|Outlook May / June 2017|
Tentative National Agreement
|After close to a year of negotiations, there is now a tentative agreement between the NALC and the USPS. Out national officers stuck it out and negotiated a contract which benefits everyone. There are provisions such as salary increases and cost of living allowances for all letter carriers. There are many provisions which specifically benefit the CCA’s. There are provisions for former Transitional Employees (TE’s) and recent retirees are entitled to back pay. The highlights are published in this issue and more can be found on the NALC website (www.nalc.org).
I, along with the Executive Board, recommend that all Branch 36 active carriers ratify this tentative agreement. Ratification ballots should be mailed out to all active carriers by the end of June. Exercise your right and vote to ratify.
2017 Food Drive
|We had another successful NALC Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive this year. Our two energetic Branch 36 Food Drive Coordinators, Carmen Flores and Melinda Hammond, were successful in getting the carriers motivated. Many thanks to Carmen, Melinda, the shop stewards, the regular and CCA carriers, and of course, the public. We collected close to 40,000 more pounds of food this year over last year’s total, for a total of 117,323 pounds.
Many thanks to all of the carriers who broke down the Food Drive postcards into stations for delivery, which advertised our food drive.
We had our kickoff on May 4th at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger Pantry again this year. Director Greg Silverman was very gracious in allowing us to have our kickoff there. He gave us a personal tour and invited carriers to volunteer at the pantry. Six carriers from Planetarium took him up on that offer and volunteered. They were: Shop Steward Carlton Pinto, Paulette Little, Randy Frazer, Louis Williams, Kiana Milton and Arlene Margetson.
I send special thanks to Ruth Kraus, the Assistant Manager for Food Sourcing at City Harvest. Ruth’s team was responsible for picking up the food collected and distributing it to the Manhattan and Bronx pantries and food banks.
Manhattan Postmaster Kevin Crocilla spoke encouragingly at our kickoff and his positivity was well received. Percival Prince sang the National Anthem and Gail Branham was the Master of Ceremony. Johnathan Estreich from Governor Cuomo’s office delivered and read a Proclamation from Governor Cuomo. We also received Proclamations from NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. Members of Congress Carolyn Maloney and Jose Serrano sent representatives to our kickoff.
|Outlook March / April 2017||
|Branch 36 has never experienced a problem with finding volunteers for the various committees and projects that arise; and for this reason, I would like to dedicate at least one article per year solely for the purpose of shout outs. Branch 36 is successful on many fronts thanks to these dedicated volunteers who make it all possible. Many of these volunteers wear several different hats and are not afraid to jump right in and take on whatever is necessary to get the job done.
The year began with a few setbacks in the Customer Connect Program due to the change in management personnel. Despite that fact, the Customer Connect Coordinators, Danielle Smith and Ed Dyer, did not let it deter them from successfully encouraging carriers to seek out new revenue leads. You will find a list of those carriers who followed their “lead” in this issue of the Outlook. Great job!
|This year, the Branch 36 NALC Food Drive is headed by Carmen Flores and Melinda Hammond. They are already hard at work: visiting stations, inspiring carriers to donate non-perishable food items, and selling food drive t-shirts. Super job!
Next weekend, the MDA Chairman, Mike Perdomo, will assist Tony Ortiz and various others with our MDA Comedy Fundraiser Show, which is held in our meeting hall. These comedy shows have been very successful in raising money and an important reason why we have been able to send many kids with muscular diseases to a week-long summer camp in the summer. Outstanding job!
When it comes to right-sizing Parcel Post Assignments, these two carriers, Anibal (Sonny) Guadalupe and David Velazquez, Sr., have done an amazing job! They are experts on route adjustments.
There are week-long Count and Inspections going on in a few stations at the moment, which management has unilaterally picked and which they believe are best for reducing carrier routes. District management has stated that mail volume has decreased significantly and insists that station management has been lying about the amount of mail volume. Furthermore, insisting that management has been trying to protect their own station’s assignments by fudging the volume numbers. I do not see how that would be at all possible with all of the micro-managing that goes on in the Postal Service.
Branch 36’s C & I experts are offering their experience to carriers, who are preparing for Count and Inspections. John Springman, Sonny Guadalupe, Helen Amill and Pascual Ortiz have given seminars for Murray Hill, Manhattanville and Cooper Station carriers thus far. Vincent R. Sombrotto Station Carriers are scheduled next for a seminar. Expert job!
Our EAP Committee Members: Karla Navas, Jerome Jackson, Tayry Vega and Brenda Edwards do an outstanding job educating Branch 36 Carriers of the need for the Employee Assistance Program. Excellent Job!
Much thanks to all of these hardworking, impressive carriers. As well as all of the equally motivated shop stewards, who pitch in regularly to help these committees maintain their successful outcomes. Outstanding!
One committee that doesn’t receive the proper recognition is the Hearing Committee. Our Hearing Officers handle the second step of the Grievance Procedure and deal with a variety of personalities whenever they sit down with station managers to handle grievances. In the Bronx, we have Frank Perez, Pascual Ortiz, Jerome Jackson and Danielle Smith. In Manhattan, we have Helen Amill, Sheila Mitchell, Carmen Flores, Rafael Feliciano and Tom Nelson. Incredible Job!
On the behalf of all Branch 36 members, I thank all of the above mentioned carriers and the many others, who I have failed to mention.
|Branch 36 members have a huge benefit that isn’t being utilized by enough of our members, the Empire Branch 36 Credit Union. It is a great place to open a Savings Account or a Christmas/Vacation Account. You are the only one who determines how much money to save and how it will be deducted from your payroll check. Believe me, after a couple of deposits, you won’t even notice it being deducted from your paycheck. Just think at the end of the year, you could have a nice savings account.
The credit union is also a great place for a carrier to get a loan, whether it is a car, vacation or bill payer loan. Compare the rates for yourself with the local banks; you’d be surprised. Empire Branch 36 Credit Union is here to help Branch 36 Carriers so why not come in and utilize this membership benefit.
|Outlook January / February 2017||
|Change is all around us; be it politics or postal policies, it’s inevitable. Therefore, we must remain alert and vigilant with the goings-on in Washington, D.C. We have recently been made aware that the President’s Executive Orders can impact our daily lives. Thank God, we have three branches of government, which maintain our system of checks and balances. These three branches of government each must limit the power of the other, so one branch does not become more powerful or allowed to overstep the magnitude of its own constitutional power.||
|There are three House Resolutions that I ask each of you to ask your House Representatives to support and sponsor: H.Res. 28 protects door delivery for all businesses and residential customers; H.Res. 15 calls on Congress and the Postal Service to take all appropriate steps to continue six-day mail delivery; and H. Res. 31 calls on the USPS to restore the service standards that were in effect prior to July 1, 2012. The NALC Fact Sheets for these three House Resolutions can be found in this issue. Please read the NALC Fact Sheets and promptly call your representatives
Did you know we dodged a bullet with one of President Trump’s Executive Orders? The president signed an Executive Order calling for a federal employee hiring freeze. It was made clear, however that this did not include the Postal Service. Stay tuned!
The postal service is not immune to the changing times. The effects can be felt with the new management personnel in the NY District. This management team is quite different from past management teams. In the past, we dealt with management, who looked for win/win agreements between the NY District and Branch 36. We didn’t always agree, but we were both eager to find processes that were beneficial to both letter carriers and the postal service. That method is now a thing of the past. The current management team doesn’t see any benefit in cooperation or joint agreements. They want us to agree to whatever notion comes to mind and couldn’t care less whether or not it violates contractual language.
The NALC have signed several Joint Route Adjustment Agreements in the past, which all have start and ending dates. In the past, when there wasn’t a National Agreement in effect, Branch 36 would sit down with the NY District and come up with a local route adjustment agreement, but that’s not likely with today’s district management. The main reason given is that their bosses will not allow it! Lately, we have heard this unreasonable request, “If you agree with everything we put in an agreement and the area bosses approve it, we can have an agreement.” I, in good conscience, cannot sign that sort of an agreement because it is baseless and one-sided.
Currently, management is conducting a week-long Count and Inspections in Murray Hill Station. They have already completed C & I’s in RCU and Peck Slip Stations. The Peck Slip C & I’s are currently in the grievance procedure. It looks like Murray Hill will file many grievances concerning these C & I’s in the near future. Manhattanville, Vincent R. Sombrotto, Cooper, and Ansonia Stations are all scheduled for C & I’s. We have experts willing to share their knowledge on this topic and Branch 36 is offering the carriers of each station C & I training. Murray Hill Carriers attended our seminar, which was given by Executive Vice President John Springman, Sonny Guadalupe, Helen Amill and Pascual Ortiz. Many thanks, to our experts and to the carriers who attended.
Hopefully, our current District Management team will see the value in developing a joint process, which has been mutually beneficial for both sides for many years. Using the lame excuse that they are being micromanaged is simply unacceptable.
|Outlook November / December 2016|
|The best outcome of Election Day 2016, in my opinion, was that Political TV Commercials have ceased. President elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, January 20, 2017. All we can do is stand by and wait and see if he keeps his campaign promises regarding: not cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits. We shall see. In the meantime, the NALC will keep E-Activists up-to-date through emails and notifications from the NALC App. Like always, we will stand together and be ready to fight, if necessary.|
|We had a successful Dinner Dance in November with about 400 participants in attendance. This celebration took place at The Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle. It was our 40th Annual Dinner Dance and a good time was had by all. Did you know our first dinner dance was held on East 233rd Street in the Bronx in 1977 and Vincent R. Sombrotto was Branch 36 President at the time?
Many thanks to our Dinner Dance Committee: Carmen Flores-Chairperson, Sheila Mitchell, Karla Navas, Pascual Ortiz, Helen Amill, Patricio Montenegro, Melinda Hammond and Tayry Vega. Great job everyone!
Shop Stewards Election
|Congratulations to all elected Branch 36 Shop Stewards. We had about 3/4 of our stewards reelected and the other 1/4 are new stewards, which include six CCA’s.
A shop steward job is not an easy one and it takes a strong willed person to be good at it. A shop steward has to figure out whether a carrier’s problem is a grievance or a gripe, whether it violates our National Agreement or Local LMOU, or goes against the handbooks and manuals. Just like anything else, it gets easier with experience, and further knowledge can be learned by attending Branch 36 meetings and seminars regularly. Keep in mind, Branch 36 experts are only a phone call away at (212) 239-3901.
I would like to thank the former stewards who have served our membership well. Some of you may have decided not to run, while others have retired. Whatever the reason may be, thank you all for your dedication and hard work. It has been much appreciated.
|Outlook September / October 2016||
NALC Smartphone Apps
|The NALC member App is now available on iPhones and Android Smartphones. This App has everything you need as an active or retired letter carrier. The first step is to download this free App from your App store on your Smartphone. For iPhones use the Apple App store and for Androids use Google Play.
