Gregg Levy
Webmaster
Outlook March / April 2015
In The News
Contract negotiations between the American Postal Workers Union and the U.S. Postal Service started on February 19, 2015. This however was not the normal start to contract negotiations. It was more like opening ceremonies with speeches from actor-activist Danny Glover and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Danny Glover, the son of postal workers, is now the spokesman for The Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. Also joining the APWU President Mark Dimondstein at the table was National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando, along with a group of observers from Congress, and other labor unions.

In his opening remarks President Dimondstein said, “To be victorious, we will have to conduct our fight for a good contract very differently than we have in the past. Negotiations will still go on at the bargaining table, but to be successful we must win support from the people of the country for our goals.”

What happens with the APWU contract is of great interest to the NALC, our contract expires in 2016. Many aspects of our contract and the creation of CCA’s in the Das Award mirrored the APWU contract that formed the PSE’s.

New Postmaster Megan Brennan said during a ceremonial swearing-in at the Postal Service Headquarters at L’Enfant Plaza, “The challenge for the Postal Service is to embrace a faster pace of change.” She also expressed her support for a move to a 5-day-a-week mail delivery, and will start a search for the next high tech postal delivery vehicle.

Local News
walked into Riverdale Station in March of 1978, as one of four new PTF’s. The first time, I ever saw my name on a Seniority List; I was absolutely the last one on the list! Fast forward, 37 years later: I spent 18 years a Steward, 10 years as a Hearing Officer and a Part-time Officer of the Branch (Trustee and Editor). We also started up the Branch Website around the same time and I became the Webmaster, and served 7 years on the JARAP Team. I am now on the top of that Seniority List, but it will all come to an end at the end of March; as of April 1st, I will be retiring!

Thank you to Charlie Heege and John Springman for all the opportunities and trust they have given me over the years. Thank you to all of you for electing me and letting me serve you.

Outlook January / February 2015
In The News
Be off the street today by 2 pm, and stay home tomorrow on administrative leave!” When my supervisor said that to me, I had to ask him to repeat himself, twice! In all my years working for the Postal Service, I don’t think I have ever heard anyone say that to me. But that is exactly what happened on Monday the 26th before the snowstorm Juno; when we were supposed to get hit with 24 inches of snow. The Postal Service for once acted preemptively and did not put their employees through unnecessary hardships. Actually, they did not have much choice because the states of: New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut were all shutting down. It was also announced that all mass transit would be shut down, a state of emergency would be issued, and a No driving ordinance would be strictly enforced between 11:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. This much anticipated storm affected more than just our area; shutting down a large section of the region from here to Boston. For the most part, our area was spared; we did not get the forecasted snow predictions and most stations were able to clean up on Wednesday and Thursday. I hope this non-storm does not sour the Postal Service on doing the right thing in the future. As Governor Cuomo said, “You can’t Monday morning quarterback the weather.”
Things change and things stay the same!
In a final speech at the National Press Club, outgoing Postmaster Patrick Donahoe took shots at Congress, the unions, and the mailers. I guess it was everybody’s fault, but his! As he took his own golden parachute of benefits into retirement; he offered up our benefits to Congress. He suggested using us as guinea pigs for Federal Work Benefit Reform. Thanks Pat, nothing like going out on a high note!

In comes new Postmaster, Megan J. Brennan, who has given the same old speech, “We must look beyond regular mail and package delivery for new sources of revenue.” She also supports continuing Donahoe’s plan to consolidate 82 more mail processing facilities.

Out goes Darrell Issa, in comes Jason Chaffetz, (R-Utah), the new Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Chaffetz has already stated that there is not a single aspect of our pay or benefits that are not on the table. So although we are dealing with changes, the fight for our rights remains the same.

On the positive side
There are people in Congress who support the Postal Service. In the House of Representatives, Sam Graves (R-MO) and Gerry Connolly (D-VA) introduced a bill HR. 12 to preserve six-day delivery. Also Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA), David Joyce (R-OH) and Peter King (R-NY) have introduced a bill HR.28 that would mandate keeping door to door delivery.

In a meeting with new Postmaster Brennan, Montana Senator Jon Tester stated his displeasure with the Postal Service’s declining delivery standards in rural states like Montana. He said, “Folks around the country rely on the mail every day for essential deliveries.”

The Postal Service had a 4.3% increase in operating revenue over the first fiscal quarter of 2015. You know that comes from all the Holiday Season packages we delivered. It will show as a 754 million dollar loss due to the $1.4 billion mandated prefunding prepayment; without the prefunding payment we are a profitable business.

Lastly, the NALC has joined a banking coalition to find a way to bring affordable financial services to those who lack access to such services. Currently, 28% of American households are underserved by the current banking institutions.

Outlook November / December 2014
In The News
On November 14th, at a public meeting of the Postal Service Board of Governors, it was announced that Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe will retire February 1, 2015. The Board of Governors named USPS Chief Operating Officer Megan J. Brennan as his replacement. She will become the first woman to hold the job of Postmaster General. In his speech, the Chairman of the Board called Donahoe a visionary leader. I don’t know if all of the union employees, who were displaced by all the plant closures during his tenure, would agree! There are now 220,000 fewer postal jobs since he started. The Board of Governors is supposed to be a board of nine people. Currently there are only four members on the board, which is not a quorum. One must wonder, did they do a real search for a new Postmaster General or did they just appoint the next person in line?

