A Note From The Branch President

President Lipski was on vacation as we went to press and was unable to get his article to us. He looks forward to seeing everyone at the September meeting to update them on all that has transpired over the summer months.

Next Meeting – September 17

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, September 17, 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 – September 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, September 10, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $25

Eric Renninger, Branch member out of the Glassboro office was in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, June 18, and was the lucky winner of the $150 attendance prize. The prize now prize now starts anew at $25 and accumulates at the rate of $25 each regular monthly meeting up to a maximum of $250 or until someone's name, in attendance at a regular monthly meeting, is drawn.

Branch Scholarship Winner

Drawing for the annual Branch Scholarship of $500 for each of 4 years, or $2000, for continuing education after high school, took place at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, June 18. The winner was Erica Poniatowski, the daughter of Paul Poniatowski, Branch Financial Secretary and carrier out of the Runnemede office. The alternate winner was Meghan Parncutt, the daughter of Bernadette Parncutt, a Branch member working out of the Marlton office.

Eagles Season Tickets Winner

Chris Walder, Branch member and carrier out of the Runnemede office won the Branch’s annual COLCPE fundraiser of raffling off a pair of Eagles season tickets. Congratulations Chris and GO EAGLES!!

Annual Branch Picnic - Sunday, September 7

The annual Branch Picnic this year will be held on Sunday, September 7 at Clementon Park and Splash World. Park hours: 11 am to 7 pm. Branch member cost of admission will be $16 per person, children 36" & under free. The cost of admission includes unlimited amusement park rides, unlimited water park rides, the big cat encounter show, and food and beverages, courtesy of the Branch. Get your tickets ahead of time, they are limited and may not be available at the gate, and there are no regular monthly meetings of the Branch in July and August. See your Shop Stewards or Branch Officers for tickets or contact Jim Livingston, Picnic Chairman at Sgtatarms@nalcbranch908.com.
Important Note: Clementon Park has started charging an $8 parking fee. We have free parking passes for members who purchase their tickets in advance. If you show up the day of the picnic, planning on purchasing tickets at the gate, you will be charged $8 to park. If you have already gotten tickets for the picnic, but didn’t receive a free parking pass, contact Jim Livingston, Picnic Chairman at Sgtatarms@nalcbranch908.com.

From The VP’s Case

Welcome back everyone. Even though the summer is winding down it appears there is no end in sight to the heat that is continuing to be put on our members, especially in this district.
The latest and greatest brilliance bestowed upon us by the "genius" in our district is the moving up of everyone's starting times. What once was a 6:30am start has now blossomed into as late as 8:00am starts in some offices. I guess customer service no longer matters in South Jersey.
When questioned of this move I have yet to receive a legitimate response as to why management has done this. I have my own opinion as to why I think they are doing this, which I will share at our next union meeting. I would normally include it in my article, but if it isn't true I don't want to give them any more ideas to justify their position. Remember, management in this district hangs on my every word, so this time they will just have to just wonder!
Another issue that has surfaced the last few months confronting our members is management issuing a number of our member's letter of demands for allegedly monies owed. We have seen some demands from as far back as 2003, which is absolutely ridiculous! I guess there is no time frame for management to be held accountable for their incompetence. God forbid we try to go back to fix a mistake! The first thing we here is TOO LATE! Not management.
If you are one of these individuals who fall into this category please see your shop steward immediately to file a grievance. We have found that management is demanding monies from employees, that may be owed, but the amounts are not correct in the demand letter. Before you agree to pay any money make sure you have been given all the proper data that supports the amount of money owed in the demand letter.
Remember, if you file a grievance the clock stops on management in automatically being able to dock your pay for the money. They cannot attach your wages until the grievance has been resolved. It is in your best interest to grieve all letters of demands.
If anyone has any questions on this feel free to call me or see me at the meeting to discuss it in more detail.
-Gary DiGiacomo

66th Biennial Convention

This year Branch 908 sent 10 delegates to Boston, MA for the 66th Biennial National Convention of the NALC. All delegates attended all of the general sessions as well as attending several workshops each before and after the sessions. Workshops attended included: Health Benefits, Contract Administration, Effective Branch Communication, NALC’s Legislative and Political Agenda, City Delivery, MBA, Understanding the LM-3, COLCPE, Branch Trustee Training, MDA, USPS In the Internet Age, Customer Connect, Duties of the Branch Secretary – Treasurer, Labor 2008, the Global Postal Industry, Retirement, Food Drive, OWCP, Congressional District Liaisons, TSP, Safety and Health, EAP, Recruiting the Next Generation of Union Leaders. Hopefully all of the delegates came home with more ways to help our membership. The 67th Biennial Convention will be held August 9 - 13 2010 in Anaheim, CA.

From The Health Benefits Officer

Well I hope you all had a great summer. There are exciting new plans for Life Insurance from our Mutual Benefits Association that are going to be offered in the next several months. I have just received some of the new plans in the mail; the MBA web page should be updated with these new plans in the next several months. Please check them out; it could benefit you and your family. So if you want life insurance plans the NALC might be your best bet.
-Fred Mendel, HBR

Transitional Employees and Health Benefits

Below is a Q & A from the NALC Health Benefit Plan:
Q. A TE that has finished their first 360 appointment and now has been re-appointed to a second term. How do they obtain health benefits?
A. The TE must contact the HRSSC 1-877-477-3273 in Greensboro, NC. TEs may not use the Blue or lite blue pages to enroll.
Q. What time frame does the employee have to join a plan?
A. TEs must notify the HRSSC within sixty (60) days of their re-appointment to a second term.
Q. What would they have to pay to belong to the NALC Health Benefit Plan?
A. The bi-weekly amount for self is $208.84 and the rate for self and family is $443.30.
There is no USPS contribution to the premiums. TEs are required to pay 100% of the cost. They must also be an NALC member to belong to the NALC Health Benefit Plan.