The NALC officers and their IT Department came up with an excellent App. Not only does it have the JCAM and the handbooks and manuals needed by shop stewards in the grievance procedure, but CCA’s are also able to reference the CCA Resource Guide from this App. There is another section that can be used by Safety Captains, including OSHA resources. It’s important to mention, there is an extensive section on retirement and legislation as well
|. You may also sign up as an E-Activist and for the Letter Carrier Political Action Fund payroll deductions or annuity deductions through this App. There is easy access to the NALC Health Benefits Plan and the Mutual Benefit Association. You are easily able to sign up for the NALC Veterans Group. The amount of resources one can access with this App are outstanding. I, myself, enjoy being able to read NALC Facebook and Twitter posts from this App. When you join, you will also receive NALC push notifications. I suggest that every NALC member with an iPhone or Android phone download this App and become a most informed active or retired letter carrier; you won’t be disappointed.|
|Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 had our Annual Retirees Brunch on September 11th. It was probably the smallest Branch 36 Brunch that I ever attended. We were expecting 150 retirees, but only about 120 attended. It stands to reason, that the 15th Anniversary of 9/11 played a major part in this outcome. Traffic was at a standstill on that particular day.
Congratulations to Thomas Torregrossa for receiving his gold membership card. This honor means Thomas has been a NALC Branch 36 member for 50 years and no longer has to pay dues.
Thank you to Ms. Myra Warren, the NALC Director of Life Insurance for attending and presenting our retirees with a heartfelt speech. Her message of sharing retiree experiences with new letter carriers was inspiring. Thanks to NYSALC President George Mangold and NBA Larry Cirelli for attending the brunch and also for sharing important updates with our retirees.
My favorite person, who I always look forward to seeing, Ruby Almeida was, as always, in attendance. Ruby attends all Membership Meetings, State and National Conventions and Retiree Brunches. Ruby also walks our picket lines. She turned 91 years young on her birthday in May. I call Ruby, “The Mom of Branch 36.” Next year, Ruby will receive her Gold Membership Card.
|It is with deep sadness that I share the news of the death of Dom Siclian. Dom passed away at the age of 96. In his postal career, he served as shop steward and a part time officer of Branch 36. Upon his retirement, Dom became the President of Branch 36’s Welfare and Scholarship Fund. Dom was a dedicated Branch 36 member, as well as a decorated WWII Veteran. Rest in Peace, Dom.|
|Outlook July / August 2016||
Branch 36 Scholarships
|Congratulations to this year’s Branch 36 Scholarship recipients: Jenny Li, Vivian Shan, Arafat Arman and Richard J. Ramos. Jenny graduated from Bronx High School of Science and is the daughter of Ji Ping Li, a carrier from Soundview Station. Vivian graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School and is the daughter of Jackie Shan, a carrier from Radio City Station. Arafat graduated from Forest Hills High School and is the son of Imrul H. Bepary, a carrier from Murray Hill Station. Richard graduated from Beacon High School and is the son of Richard Ramos, a carrier from the Vincent R. Sombrotto Station. Congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients on a job well done and also to their proud parents. One highlight in June for me is our Branch Shop Steward Seminar. Each year, as president, I have the privilege of presenting four scholarships to four outstanding students. Each scholarship recipient shared an inspiring message in their Acceptance Speech and it was evident to everyone that we picked the right students.||
|The NALC and Branch 36’s Executive Board and the Board of Shop Stewards have endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. We waited for the Democratic Primary to be finished before backing a candidate because Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are both good friends to letter carriers. Now that Bernie has endorsed Hillary, we are free to come together as a whole to help elect Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States.
I am not naïve; in fact, I am well aware of the fact that not all members of the NALC and Branch 36 agree with our endorsement. However, this endorsement has been based on which candidate is best to protect the Postal Service from privatization and to protect workers in general. Donald is on record stating: “American workers are overpaid.” Wouldn’t it be fun to watch Donald and his family live on a minimum wage salary? Let’s face it, Donald doesn’t have a clue.
Some folks don’t like either choice for president. But remember, by staying home on Election Day, you are clearly stating that whatever happens doesn’t matter. It is not only the presidency that is at stake. We have a chance to take back the Senate and the House. By doing so, we can stop the anti-labor factions in Congress, such as Paul Ryan, who want to decrease Social Security Benefits. The Democratic platform is to increase those same benefits. So don’t stay home on Election Day. Complacency is too dangerous for the election cycle.
Register to vote and vote on Election Day. Volunteer to get out the vote for our friends
|Outlook May / June 2016|
|The following are the remarks I made after being sworn in as president of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 NALC.
Welcome everyone; I stand before you today with the greatest sense of pride and I wish to thank you all for your continued confidence in me, as your president. I would further like to thank you for keeping our team of officers intact. And yes, it is true, we do work well together as a team. Much thanks to Brian Hellman and Larry Cirelli for being our Installing Officers this evening. As some of you know, Brian and I started out as letter carriers and shop stewards together in FDR Station. Thanks to retiree, Cleveland Morgan, for our invocation.
|would like to first take a moment to introduce my family members who are present today: my son, Paul, his girlfriend Cindy, my sister Liz and my three nieces: Kelly, Lauren and Krissy.
I have many important decisions to make, as your president, and I do not take them lightly. I value the opinions of all branch officers and members and weigh each and every concern before making a final decision. My full time officers: John, Harold, Pat and Tony do an outstanding job; each one is a dynamic part of the team and I hold them all in the highest regard.
There are many others who stand amongst us and help to link together the strong backbone of this union. Our fourteen part-time officers all play an important part. All of these men and women help to preserve the strength of our great union! They do not hesitate to jump in whenever needed and many wear several hats: as shop stewards, hearing officers and chairs of various committees. And they do so all for the benefit of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 members.
Speaking of wearing many hats: Tony, Carmen and Sheila do a fantastic job as Congressional District Liaisons keeping House of Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Elliot Engel and Jose Serrano current on Letter Carrier issues. Carmen and Jerome have stepped up, as this year’s NALC Food Drive Coordinators. Our 24th Annual Food Drive is the largest One Day Food Drive in the country, taking place in all 50 states and U.S. territories on Saturday, May 14th this year. Carmen also acts as our Dinner Dance Chairperson. Danielle is our Customer Connect Coordinator. Sonny freely takes on the role of Chairperson of our Welfare and Scholarship Fund. Sonny is also busy with David working to right-size parcel post assignments. Jerome is a member of the Joint NY District E.A.P. Committee, while Helen and Pascual serve as Arbitration Advocates. Busy officers!
There are also many who step up and are not elected branch officers, such as our CDL’s, Donna Thompkins and Natan Sheyer, who keep Members of Congress Charlie Rangel and Gerry Nadler up to date on important letter carrier issues. Our Webmaster, retiree Gregg Levy, keeps our website up-to-date. Ed Dyer is a Customer Connect Coordinator. Mike Perdomo is our MDA Chairperson. Mike and Tony are hosting a Comedy Show fundraiser on Saturday, which is sold out! Natan Sheyer is Chairperson of our Legislative Committee. Tayry Vega, Karla Navas and Brenda Edwards are members of the NY District E.A.P. Committee. All are willing to do their part for the good of our union. I would also like to send a shout out to Denis Rhoden for assisting retirees, as the Assistant Director of Retirees. As you can see, there are many dedicated people involved in taking care of the members of our branch and our community. Dedication is a thriving force! I want to thank you all.
As you all know, it’s an election year! When was the last time you turned on the TV without being bombarded with political talk? It is my great hope that you are all registered to vote and that you do vote in November. The NALC sent out questionnaires to all presidential candidates. Out of 20 plus candidates, only democrats answered the questionnaire. Two of the remaining candidates are good for the survival of the postal service: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The NALC told both candidates that we cannot give an endorsement during the Primary Season and both understood. Both candidates have a long history of fighting for letter carriers.
If you are registered in New York, the Primary is on Tuesday, April 19th. In New Jersey, the Primary is on Tuesday, June 7th and the Connecticut and Pennsylvania Primaries take place on Tuesday, April 26th. Please get out and vote.
Many of you may choose to vote for candidates endorsed by your church or Social Club. But I vote for candidates who will protect my wallet and who are beneficial to the postal service.
There are two other ways you can help save the Postal Service besides voting. One way is by signing up to be an NALC E-Activist, which keeps you up to date on postal issues. All that is needed is an email address to receive information from the NALC Legislative Department. The second way is by signing up for the Letter Carrier Political fund aka COLCPE payroll deductions. This money is used to get our friends elected. It also pays for carriers to work full-time on campaigns.
There are many challenges moving forward, but I have no doubt we will face them, head on, together. We are strong; we are Vincent R. Sombrotto, Branch 36! We will continue to be successful!
2016 Food Drive
|There are many people to thank for this year’s successful food drive.
Branch 36’s two coordinators, Carmen Flores from Triboro Station and Jerome Jackson from Cornell Station, did an outstanding job spreading the word about our Food Drive.
We had our Food Drive kickoff at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger Food Pantry. This food pantry was the first of its kind in New York City. It is set up like a store where patrons could choose the type of food that they want to take home. Many thanks to Executive Director Stewart Desmond.
The US Postal Service was represented by Postmaster Kevin Crocilla and the National Anthem was sung by Manager Percival Prince. Thank you both.
Branch 36 was well represented by shop steward Karla Navas from Co-op City Station, who welcomed everyone in Spanish. Shop steward Janine Brown from Times Square Station read a proclamation from Governor Cuomo. C.D.L. Carmen Flores read a letter from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. CCA Reanald Destin from Cornell Station read a proclamation from Mayor DeBlasio.
We also heard from City Harvest Assistant Manager Ruth Kraus, CEO of Amp Your Good, Inc., Patrick O’Neill, Anna Massa from Governor Cuomo’s office and Gail Branham who acted as Master of Ceremonies. Thanks to all.
I send out a special thanks to St. Joseph School’s first graders and their teacher, Miss Rooney, for each bringing a can of food on their field trip to Gracie Post Office. What a wonderful way to teach the children that everyone can help make a difference.
|Outlook March / April 2016|
|I would like to extend to all members of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 my sincere thanks for your vote of confidence. I am honored to be reelected as your President and extremely proud to follow in the footsteps of distinguished, past Presidents such as: Frank Orapello, Arty Ullman, Joe Giordano and, of course, the unforgettable Vincent R. Sombrotto. There have been many times that I would have loved to call on any one of them for advice; but unfortunately for me, they are all at home in Heaven now.|
|I am more than grateful that my team has remained intact with just a few additions since our last election. With a team of full time officers such as John, Harold, Pat and Tony, my job runs more smoothly and is a lot easier. Our part-time officers consist of one person with a title change and two new trustees. Carmen Flores will change from trustee to Director of Mutual Benefits. Danielle Smith from Williamsbridge Station and Rafael Feliciano from Church Street Station will be our new trustees. Our Board of Officers is not only committed, but hard-working. I look forward to working with each and every one of the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 team.