Brennan will be taking reign at a very interesting time. The reason for the Board of Governors meeting was to announce the annual financial results for the postal service. USPS had an operating profit of $1.4 billion for this year! Letter revenue is up, but the real driving force behind the increase is package delivery, which rose by record numbers. Just as everything is going our way, that ugly word “prefunding” comes into play and demonstrates
on paper that we are still losing money. As Congress drags its feet and continues to disagree on a comprehensive reform bill, which would end the prefunding and enable us to compete in the parcel market moving forward. So will Ms. Brennan be a visionary leader or will she continue Donahoe’s plan to close or consolidate 88 more facilities?

We’ve Been Hacked!
I am sure you have all heard by now of the cyber intrusion into the USPS information systems. Thieves stole personal data, including: Social Security numbers for 750,000 employees and retirees. The data of 2.9 million postal service customers were also stolen. The USPS knew of the intrusion as early as October 27th, but did not tell the employees until November 10th. The NALC and the APWU have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the delay and handling of the matter by the USPS. The USPS has sent out letters to all employees and retirees affected by this intrusion. They are offering us one year of free credit monitoring. The letter will provide you with an activation code. You must go to the following website: www.mvsemces.equifax.com/tri

You must have the activation code and you will need the following information: your address, social security number, date of birth, and other information to register and create an account. It will also ask you four security questions in order to verify your identity. If you don’t have or use a computer this can be done over the phone and through the mail by calling: 1-866-937-8432.

I would strongly recommend taking advantage of this offer and signing up. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in America.

Local News
The choices have been made for the upcoming City Delivery Route Adjustment Program (CDRAP). CDRAP will be visiting a limited number of stations in Manhattan
and the Bronx over the next year. Training will be forthcoming for the stewards of those stations, who will be serving as the Local Area Contacts (LOC’s). This is a less aggressive schedule than in the past, and we already have an agreement there will be no implementations in the summer months. Not all the stations on the list are being targeted for cuts. With new growth and construction in Manhattan and the Bronx, a few stations on the list are in need of balancing or additions.

I hope you all enjoyed the Dinner Dance; I know my wife and I did. Just want to give a shout out to two friends: Ralph and Curtis. Enjoy your retirement, guys!

Outlook September / October 2014
In The News
A new route adjustment agreement has been signed between the NALC and the USPS, City Delivery Route Alternative Adjustment Process 2014-2015 or CDRAAP. This new agreement, which will have a two year life span, attempts to build on the positive aspects of JARAP and correct the negative ones.

One of the changes that address a previous problem is that a zone can only be selected once during the life of the agreement. The evaluation period has also been changed. Similar to a C&I, the teams will be selecting seven random weeks and one mutually agreed upon week. The teams will retain the ability to check data integrity issues and the before/after carrier consultations will remain a requirement.

I would like to remind carriers not to take the consultations lightly. This is your chance to have your say and to alert the adjustment team of problems that numbers alone won’t show.

Please note: The selected station won’t be known until the selection period (from November 3rd-November 14th, 2014). After the selection period has ended, additional zones may only be selected for evaluation by mutual agreement.

Another interesting MOU signed recently is Holiday Carrier Assistants or HCA’s. What is a HCA you ask? During the four week December holiday period (by the way, that’s the same four weeks that there’s no penalty overtime) management can hire retired letter carriers to work as HCA’s! From my understanding, they will be paid the same rate as CCA for the four week appointment. These carriers will not need to be trained and might very well be needed if we get as busy as projected this December.

The USPS is also expected to default on more than a 5.5 billion dollar pre-funding payment to the U.S. Treasury. This will be the fourth time in three years that the USPS has done so. Employees and retirees will not lose benefits because they have already paid over 50 billion into the fund. Nevertheless, these prefunding payments are the reason the USPS is losing money; without them the USPS would turn a profit.

As of pay period 20, we received a pay raise of $1227. This included last year’s deferred COLA of $541 (second of this contract) and the current COLA $686 (fourth of this contract) combined. This resulted in the current top pay for a letter carrier to be $58,446. On November 15th, 2014 we are also due a 1.5% contractual increase. This increase should give us another $877; making it over $2800 in raises so far this contract.

The ballots are in the mail! There is an election for President, Executive Vice President, Vice President, Assistant Secretary-Treasurer, and three National Trustees taking place. Any carrier that does not receive a ballot by Oct. 8th must contact the branch, who in turn will contact the Membership Department. Ballots must be received by 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 20th to be counted. The counting of ballots will begin on Oct. 20th. Please be sure to read the instructions carefully! After you place you vote in the sealed envelope there’s a place to sign the outside side of the envelope. If you do not do so, your vote will not be counted.

I will be voting for the Rolando/O’Malley team, but no matter who you support the most important thing is to VOTE. Do not let your vote go to waste!! Stand up and be counted!