Do You Know What’s In Your Personnel File?

Have you checked your personnel file lately? Some carriers have probably never seen their file. I would recommend that everyone check their file at least once a year for mistakes and for discipline that should have been removed. The Postal Service, in compliance with OPM has gotten rid of the paper versions of the OPF (Official Personnel File), the files are all digital now and you can view your file from your home computer. Go to the eOPF website at
https://eopf.usps.gov/eOPF/jsp/essLogin.jsp
Once there, you will need your EIN (Employee Identification Number), this is the number on your pay stub, and your USPS PIN number (the same one you use for PostalEASE). If you forget you PIN, call 1-877-477-3273 and follow the prompts to have a new PIN mailed to you. Once you log in you can view and print anything in your file. If you find something that shouldn’t be there, contact your Shop Steward.

Postal Manager Demoted Over Violation of NALC Contract

Here are some excerpts from an MSPB decision out of Atlanta, GA:
The appellant served as the EAS-20 Manager, Customer Services, at the Glenridge Post Office in Atlanta, Georgia. On April 26, 2007, Charles Gracek, Manager, Customer Service Operations, Atlanta, Georgia Post Office, proposed to reduce her in grade and pay to the EAS-17 position of Supervisor, Customer Services, based on a charge of failure to perform her duties in an effective manner. Gracek specified as follows:
The appellant failed to provide information to the NALC union steward or to schedule “Formal A meetings” in the grievance process, which caused the steward to forward the grievances without management documentation and responses. The appellant’s failure to support management’s position at the Formal A step resulted in the “Step B Team” rendering decisions and awards totaling nearly $28,000 in the union’s favor. The appellant’s error cast doubt on her ability to manage her unit in a satisfactory and effective manner, and her inability to delegate duties to her supervisors and to timely complete tasks resulted in substantial financial liability for her unit.
On December 20, 2007, Kevin Helmer, Postmaster, Atlanta, Georgia, issued a revised letter of decision sustaining the proposal and reducing the appellant in grade and pay for failing to perform her duties in a satisfactory manner. He informed her that she would be reassigned to the position of EAS-17 Supervisor, Customer Services, Martech Station, Atlanta, Georgia, effective December 22, 2007. The appellant filed an appeal with the Board’s Atlanta Regional Office.
MSPB ruled that “The penalty was within the bounds of reasonableness.”
Hopefully, management here in the South Jersey district will take note of this decision and start complying with the National Agreement.

Overtime Again

Due to all of the questions and phone calls I receive about forced overtime and pivoting, I felt the need to do another article on overtime. Given the complexity of Article 8, please understand that this is only a simple summary, borrowed in part with much thanks from Branch 576, Phoenix, AZ.
Non-ODL: Full-time employees who have NOT signed up for any overtime.
Work Assignment (WA): Full-time employees who only want overtime on their OWN route. In case of Carrier Technicians (T-6), this includes existing overtime on any routes on their string. However, when both the regular and the T-6 are WA, the regular has priority before the T-6. If the regular is ODL, then the T-6 has priority.
Overtime Desired List (ODL): There are two types; 10 and 12-hour list employees. (The 10-hour list is a “preference” and they do not become non-ODL after 10 hours, rather, management should use the 12-hour employees before using the 10-hour employees into penalty.) The ODL carriers should first and foremost be assigned overtime (with exception of WA carriers) before forcing non-ODL.
Regarding Article 8.5.C.2.d, the JCAM states; prior to using non-ODL for overtime on a regularly scheduled day, management must seek to use auxiliary assistance (pg 8-14). Auxiliary assistance includes PTFs, TEs and ODL at the straight time or regular overtime rate. Once auxiliary assistance is utilized up to penalty, management can then require non-ODL to work overtime on “their” route on a “regularly scheduled day”.
However, “Before requiring a non-ODL carrier to work overtime on a non-scheduled day or off his/her assignment, management must seek to use a carrier from the ODL, even if the ODL carrier would be working penalty overtime.” (JCAM pg 8-14)
“For purposes of overtime on a non-scheduled day or on other than their own assignment, carriers on the Work Assignment list are treated exactly the same as any other full time carrier not on the overtime desired list” (JCAM pg 8-19) This means management must seek to use ODL even if at penalty overtime prior to using a WA off-assignment or on a non-scheduled day.
What about volunteers? Article 8.5.D says a non-ODL carrier may volunteer to work overtime, however, volunteering may not relieve management of its obligation to first use available ODL at the penalty rate prior to seeking volunteers.

School's Open
Please Watch For Children!!

OPM Approves Early Out For Letter Carriers

As we went to press, word came out the Office of Personnel Management has informed the Postal Service that it may offer voluntary early retirement to members of the city letter carrier craft. NALC President William H. Young said details of an early retirement agreement are being worked out and will be released once finalized.

FERS Minimum Retirement Age

Many of our FERS carriers are confused about when they are eligible to retire, so here are the minimum retirement ages for FERS employees:
Year of Birth Your Minimum Retirement Age Is
Before 1948 55 Years
1948 55 Years 2 months
1949 55 Years 4 months
1950 55 Years 6 months
1951 55 Years 8 months
1952 55 Years 10 months
1953-1964 56 Years
1965 56 Years 2 months
1966 56 Years 4 months
1967 56 Years 6 months
1968 56 Years 9 months
1969 56 Years 10 months
1970 and later 57 Years