Here at Branch 36, there is never a dull moment and something is always going on, whether it’s the elation over winning a tough case in the grievance procedure or learning something from the dreaded loss of a case
Currently, we have entered into an agreement with the Manhattan and Bronx Postmasters to participate in joint CCA Refresher Courses. In many cases, we see all CCA’s in Orientation and some, in the grievance procedure. Unfortunately, many do not attend Membership Meetings. For this reason, it was an easy decision to agree to joint CCA Refresher Courses. It’s vital that we interact with the CCA’s on a positive basis. We have had many CCA’s converted to regular carriers every month, for the last six months, with the exception being in January. Obviously, I would like to see the conversions continue. Our CCA’s are the future of the Postal Service and the NALC. Over the past two years, I am proud to say three CCA’s have become Branch 36 Shop Stewards. I encourage all regular carriers to mentor the CCA’s.
Recently, I was given a list, which detailed members who are registered to vote and others who are not. I was extremely surprised as I looked over the list of names showing up as not registered. I inquired about it with some members and was told that they moved since the last election. They promised to re-register their new address as soon as possible and continue to vote as usual. Remember, if you have moved, you must re-register with your new address. You should not vote at your old voting place.
I am one of those political junkies, who watches debates and MSNBC and CNN political shows. I find the Republican debates similar to Comedy Shows and the Democratic debates to have so much more substance. I will be voting in New York’s Presidential Primary on April 19th. My vote will be based on my wallet, meaning which candidate will keep the Postal Service viable. Rest assured, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton fit that bill.
|Outlook January / February 2016|
2015 in Review
|A few things I can say with all certainty about 2015 are: it went by extremely fast and we definitely had our fair share of ups and downs. The highlight of the year and best news of all, no negative legislation was passed against letter carriers.
2016 actually began with postal management finally concluding that the American public does not want to lose six-day delivery. No surprise to us - here in New York City, parcels are delivered seven-days a week and we had a huge increase during the Holiday Season of parcel deliveries. Currently, we are working with New York District Management in right-sizing parcel post trucks. I appointed Sonny Guadalupe and David Velazquez to represent Branch 36 on the team.
|One disheartening, low point in 2015: our fundraising efforts for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. 2015 was one of lowest on record and also one of the first years that we didn’t raise more than $10,000.00. We raised $6,455.00. We are all well aware that we can and will do better than that in 2016.
The money that we raise for MDA sends kids with muscular diseases to camp for one week in the summer. It is a wonderful place where they can be carefree, enjoying themselves with other children who have similar physical disabilities.
I have personally visited the campgrounds and it is well equipped and wheelchair accessible. There is a ramp leading into the pool area and docks located lakeside, which are also accessible for the wheelchair bound. The kids get to enjoy swimming, fishing, arts and crafts and sports. It is a memorable adventure for the children and one that we look forward to funding, year after year. That is why we need your help to make all of our fundraising efforts one big success. Let’s do it for the kids!
Our MDA Chairman is Mike Perdomo. He and Tony Ortiz do an outstanding job of putting on Comedy Shows several times a year. Our next fundraising effort will be a Texas Hold’em Tournament in March. Pat McNally is also actively involved and he enlists his shop stewards’ help with selling raffle-number tickets each month; but the help needed doesn’t stop there, he needs your help too! Let’s promise to make 2016 our best year yet for MDA. Together, we can send these kids to camp and give them a wonderful week to remember!
Another fundraiser in need of support is The NALC Political Action Fund aka COLCPE. In 2015, only 17 out of 72 stations collected money for COLCPE. 2016 happens to be a Presidential Election year; as well as, an election for 34 U.S. Senators and all of the House of Representatives. Simply turn on the television and watch a news program and you will see all of the Super PACS, put together by billionaires. It won’t take long to realize, we have much competition out there and need to protect our own interests.
One positive way to do that is for more Branch 36 carriers to step up and donate to the NALC Political Action Fund (COLCPE). One particular goal I have and hope to accomplish in 2016 is to have all Branch 36 carriers on payroll deduction for the Political Action Fund. I am requesting that all carriers have $1.00 deducted per pay period for a total of $26.00 per year. If you do not wish to have $1.00 deducted from your paycheck, you can opt to send your donation directly to Branch 36. This is especially important to do so if your shop steward is not attempting to collect donations for the NALC Political Action Fund at your station.
Another component that goes along with donating to the NALC Political Action Fund is being a registered voter, and actually voting. When you don’t vote, you are accepting that whatever will be, will be. There are many states around the country where voters had the opportunity to vote, but didn’t. The outcome being: people are now holding office and destroying hard fought-for benefits of countless state workers, teachers, firefighters, police officers, etc. A prime example of what can happen is taking place right now in Michigan. A light voter turnout enabled an elected governor to become responsible for allowing lead-poisoned water into Flint, Michigan’s water supply.
All Americans need to vote in all elections, not just Presidential Elections. Get out, vote, and protect your interests
I am happy to report that Shop Stewards and Hearing Officers are doing a great job with having management comply with our national and local contracts. Our National Agreement remains in effect until a new one is negotiated or ordered by an arbitrator. Negotiations for a new contract will be starting up soon in D.C. The NALC team is well prepared to negotiate our new contract.
NALC President Rolando wanted some input by our CCA’s (City Carrier Assistants) and called for a CCA Conference in St. Louis, MO. Around 200 CCA’s from around the country were in attendance. President Rolando sought input from current CCA’s and CCA’s recently converted to regular under our current National Agreement. I sent Shop Steward Jadeeva Smith from Ansonia Station. Jadeeva was elected as shop steward while she was a CCA. She was converted to a regular in 2015 and continues to be a shop steward in Ansonia Station today.
Jadeeva was very impressed with the CCA Conference. She found out that CCA’s elsewhere go through the same experiences as CCA’s in New York. At the conference, the CCA’s were asked: “What would you change in the National Agreement?” The answer was unanimous: Pay Equity for CCA’s. All CCA’s want to see their hourly wage increased to a rate closer to a regular’s hourly wage.
I would like to personally thank Jadeeva for doing a great job representing Branch 36 at the conference. Presently, we have two other shop stewards in Branch 36 who are also CCA’s: Sasha Martinez and Lateefah Abu-Bakir in the Central Parcel Post Facility. They are also doing a fantastic job.
I am hopeful that 2016 will be a great year for Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36. With your continued support, anything is possible.
|Outlook November / December 2015|
|Attention: Federal and Postal Employees, Open Season for Health Benefits will close on Monday, December 14. This, by no means, is one of the years in which you should ignore Open Season. Did you know that many of the FEHB Plans have increased their premiums, copays and deductibles for 2016? Depending on your health plan, premiums can increase by a hefty $100.00. It stands to reason that your health plan is not advertising this fact one bit. Be smart and take full advantage of the FEHB Open Season by switching over to a lower premium, copay and deductible. Do yourself a favor and don’t get stuck with that expensive health plan one more year.|
|My recommendation is the NALC Health Benefits Plan for both active and retired carriers. Unlike other high option plans, the NALC Health Plan has a decrease in Self Only and a small increase in Self and Family for both active and retired letter carriers. The NALC Health Benefit Plan did not increase doctor or specialist office visit copays nor has it increased its deductibles. These facts all have to do with money; but if you compare the NALC Health Plan Benefits, side by side, to other high priced health benefits you will see it is so much more than that.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) allows you to compare four FEHB Plans side by side. I want you to compare the NALC Health Plan to your health plan of choice at OPM’s website, www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance. Once you are on the webpage, scroll down until you see “Quick Links” on the right. Click on the link, “Compare Health Plans.” It will bring you to a page which will ask for your zip code under find plans by location. Add your zip code in the box provided and click search. Next, you will choose an employer type. Check U.S. Postal Service (Category 1) for active carriers or Check annuitant if you are a retired carrier. On the next page, Check bi-weekly for active carriers or monthly for retired carriers. On the last page, choose up to four FEHB Plans to compare and finally, click “Compare plans” on the bottom of the page. It is that easy.
It is time to look at the whole picture; go ahead, compare your health plan to our NALC Health Plan. Did you know the NALC Health Plan is owned and administered by letter carriers? The NALC Health Plan does not have a million dollar salaried CEO. As a matter of fact, the NALC Health Benefits Director is Brian Hellman, who was a letter carrier in FDR Station. He and I served as shop stewards in FDR Station together. Brian, along with his team, has been doing a great job in making the NALC Health Plan the very best Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan.
I do not, however, recommend anyone switching from Self and Family to Self Plus One in our NALC Health Benefit Plan because it is cheaper to stay with Self and Family.
2015 Dinner Dance
|We recently held our Branch 36 Annual Dinner Dance at a new venue, The Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle. I had high expectations for this event and for the most part, I was not disappointed. I made a list of my observations and asked many of the attendees for their opinions as well. Following the event, John Springman and I had a meeting with the owner of The Greentree Country Club. I left that meeting feeling confident that there will be favorable adjustments to next year’s Dinner Dance. Yes, we will be returning to The Greentree Country Club next year because not one person I spoke to wanted to go back to our old venue.
One well needed adjustment will be access to additional ladies rooms. Attendees will not be limited to the three-stall ladies restroom; there will be two additional ladies rooms available on the premises. Another noticeable change will be additional bartenders on duty to alleviate the long lines that we experienced. The Cocktail Hour will be held in the Main Ballroom, which will give everyone the opportunity to sit down. A Carving Table will be added during the Cocktail Hour. A Pasta Course will be added to the menu and the Dinner Entree choices will be changed to the following choices: Prime Rib, Chicken or Salmon. A slice of cake will be added to the pastries for dessert.
I see this experience as growing pains and The Greentree Country Club getting to know us better. And yes, we also discussed the Coat Check and Valet Parking systems. Changes will be seen there as well.
Everyone I spoke to thought our DJ-Hollywood DJ’s did a great job. The dance floor remained full at all times except, of course, when dinner was served.
Thank you to all 610 attendees. I look forward to seeing you all next year.
|Outlook September / October 2015|
|It is with great pride that I report that the letters on the façade of Branch 36’s Headquarters have recently been updated. The façade once read. “New York Letter Carriers Branch 36” and it now reads: “Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36, National Association of Letter Carriers, Manhattan and Bronx.” We also added a brand new American Flag, which is proudly flying outside of our building and adds to the total transformation.
Now more than ever, I wish more members would stop by for a visit or attend a Membership Meeting to take in the rich history of our branch, which we proudly have on display throughout the building.
|When you step through our main entrance, you will find a huge plaque dedicated to Vincent R. Sombrotto and many pictures depicting memorable moments in our union’s history. Wander down through the long hallway and you will find pictures illustrating the history of labor.
Our Percy T. McRae Meeting Hall is located one flight down and was named in honor of a retired letter carrier from Madison Square Station, who passed away at a NALC Chicago Convention in 2000. Percy opened all NALC Conventions by singing the National Anthem. On the day he died, he had just finished singing the National Anthem at Chicago Cubs Stadium where thousands of NALC convention delegates were in attendance. After the performance, Percy sat down in his seat and suffered a fatal heart attack. He was a member of the NYC Labor Chorus, had a beautiful voice and is fondly remembered.
Throughout the Percy T. McRae Meeting Hall, you will find walls lined with historic photos depicting: before, during, and after the 1970 Great Postal Strike; as well as, photo frames of NALC Conventions, dating back decades.