In The News
From July 21 to July 25, the National Association of Letter Carriers held its 69th Biennial Convention in Philadelphia and I had the great pleasure of attending as a delegate of Branch 36. This is the fifth convention I have attended and I find them to be interesting and energizing. It is a very full week. President Rolando has done an excellent job in expanding the training workshops that take place before and after the general sessions every day. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the history of the NALC and looking at the nice items on display, the storyboards and NALC history videos. The NALC has a very rich and interesting history and it does us well not to forget. Our own, Vincent R. Sombrotto, and Branch 36 played a very big part in that history and during that pivotal time. You can see some of it at http://www.nalc.org/news/conv/index.html

There were many topics discussed on the convention floor, but one that stood out for me was the recall to unity between the 4 major unions of the postal service. On Wednesday, after the afternoon workshop, a group of carriers joined in solidarity with our APWU brothers and sisters in a “Stop Staples” rally to fight the outsourcing of postal clerk jobs to non-union Staples workers. Staples has since said it would scale back its pilot program with the USPS. But APWU President Mark Dimondstein called it a ruse, stating that changing the name from “mini post office” to “approved shipper” does not address the fundamental concerns of postal workers and the security of their jobs.

The Postal Service has decreased its workforce by a whopping 320,000 jobs since the fiscal year 2000 and Postmaster Donohue has his eye on 85,000 more over the next few years. His post plan is to close and consolidate more post offices and processing plants. Donohue has even posted a job opening for a Reduction-in-Force Administrator.

Standing up for the clerks and mail handlers is standing up for the Postal Service and standing up for ourselves! It might be an old saying but it’s still a true one, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

On a positive note, a group of Senators, nearly all democrats, have called for a one year moratorium on the consolidations. At a time when our middle class is disappearing, the loss of good-paying Postal Service jobs will harm our communities and economies, the senators wrote.

Third quarter earnings forecast that the Postal Service has had an overall 2% increase in revenue in comparison to the same period last year. Shipping packages were up and so was standard mail, but first class was down again. USPS still claimed a 2 billion dollar loss due to the pre-funding.
Hope everyone enjoyed the summer.

Outlook May / June 2014
In The News
The NALC has had its hands full fighting off one bad piece of legislation after another. The latest two bills proposed by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have had little to no support and have been put on hold for now. The first bill, called the “Administration’s Postal Reform Act of 2014”, called for the end of Saturday delivery and the second one called “Secure Delivery for America Act”, called for the end of door to door delivery. These were Issa’s latest attempts to destroy the Postal Service. This is now followed by a new GOP Bill that calls for the end of Saturday delivery and somehow this saving would be used to sure up the Highway Trust Fund! Since the United States Postal Service receives no tax monies, how this could happen is beyond me! The Highway Trust Fund is funded by federal gas taxes. This is nothing but, a bunch of smoke and mirrors and accounting gimmicks, by a bunch of politicians who don’t want to raise gas tax in an election year but, want to look like they are doing something. Still we cannot take these attacks on our jobs lightly. To stay informed, I urge everyone to go to www.nalc.org and sign up to be an E-activist.

The Postal Service has announced that it will delay its planned reduction in force for thousands of postmasters and the shortening of hours of many smaller Post Offices. The RIF date originally scheduled for the end of the summer, will be pushed back to January 2015. This will buy the Postal Service time to find landing spots for all the postmasters that did not take the buyout.

Local news
The NALC Food Drive was Saturday May, 10th. Not all the tallies of how much food was collected are in but a big shout out to Branch 36 Food Drive coordinators: Karla Navas, Mike Kelly, and David Velazquez for doing an outstanding job.

Also in local news, as of May 31st, 124 CCA’s in Manhattan and 40 in the Bronx were converted to full time regulars. This was done because of management’s need to contractually balance the percentage of regulars to CCA’s. With this batch, all the long term TE’s who became CCA’s are now regulars. The NALC efforts have paid off and CCA’s now have a real path to full-time employment that the TE’s never had.

New Passwords
From now on to access LiteBlue, Postal EASE, and eReassign, you will need to update your old 4 digit pin to a new password. The two biggest problems that I have seen people encounter when trying to change are:
1) not having the letter the Postal Service sent with a temporary password. You MUST have this temporary password to log in. If you don’t have you letter and need to get a new temporary password, call 877-477-3273, Option 5 to get a new temporary password.
2) most people are going to LiteBlue to change the password, but you must go to https://ssp.usps.gov (Note that it is https, not http.) And there you will be able to use the temporary password to set up your new password, which must be at least 8 characters long, have it least 1 capital letter and at least 1 numeral.
Have a great summer!
I asked our Congressional District Liaison, Carmen Flores to speak to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney about creating a bill to rename Grand Central Post Office to the Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office. This was fitting because Vince delivered mail out of Grand Central Post Office.
Outlook March / April 2014
In The News
The NALC has announced it is supporting the APWU’s fight against the outsourcing of postal retail services to Staples and will join with them and the other postal unions in a National Day of Action on Thursday April 24th. Just as the APWU supports our fight against ending six day delivery, we support them in their efforts to protect their work. We will once again take our fight to the streets and demonstrate on the 24th. In fact, the four postal unions have formed an alliance in their fight to preserve the American Postal Service and universal service for all of the American public.

