
Branch Dues 41,763.82
Retirees Dues 148.84
State Convention 400.00    
Total 42,312.66
Expenses
Printing Branch News 90.10
Postage 207.30
Phone 175.40
Office Supplies 543.16
Hall Rental 990.00
Refreshments 244.94
Grievances 154.27
Picnic 1,151.25
Convention Fund 12,000.00
Labor Functions 100.00
Officers Salaries 11,731.25
Shop Stewards Comp 10,032.00
Retirees Dues 32.00
Fica, Medicare, Inc. Taxes 2,638.36
State Taxes 440.45
Corp. State Assessments 29.30      
Total 40,559.78
Balance 1,752.88

Thank You 908 Branch Members

"I wish to thank all of my brothers and sisters of Branch 908 for their acts of kindness during our sorrow in the loss of my wife Alice.
We all thank you, and may God keep and bless you."
The Singleton Family
Dave, Sr. Dave, Jr. & Steven

"As you can see from the Memorial Bulletin enclosed, we took pride in my father's life and his work as a letter carrier. Thank you for your thoughtfulness in making a donation in Frank Graf's name to the Brook lawn EMS"
Pat Graf & Kathy Gesualdo

"Thank you for your donations to Lighthouse Foundation in memory of loved your ones (A. G. Madden & K. Rodenhafer) during such difficult time for them and their families. We will notify the families of your memorial contributions.
Sandra Cunningham
The Lighthouse Foundation Of NJ, Inc.

Thank you for your generous donation in memory of Francis J. Flagg, Jr.
American Stroke Association

A Note of Commendation to the Newsletter Committee

Dear Newsletter Committee:
I continue to be amazed how concise and informative your Branch's Newsletter is. I read it in 5 minutes, but go back to it all month for the information it contains.
Mike Breslin
NALC Branch 396

What Is A Grievance?

A grievance is defined in Article 15, Section 1 of the National Agreement as a dispute, difference, disagreement or complaint between the parties related to wages, hours, and conditions of employment. A grievance shall include but is not limited to, the complaint of an employee or of the Union which involves the interpretation, application of, or compliance with the provisions of the National Agreement or any local Memorandum of Understanding not in conflict with the National Agreement.