When you wander up to the second floor, where our offices are located, you are greeted by a plaque on the wall with Frank M. Orapello’s bust and words of tribute. In case you didn’t know, Frank was our president for 15 years and one great leader.
Our National Business Agent Larry Cirelli and his staff have offices on the first floor alongside the Branch 36 Credit Union.
I hope all members get a chance to stop by and witness for themselves; the pride of being a member of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36.
Rest in Peace
|An active letter carrier from Fort George Station, Ricardo W. Diaz was killed in a fatal car accident on the way home from work on August 16, 2015. Ricardo was a beloved and a well-respected letter carrier in his station and with his customers.
Fort George Station also houses Washington Bridge Station. All the letter carriers from both stations traveled to Brooklyn to the funeral. As a sign of respect and love, each letter carrier wore a t-shirt with Ricardo’s photo. Ricardo is missed by all.
New York State Convention
|Our state convention took place in Long Island. Branch 36 Convention Delegates did a great job representing our branch. John and I were reelected to our State Board positions. Our State Association is tasked with advancing the NALC Legislative Agenda. Our State President George Mangold keeps in touch with Branch 36’s Congressional District Liaisons (CDL’s), while our CDL’s keep in touch with their respective members in the House of Representatives.|
|It is always good to see Branch 36’s Retirees at our annual brunch. This year, we honored retiree Anthony Barletto from Murray Hill Station, awarding him his 50 year pin and a Gold Membership Card. Congratulations Anthony!
Many thanks go out to NALC Director of Health Benefits Brian Hellman, New York State President George Mangold, and NBA Larry Cirelli for their inspiring words to all in attendance.
|Outlook July / August 2015|
|I firmly believe you cannot give enough shout outs (recognition and praise) to the letter carriers, who go out of their way on a regular basis for the members of Branch 36.
A great place to start is with our dedicated Hearing Officers. The term Hearing Officer is unique to Branch 36. Hearing Officers handle the second step of the grievance procedure; not only in their station, but in other stations as well. The following men and women do an outstanding job representing Branch 36 union members in the grievance procedure. Branch 36 is proud to give a much deserved shout out to the following Bronx Hearing officers on a job well done: Frank Perez from Throggs Neck Station, Pascual Ortiz from Morrisania Station, David Velazquez from Wakefield Station and Jerome Jackson from Cornell Station. The following Manhattan Hearing Officers are deserving of a huge shout out as well: Tom Nelson from JAF Station, Helen Amill from Hellgate Station, Carmen Flores from Triboro Station, Sheila Mitchell from Manhattanville Station, Mike Kelly from Cooper Station and Ralph Feliciano from Church Street Station.
|Many of these Hearing Officers do much more than what is required; some wear several different hats of importance. Pascual Ortiz and Helen Amill are NALC Arbitration Advocates. Arbitration is the last step of the grievance procedure where cases are argued in front of an arbitrator. Our Vice President, Pat McNally has handled arbitration cases for many years with great success and certainly welcomes the help of Helen and Pascual.
Carmen Flores does a wonderful job as a Branch 36 Dinner Dance Chair. This year our Dinner Dance will be in a new venue, The Greentree Country Club in New Rochelle on Sunday, November 8th.
Mike Kelly and Jerome Jackson collected 10,000 more pounds of food this year and are deserving of a big shout out for helping to Stamp out Hunger.
One of Branch 36’s Member Benefits is help with on-the-job injuries. John Springman and Sonny Guadalupe do a great job of helping our members with OWCP.
Sonny is a fine example of wearing several different hats; he also represents Branch 36 as the lead team member on CDRAP. CDRAP is the latest route adjustment process agreed upon, between the NALC and the USPS. Much thanks to Sonny and David Velazquez and the shop stewards involved; we have had a net increase in assignments under this CDRAP Process.
Natan Sheyer is our Legislation Chair and gives an in-depth report on pending legislation at every membership meeting. Great job Natan!
Gregg Levy is now a retired letter carrier, but he has not walked away from Branch 36. He volunteers his time as our webmaster to keep our website (www.nvlcbr36.org) up-to-date. Fantastic job Gregg!
Two shop stewards who have stepped up and done more than their fair share are: Danielle Smith from Williamsbridge Station and Ed Dyer from Cathedral Station in the role of Lead Customer Connect Coordinators. They do a great job traveling from station to station inspiring fellow letter carriers to bring in leads from customers, in search of new revenue for the Postal Service.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Denis Rhoden and Joe Ramos and the important job they do. Denis and Joe sit down with letter carriers who are ready to retire and help them fill out all the paperwork. They also let the carriers know that the best health plan to take into retirement is the NALC Health Plan.
Shop Steward Mike Perdomo from Heligate Station does an excellent job as our MDA chair. The comedy shows that he and Tony Ortiz organize earn good money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Thank you Mike and Tony!
We have many shop stewards and carriers who step up when needed and are deserving of a huge shout out. We are well aware that we would not be as successful in our endeavors without the constant involvement of our shop stewards. Thank you all!
I always try to give recognition and praise at Membership and Shop Steward Meetings. Branch 36 members who do not attend meetings aren’t aware of how many fellow carriers are working for their benefit on a daily basis.
Thanks to all I have mentioned and especially to those I failed to mention.
|Outlook May / June 2015|
Annual Food Drive Kickoff Speech
|Good Morning Everyone.
Welcome to the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 36’s, 23rd Annual Food Drive Kickoff. I look forward to this nationwide food drive event, year after year. I am especially thankful to the Bowery Mission for hosting our Food Drive kickoff. The Bowery Mission has been doing their part by feeding and helping the homeless get back on their feet since 1879. Thank you, Director David Smith.
|The letter carriers of Branch 36 deliver mail six days a week in all communities and on every block of Manhattan and the Bronx. It makes me very proud to see Branch 36 Letter Carriers help their fellow New Yorkers. It’s true we live in one of the world’s richest, and most influential cities; yet many people still go to bed hungry. Many of these hungry New Yorkers happen to be children and seniors.
Letter Carriers naturally become members of the communities they serve and therefore know many of those who do not have enough food to feed their families on a first name basis.
The NALC Food Drive is the largest one day food drive in the country and takes place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam on the second Saturday in May each year.
Here in New York, letter carriers ask postal customers to bring a donation of canned or dried food to their nearest post office; while the rest of the country asks their customers to leave their donations by their mailboxes. Naturally that suggestion would be logistically impossible here in Manhattan.
It was a great feeling last year when the amount of food collected totaled 73 million pounds nationwide; putting us well over the one billion pounds point, collected since its inception in 1992. We are now in a race to reach two billion pounds or to Stamp Out Hunger, whichever comes first.
The NALC chose the second Saturday in May for our National Food Drive because research has shown that most food banks and pantry food supplies are at its lowest levels during this time.
It is also at the time of year when children get out of school for the summer and no longer have access to the hot meals that schools provide when in session. This puts an increased burden on already struggling New Yorkers trying to feed their families. Here in Manhattan, there are over two hundred food banks and pantries serving our food deprived neighbors. All donated food that we collect in Manhattan will be distributed by City Harvest to pantries and food banks right here in Manhattan and all food collected in the Bronx will stay in the Bronx.
We would not be as successful if we did not have partners who want to stamp out hunger as much as we do. City Harvest distributes the collected food and makes our efforts that much easier. Thank you to Mat Lum, who is here representing City Harvest.
The US Postal Service is one partner making it possible for letter carriers to collect food while they deliver mail along their routes. The Postal Service not only allows letter carriers to collect food on the clock, but also allows usage of their fleet of trucks to transport food donations to central points, so City Harvest can pick it up. Again this year, the Postal Service printed up these STAMP OUT HUNGER PINS for all letter carriers to wear promoting the food drive. Letter Carriers in Manhattan and the Bronx were also given permission to wear Food Drive T-Shirts during this week. The T-shirts depict a Stamp Out Hunger Cartoon in honor of the late cartoonist, Bill Keane. The Postal Service also allows 75 million postcards into the mail-stream, postage free, to promote the food drive. Another national partner is Valpak. Valpak promotes our food drive by placing an ad on the front of their blue envelopes and sends it out to 44 million households. This year we also have the National Rural Letter Carriers, the AFL-CIO, the United Way, Feeding America and Valassis as national partners.
On a local level, I have two energetic, enthusiastic letter carriers who have volunteered this year to be Branch 36’s Food Drive Coordinators, Mike Kelly from Cooper Station and Jerome Jackson from Cornell Station. Both men have been to every post office in Manhattan and the Bronx, getting everyone excited about breaking all past records this year. Thank you, Jerome and Mike. Representing the NY Post Office is Pete Fontana. Thank you, Pete.
This year we received four Proclamations and recognition on the Floor of Congress by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. The four Proclamations were from Governor Andrew Cuomo, N.Y.C. Mayor Bill DeBlasio, Manhattan Borough President Gayle Brewer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz.
Now we need all New Yorkers to join us in making 2015 the biggest year ever for collecting food donations for our neighbors in need. Please bring canned and dried foods to your nearest post office during this week; with your help we can STAMP OUT HUNGER. Thank you.
|Outlook March / April 2015|
|The U.S. Postal Service is one of the largest employers of Veterans nationwide. We honor our active military at our meetings usually with a prayer request to keep them safe. We have had many letter carriers activated for deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years. Thank God, most letter carriers have made it home with no apparent physical disabilities. There are many though who have returned home with invisible disabilities. Typically, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is not always apparent or recognizable, but it exists nonetheless. When a soldier deploys to a warzone, whether it’s once, twice or three times; that person is changed forever. Most soldiers do not typically ask for help.|
|The Postal Service is one of the few employers that offer an Employee Assistant Program (E.A.P). E.A.P. is much more than counseling for alcohol and drug dependency. E.A.P. assists with stress related problems as well. Letter Carriers who have been deployed can use E.A.P. for their own benefit, but what many carriers do not know is that the relatives of veterans can use E.A.P. Sometimes a letter carrier’s son or daughter is the returning veteran with P.T.S.D. The returning veteran may experience trouble coping with the reality of returning home to no job or structure in their life. We must remember that returning veterans may have experienced being part of a team or have held leadership roles in that team while they were deployed. Coming home to no job can be overwhelming. This fact not only affects the Veteran, but also his or her family members. For this reason, I would hope that the veteran along with their family members would seek out the E.A.P. The rate of suicide is astonishing. If E.A.P. can prevent even one suicide, we are successful. All lives matter!
We need more employers to recognize the skills that returning veterans are coming home with and make more of an effort to hire these incredible men and women. They have leadership skills as well as, teamwork experience. I see these skills in many of Branch 36’s Shop Stewards, who are Veterans. I thank all of you who have served. My own Dad served in the Army during WWII.
|Here is the latest list of pending legislation and their respective cosponsors.
H.R. 12 - Expressing the sense of House of Representatives that the United States Postal Service should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its 6-day mail delivery service.
We currently have 17 NY cosponsors (King, Israel, Meng, Velazquez, Nadler, C. Maloney, Rangel, Serrano, Crowley, Engel, Lowey, S. Maloney, Gibson, Tonko, Hanna, Higgins, and Slaughter).