This comes on the heels of postmaster Donahue telling the media at the National Postal Forum that the Postal Service plans to shrink-it workforce by 10,000 workers by the end of 2015. He claimed this will be done entirely through attrition and there will be no buyouts or RIF’s. He continued that the ultimate goal was to reduce the career workforce from 485,000 to 400,000 career employees and 55,000 non-career employees.

The APWU has signed a MOU with the Postal Service that will allow clerk PSE’s to fill residual vacancies and become career employees. It is modeled after the MOU signed by the NALC that has seen thousands of CCA’s nationwide become career employees. 13 more CCA’s in the Bronx were converted to career employees on the last go round. I’m friends with a few of them and they were long time TE’s and have paid their dues and this is well-deserved.

The Postal Service has also announced the deployment of a new scanning device. They’re calling it a Mobile Delivery Device (MMD) as opposed to the Intelligent Mail Device (IMD) we now carry. Big deal, how does it work! They chose this device after testing several devices with delivery offices down in Texas. It will have a full keyboard of letters and numbers and will transmit data real-time; there will be no need to carry the paired cell phones anymore. What I haven’t heard is whether or not customers will be able to sign the device directly and finally eliminate the use of the antiquated 3849 slips except when leaving a notice.

The old IMD devices have been in use for about 7 years and were already in need of replacement; most are on their second or third battery. Now constant Bluetooth contact with the paired cell phones have been putting real stress on both devices’ batteries.

Local news
We have two upcoming events that both benefit good causes and deserve our support.

First is the 22nd annual Letter Carriers Food Drive on Saturday, May 10th. Yes, this is a national event but remember, food collected locally is given to local food panties to help people right here in our city

Second is the 2nd annual Vinny’s Walk, which is set for Sunday, July 13th in Battery Park. The Branch will keep you updated with more information as the date grows closer, both here in the Outlook on the branch website and on flashes sent to the stations. Last year was a lot of fun for all that attended.

Proceeds from Vinny’s Walk go to help send kids to MDA summer camp.
So save the dates!

Outlook January / February 2014
In The News
On January 17th, Congress passed a bipartisan spending bill that contains the language to keep six day mail delivery. Senators Tom Carper and Tom Coburn have introduced a substitute version of their postal bill, S.1486. The NALC is still reviewing this bill as it heads to mark-up.

The Postal Service has also made some interesting announcements. They will be delaying phase two of their network rationalization plan that was set to kick in on February 7th. This phase would have closed over 140 processing centers, ended or sharply reduced overnight delivery of first class mail, mailed and delivered in the same area.

The Postal Service did not give a reason for the delay but stated that they plan on rescheduling sometime in the future. The Postal Service continues to defend the closures claiming that reduced volumes no longer require such a large network.

They have also announced an end to the pay freeze for supervisors and managers, giving them a 1 percent raise. Up until now, supervisors and managers had been in a three year pay freeze. They have also lifted the suspension of its award program. You remember their pay-for-performance bonuses, we perform and they get paid!

Carriers did receive a 1% pay raise back in November as part of the 2011-2016 National Agreement. We are creeping closer to receiving our first COLA of the 2011-2016 National Agreement. It will be noticeable on our checks by mid-March. So far there hasn’t been a projected accumulation toward the third COLA. This COLA will be based on the increase in the CPI between July 2013 and January 2014 and would also see around the same time frame.

The price of First class stamps has gone up 3 cents, this is 4.3%. It’s half of what the USPS asked the Postal Regulatory Commission for and this increase is only temporary. Supposedly until the Postal Service recoups $2.8 billion in lost profits. So it’s temporary with no fixed end date. Now that sounds like the Postal Service!

Local news
I had the pleasure of attending the memorial dinner honoring the first anniversary of the passing of President Emeritus Vincent R. Sombrotto. It was a packed house, with many fine speakers including NALC President Fred Rolando, our own Cleveland Morgan and Anthony Puccio, two veterans of the 1970 strike. The event was held in the Hammerstein Ballroom. Ironically, it was in the same place that the strike vote was taken 44 years ago. There was a nice “Remembering Vinny” video that I hope to have posted on the branch’s website by the time you read this.
Outlook November / December 2013
In The News
Something happened the other day that I think is very significant. The union has fought long and hard to end withholding of residual assignment and to get the temporary workforce a clear path toward full time employment. Well on November 2nd the first group of city carrier assistants were converted to full time regulars carriers. Nationally the group was somewhere between 1500-2000 CCA’s. I think it was significant because it marks the first time in about 7 years that the Postal Service has done nothing but try to cut and downsize, has hired career employees in the carrier craft. And now CCA’s will have a real chance of becoming career employees. This will hit home soon as there are no more PTF’s left in the Bronx and the next time they fill residuals vacancies they will have to convert CCA’s.

Most of the CCA’s converted also spent time as TE’s; under the new contract CCA’s time as TE’s counts toward their “relative standing” which will be used as a form of seniority, when converting CCA’s to regulars.

