Branch 908 December 2000 Newsletter

A Note From The Branch President

With the Holiday season swiftly approaching, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless men and women who make this Branch work. To my Officers and Stewards, your job is often times thankless and terribly stressful but somehow, your're always there when I need you. To the volunteer members and non-compensated Officers, I appreciate everything you do and admire your dedication and commitment to the cause. I owe you a debt of gratitude and an apology for not recognizing you sooner. Lastly, to the rank and file letter carriers who battle with management on a daily basis, without your efforts, the Union would not exist. It's YOU, the members that are the Union, not someone sitting at a head table at a Union meeting, but the brothers and sisters that do the job day in and day out. To you, a heartfelt THANK YOU! And, always remember, TOGETHER WE DEMAND, DIVIDED WE BEG.

Next Meeting (Christmas) - December 20

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be on Wednesday, December 20, 8 p.m. Since this will be our last regular monthly meeting of the year, the membership voted that there be entertainment. Regular monthly meetings of the Branch are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, except for the months of July & August.

Branch Officers & Executive Board Meeting - December 13

The Branch Board 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 meetings of the Board of Officers and the Executive Board will be on Wednesday, December 13.

Attendance Prize - $100

George Jackson, a member working out of the Sewell Post Office, would have been the winner of the $75 attendance prize had he been in attendance at the November meeting. The prize now increases to $100 for December, and increases in increments of $25 monthly until a member's name in attendance at a regular monthly meeting is drawn. The prize increases to a maximum of $250 until someone wins. Branch Officers and/or Shop Stewards are not eligible.

Children's Annual Christmas Party Sunday, December 17

The Branch's annual Christmas party for the children and grand children of active and retired members of the Branch will be held on Sunday, December 17, 1 to 3 p.m. There will be refreshments for all. Santa Claus will be in attendance to hear from the children, give gifts, and have pictures taken. The doors to the hall will be opened at 1 p.m.

Merry Christmas - Happy New Year!

Amendments To The Branch Constitution and By-laws

The Branch Constitution and By-laws cannot be amended except by a majority vote of the members present and voting at a regular monthly meeting called for that purpose semi-annually in February and June. Such proposed amendments must be signed by three (3) members in good standing. Proposed amendments must first be submitted to the By-laws Committee who shall review same for the purpose of conformity of language and lack of ambiguity. The proposed amendment(s) shall then be read at a regular monthly meeting of the Branch, after which they shall be published in the Branch newsletter, debated and voted on at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch in February and/or June.

Bill Baitinger Resigns

It is with a deep feeling of loss that we report the resignation of Bill Baitinger from the positions of Sergeant At Arms and Shop Steward at Clayton. Bill was the Shop Steward at Magnolia and a Branch Officer for more years that we can remember, and he and his wife Sandy did an outstanding job as the annual Branch Picnic coordinators for the past couple of years. Bill and Sandy have purchased a place in Florida where they will be spending their Winters; hence his resignation from the rigors of Union leadership. Many years of health and happiness in your retirement, Bill and Sandy!

Looking For A Few Good Men/Women

Due to the resignation of Bill Baitinger from his positions of Sergeant At Arms, and Shop Steward at Clayton, the Branch President has temporarily appointed Jim Livingston to the position of Sergeant At Arms, and Norm Spence as Shop Steward at Clayton until he can advise and consult with the Branch Executive Board.. Any member in good standing interested in being considered to fill these positions should submit their name to the Branch President.

Former Woodbury Postmaster Returns

The former Postmaster at Woodbury, Jim McNally, was returned to Woodbury from his stint as Postmaster at Wilmington, Delaware, subsequent to the discovery of 3300 pieces of mail, including welfare and Social Security checks, food stamps, bills and change of address cards, over one-year old, that were found in allegedly empty equipment at the Edgemoor station, which is under the command of the Wilmington Postmaster. It was reported that the letter carrier Union Branch President said that the mail had been placed in a boiler room just before it was to have been delivered as postal workers scrambled to get ready for an inspection by District supervisors.

Never Sign A Form 2488

This form gives management the right to obtain medical information from your attending physician.

Mandatory Overtime

Management can force full-time regular carriers not on the overtime desired list to work overtime on their own routes on a regular scheduled day only if no auxiliary assistance is available without going into penalty overtime. In this limited circumstance, all available casuals, PTF's, transitional and OTDL carriers must be used up to 10 hours before a regular, non-OTDL carrier on his own route on a regular scheduled day can be forced to work overtime.

Penalty Overtime Exclusion: December 2-29

In accordance with Article 8, Sections 4 and 5 of the National Agreement, the December period during which penalty overtime regulations are not applicable is December 2 through December 29. Excluding this period, part time flexible and transitional employees would be paid at the penalty overtime rate for all work in excess of 10 hours in a service day or fifty-six (56) hours in a service week, and full-time regular employees would be paid at the penalty overtime for being required to work overtime on more than 4 days of their 5-day service week, over 10 hours on a regular scheduled day, over 8 hours on a non-scheduled day, or over 6 days in a service week.

