A Note From The Branch President

Contrary to public opinion you do not have to accept a management deal when it comes to route adjustments. The handbooks and manuals that we have, specifically the M-39, contain the necessary information to conduct minor adjustments or full-blown count and inspections. If you wish to actively engage management and give your input on the best way to adjust your office, feel free to do so. If through negotiations you are unable to get a deal done, the branch will give inspection training to your members so that the inspection process will be as smooth as possible. Remember no one is holding a gun to your head to cut a deal. Every office must decide for themselves what the best course of action would be for their particular situation.
Just a reminder there will be an Obama walk and rally on Route 37 in Toms River on Oct.19. Anyone interested please contact me.
-Steve Lipski

Next Meeting – October 15

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, October 15, 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 – October 8

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 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $50

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, September 17, Patrick Gallagher, a Branch member working out of the Gibbstown office, would have been the recipient of the $25 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $50 and will increase $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $250, until a member in attendance has their name drawn.

Uliase & Uliase Retained As Branch OWCP Attorneys

The Branch is pleased to announce that we now have on retainer, the Law Firm of Uliase & Uliase. Thomas and Carolyn Uliase are well known and respected as two of the best OWCP attorneys in the area. Our members have been using them for years and now, thanks to Trustee Chairman Jim Comuso for working out the details, many more of our members will have access to their expertise.
Branch members will be provided with a free initial consultation (up to one hour) concerning their rights and obligations under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. At the time of the consultation, the member will be provided with advice relative to wage loss benefits, medical treatment and schedule award benefits. They will also advise members relative to other options including retirement disability claims through FERS or CSRS that may be presented to the Office of Personnel Management as it relates to physical or emotional disabilities.
Note: Uliase & Uliase is only handling OWCP cases. They will not advise members relative to their options concerning union matters, including reactions to disciplinary action or other adverse actions by Post Office Management. Also, they will not provide advice relative to EEOC claims or matters before the Merit System Protection Board.
Before visiting their office, make sure that you bring any and all paperwork relative to your claim including information from your doctors, the Department of Labor and/or the Post Office. You should also bring proof of Branch membership, if you need an NALC union card, contact Branch Financial Secretary Paul Poniatowski.
Uliase & Uliase are located at 106 White Horse Pike, Haddon Heights, NJ 08035 and can be reached at 856-310-9002.
Tom Uliase will be attending the regular Branch monthly meeting on October 15 to give an overview of his services.

Hal Crass Still Branch Attorney

Just a reminder, that the Branch still has Harold “Hal” Crass of Pearson & Crass, on retainer as the Branch attorney for all other legal matters. Hal’s office is located at 59 N. Broad St., Woodbury, NJ 08096 and he can be reached at 856-845-7900.
Hal will also be attending the regular Branch monthly meeting on October 15 to give an overview of his services. Here’s your chance to meet both of the Branch’s attorneys the same night, so come on out!

Health Benefits Open Season – Nov. 10 – Dec. 8
Most Health Premiums To Rise In 2009

Premiums for the federal employee health plan will rise by an average of 7 percent in 2009, a sizable increase from the previous year. On average, that translates to an extra $4.83 every two weeks for employees with individual plans, while those with family plans will pay an additional $11.12. Premium hikes will vary; depending on which health plan an employee has enrolled in. Federal employees and retirees can change their health insurance plans during the open season, which will run from Nov. 10 to Dec. 8. During open season, you may enroll, change health plans or options or cancel your FEHB enrollment. You can download the 2009 FEHB Plan Rates on our web site at www.nalcbranch908.com/fehb.html.

NALC Health Benefit Rates For 2009

Self Only Self & Family
Active Carriers (biweekly) $32.71 $62.84
Annuitants (monthly) $122.42 $252.14

2009 Rotating Days Off Calendar

Branch Recording Secretary and Webmaster Norm Spence has once again created a rotating day off calendar for 2009. The calendar can be viewed online, downloaded as a 12 page monthly calendar or a 2-page version. The calendar is available at http://nalcbranch908.com/09cal.html.

October 14 – Last Day To Register To Vote

Reminder, October 14, 2008 is the last day to register to vote in the upcoming General Election on November 4. We all know how important this election is and every vote counts. You can download NJ voter registration forms from our website at www.nalcbranch908.com/nj.pdf.