This is due to a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the NALC and the USPS (M-01824) which establishes a process for filling residual vacancies not under a proper Article 12 withholding order. Also under this MOU residual vacancies will be posted on e-reassign for 21 days and part-time flexibles will have the opportunity to transfer as full-time regulars into residual vacancies. Any residual not filled in this way will have the next CCA’s by relative standing convert to regular to fill the assignment.

Don’t end Saturday delivery, add Sunday!
Well that’s what’s happening for now. Starting on November 10th the Postal Service, in an agreement with Amazon, will be delivering parcels on Sundays. New York is one of two cities that will launch this project. Here in New York this will be done out of several hubs in Manhattan and the Bronx. I have stated in my article before that the Postal Service was wrong for wanting to cut services like door-to-door delivery. I feel this is a good idea because it adds service, Sunday Delivery! Amazon will be dropping the parcels directly at the hubs and then we do what we do best, delivery. The Postal Service has already been delivering Parcel Select packages to some 900 zip codes in a contract with Amazon. This is the kind of program the Postal Service should be exploring to keep us vibrant and relative and capture our share of the growing e-commerce market.

I’m told when the system is in full swing the carrier will be given a handheld device like an iPad with the order of delivery and step by step driving directions. I was told by the CCA’s from my station that was not quite up and running last Sunday and it fell to good old carrier know-how to get the packages delivered.

Open Season is from November 11th – December 9, 2013. I strongly urge all letter carriers to join the NALC Health Benefit Plan. It is an excellent plan that offers a comprehensive benefit package at an affordable rate.

Outlook September / October 2013
In The News
The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has been holding hearings on the Postal Bill S.1486. Introduced by committee chairman Sen. Tom Carper and ranking member Sen. Tom Coburn, this bill would help dismantle the Postal Service and cut service to our customers. This bill wants to end door-to-door delivery, and maintains the need to pre-fund retiree health benefit costs well into the future.

It can't be said enough times, the Postal Service has a bad business model; you cannot grow into the future in a service-originated business by cutting service, it just doesn't work.

The Postal Service will always continue to show a loss when it has to pay over 5 billion a year into pre-funding retiree health benefits that are already over-funded. Without this the Postal Service would actually show a profit.

This round of hearings focused mainly on rates and revenue. NALC President Fredric Rolando is scheduled to testify in the next round of hearings.

U.S. Postal Service has filed a request with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to increase the price of a First-Class Mail single-piece letter from 46 cents to 49 cents. The proposed changes would go into effect in January, 2014. Pricing for
other mail, including postcards and packages, would also rise in January. This would be a 6.5% raise, which is over the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent.

In the latest move to downsize the Postal Service, the Postal Service is once again offering a Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) to field employees covered by the Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS, supervisors and managers) throughout the country. There is no incentive tied to this offer. Employees who opt to accept this offer will be out by the end of January.

Local News
Grievances by Branch 36 have caused Management for the second time to have to reschedule the start of the C&I in J.A.F. At the September shop steward seminar, Director of City Delivery, Pascual Ortiz, conducted primer training on C&I's for all the shop stewards and President Charlie Heege has promised training to any station that comes on management's list for C&I's. This training will be given just prior to any C&I so it is fresh in your mind. The Branch will continue to file grievances before and after any C&I where management attempts to take shortcuts or gloss things over.
Outlook July / August 2013
In The News
(Rep./Cal.) Darrell Issa's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has put out a new bill and it is as unacceptable as the last one. There is very little difference between this one and the last one. He dropped his provision that called for a special board to reopen all union contracts in an attempt to get concession, but not much else. This time it calls for the immediate end of Saturday delivery as well as a program to phase out door-to-door delivery over the next ten years! It does not eliminate the USPS' obligation to prefund retirement health care, just reduces and stretches out the payments. Only the U.S. Postal Service is required to prefund retirement health care, which requires prefunding in the amount of $5 billion dollars, annually! Such an obligation should be permanently eliminated. Congressman Darrell Issa is clearly not looking to enhance the ability of the Postal Service to survive. Rather, he is obviously looking to ensure its destruction under the guise of "reforming" it! His ulterior motives deserve to be generously exposed. Who does he think he's kidding?

This is not an attempt to fix the Postal Service, this is an attack on the Postal Service, Congressman Issa still fails to see that cutting service in a service-orientated business is not the way to go, and will not help us succeed into the future.

The bill must now go before the House for negotiations and Senator Tom Carper, the chairman of the Senate's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, must come up with the Senate version of the bill. So there is time, but we must continue on, to fight against this attack on our jobs and be proactive in our stance.

On June 23rd the newly renamed Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 played host to the inaugural 1st annual Region 15's "Vinny's Walk", to Deliver the Cure Walk for MDA, down in Battery Park City on Vesey Street. With weather perfect for a walk in the park, the event had quite a large turnout. There was food, children's activities, raffles, music and entertainment, and of course, the Walk. Vinny's family was in attendance as was NALC President Fred Rolando. There were also more than 12 branches being represented. The event raised over $20,000 for MDA. The Walk was the idea of our own Orlando Gonzalez, now RAA with Region 15.