H.R. 28 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States Postal Service should take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of door delivery for all business and residential customers.
We currently have 12 NY Reps. (King, Israel, Meng, Rangel, Crowley, Lowey, S. Maloney, Gibson, Tonko, Hanna, Slaughter, and Higgins) as cosponsors.
H.R. 54 - Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the U.S. Postal Service should take all appropriate measures to restore mail delivery service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.
We currently have 8 NY Reps (Israel, King, Meeks, Serrano, Rangel, Tonko, Slaughter, and Higgins)
H.R. 784 - The Overnight Delivery Act. The legislation aims to return USPS Service Standards to those in place on Dec. 31, 2011. If passed, it also would reverse the effects of the Postal Service’s Network Rationalization Plan, a plan that not only has slowed mail delivery to many rural and metropolitan areas; it has eliminated overnight mail delivery nationwide.
We currently have 10 NY Reps. (King, Israel, Meeks, Clarke, Serrano, Engel, S. Maloney, Tonko, Slaughter, and Higgins)
|We have another Branch 36 Officer retiring: Gregg Levy, editor of this Outlook and webmaster for our website (www.nylcbr36.org). Gregg has been a letter carrier for 37 years and a shop steward for Riverdale Station for ten years, as well as a Branch 36 Officer. Gregg has kindly agreed to remain as our webmaster, maintaining and updating our website. I wish Gregg a happy, healthy, and long retirement and thank him for his commendable service to Branch 36 members. I am sure Gregg will be an “active” retiree attending meetings and conventions.|
|Outlook January / February 2015|
Dealing with Change
|I do not know many people who like change, but change is inevitable. Therefore, we have no choice but to deal with it. 2015 has brought change to both the leadership of the Postal Service in Washington, D.C. and in the leadership of Congress.
Only time will tell if our new Postmaster General Meghan Brennan will continue with the destruction of the postal service or have the guts to create an innovative and constructive vision for the future. All she needs to do is to take a look around at the thriving package delivery service that we maintain seven days a week. It has now become routine for a carrier to ring my doorbell well into the evening hours with a delivery.
|Our new PMG needs to show her faith in her professional postal workforce by cancelling all contracts with places such as: Staples. Only postal employees should be selling postal products and handling America’s mail.
Staples is about to become the largest office supply retailer in the country by merging with Office Depot; which previously merged with Office Max. Staples employees’ do not receive anywhere close to a professional postal employee wage nor do their employees take an oath to secure the sanctity of the mail.
The American public has voted letter carriers the most trustworthy workers in America. They have not voted Staples employees’ the same title. Ms. Brennan, cancel the Staples contract and tell them, “America’s mail is not for sale.” You already have the best workforce in America. Just look at the results of Amazon deliveries over the holidays and beyond.
We also have to deal with Congressional leadership change in the U.S. Senate. Republicans now control both Houses of Congress. We have many Republicans who do not want to see post offices closing in their states and want to continue with six-day mail delivery. We simply have to convince the rest of them.
One way to stay on top of happenings on the Hill in D.C. is to be a NALC E-Activist. It is free. All it takes is an email address. If you have an internet connection, you can get a free email address. You get one from Google using Gmail or you can use Yahoo, etc. Once you have your email address, click onto the NALC website, www.NALC.org. Sign up as a NALC E-Activist.
By being a NALC E-Activist, you will receive an email from the NALC when action needs to be taken such as calling your Representative or U.S. Senators. It is that easy! We need to do this together. One person cannot make a difference but together, we can! All voices must be heard when the time comes to act.
We have had a couple of changes at Branch 36, a second part-time officer retired. In January, Eugene Spry, our Sergeant-at-Arms retired; Gene served the membership for many years as Sergeant-at-Arms and Shop Steward at Murray Hill Station. He participated in the 1970 Great Postal Strike and was interviewed and can be seen on the NALC Strike video. Gene shared his thoughts on the Postal Service before, during, and after the strike. I wish Eugene a very happy, healthy, and long retirement.
Back in September, Branch 36 Trustee Curtis Jewell retired. We honored Curtis at our Dinner Dance last November. I would like to wish a happy, healthy, and long retirement to Curtis as well.
It is my job as president to replace retired officers of Branch 36. I have appointed Helen Amill of Hellgate Sation as a trustee replacing Curtis; and Jerome Jackson of Cornell Station as Sergeant-at-Arms replacing Gene.
Although Eugene and Curtis will be sorely missed on the Executive Board of Branch 36; Helen and Jerome will continue to serve Branch 36 membership with the same enthusiasm, professionalism and dedication. I look forward to working with Helen and Jerome as officers of Branch 36.
Although we are creatures of habit and do not like change, we are confident that we have the mechanisms necessary to deal with it.
|Outlook November / December 2014|
Vincent R. Sombrotto Station
|On October 16, 2014, Grand Central Station was renamed the Vincent R. Sombrotto station at a dedication ceremony held in its lobby. There were well over 100 people in attendance to witness this huge honor. Vince’s widow, Mrs. Rae Sombrotto, attended along with their seven adult children, as well as a few grandchildren. Vince’s youngest daughter, Dr. Lisa Sombrotto, spoke at the ceremony on behalf of the Sombrotto
family. This ceremony was hosted by the Postal Service. Manhattan Postmaster Elvin Mercado was the Master of Ceremony. He introduced USPS Area Vice President Northeast Richard Uluski as the opening speaker and then introduced the creator of the bill, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. NALC President Fred Rolando and New York State President George Mangold spoke about the accomplishments of Vince Sombrotto. I also had the privilege of speaking on behalf of the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 members. Branch 36 was honored by having the following people represent our branch at the ceremony: Woodlawn
|Station shop steward Jillian Diaz sang the National Anthem, Branch 36 Vice President Pat McNally led everyone in the Pledge of Allegiance, and Branch 36 retiree Cleveland Morgan gave the invocation.|
|The Postal Service commissioned a plaque, which was unveiled to the public for the first time at this dedication ceremony. The plaque will be hung in the lobby letting everyone know that a law was passed by Congress to rename it in honor of Vincent R. Sombrotto.
Many thanks go out to Congressional District Liaison Carmen Flores, who initiated the request for this honor for Vince to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. Recently, Congresswoman Maloney sent a copy of the signed bill and a flag, which was flown in Washington D.C. in Vince’s honor, to me. I, in turn, will present the signed bill and flag to Mrs. Rae Sombrotto.
National Day of Action
|On November 14, 2014, we had the honor of joining our brother and sister unionists from the APWU NY Metro Branch and the NPMHU NYC Local 300 at a rally outside J.A.F. Post Office located across from Madison Square Garden. Our theme for the event was “Stop Delaying America’s Mail.”
We heard good news on the morning of the rally that Postmaster General Donahoe was stepping down in January. He will be replaced by America’s first female Postmaster General. Hopefully, she will see how destructive Donahoe’s plan to close 82 mail processing facilities in January would be and puts a stop to the closings.
More letter carriers would have been in attendance had the rally been held at a different time of day. Carriers were out doing what they do best, delivering America’s mail.
Our NBA Larry Cirelli and staff and NYS President George Mangold were also in attendance. Rallies took place at the same time all over the country to coincide with the USPS Board of Governors Meeting.
Wash up Arbitration Decision
|We have a Local Memorandum of Understanding in Manhattan and one in the Bronx. There are twenty-two items negotiated locally between Branch 36 and the USPS. We had one item in Manhattan and two in the Bronx, not resolved after local negotiations.
Item 1 in both Manhattan and the Bronx was not resolved. Item 1 deals with wash-up time for carriers. We presently have 10 minutes wash-up prior to lunch and 12 minutes wash- up prior to our end of tour.
During local negotiations, management in both Manhattan and the Bronx declared 22 minutes of wash-up time as an unreasonable burden. They proposed that we reduce our wash- up time to 5 minutes prior to lunch and 5 minutes prior to our end tour. Of course Branch 36 did not agree with their proposal. This item had to go in front of an arbitrator for resolution.
On September 24, 2014, we went in front of Arbitrator Cenci. Management put on their case first and we followed with ours. The arbitrator listened to both sides and did what many arbitrators do; she split the decision. Management wanted to reduce our wash-up time by 12 minutes and the arbitrator ruled that our wash-up time should be reduced by 6 minutes.
The arbitrator ruled that carriers only need 8 minutes wash-up prior to lunch and 8 minutes wash-up prior to end tour.
In the eleven page decision, Arbitrator Cenci gave a lot of weight on management’s testimony; which stated that when they were carriers, they didn’t use 22 minutes of wash-up time and in their own personal observations, other carriers did not take wash-up time either. Management testified that carriers return from street duties and end their tours without using 12 minutes of wash-up time.
I am a “glass is half full” kind of person; so I automatically look at it as management was not successful in reducing our wash-up time by 12 minutes. Unfortunately, the arbitrator ruled to reduce our wash-up time by 6 minutes, with 2 minutes less prior to lunch, and 4 minutes less prior to end tour.
The second item not resolved in the Bronx is Item 22-Bidding. Bronx management wants to eliminate In-Station bidding. An arbitration date has not been set yet.
|Outlook September / October 2014|
|Frank M. Orapello Plaque Dedication|
|On September 11, 2014, we dedicated a bronze plaque in honor of Branch 36 President Emeritus Frank M. Orapello. I was very happy to see Frank’s widow, Rosemary, and two of Frank’s adult children, son James and daughter MaryAnn. Matty Dimmler and Ruben and Rosa Santiago also joined us to honor Frank. Cleve Morgan gave the invocation. Our national President Fred Rolando, NALC Director of Health Benefits Brian Hellman, New York State Association of Letter Carriers George Mangold, and National Business Agent Larry Cirelli joined Branch 36 officers in praising Frank. It was a heartwarming and joyous occasion.|
|I shared the following at this dedication:
When asked to run as Frank’s Exec. V.P. I, at first, didn’t take it too seriously because I was not a PT officer, I was a shop steward. Eventually, I realized Frank was serious and I, of course, said yes.
Frank took over a somewhat divided branch. One example that showed the division was in the purchase of the Branch 36 Headquarters building. Former President Arty Ullman did not want to use the money for the down payment. Frank talked Arty into bringing it to membership vote. Branch 36 voted overwhelmingly with Frank to purchase this building. It was the right price and has proven to be the perfect location. Almost every train and bus comes through Times Square.
Arty decided to retire at the end of 1991. Frank took over as president in January 1992 and was reelected for five 3-year terms.
Frank put the right team together to unify Branch 36 and it happened in short order. Frank was big on education. He set up quarterly shop steward seminars, which still continue today. In fact, it has since become a provision of our Manhattan and Bronx locals. Management must allow shop stewards the right to attend these quarterly seminars. Frank felt an educated shop steward made all of our jobs that much easier.
Frank handpicked the officers of Branch 36 and became our mentor, a role he was born to play. Frank told me in the early nineties that he would retire when he felt I was ready to be president of Branch 36. Frank was president for 15 years, so either I was a “slow learner” or Frank really loved being Branch 36 president. It had to be the latter; he loved being Branch 36 president!