Fitness For Duty Exam

According to the latest "Management Instructions" on fitness for duty examinations, supervisors are now being encouraged to look for unusual behavior on the part of an employee as a reason to send him/her for a fitness for duty examination. According to the "instructions" significant increase in unscheduled absences, an increase in unexplained lavatory use, changes in work performance after lavatory use or lunch break, changes in behavior toward fellow employees, deterioration of personal hygiene and cleanliness at the work location, and inattention to work duties and progressive deterioration in concentration and memory, would indicate a potential problem requiring a fitness for duty examination.

Harry G. Heard, SR

It is with deep regret that we report the death of Harry G. Heard, Sr., a retired letter carrier who worked out of the Woodbury office. Harry was 86 years old. He died at Underwood Hospital, Woodbury, on November 19, 2000. Contributions may be made in his name to Deborah Heart and Lung Center, 200 Trenton Rd., Browns Mills, NJ, 08015.

George B. Baxter

George B. Baxter, 89, of Pitman died Sunday at home. George was a postal carrier in Woodbury Heights for over 20 years before his retirement He resided in Woodbury Heights for over 50 years before he moved to Pitman 15 years ago.

Branch Death Benefit

The Branch has an established death benefit fund to benefit the families of active and retired members of Branch 908. The benefit payment is available to the beneficiary of record of the deceased member, who must provide evidence of his/her beneficiary status, and a copy of the death certificate to the death benefit's chairman, Tom Walsh.

Upgrade To Level 6 Effective November 18 - Pay Day December 8

Effective November 18 all city letter carriers will be upgraded to level 6, and will receive a 1.2 percent general wage increase under the terms of the arbitrated 1998-2000 National Agreement. The upgrade averages 1.3 percent but varies according to step. A new salary and rate schedule will begin with the upgrade, with all Grade 5 carriers transferred to Grade 6, which is renamed City Carrier Grade 1 (CC Grade 1) and all Grade 6 carriers transferred into new City Carrier Grade 2 (CC Grade 2), which is the old Grade 6 plus the dollar differential that existed between the old Grades 5 and 6 after the 1.2 percent general wage increase.

Convention T-shirts For Sale

The Branch has a number of Chicago Convention T-shirts for sale at $10 each. The shirts are black, and have a yellow Chicago 2000 year logo on them. Profits from the sale will go to the Branch COLCPE fund for the election of friendly local and National legislators. Contact Norm Task for more info.

New Thrift Savings Plan Funds

The Thrift Savings Plan Investment Board announced on September 27 that Thrift Savings Plan participants will be able in May to begin putting money into two new stock investment plans in . The new funds are the Small Capitalization Stock Index Investment Fund and the International Stock Index Investment Fund.

Rollback Of Annuity Contributions

President Clinton has signed into law legislation that will rollback the 1997 budget law that temporarily increased the contribution of postal and federal employees to the Federal Retirement System (FERS) and Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). Effective January 1, 2001, the contribution rate will go back to levels prior to the 1997 law -- 0.8 percent for FERS and 7 percent for CSRS. The change will mean a savings of about $160 per year to the average letter carrier.

Military Retirees Get Low Cost Drug Coverage, Health Care Coverage For Life

Congress has enacted a law allowing all eligible military retirees and their dependents to buy low-cost prescription drugs, starting April 1, 2001. Honorably discharged retirees who served at least 20 years in the military, regardless of where they now live, will have three options for buying drugs: $8 for each 90-day prescription by mail order; a 20 percent copay from pharmacies within the military network; or a 25 percent copay plus a $150 deductible from non-network pharmacies. There are no premiums, deductibles or caps for the first two options. Congress also approved "health care coverage for life" for military retirees and their families under the military's Tri-Care system. (look for details in the AARP Bulletin's December issue)

Postage Rate Increase - 34-Cent Stamp

The independent Postal Rate Commission has approved a postal rate increase that will probably go into effect on January 7, pending a decision by the Postal Board of Governors. The price of a first-class stamp will rise to 34 cents, but the 22 cent cost of a second ounce and the 20-cent postcard will stay the same.

Postal PCs For All

According to the Federal Times, the Postal Service is seeking a supplier to provide home personal computers and Internet access to 800,000 employees. Under the plan, each employee would receive a computer hard drive, CD-ROM, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speaker, printer and unlimited internet access with a cost to the employee of about $12 a month for 36 months for the computer equipment. Each computer would be hooked up to a Postal Service internet, which could be used to conduct :Postal Service business.

One Inch Separation For Each Address

According to a recent Step 3 Grievance Settlement, "Management will abide by the implementation and Conversion Guidelines for DPS work methods and Case Configuration. Specifically, part V, Equipment, that says in part, "unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as very heavy or very light volume, a one inch separation, where residual letters and flats will be cased, should be provided for each address."