More Local News
On July 27th there was a rally at GPO at 149th Street and the Grand Concourse to protest the sale of the building. The sale is part of the USPS' poorly thought-out plans of downsizing and consolidation to cut costs. Bureaucrat Tom Samra of the US Postal Service, Vice President of Facilities, filed a motion with the Postal Regulatory Commission to dismiss the appeal on stopping the relocation of the historic Bronx General Post Office. The U.S. Postal Service has been actively shopping the building trying to find a buyer. Where the window services would be relocated to has yet to be determined. The building was built during the Great Depression by the WPA and has served the community for over 75 years, and it deserves landmark status.
Outlook May / June 2013
In The News
The USPS issued its second quarter financial reports and it's interesting reading.

Revenue was up 121 million with a 2.4 percent increase in advertising revenue and a pronounced 9.3 percent jump in package revenue. President Fred Rolando stated, "This positive trend undermines the doom-and-gloom scenarios postal critics cite - and it shows the folly of reducing services to Americans, as the Postmaster General seeks to do."

Operating expenses also fell by 1.2 billion dollars which all helped to offset a 2.7 percent drop in first class mail.

Gone are the days of the Postal Service being driven by first class mail. Parcel delivery is the wave of the future and the USPS must learn to change its focus. We need to do everything we can to grab our share of the parcel delivery business. By utilizing our vast last mile delivery network.

A new program with Amazon that started with a handful of stations during Christmas and has been continued is doing just that, using our last mile network to get many of their customers next day delivery. Amazon gets it to the local post office and we do the delivery. As Amazon expands its network, this will expand to more and more post offices.

A 9.3 percent jump in parcel revenue, I can't help but feel Customer Connect played a part in those increases. We must continue to support this important program and make proper handling of our parcel delivery a priority each and everyday.

JARAP/LDC 23
The increase in parcels can be felt right here close to home as the LDC 23 team has been instrumental in adding parcel post routes to some of the stations that need it. And it will be visiting more stations in the near future.

It's springtime which also means JARAP time. The JARAP rules state management must post the Workhour/Workload report every day. I hope everyone has been checking this report and making sure your route gets the credit it deserves in both the office and the street each day.

Outlook March / April 2013
In The News
On March 6th spending measures passed by the House of Representatives to keep the government operating through September contained language that would require the Postal Service to continue six-day delivery. On March 20th the Senate passed its own version of a continuing resolution to fund the government. It also contained language that would require the Postal Service to continue six-day delivery. The CR then went back to the House of Representatives where it passed unchanged and now goes on to President Obama. The problem is this would only preserve six-day delivery till September 30th so the fight is not over.

On March 24th the NALC held "A Day of Action" with rallies in many major cities across the country to show support for keeping six-day delivery. Branch 36 hosted one of these rallies outside of JAF. Well over three thousand people showed up and filled the streets from 31st Street to 29th Street along 8th Avenue. The rally was well attended not only by Branch 36 members but fellow carriers from every borough of the city and from as far away as Hudson Valley; also in attendance were members of APWU and the Mailhandlers. President Charlie Heege's speech started things off as we heard from NALC Vice President George Mignosi, the President of NY Metro Jonathan Smith, Mailhandlers Local 300 President Willie Delgado, also from many local and national politicians including Congressmen Elliot Engel and Jerrold Nadler, Congresswoman Grace Meng, and NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NY Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, Councilwomen Gale Brewer and Rosie Mendez, and many community activists.

All of them were of like mind to not only save six-day delivery but to stop the dismantling of the Postal Service. Currently, they are trying to close 5 more post offices in Manhattan and Bronx GPO. The closures would have a dramatic impact on their communities and the people that work in these facilities.

The Postmaster claims eliminating Saturday delivery will save 2 billion dollars a year, but has given no specific breakdown of savings or the impact it could have on loss of business of mailers who want their product delivered on Saturdays. They don't know because they have no real plan. Just ask any carrier from a Bronx station who now must wait longer for mail to get to the station after they moved all processing out of Bronx GPO down to Morgan. Just ask any carrier from one of the stations that were closed and now must travel twice as far to get to their route. Just ask any carrier from a station that lost multiple clerks from the last early out and now must wait longer for the up mail. The Postmaster doesn't know where the savings will come from because he has no real plan on how they will implement his plan to stop mail delivery on Saturday but still open offices to sell stamps and deliver parcels. Their plan is to act now and figure it out later, or more to the point, suffer through it later. We need a plan that will grow the Postal Service, not cuts that will diminish the service we can provide.

Outlook January / February 2013
In The News
President Emeritus Vincent R. Sombrotto died on January 10, 2013. He was the finest President a labor union could ever hope for, serving a remarkable seven term tenure, from 1978-2002. During his term in office he presided over seven contracts, guiding us through more than two decades of progress and advancements for the letter carriers' craft, all while strengthening every aspect making up the union.

Vincent R. Sombrotto became national president the same year I came into the Postal Service. As a carrier I always took an interest in our union and our leader.

Vincent R. Sombrotto. I felt a great admiration for the quality of his leadership and his direction of the union. Enough so that my interest and concern for my fellow carriers grew to the point I became a shop steward.

