From The VP’s Case

Well, it has been a little over a month since everyone has been dealing with the results of the MIARAP process, and I will tell you one thing, the majority of the routes are now showing well over 8 hours. I knew this would happen since the measuring time the parties used were light volume periods. I am glad to see the mail volume has increased, even though all the genius’ in management said it wasn’t coming back. Now they say it is the fall mailing season and of course you are going to have an increase in mail volume. They weren’t saying that when we were evaluating the routes in July! They were adamant the mail was gone and not coming back. I hope it stays back and continues on the rise, for everyone’s benefit.
This brings me to my next issue with management in this district. I don’t know how many calls I have received lately from carriers who are having problems with the local managers about the times they are expected to do their new routes in. Let’s go back and review what we have explained to everyone before. The new routes you have been stuck with are based on the data from other carrier’s times and the 3999 of the person who walked the piece of the route you have now. Just because a carrier did a piece in a certain time does not necessarily mean that is your time. You may need more time or less time depending on how you carry the mail. If you picked up a piece of a route from a 25 year old and you are 55 years old, obviously it may take you longer, and vice-versa. What I am telling you is you determine how long your new route is, not management’s data. You have a reasonable amount of time to become familiar with your new route, usually 30 days. When management finally walks the route with you, this will now determine the time of your route. Stand up for your rights and don’t be intimidated by your supervisors or postmasters lack of knowledge on how this process works.
I even had a carrier tell me management told them that since they bid on their route they inherited this time. Really, where does it say that? Another one I keep hearing is, “the union signed off on these times so blame them if you can’t meet the times!” Are these people serious? They continue to want to shift blame on us. They don’t want to be held accountable for any of their actions.
The next issue I keep hearing is management is going to discipline carriers for not making standard! Let’s figure this one out. They consolidate the cases, give carrier’s four houses to a slot in five shelve cases and can’t figure out why they can’t make standard! As I continue to say, “these people are all nuts!” All I can tell you is to do your best to throw the mail in the equipment they provide. If they really wanted us to throw the mail fast and efficiently they would have left us with four shelves in this vertical flat environment. If the time comes when the FSS comes in then maybe this type of case may work, but now!
Stay the course and stand up for you rights! As one of my old “buddies” used to say, “If you don’t know your rights you don’t have any!”
-Gary DiGiacomo, Vice President

Next Meeting – October 21

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, October 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.

Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings Wednesday – October 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, October 14, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $200

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, September 16, Paul Coller, a member out of the Blackwood office, would have been the recipient of the $175 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $200 and will increase $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $250, until a member in attendance has their name drawn.

Notice of Nominations and Election of Branch Officers, Shop Stewards and Convention Delegates

This is to provide official notice that nominations for the election of Branch Officers, Shop Stewards and Convention Delegates for the term 2010 thru 2011 shall take place at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, October 21, 2009. Elections shall be by secret mail ballot of the eligible Branch membership held as soon as possible after nominations at the October regular monthly meeting. Nominations shall be made from the meeting room floor or in writing to the Branch Recording Secretary, mailed or presented to him/her prior to or at the October regular Branch meeting. Each eligible member of the Branch nominated for office shall accept or reject nomination in writing prior to the adjournment of the October regular monthly Branch meeting. Failure to accept nomination for Branch office prior to adjournment of the October regular Branch meeting will invalidate the nomination. Shop Stewards shall be nominated by an eligible Branch member from the office at which the nominee is employed to represent the Branch membership. Installation of Branch Officers, Shop Stewards and Convention Delegates shall take place at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch in January. Offices up for election include that of the Branch President, Vice President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Assistant Recording Secretary, Trustees' Chairman, Trustees (4), Health Benefits Representative, Housing Chairperson, Sgt. at Arms, Shop Stewards (36) and approximately (36) Convention Delegates. The number of Convention Delegates to be compensated for their attendance at a State or National Convention, provided they meet the eligibility requirements for such compensation, shall not exceed two and one half (2.5) percent of the total Branch membership, (which is approximately 18).

Mailing And Return Of Branch Election Ballots

Branch election ballots will be prepared and mailed out by the Branch Election Committee on Tuesday, November 3 for completion and return to the Election Committee by Saturday, December 12. The results of the election will be announced by the Election Committee at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, December 16.

From The Health Benefits Officer

OPM has announced that Open Season will be from Monday, November 9, 2009 to Monday, December 14, 2009. New rates and Benefits will be posted in the November Postal Record. Questions on FLMA? Call me at 856 933-2649.
-HBO Fred Mendel

OPM Announces 2010 FEHB Rates

Federal employees’ health insurance premiums will increase by 8.8 percent on average in January, according to the Office of Personnel Management.
The increase will be the largest since 2004, when premiums rose 10.6 percent on average. Insurance premium increases hit a recent peak in 2002, when rates increased by 12.7 percent.
You can download the 2010 Rates from our web site at www.nalcbranch908.com/fehb.html.

NALC Health Benefit Rates For 2010

Self Only Self & Family
Active Carriers (biweekly) $44.57 (+11.86) $86.11 (+23.27)
Annuitants (monthly) $147.00 (+24.58)  $299.74 (+47.60)

2010 Rotating Day Off Calendar

Branch Recording Secretary and Webmaster Norm Spence has once again created a rotating day off calendar for 2010. 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/2010cal.html.