Frank believed in diversity, which was clearly evident by looking at his Board of Officers. He also loved it when young carriers got involved.
Frank retired in 2007, leaving Branch 36 in a sound financial position. He was able to sell the air rights above our building, which paid off our mortgage, and gave Branch 36 members even more benefits. He enhanced the eyeglass voucher program and was able to talk a local dental group into creating a dental voucher program which provided free x-rays, cleanings, and exams for our members. Thanks to Frank, we also award four college scholarships each year.
Frank loved interacting with the membership. For that reason, our annual dinner dance became bigger and better under Frank’s leadership and the picnic he started was well attended by the members of Branch 36 and their families.
To observe Frank in action dealing with postal management at Labor/Management meetings was something great to witness firsthand. Frank would start off cool, calm and collected; but as soon as management said something he didn’t like, the wrath of Frank came down upon them. We, the officers, knew he would soon bang the table and the meeting would be over. Within a couple of hours, management would call and admit Frank was right and want to know if they could meet again with him.
Frank would be so happy and proud that President Obama signed into law an Act of Congress designating Grand Central Post Office as the Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office.
Overall, Frank was a great leader, mentor and friend and his leadership helped make Branch 36 stand strong and unified.
|My congratulations go out to Ruben Santiago, who is now a gold card 50 year member.
I also congratulate Orlando Gonzalez for receiving this year’s NALC Humanitarian Award. Orlando received this award for coming up with Vinny’s Walk for MDA. He found a way to honor Vinny Sombrotto and raise money for MDA.
|Outlook July / August 2014|
|It’s official - President Obama signed into law Bill 2291 designating Grand Central Post Office as The Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office.
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.
|Congresswoman Maloney introduced the legislation on June 6, 2013. This type of bill has to be unanimously cosponsored by all the House Members representing New York State in Congress. Thanks to the New York State NALC C.D. L.’s and our NYSALC President George Mangold, it got done. It only took a year. The next surprise occurred when Chairman Darrel Issa allowed the bill out of his committee for the vote of the full House. The full House passed the bill on July 14, 2014. The next step that needed to happen was both U.S. Senators representing New York State had to approve the bill and send a letter to the chair of the postal committee in the U.S. Senate. Without hesitation, U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand sent an approval letter to the chair. The full Senate voted and passed the bill on August 1, 2014. The last step in the process was for President Obama to sign it into law. He did so on August 8, 2014.
It took a little over a year, but it got done. I thank Congresswoman Maloney, C.D.L. Carmen Flores, NYSALC President George Mangold and everyone who called their representatives to cosponsor and pass this bill.
Congresswoman Maloney will now work on a date for the dedication ceremony with the US Postal Service. I hope everyone can attend. It is one of the ways we can thank and honor Vince for pushing letter carriers into the middle-class, feeding America’s hungry with the largest one-day food drive in the world, expanding the carrier alert program (which looks out for America’s homebound) and much more.
It was great to see the Sombrotto family at this year’s MDA Vinny’s Walk in Battery Park City in mid-July. They loved dunking NBA Larry Cirelli into a dunk tank to raise money for MDA. We raised over $22,000.00. Region 15 puts on a great event. However, we need more participants next year!
Next up this summer was the 69th Biennial NALC Convention in Philadelphia, PA. The theme at this convention was the 125th Anniversary of our NALC. Our National President, Fred Rolando, chaired the convention. Fred does a great job as chair allowing everyone who gets up a chance on the microphone. I had the opportunity twice. I got up to the mic to call for a moment of silence in honor of our past president Frank M. Orapello and I got up a second time to nominate Branch 36’s own Brian Hellman as the NALC Health Benefits Director. Brian was elected by acclamation. There will be elections for the positions of NALC President, Executive Vice President, Vice President, Assistant Secretary Treasurer, and Trustees. The ballots will most likely be sent out in September. Our National Business Agent, Larry Cirelli, was also elected by acclamation. Congratulations to Brian and Larry.
There were many resolutions discussed and voted on, shaping the future of the NALC. We heard inspiring speeches from NALC President Rolando and U.S. Senators Warren and Sanders, as well as TV host Ed Schultz
We had many veteran delegates representing Branch 36 at this convention. It is always inspiring to have brand new convention delegates representing the branch. Branch 36 was honored by having retirees Cleve Morgan, Joe Ramos and Ruby Almeida, who were joined by Vice President Harold Hillard and former Branch 36 members Tom Germano and Barry Weiner in hosting a class on the 1970 strike: before, during and after.
There were classes before and after each general session on subjects that interested active and retired letter carriers. Branch 36’s delegates attended many classes
It was good to see former Branch 36 Executive Vice President, Tom Germano, and Vince’s son, Stephen Sombrotto. Both addressed the convention delegates.
We will be unveiling a bronze plaque in honor of past President, Frank M. Orapello, at the September 11th membership meeting. Frank Orapello was one of the longest running Branch 36 presidents. He brought this branch back together for the betterment of our members. Frank played a big role in the 1970 strike as well. Come and join us for this dedication.
We ended July on a sad note when we heard that my secretary, Elaine Delan, passed away. Elaine was hired by past president Arty Ullman in 1991. She was Frank Orapello’s secretary for his entire 15 years as Branch 36 President and mine since 2007. Elaine said she would never retire. Elaine was 80 years old and leaves behind a son, named David. Elaine was a walking dictionary and “word check” before there was “word check” on computers. Elaine is already missed but will never be forgotten. Rest in peace Elaine!
|Outlook May / June 2014|
Good News / Bad News
|Our good news is that all Branch 36 PTF’s have been converted to Regular status. To date, we have had 124 CCA’s in Manhattan and over 50 CCA’s in the Bronx converted to Regular status. Those new regulars are scheduled to attend a seminar on the clock to learn about their benefits; such as: health benefits, life insurance, Thrift Savings Plan, sick leave, holidays and more. Branch 36 officers will attend these seminars to let them know about the NALC Health Plan and to answer all their questions.|
|The bad news is that our enemies in Congress are at it again. Our arch nemesis Darrell Issa has passed a bill through the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which he chairs, that will stop door to door delivery of mail. Congressman Ryan who ran for Vice President in 2012 has come up with a scheme to pay for the Highway Trust Fund by eliminating six-day mail delivery. Just another ridiculous way for Congress to use the Postal Service as a “cash cow”!
We have to ensure that we have enough friends in Congress to stop people like Issa and Ryan. The way to do that is by contributing to the NALC Political Actions Fund, which is C.O.L.C.P.E. Using COLCPE money to get our friends elected is the best way because we all know that money talks. The second way is registering to vote and voting for our friends on Election Day.
Branch 36 officers recently visited each station in Manhattan and the Bronx. John Springman spoke at length about the importance of contributing to COLCPE and registering to vote as well as signing up as a NALC E-Activist and the NALC Carrier Corp. You can go to the NALC website NALC.org to sign up for a COLCPE payroll deduction as well as E-Activist and Carrier Corp. During our visits, John stated, “We can do this with you, but not for you.”
All carriers need to get involved. The alternative option is having our enemies in Congress pass legislation that will destroy the Postal Service, which means our jobs will be gone.
My thanks go out to all of you who participated in this year’s NALC Food Drive. We had this year’s Food Drive kickoff at an actual food pantry on West 86th Street in Manhattan. On the day that we were there, people formed a long line that flowed out the door and onto the street. Those people were on line for food, just to survive. It shows that even though we live and work in one of the richest cities in the world, there are many residents who are still food deprived. My thanks to all of you and to Branch 36 committee members, Karla Navas from Co-op City Station, Mike Kelly from Cooper Station and David Velazquez from Wakefield Station, who organized the event.
I look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s NALC Region 15 Vinny’s Walk for MDA in Battery Park City on Sunday, July 13th at 10:00 a.m. on Vesey Street. We will not only be raising money for MDA, but having a fun time too!
|Outlook March / April 2014|
PTFs and CCA Conversions
|It was taking much too long for part-time flexible carriers to be converted to regular status in Manhattan. We had over 100 P.T.F.s in Manhattan. We came up with a faster way to bring about the conversion of P.T.F.s using the Memorandum of Understanding dealing with residual vacancies, that was signed in Washington, D.C. I was able to negotiate a local agreement with management and in less than six weeks we are down to 15 P.T.F.s in Manhattan. The remaining 15 P.T.F.s should be converted in short order.|
|The Bronx P.T.F.s were already converted in total, so the end result was conversion of 13 City Carrier Assistants (CCAs) to regular carriers. There will be more coming. Once the 15 P.T.F.s in Manhattan are converted to regular carriers Manhattan CCA’s will begin to be converted to regular carriers.
C.C.A.’s who were converted to regular status do not have to go through a probationary period as long as they were Transitional Employees (TE’s) prior to becoming a CCA. This was agreed to in a national level M.O.U. (M-01835)
On a national level, a Postal Union Alliance has been formed. All four postal union presidents meet on a regular basis to discuss postal problems and joint solutions. They now visit members of Congress with a united message. They all agree on six-day delivery, restoring service standards and mail processing facilities, maintain full-time, full-service public post offices in every community, oppose sub-contracting out work and much more. The signed Postal Union Alliance Agreement is shown on page 7 of this issue. Their message is that we stand united to protect America’s Postal Service.
Branch 36 officers and Manhattan upper management had a Labor/Management meeting recently. Management shared with Branch 36 their street observations which included observations of trucks being left unattended with doors open and in some cases left with the engine running. They also told us about carriers driving without seatbelts.
Safety of letter carriers is a joint duty of the NALC and the U.S.P.S. I want carriers to arrive at work safely and return home safely. No one wants to be the one who has to call a carrier’s family that the carrier was injured because they didn’t put on a seatbelt.
A few of the carriers leaving the trucks running were CCA’s. The Manhattan Postmaster came up with the idea of bringing in all CCA’s to meet with him and the area managers. He also invited Branch 36 officers to attend and take an active role. We certainly agreed. There will be a class each week of 50 CCA’s. Many problems that CCA’s are experiencing were discussed and taken care of. One message that is being given by management and Branch 36, as well as a video of Postmaster Donahue is that no one is to scan a package as attempted delivery if the attempt was not made. CCA’s who attended the first class let management know the stations where this is going on. The Postmaster General said supervisors will be fired for fraud where this is happening. Don’t get caught up in the supervisor’s numbers game. Give our customers what they are paying for. Delivery.
|Outlook January / February 2014|
|On Sunday, January 11, 2014 carriers gathered here in Manhattan to honor, remember and celebrate Vincent R. Sombrotto on the first anniversary of his death. The celebration started at St. Francis of Assisi Church with a memorial service. NALC President Fred Rolando made opening remarks with fellow national officers involved with the service. Vincent Sombrotto, Jr. spoke on behalf of the Sombrotto family and
thanked everyone involved.
|Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 invited everyone back to our headquarters building for an open house. I was pleased to see the amount of national officers and business agents who joined us. We served light refreshments. Everyone was impressed with our building and the memorial wall to Vince Sombrotto on the first floor.
As the day progressed, we made our way to the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom for the “Remembering Vince” dinner and dance. Hammerstein Ballroom’s staff made it a first-class experience! The food and service was impeccable to say the least.