I have always taken pride in the fact that I belong to the same branch as Vincent R. Sombrotto and the great history our Branch 36 and the NALC have lived under his leadership. Ultimately, I got to meet him at the first national convention I attended. He was retired as president of the union by then, so he came to sit with our delegation, his home branch, and chatted with everyone as if he had known us for years! It really made us feel like there was more to brothers and sisters in unionism than just words. It is he we have to thank for so many of the benefits that we enjoy today. He will be missed by the multitude and remembered by all.

Arbitration Board Award
Shyam Das three member Arbitration Board Award has been announced. It turned down managements's desire to freeze our wages and it provides for three general wage increases and seven COLA's. It also established a new lower step and entry wage for new hires after January 12, 2013, but will still take the same amount of time to reach the top step. This is unlike the negotiated contract of the APWU and arbitrated contract of NRLCA.

The award also eliminates the TE and replaces them with a new category non-career employee named the city carrier assistants (CCA); they will still be a 360-day appointment. They will have a lower starting wage but have a real path to career appointment with a type of seniority called "relative standing" that will give them preference for career job opening. They will be eligible for health insurance after one year that will be in line with the Affordable Care Act, and the Postal Service will be contributing toward their premiums. CCA will be limited to 15% of the total number of carriers with provisions for additional CCA to facilitate the development of new services.

Also, like recent contracts, the award calls for a continued shift in the percentage of the health care premiums the carrier will have to pay over the life of the contract. The share that the current employees pay for health coverage will increase from 20 percent to 24 percent by 2016. That proportion will still be less than the 28 percent that most federal employees pay.

On a good note, the award does continue both the no layoff clause and the ban on the subcontracting out of carrier work. PTF's carrier positions will no longer exist as PTFs are converted to regular status to fill residual vacancies that arise.

Naturally, we would have preferred a negotiated settlement from NALC president Fredric Rolando. He said that the deal reached by the panel met three of the union's primary objectives for negotiation. The statement Issued by the Postal Service voiced their disappointment over the continuation of the no layoff protection and contractual and COLA raises.

Outlook November / December 2012
In The News
It's weeks later and we are still feeling the effects of hurricane Sandy here in our area. I have lived in New York my whole life and have never seen the level of destruction caused by this storm. Sections of the city and Long Island are still without power, gas is being rationed on odd and even days and many families are still struggling to get their lives back to normal. More than 169,000 New Yorkers have contacted FEMA for information or registered for assistance with FEMA and more than $300 million has been approved. If you need help a good place to start is www.disasterassistance.gov. Many of our brother and sister carriers were affected directly and indirectly. Our branch website has links and information that will be useful to carriers who might need to file claims, including forms for PERF (Postal Employees Relief Fund). Donations can be made to PERF at www.postalrelief.com/donate.html or to make payroll deductions, please designate CFC#10268 during the Combined Federal Campaign. Please help get this information out to those that need it.

The storm did not stop the elections and some had to cast their votes at alternate polling places in the tri-state region but it did not stop President Obama from carrying the day. President Obama received 332 electoral votes to 206 for Gov. Romney and 50.6% to 47.8% of the popular vote. President Obama and many Democratic candidates throughout the nation received tremendous grass root support from the labor unions to combat Republican Super PAC money. The same Supreme Court ruling that allowed flooding elections with corporate money through outside groups like Super PAC's also allowed unions and their volunteers to knock on the doors of non-members for the first time, vastly expanding organized labor's canvassing and get-out-the-vote operations. With the Democrats maintaining a majority in the Senate and Republicans controlling the House, postal reform during the lame duck session of Congress still may not see a final resolution.

Some of you might have heard the Postal Service has entered into a test program with Amazon called "Proof of Concept". There are 20 Manhattan and two Bronx stations involved in the project. Amazon drop shipments will arrive each morning at the chosen station with the parcels for that day. Procedures are in place for these parcels to receive an AAU scan (arrival at unit) and to link them to the delivery route. These parcels will be highlighted with pink markers to alert the delivery carrier that the parcel is part of the program. These parcels need to be delivered the same day they arrive at the station. Next day delivery is the wave of the future and the Postal Service has to step it up to raise customer expectations in our parcel services. Programs like this which take advantage of our last mile capabilities could raise millions in new revenue for the Postal Service.

Outlook September / October 2012
In The News
Happening in the news: NALC and the USPS formally began talks on binding arbitration on Thursday September 6th. Shyam Das heads the 3 person arbitration panel that also contains NALC attorney Bruce Simon and USPS attorney Robert Dufek. What's not happening in the news is any action from Congress. The House of Representatives still has not addressed the matters of the Postal Service and from all indications won't pass any major legislation until after the November elections. Better known as the lame duck session, it's just lame that they duck the issue as Republicans from the House want to get reelected before they let their constituency know they'll vote to close rural post offices. The House of Representatives has passed a six-month continuing resolution to keep the government in operation after Sept. 30th. The Senate is expected to pass it as well, and due to the lobbying efforts of the NALC to preserve six-day delivery for now, despite efforts of Rep. Darrell Issa to get President Obama to include an interim postal reform package that would have allowed the Postal Service to cut a day of delivery.

