A Note from the Branch President

Dear Brothers and Sisters:
The United States Postal Service, through contract negotiations, has finally shown exactly what they think of all your hard work and dedicated service. Worthless! In classic "Sheep in Wolfs Clothing" the Postal Service has introduced regressive contract proposals that would put the NALC back 20 years. It's the same idiot rhetoric we hear every contract year; elimination of holiday premiums, capped COLA's, increased casuals, wage freezes and bonuses etc. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Service has declared WAR on your quality of work life. It is time for every NALC member to step up to the plate and show the Postal Service exactly what they can do with their moronic attacks on your wages and benefits. They have fired the first shot over the bow, now it's our turn!
Thank You,
Steve Lipski

Next Meeting - November 15

The next regular monthly meeting of the Branch will be held on Wednesday, November 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., except during the months of July and August.

Branch Officer & Shop Stewards Meetings Wednesday - November 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, November 8, 7:30 and 8 p.m. respectively.

Attendance Prize Now At $225

Had he been in attendance at the regular monthly meeting of the Branch on Wednesday, October 18, Alfred Capaldi, a Branch retiree out of the Stratford office, would have been the recipient of the $200 attendance prize. The prize now increases to $225 and will increase $25 per meeting, up to a maximum of $250, until a member in attendance has their name drawn.

From The VP's Case

As everyone is aware, we have been going through pre-walks in our offices where inspections will be held early next year. One question I have been constantly asked is, "How come they are doing pre-walks now and not right before the inspections are held?"
The answer is very obvious to me! First, the district has selected offices where DOIS numbers are stating that routes can be eliminated, or those offices with aux. routes. So instead of waiting to do their dirty deeds next year they figure to try to go in to our offices and bully carriers and try to get them to get back at 2:00, as DOIS says they should, then run out a deal to the local offices by intimidating them to accept an offer of so many routes to be taken out in lieu of a full blown route inspection. They continue to insist to these offices that they should take these offers or else they can expect a worse fate if they force them to come in and do a total inspection.
I haven't had a chance to look at the numbers of all of our offices involved in these pre-walks; however I have looked at our numbers in the Blackwood Office and am happy to say I am quite pleased with the early results! I kind of figured we must not have been giving them the numbers that they were looking for because of the lack of any kind of information given to the union during these two weeks. I kind of felt like a foster child since no one ever spoke to me during these pre-walks!
This kind of tells me all I need to know about what will be forthcoming next year! This district has an agenda and will get their numbers no matter what they have to do to get them!
This is fine for this branch, since we have been through this many times before, and can play the game anyway they wish to play. We are preparing our offices for these inspections and are quite confident we will be ready for any kind of problems or issues that will arise.
Gary DiGiacomo, Vice President

Health Benefits Open Season

This year's open season for the FEHB runs from November 13 through December 11. During open season, you may enroll, change health plans or options or cancel your FEHB enrollment. You can download the 2007 FEHB Plan Rates on our web site at www.nalcbranch908.com/2007Postal.pdf.

Health Fair - November 16

This year's health fair will be on November 16 from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm at the District office, 501 Benigno Blvd., Bellmawr. Most health plans will have a representative there to discuss their plan with you, but many of them leave after 5:00, so try to come early. Attendance is off the clock.

NALC Outlines Contract Goals

From NALC President Bill Young:
The NALC's opening economic proposal calls for a seven-year agreement which would include a continuation of the existing cost-of-living adjustment clause, with no changes; general wage increases of 3 percent in each year of the agreement; and a pay upgrade of one grade for all letter carriers.
I explained that a long-term contract served us well over the past five years and that an even longer period of stability is necessary in the future to allow the parties to work cooperatively toward the transformation of the USPS.
The union also proposed significant changes in the way routes are evaluated and designed and called for the letter carrier craft to be converted to a 100 percent all-regular work force. In addition, NALC offered creative suggestions for reducing the ever-increasing costs of health benefits without reducing the Postal Service's share of the cost of premiums.
I reiterated this week that labor relations have improved dramatically during the current contract term despite multiple challenges and that the Postal Service has been able to improve service and maintain a strong financial footing.
Although major strides have been made to change the adversarial culture of labor relations at the national and regional levels, I noted that "the traditional paradigm of adversarial confrontation at the workroom floor level remains."
I went on to say: "This situation is no longer acceptable. A dramatic shift in paradigm to a cooperative relationship on the workroom floor must be driven by a commitment not merely to the survival of the Service, but to its revitalization as an essential and dynamic element of the domestic and commercial service sectors of our society."
I called for a joint revision of the methodology for the evaluation and design of letter carrier routes to defuse widespread and daily confrontation over delivery issues. I remarked that "unilateral efforts by the USPS in the past not only have failed, but have been counter-productive."
I firmly believe that letter carriers are the very heart of the service provided by USPS, as well as the deeply respected everyday face of the Service. A dedicated workforce of full-time regular professionals is essential in an increasingly competitive and challenging environment.
The Postal Service has yet to fully respond to our proposals, but we expect to learn more from them at next week's main table sessions. Keep your eyes open for future NALC Bulletins and for additional e-Activist messages in the weeks to come. Your ongoing support is crucial to our efforts to negotiate a fair contract for America's hard-working letter carriers.

Thanks Branch 908!

We would like to express our deepest thanks for your generous donation towards the music lab at the Warren E. Sooy, Jr. Elementary School in memory of our husband and father, Sonny Silipino. Your contribution towards the creation of this lab will touch each child in our elementary school;. Knowing Sonny's love for music, we truly believe that he would be so very proud. - Sandy, Andrew, Peter and Jennifer Silipino
Thank you once again for the $500 scholarship on my behalf to Stockton College. I appreciate the effort Mr. Rutkowski and the other members of local 908 extend to my family and I. - Jennie McCluskey

Welcome New Members

Michael J. Miles Mt. Ephraim
Joyce E. Corcoran -Reiser Wenonah
Jeremy Santos Martell Peterson Westville
Arthur Spencer Blackwood
-editor's note: we would like to apologize to Brother Arthur Spencer for inadvertently listing him last month on the non-members listing, it was a miscommunication on our part.