I was asked to open with welcoming remarks and was more than happy to oblige. The ballroom was packed with 350 participants. In my remarks, I let all know that 2013 was a tough year for Branch 36. We started the year with the death of Vincent R. Sombrotto, followed by the death of another very good friend of Branch 36, New Jersey State Association of Letter Carriers, President Tony Massa and ending the year with the passing of our beloved Branch 36 President Emeritus Frank Orapello. I spoke on how these three men had unique styles as labor leaders and thanked Vince, Tony and Frank for dedicating their careers to enhance the lives of letter carriers throughout the country.
I gave a warm welcome to Vince’s family, headed by his widow, Rae Sombrotto and a warm welcome to the NALC Executive Council. Before long, it was time for our invocation given by Branch 36 retiree, Cleveland Morgan.
After an enjoyable dinner, our national president introduced a video produced by the NALC featuring many Branch 36 members, NALC officers, NALC Branch officers and members of the Sombrotto family. All shared recollections of experiences and moments with Vince. I hope to have this video on our website shortly: www.NYLCBR36.org.
When the video concluded, we heard from Fred Rolando, who introduced the speakers. Two were from Branch 36: Cleveland Morgan and Anthony Puccio. In addition, former Postmaster General Jack Potter spoke of warm and funny memories working across the table from Vince. Lisa Sombrotto, M.D. and Stephen Sombrotto spoke on behalf of the Sombrotto family.
Fred closed the program with a video of Vince telling a joke about a refrigerator. I hope to have this video posted on our website as well.
We all danced to the music of New Jersey’s B-Street Band. Many Branch 36 members were in attendance. As I said earlier, this was a first class experience. It was great seeing the Sombrotto family as well as having our national officers in New York City.
|Outlook November / December 2013|
|We received very sad news on Friday, November 15th that Branch 36 President Emeritus Frank M. Orapello passed away in his sleep the previous night.
Frank was Branch 36 president for 15 years from 1992 to 2007. Frank asked me to be his Executive Vice President in 1992 in which position I served for those 15 years.
Frank fought medical problems for most of 2013, but that did not stop Frank from attending our dedication of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 back in June. It is hard to believe that both Frank and Vince have passed away this year.
|Frank was always big on education of shop stewards. He felt that an educated shop steward makes everyone’s job easier. Frank instituted Branch 36 Quarterly Shop Steward Training Seminars which continues today.
When Frank took office as president in 1992, we had a somewhat divided branch. Frank brought the right carriers together and returned our branch to a united one. He was the peacemaker. He loved seeing young carriers get involved in branch activities. Frank was very big on donating to COLCPE. Frank accepted the COLCPE AWARD at NALC national conventions for most of the years he was president.
My thoughts go out to Frank’s widow Rosemary, their son Jimmy and daughters Ann Marie and MaryAnn as well as five grandchildren.
Frank was a great president of Branch 36 and mentor to me. Frank will be missed but never forgotten. May Frank rest in peace.
|At this year’s Dinner-Dance, we honored Anthony Puccio who is serving his 55th year delivering mail as a letter carrier. Anthony started to work in the U.S. Post Office in 1958. Anthony arrived in Triborough Station in East Harlem in 1961. He successfully bidded on Route 11 in 1965 and remains to this day. Anthony thought about retiring this year but then pulled his papers out. This is good news for the postal customers on his route. They love seeing him six days a week.
Anthony decided to risk the years that he served as a letter carrier in 1970 and joined his fellow Branch 36 members on the picket line for the 1970 Great Postal Strike. In the 40th Anniversary Strike Commemoration video in 2010, Anthony shared his thoughts on the Postal Service prior to the Strike, while on strike, and after the strike. Today’s carriers thank Anthony and all his fellow brave men and women who went on strike in 1970. We still benefit today from that action in 1970.
Anthony has a son Anthony, Jr., a daughter Roseanne Pawluk, and five grandchildren.
Anthony makes us all proud to be letter carriers.
Many thanks go out to Carmen Flores, Dinner-Dance Chairperson, and her committee members: Sheila, Mike, Helen, Pasky, Karla, Tayry and Patricio; another outstanding job in making this Dinner-Dance a huge success.
|We celebrated Veterans Day on Monday, November ll. We recognized all the veterans in attendance at our Dinner-Dance on Sunday, November 10th and at our membership meeting on Thursday, November l4th. We had over 15 veterans at our membership meeting. I asked each one to stand and passed a mic to each one so they could state their name, military branch and years of service. We also invited and had in attendance a reporter from American Legion Magazine, Paul Glader. He interviewed several of our veterans.|
BRANCH 36 HEROINE
|We honored letter carrier Evelyn J. C lark at our membership meeting as well. Thanks to carrier Evelyn J. Clark, Nanzi Adzima is walking around today.
Evelyn was delivering her mail at 233 Broadway. She got off the elevator on the 22nd floor and saw a woman who had passed out on the floor. Evelyn recognized Nanzi as an employee of a firm on that floor. Evelyn called the EMS and building management.
Evelyn found out later that Nanzi suffered a stroke. Nanzi thought it was Friday and showed up for work. It wasn’t Friday. It was Saturday. The only two people on the 22nd floor on this Saturday were Nanzi and letter carrier Evelyn. Thank God we still deliver mail on Saturday. Who knows how long Nanzi would be lying on the floor.
We gave Evelyn a Branch 36 Hero Award which reads:
|Outlook September / October 2013|
|After a busy summer has come and gone, fall is proving to be just as busy. Management has scheduled count and inspections for J.A.F. station three times now. The latest start date is Saturday, October 19th. We will have a C&I seminar for JAF carriers during the week prior to the C&I. Hopefully, the NALC task force comes up with a new joint adjustment process and this C&I can be cancelled.
Since our last issue of the Outlook our state convention, our Retirees' Brunch and the AFL-CIO Convention took place.
|I am happy that I was reelected as the treasurer for New York State Association of Letter Carriers. The state convention took place in Syracuse, New York for two days. John Springman was also reelected as a board member. Special thanks to our convention delegates for attending and representing Branch 36 well. Helen Amill and Karla Navas were appointed by our state president George Mangold to be on standing committees at the convention.
Branch 36 retirees' brunch took place on September 8th which was the same day that the AFL-CIO Convention started in Los Angeles. I am an elected AFLCIO delegate for the NALC and had to attend the convention. It has been reported to me that we had a great turnout at our retirees' brunch. I wish that I could've been there because I look forward to seeing our retirees each year. I congratulate Cleveland Morgan for receiving his 50-year membership gold card. Cleveland remains very active in Branch 36. Cleve is my go to guy for invocations at our events. Cleve sells at least 40 tickets each year to our dinner-dance. Thanks and congratulations Cleve.
The AFL-CIO Convention took place from Sunday to Wednesday. There were many resolutions discussed and passed during the four days. One resolution dealt with the Postal Service. It was submitted by the NALC, APWU and Mailhandlers' union. The three unions spoke on the resolution. President Fred Rolando spoke on behalf of the NALC. The resolution was passed unanimously by the convention delegates. I want to share a taste of the resolution. The resolution ends with the following paragraph:
"The AFL-CIO and its affiliated unions are called on to help mobilize the entire labor movement and our allies in the progressive community to defeat the forces of austerity and anti-unionism in the debate over postal reform. We must repeal the pre-funding mandate, free the Postal Service to diversify its services, and use the Postal Service's unique networks to address other national problems by enacting legislation that promotes innovation and growth, not downsizing and decline."
It is a powerfully worded resolution. The more allies that we gather will make it easier to defeat bad postal legislation.
Shop Steward elections are taking place during the first week in October. Congratulations to all those elected. I look forward to working with you and seeing you at membership and shop steward meetings.
|Outlook July / August 2013|
|Sometimes changes are welcomed and sometimes they are not. In June we presented the dedication of Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 NALC. This is now our official name and a welcome change. Vince definitely deserves this honor and I thank the membership for making it possible. Our dedication took place on June 13, 2013. We were very honored to have Vince's widow Mrs. Rae Sombrotto and their two sons, four of five daughters and a granddaughter and son-in-law attend. Vince's son Stephan introduced the family to all. We were also very honored to have our national President Fred Rolando, NALC President Emeritus Bill Young, NALC Director of Health Benefits Brian Hellman, NBA Larry Cirelli and NYSALC President George Mangold speak at our dedication. We unveiled our two new banners. The first banner's ribbon|
|was cut by veterans of The Great Postal Strike. They were Br. 36 President Emeritus Frank Orapello, First VP/Treasurer Harold Hillard, Director of Retirees Joe Ramos, Sergeant-at-Arms Gene Spry, Matty Dimmler, Tony Puccio, Bert Knight and Cleve Morgan. Our second banner's ribbon was cut by Fred Rolando and Bill Young. We now have a huge plaque and a special display of photos as you enter the main entrance to the Vincent R. Sombrotto Building. We also have a huge mural on the wall leading up to the second floor offices of Branch 36. If you are in Manhattan, it is worth a visit. Our mural was painted by Josh Bello.|
|After all the speeches and ribbon cuttings, Stephan Sombrotto thanked everyone on behalf of the Sombrotto Family.
We let the Sombrotto Family know that we were having Region 15's Vinny's Walk For MDA only ten days later. They said they would be there. They weren't kidding! More of the Sombrotto Family attended Vinny's Walk in Battery Park City.
The first thing Mrs. Rae Sombrotto did when she saw me was to give me a $1,000.00 check payable to MDA.
Vinny's Walk was very successful. We had a large turnout of Branch 36 members who acquired donations for their participation in the walk. We also had many Branch 36 volunteers. My thanks to all of you. Special thanks go out to the anonymous carrier in Murray Hill Station who donated a 50" HDTV to be raffled off for Vinny's Walk. A carrier from Park Slip Station won the TV. Special thanks also go out to shop steward Ernie Twomley and his organization, The Better Angels of Our Human Nature, for setting up a children's area of fun at Vinny's Walk. It was also great to see Noah Bracero, MDA Goodwill Ambassador for the NALC, and his dad Ray.
Vinny's Walk brought in over $20,000.00. NALC President Fred Rolando attended Vinny's Walk with the NALC Executive VP Tim O'Malley and Brian Hellman. Fred has indicated that he wants this to become a nationwide annual event. I can't wait until next year.
Some changes that are happening that are not for the better are begin tour changes to later times and management's withdrawal from Branch 36's joint route adjustment process.
I did not hear any good reasons from management to change carriers' begin tours. Shop stewards attended meetings with Branch 36 officers and management and conveyed legitimate reasons why begin tours should stay the same. It was obvious that management had their minds made up and did not want to listen to reason.
Management has also decided to have full-week long route Count and Inspections. They have notified Branch 36 that J.A.F. will be the first station.
It is a damned shame that NY District management has become as visionless as L'Enfant Plaza postal management in Washington, D.C.