In other news: The Federal Times is reporting that, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced that the average premium for the 8.2 million people covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program will increase by 3.4 percent in 2013, which is lower than last year's increase of 3.8 percent.

The 2013 Open Season for health, dental, and vision insurance and flexible spending accounts will be held from November 12, 2012 to December 10, 2012. The annual Open Season gives federal employees and retirees the opportunity to review their health plan choices and make changes for the following year. It also allows eligible employees to enroll for coverage. FEHB Program enrollees should review the benefits and premiums for their health plan choices and decide what coverage will best fit their healthcare needs in the coming year.

This means that the NALC Health Benefit Plan will still have the lowest premiums and stay the most cost effective plan available. The NALC Plan is comparable to any plan out there, and I have been a happy member for many years and the more of our brothers and sisters that join the plan, means the plan will only grow stronger.

Outlook July / August 2012
In The News
Because of the inaction of Congress to work on a solution to the dilemma congressional representatives created when they mandated the Postal Service to prefund future retirees' health benefits, the Postal Service has defaulted on a 5.5 billion dollar payment that was due August lst, and likely will do the same on a 5.6 billion dollar payment due on September 30th.

While this will be the first time the Postal Service has ever defaulted, defaulting does not excuse the debt. It's still on the books waiting for Congress to act. The Postal Service has stated the default will have no real effect on its day-to-day business and the Postal Service has stated that employees and subcontractors will continue to be paid. The real crime here is that the House, through its inability, or more likely unwillingness before the November elections, has yet to act as HR 1351 with over 200 co-signers, sits on the desk of Rep. Darrell Issa (R.CA) as he tries to push ahead his own HR 2309 co-signed only by his buddy Ross.

FROM THE CONVENTION
I had the pleasure of attending the 68th biennial convention. There was no sugar coating of the problems letter carriers will face in the near future, but it was made clear in many of the speeches that we heard, that we must be pro-active and can't leave the future of the Postal Service to those who would dismantle it and sell it to a private concern. It is tragic that the PMG is not a leader with an innovative business plan to revitalize the Postal Service. Instead, he can think only of cutting and slashing and downsizing. First class might be declining, but at the same time e-commerce has increased parcel delivery and we must make every effort to increase our share of that market. Our vast network gives us an upper hand in last mile deliveries as does six-day delivery with no surcharge. The advancement of EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), Customer Connect and other new avenues of revenue are the future of the Postal Service. So is our need to stand together, get involved and join e-activist, contribute to COLCPE, and make yourself heard.
Outlook May / June 2012
This is my first article as editor of The Outlook, and I would like to thank President Charlie Heege for this opportunity. I hope to continue the long tradition of good journalism that my predecessors established, and I would like to tell you a little about myself. I have been a carrier for 34 years and a steward for 16 years, as well as a part-time officer of the branch for 10 years and I am a hearing officer in the Bronx. I am webmaster of the branch website and also head up the JARAP team.
In The News
The Postal Service' self-imposed moratorium on closing facilities across the nation ends on May 15th and favor going ahead with consolidations which are:

Phase 1 will resume in January, 2013 and overnight delivery of first-class mail will be preserved for local areas through the end of 2013. Phase 2 will continue beginning in February, 2014, unless the circumstances of the Postal Service change and the first-class mail overnight delivery standard will be applicable only to properly prepared and entered intra-SFC Presort.

The first phase of activities will result in up to 140 consolidations through February of 2013. Unless the Postal Service's circumstances change, a second and final phase of 89 consolidations currently Is scheduled to begin in February, 2014.

The U.S. Senate has passed S 1789 amendments to that bill would limit what the USPS can do in the rural areas of the nation, so their plan has changed from closing post offices in those communities to reducing hours. Congressman Darrell Issa, who it would seem would like to dismantle the Postal Service, doesn't feel the bill goes far enough. Issa's Postal Destruction Bill still has to go through the House of Representatives, but the House has stated it won't tackle the matter until after their vacation break. It's an uphill battle, but these measures can still be defeated.

JARAP
I feel the JARAP way of adjusting routes is here to stay. The JARAP method gives the union and carrier a say in the adjustment. This is far superior than leaving management to its own devices. It is still the carrier's responsibility to do the right thing by their routes all the time. It is too late to start when you hear the JARAP teams use the preceding months from their visits. This can be March, April, or May in the spring and September, October or November in the fall. These are the most commonly used times.

What is doing the right thing you might ask? Not skipping your lunch breaks when management is pressuring you to be back by a certain time. The most common one that seems to go by the wayside is the end of the day wash-up. You are entitled to 12 minutes at the end of the day to wash up and that is in addition to the time it takes to go to the 3M case, return your keys and scanner to the registry cage and put away any hold, PARS or CFS mail that you bring back from the DPS mail.

Making the right clock rings, when doing carrier work, you should be on a carrier code and you should make sure when you assist another route in the station or the street that you hit to that route so it gets the proper credit. Conversely, when your route is getting help in the morning, inquire with the helper if the proper clock ring was made. You can also check the workhour/workload report if any street assistance you receivedbwas clocked right, and if you see any problems, alert your shop steward.




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