Maureen DePrince T-Shirts

Branch Trustee Jim Comuso is taking orders for t-shirts to benefit Maureen DePrince. The shirts are blue in color and feature a female letter carrier delivering mail on the front. They are $10.00 each for sizes small to large, and $11.50 for XL and up. You can view a photo of the shirt on our Maureen page at nalcbranch908.com/maureen.html. To place orders for shirts, contact Trustee Jim Comuso at Comuso@nalcbranch908.com.

Toys For Tots Donation

Branch Trustee Steve Rutkowski made a motion on the floor of the regular Branch meeting on October 18 to make a donation to the Toys for Tots Campaign in honor of Branch member Larry Trimmer. Larry is a letter carrier from our Pitman office and is a member of the US Marine Corps reserve. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq and recently returned from special training in Africa. Since his return from active service, he devotes some of his free time to run in marathons and triathlons for charity. His next marathon is to benefit the Toys for Tots Campaign. The motion was made that Branch 908, to show our appreciation for Brother Trimmer putting his life on the line for our country, make a donation of $150 to the Toys for Tots Campaign, the motion was seconded and passed unanimously.

Membership Pins Issued

At the October Branch meeting Anthony DeMarco, a member out of the Atco office received his 25-year membership pin. Also, Wayne Kline, a retired member out of the Bridgeton office received his 45-year membership pin. Congratulations and thank you to these members for all of their years of service.
The NALC Constitution provide that: "When receiving proper notification by the Branch Secretary that a member has completed twenty-five (25) years, or thirty (30) years, or thirty-five (35) years, or forty (40) years, and forty-five (45) years of membership, the National Association of Letter Carriers shall provide a suitable lapel pin for such member". If you believe that you have attained the requisite amount of year's membership for the receipt of a suitable lapel pin, contact Branch membership chairman Paul Poniatowski at Paul@nalcbranch908.com.

Our Newest Gold Card Member

Jack Lex, a Branch retiree out of the Somerdale office was the latest recipient of an NALC Life Membership Gold Card, which is issued by the NALC to those who have been members for 50 years. The Life Membership Card of Gold entitles the bearer to all of the privileges of NALC membership without the payment of dues, per capita tax or special assessments from the date of issuance. Congratulations Jack!

Understanding WEP

The Windfall Elimination Provision, or WEP. Will affect many of our retiring members who fall under the CSRS retirement system. Social Security law includes a provision that reduces Social Security benefits for those who have less than 30 years of substantial coverage under Social Security and who have earned a retirement benefit from employment not covered by Social Security; for example, CSRS service. (In 1998, the amount of substantial coverage is $12,675. In contrast, the amount needed to earn four credits of coverage in 1998 is $2,800.) If it applies to you, your benefits will be figured at a different formula from the one used for those with longer covered service.
If you have fewer than 30 years of substantial Social Security coverage and become eligible for a Social Security benefit, this provision will affect you if you are also eligible for a retirement benefit that includes service performed under CSRS rules.
The WEP was designed to eliminate the "windfall" that could result if you were to receive a CSRS annuity based on many years of employment not covered by Social Security and also receive a full Social Security benefit because you did have a few years of covered employment. If you're subject to the WEP, your earned Social Security benefits will be figured using a modified benefit formula.
The modified formula is not used in computing survivor benefits upon your death or the Special Retirement Supplement. It is used in computing Social Security retirement as well as disability benefits if you become disabled.
The regular Social Security benefit formula uses three levels of earnings. Each level of earnings is multiplied by a different percentage. The first level of earnings is multiplied by 90%. The second by 32%, and the third by 15%. Those amounts are added together to determine a person's basic benefit rate.
Under the modified benefit formula, the first level of earnings is not multiplied by 90%, but by a smaller percentage, depending on the number of years of substantial Social Security coverage you have. The modified formula reduces your Social Security Benefit to the greatest extent if you have less than 21 years of substantial Social Security coverage. In that case the first level of earnings is multiplied by 40% instead of 90%. For each year of coverage over 20 years the percentage increases by 5% increments (e.g., 45% for 21 years, 50% for 22 years, etc.). However, in no case will the reduction in your Social Security benefit because of the WEP be greater than one-half of the portion of your pension from employment not subject to Social Security taxes; for example, your CSRS annuity.
That aspect of the WEP will only help if the amount of your CSRS benefit is relatively low. If you could earn between 21 and 30 years of substantial Social Security coverage, you should consider whether or not you could earn the required years by transferring to FERS. If you can, it will reduce or cancel out the effect of this provision. For example: Two employees with the same date of birth retire at age 65. Both have worked for the same employer for their entire working career and have identical wages posted to their earnings records. However, one also worked for the Federal government and is receiving a CSRS pension of $800 per month, based on that non-covered work. When Social Security benefits are computed, the worker entitled only to Social Security will receive a benefit of $567 per month. The second worker is subject to the WEP modified formula and will receive a benefit of $354 per month.
To find out of and how your future Social Security benefit could be affected by the WEP, Social Security has an easy to use online calculator at www.socialsecurity.gov/gpo-wep that allows you to estimate your Social Security benefit.

Kids Christmas Party - December 3

The annual Branch children's Christmas party will be held on December 3, from 1:00 to 3:00. For more info visit nalcbranch908.com/xmas.html or contact Trustee Donna Villec.

Happy Thanksgiving!!