Thanks Branch 908

Dear Branch 908, Thanks for making the contribution in memory of my father. In solidarity, Dave Entwistle
Dear Union Brothers and Sisters, Thank you for the beautiful floral arrangement you sent in recognition of my mother’s passing. – Ron Iuliucci & Family (Glassboro PO)
May we express our sincere appreciation for your gift to the memorial fund in memory of Barbara Sheets. – St. Paul’s United Methodist Church

NJ Vote By Mail

In New Jersey, any voter can now vote by mail in any election. You do not need a reason to Vote by Mail. Don't feel like going to the polls? Simply vote by mail. Now there is "no excuse" not to vote!
A voter may vote by mail by completing the Application for Vote by Mail Ballot (see below), and mailing the application to their County Clerk (County Clerk addresses attached to form) up to 7 days prior to the election. A voter may also apply in person to the County Clerk until 3:00 p.m., the day before the election.
The County Clerk cannot accept faxed or emailed copies of an Application for Vote by Mail Ballot, unless you are a Military or Overseas Voter, since an original signature is required.
Applications can be downloaded from our web site at www.nalcbranch908.com/NJvotebymail.pdf

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Congress Approves Temporary Financial Relief for USPS

October 1, 2009
Just hours before the end of the fiscal year, the Senate late yesterday approved emergency financial relief for the cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service, reducing its obligation to pre-fund future retiree health benefits by $4 billion in FY 2009. The postal relief was included in a government-wide stopgap funding measure to keep operations running for another 30 days. That stop measure in turn was included in an FY 2010 funding bill for the legislative branch of the government. The House had approved the same comprehensive package last week. (The House earlier on September 15 had approved the same USPS financial relief, in H.R. 22, on a 388-32 vote.)
Final passage of the Senate funding bill came on a 62-38 vote, largely along party lines. Two key procedural votes in the Senate earlier in the day cleared the way for the final vote. The first was a 61-39 vote to defeat a point-of-order raised by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), contesting the fact that the stopgap government-wide funding bill had not been previously approved by either chamber and thereby violated Senate rules. The postal relief provisions were included in the government-wide funding bill.
The second key vote was on a point-of-order raised by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH) to knock out the postal relief provisions because they had not been previously included in the budget resolution approved earlier in the year by the Senate. Gregg also contended that the postal relief action (despite not involving taxpayer money) would raise the federal deficit by $4 billion. Gregg’s point-of-order failed on a 61-39 vote.

Saturday Mail Service Getting the Sack

By Jim Ostroff, Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter
There’ll be no more Saturday delivery of mail, come 2011 or so. The U.S. Postal Service is serious about cutting back to a Monday to Friday schedule -- a plan that the USPS figures will save the cash-strapped agency at least $3 billion a year.
Congress will grudgingly go along, though not till after the 2010 elections. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle are reluctantly coming to the conclusion that USPS cost cutting and much higher postal rates can’t bail the service out of the deepening hole it’s in. They know that rate hikes will only accelerate the inexorable erosion of mail volume.
It’ll mean a big shift for many businesses: retailers, auto dealers and others that count on Saturday delivery of ads to generate weekend sales. “Typically, these operations focus on Saturday to do coordinated targeting, using ads sent by mail, as well as newspaper inserts, e-mail and Web ads. It is likely these all will move to Fridays, which may not be as effective,” says Hamilton Davison, executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association.
Only very limited service is likely to be maintained: Saturday morning hours at post offices for business pickup and Express Mail boxes in lobbies, for example. Outgoing mail won’t be processed until Monday. Look for businesses to lean more on third-party services that use software to determine the best days of the week to mail everything from bills to promotions and reach the majority of their target consumers, says Angelo Anagnostopoulos, vice president for postal affairs with GrayHair Software, a New Jersey-based postal analysis firm.
Postal officials see axing mail pickup and delivery and other postal services on Saturdays as being least disruptive to operations. Saturday mail volume is lower than that of other days -- around 11% of a typical week’s total.
However, postal officials haven’t ruled out restoring full mail service on Saturdays during the year-end holiday season, which brings heavy volume. Also under consideration: limited Saturday service to deliver mail-order prescription drugs to consumers.

Retirement Counseling Settlement Allows Counseling On The Clock

NALC and the Postal Service have reached a settlement of a national level dispute over management’s responsibility to provide retirement counseling to letter carriers. NALC had protested the discontinuance of the practice of providing in-person counseling to letter carriers on postal premises. Instead, the Postal Service amended the Employee and Labor Relations Manual to provide that counseling would be conducted primarily by telephone with a retirement specialist at the Human Resources Shared Services Center (HRSSC).
The settlement provides that employee’s may request counseling on the clock, and that the local management will arrange reasonably private space for this purpose. The employee’s spouse and/or advisor may be with the employee during this process. In addition, employees who cannot begin or complete the process of obtaining counseling from HRSSC without assistance will be offered assistance by local management.
This settlement does not affect the national level dispute over management’s failure to provide timely retirement counseling to employees eligible for Voluntary Early Retirement. That dispute remains pending.