USPS’ Bleak Financial Picture And the Presidential Election

The following article from National APWU President William Burrus sums up nicely how the Presidential race affects us as Postal workers.
Burrus Update #11-08, Sept. 30, 2008
Postmaster General John E. Potter informed the unions and the Postal Regulatory Commission this month that the Postal Service has experienced a 12 percent reduction in mail volume and that in Fiscal Year 2008 (ending Sept. 30); expenses will exceed revenue by approximately $2.3 billion. I do not challenge this assessment, as any casual review of mail processing plants or postal vehicles will reveal dramatic reductions in mail volume.
The 2008 deficit is not the largest the USPS has ever suffered, but for the first time in postal history, the losses cannot be recovered by postage rate increases.
The 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which was hailed by many in the postal community as the savior of the Postal Service, may ultimately be the single most damaging factor in its demise. Under the law, the only means for the USPS to recover the losses are: (The exigency clause offers an exception to the law’s prohibition against increasing postage rates above the rate of inflation; it permits such increases in “extraordinary or exceptional” circumstances.)
Regrettably, there are no prospects for increases in mail volume or for productivity improvements sufficient to offset the current losses. Invoking the exigency clause — in order to increase postage rates more than the rate of inflation — would run the risk of accelerating the transformation from hard-copy communication to electronics. (Industry observers suggest that if postage rates rise too sharply, major mailers would abandon hard-copy communication in favor of e-mail and other technologies.)
To make matters worse, the 2008 deficit of $2.3 billion is expected to be matched in Fiscal Year 2009 with losses of an additional $2 billion. This means it will be necessary for the Postal Service to borrow $5 billion over a two-year period.
Although the Postal Service has the authority to borrow up to $15 billion, far in advance of reaching that limit, the Postal Regulatory Commission, Congress and the next president will be under tremendous pressure to privatize the Postal Service.
In response to the financial crisis, the Postal Service has announced a hiring freeze. And, in a meeting with union leaders and management association presidents, the Postmaster General pointed out that 16,000 USPS employees lack the six years of continuous service required to achieve protection against layoffs.
The PMG’s message was clear: For the first time in our history, postal employees may experience layoffs.

This looming crisis is the reason that the 2008 election for president and Congress is so important to postal employees. When serious discussions occur about the future of the Postal Service — and they will — postal unions must have a Congress and a president who understand our concerns. In the face of mounting federal deficits, the nation will decide the future role of the government in providing postal services. As postal employees cast their votes in the 2008 election, protecting our employment must be a decisive factor in the choices we make. This time the decision cannot be based on abortion, guns, terrorism, or experience. This time it’s about your job.
And simply put, John McCain favors privatization; Barack Obama believes in public services.
The candidates haven’t had an opportunity to vote on postal privatization — yet — but they have voted on the privatization of other federal jobs: Obama voted against the Bush Administration plan to outsource and privatize hundreds of thousands of federal jobs; McCain voted for Bush’s program and voted to privatize federal jobs in 2006, 2004, and 2003.
I know that I cannot tell a member who to vote for. However, it is my responsibility to share with our members what I believe is in their interest as postal employees.
I strongly advise you against jumping from a five-story building without a parachute, but if you chose to do so, that is your right. You also have the right to vote for John McCain, but that decision is no different than the decision to jump.
This election is about your future as a postal employee. It’s about your job.
William Burrus
President, APWU

Make Sure Your Family’s Interests Are Protected

On July23, 2008, during the National Convention in Boston, MA, National President Bill Young announced that brother James Stankovich, President of Branch 1427, Santa Clara, CA died unexpectedly. Mr. Stankovich was 60 years old and left his wife and eight children behind. The delegates in attendance at the convention took up a collection for the spouse and his eight children to make the necessary arrangements to cover expenses to return his body to Santa Clara, California. The delegates collected $27,000 and a motion was made and passed for our National Union to match that amount, making the total $54,000 to provide the immediate emergency assistance to his family.
Later it was learned that the beneficiary listed on his life insurance policy was his former fiancée from some thirty odd years ago. The given address was old and his insurance company was unable to find the ex-fiancée and due to his failure to update his death benefit beneficiary requirements, his wife for almost thirty years and all eight of his children were not listed on his insurance coverage. This could easily be an oversight by any one of us.
His wife of almost thirty years and his eight children are not entitled to receive any of his life insurance benefits and are left without anything and are currently struggling with expenses. Please don’t allow this to happen to you or your family members. Verify and update your beneficiary information.
Regardless if you are an active or retired letter carrier, please take the time to review and update your insurance policies, TSP accounts, retirement benefits, all private insurance accounts, and your checking and savings accounts to make sure that your family members are protected. Many postal workers fail to keep their insurance policies up to date and similar circumstances have resulted in benefit payments go to a former spouse or the original beneficiary listed when you joined the Postal Service, by law, this cannot be changed after you are dead. Please take the time to review all of your policies, as you are the only one who can make the necessary changes to protect your family. Don’t leave your family members unprotected.
Also remember that you should have a legal will and you may want to consider having a living will with a power of attorney assigned to your spouse or nearest relative/friend to protect your interest should you become physically incapacitated due to an accident or illness. (Branch Attorney Hal Crass would be glad to help you with this.)
Don’t put this off – nobody knows what tomorrow might bring. Make sure your family is protected!

Thanks Branch 908

During a time like this we realize how much our friends and relatives really mean to us…. Your expression of sympathy will always be remembered. – Frank, Jo Ann Potts & family

Donna Villec Appointed Branch Photographer

The Branch had recently purchased a new digital camera and Trustee Chairman Jim Comuso has added Branch photographer to Trustee Donna Villec’s duties. Look for Donna at various Branch functions and we’ll post the photos on the Branch website.