We will offer each station training prior to each C & I. One good thing that has resulted from having a Joint Process is we have Branch 36 experts on Count and Inspections ready to prepare carriers for C & I's. I foresee many grievances being generated due to management's apparent lack of vision.
|Outlook May / June 2013|
Branch 36 Events
|After our hugely successful save six days rally on March 24th, we went right into local negotiations. Branch 36 was content with making minor changes to the Bronx and Manhattan locals to include CCAs in holiday pecking order and vacation planning. Management had other ideas. They obviously had their marching orders from their bosses. At the end of local negotiations we had four items in both the Bronx and Manhattan locals still open. Since it is management who wants to change language in our locals, they must appeal the impasses. Management has not sent any appeals to our national business agent's office and the deadline has passed. Let's see what happens now. Management will probably plead ignorance and say they didn't know that they had to appeal the impasse items to our NBA. An arbitrator will probably have to decide the next step.|
|The impasse items for both locals are: Item 1, which is wash up time. Management says we have too much wash up time and wants to eliminate 12 minutes of it; Item 2 - management wants to be allowed to change our rest days whenever they want; Item 13 which is holiday scheduling. Management does not want to allow carriers on overtime pay to work a holiday before carriers on holiday pay, PTF's and CCA's are scheduled. The fourth item in Manhattan is Item 14 - Overtime Desired Lists. Management wants three Overtime Desired Lists: 1.) Residential Foot Route carriers; 2.) Foot routes with 50% or more business deliveries; and 3.) All drivers on one list. The fourth item in the Bronx is Item 22 a & b, which deals with bidding. Management in the Bronx wants to eliminate station-wide bidding and only have city-wide bidding.
All these impasses by management should be thrown out due to failure to follow appeal procedure. We shall see. The current language in our locals remains in force during the appeal process.
While local negotiations were going on, we, the officers of Branch 36, were installed by NALC President Fred Rolando assisted by NALC Director of Health Benefits, Brian Hellman. I am very honored and thankful to have our national President Fred Rolando and Brian Hellman take time from their busy schedules to travel to the Bronx and install us as your officers. We had a full house of Branch 36 members and family.
We had the NALC Food Drive kickoff in the lobby of J.A.F. on May 8th. We were honored to have two representatives from Governor Cuomo's office in attendance. They delivered a Proclamation from Governor Cuomo declaring May 12th Letter Carriers Food Drive Day in New York State. We also received a Proclamation from Mayor Bloomberg declaring the same in New York City. We had two special guests, Victoria Pannell and Rosa Della Torre who are community activists. Victoria, who is 15 years old, and Rosa gave rousing speeches at our March 24th rally and collected food for our food drive. Many thanks go out to City Harvest for picking up the food from stations and distributing the food to food banks and pantries. Another amazing job by our Food Drive Committee: David Velazquez, Mike Kelly and Karla Navas.
We have three big events in June. On June 13th Branch 36 will officially change our name to the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 NALC with an all-day dedication culminating with the membership meeting. The open house will begin at 1:00 p.m. and continue into the membership meeting at 5:00 p.m. We will unveil our new banners and T-shirts.
I thank all Branch 36 members who voted to change our bylaws to give this deserved honor to Vince. It is an honor for me to be the first president at the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36 NALC.
This will be followed by Vinny's Walk on Sunday, June 23rd in Battery Park City. This is the First MDA muscle walk for NALC. Our Regional Administrative Assistant, Orlando Gonzalez, came up with the idea and thought it fitting to have our first walk called Vinny's Walk in honor of Vinny Sombrotto.
Our shop stewards have all the information needed to get involved with Vinny's Walk. We will be selling T-shirts for $10.00 and we will have sponsor sheets for participants walking and raising money for MDA.
There will be concession booths, music, children's activities and more at the end of the walk in Battery Park City in lower Manhattan. Branch 36 will have a booth selling hot dogs and water with the proceeds going to MDA.
We'll have the Mets game at Citifield on Sunday, June l6, Tickets are still available, I hope to see most of you in June at one of these events.
Have a safe summer.
|Outlook March / April 2013|
Delivering For America Rally
|Talk about proud days being president of the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36. First of all, I am proud to be reelected as your president and thank you for keeping our team of officers intact. We work very well together as was evident at Sunday's rally. When you call for a rally, you never know how many people will show up. I was expecting 1,000 participants and would have been happy with 500, but to actually have close to 3,000 show up is beyond words.|
|Branch 36 had a great turnout, but we did not do this alone. Our neighboring branches showed up in force. Many thanks go out to Branch 41, Brooklyn, President Angelo Mangano and members, Branch 137 Hudson Valley Merged, President George Sarvis and members, Branch 294 Flushing, President Tony Poalillo and members, Branch 357 Long Island City and members, Branch 562 Jamaica, President Andy Weiner and members, Branch 693 Westchester Merged, President Rich Montesarchio, Branch 387 Yonkers, Branch 356, Mount Vernon and Branch 99, Staten Island. Our sister postal unions NY Metro APWU and the Mailhandlers Local 300 not only showed up with many members, but NY Metro APWU President Jonathan Smith and Mailhandlers Local 300 President Willie Delgado took to the mic and conveyed their support for six-day delivery.
Labor unions from outside the Postal Service were also giving their support led by New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, who told all gathered that an injury to one is an injury to all and that we have the support of all New York State labor unions.
Our national NALC Vice President George Mignosi travelled from Washington, D.C. to give the facts and motivate the crowd. Orlando Gonzalez, Regional Administrative Assistant, stepped in for our N.B.A. Larry Cirelli with an impassioned speech which he titled, "We The People", one of my favorite speeches of the day. Our New York State Association of Letter Carriers President George Mangold, also motivated the rally participants and was my biggest help in organizing this rally.
We not only had labor speaking at our Delivering For America Rally, we had three Members of Congress. Grace Meng, a freshman Member of Congress from New York's 6th Congressional District, was introduced by Flushing 294 President Tony Paolillo and CDL Gloria Lum. Congressman Gerald Nadler from NY, 10th Congressional District, was introduced by CDL Natan Sheyer. Congressman Eliot Engel from NY, 16th Congressional District, is my Congressman. All three Members of Congress gave their support for six-day delivery. We gave each speaker a six-day T-shirt. Congressman Engel said he would wear the T-shirt on the floor of Congress during his next speech.
Our U.S. Senators also weighed in with support for six days: U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand sent an aide, Ouisman Laast, who read a statement from her, and U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer sent a letter which was read by Shop Steward Helen Amill.
We were also fortunate to have City and State politicians giving their support. They were NYC Council members Rosie Mendez and Gale Brewer, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. Two NY Senators Tony Avella and Brad Hoylman sent their regrets because they were stuck in Albany. NYC Comptroller John Liu sent a representative. Democratic District leaders Paul Newell and Mark Landis conveyed their support as well as NYC Council candidate Yetta Kurland.
The community was also represented by three outstanding community activists, Rosamaria Della Torre from Chelsea Housing, Julio Pabon from South Bronx Community Association and 13 year old Victoria Pannell from Action Network. In my opinion, Victoria "stole the show." Her speech for six-day delivery was amazing.
My thanks go out to the above named speakers and supporters. Thanks go out to John Dennie of the CLUPJS for bringing people.
Special thanks go out to all of you who participated. We had two messages to Congress and the Postmaster General. Do not cut six days of mail delivery and do not dismantle our Postal Service. Our message was heard not only in NYC but around the country at similar rallies.
We did receive media coverage. We were on PIX Channel 11 News and NBC Channel 4 News as well as print coverage.
|Outlook January / February 2013|
Vincent R. Sombrotto
|Thursday, January 10, 2013 started out like any other day, but quickly turned very sad. I heard over the intercom that Vince Sombrotto was on line 2 for me. I ran to the phone excited about speaking with Vince. After I said to Vince, "Hi, how are you?" and he said he was ok, I suddenly realized that I was talking to Vince Sombrotto, Jr. He and his dad sounded exactly the same on the phone. After clearing that up, Vince told me that his dad passed away a few hours earlier. We then shared Vince's accomplishments as NALC President for 24 years and his proud accomplishments as a dad of two sons, five daughters and grandfather of 14 grandchildren. Vince said that his dad lived a long and happy life and would want everyone to celebrate his life and not be sad. Vince was 89. Vince is also survived by his wife Rae of 56 years.|
|I don't know any other union leader who was more loved and respected than Vince. Every year when I send out invitation letters to Branch 36 retirees to attend the annual retiree brunch, I usually receive many phone calls from retirees asking if Vince will be in attendance. They always want to hear him speak. When Branch 36 honored Vince at our annual dinner-dance in 2000 as, "Man Of The Century," we had the largest attendance ever for a dinner-dance.
Vince has been a member of Branch 36 for 66 years. He started as a letter carrier in 1947 after serving with distinction in the U.S. Navy in World War II. Vince delivered mail for over 20 years when he decided enough is enough. Post Office employees were receiving poverty wages. A family of four was eligible for food stamps. Working conditions weren't any better. Vince's personality pushed him into a leadership role and forced a strike vote, and the rest is history. Branch 36 letter carriers went out on strike led by Vince. He was elected Branch 36 President later that year in 1970. A sleeping giant was wide awake now! Vince was elected NALC President in 1978.
He served as NALC President until his retirement in 2002, serving for 24 years. Letter carriers today owe a great deal of gratitude to Vince for what he was able to accomplish in those 24 years. To say it lightly, carriers are no longer eligible for food stamps!
If you actually went up to Vince to thank him, he would always say that it was a group effort. He would never say "I". He always said "We", but we all know who was at the helm. Vince had an incredible ability to see what was coming in the future.
As if it was not enough to represent all of America's letter carriers, Vince championed fundraising for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and during his tenure tens of millions of dollars were collected for those with neuromuscular diseases.
Vince also saw the need to help hungry Americans. The second Saturday in May has become the NALC Food Drive Day. It is the largest one-day food drive in America. To date, 1.2 billion pounds of non-perishable food have been collected for food banks in every community in the U.S.
Another example of Vince's recognition of civic responsibility is the Carrier Alert Program. Vince knew that carriers are on every block in every community in the United States and knew that carriers look out for their customers. Carriers look out for the elderly and housebound customers. Carriers have saved countless lives under this program.
Knowing all of this makes it only fitting that Branch 36 be known as the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously passed at the January 10th membership meeting, but since the name of the Branch is written in our bylaws, the name change must be done through a bylaw change. The Executive Board has approved the bylaw change which means it will be submitted to the membership at our February meeting and discussed and voted on at a special meeting following the membership meeting on February 14, 2013 in the Vincent R. Sombrotto Building's Percy T. McRae Meeting Hall at 347 W. 41 St., in Manhattan at 5:00 p.m.
I have sent a letter to Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney requesting that an Act of Congress would rename Grand Central Post Office to the Vincent R. Sombrotto Post Office. Vince delivered mail out of Grand Central Post Office. He deserves these honors. THERE WlLL NEVER BE ANOTHER VINCE.
|Outlook November / December 2012|
|We have experienced a few huge challenges since the last issue of the Outlook. We were challenged by a devastating hurricane named Sandy and by a tremendous election.
To view some of the areas in New York and New Jersey after the hurricane, you would think they were war zones. Many people stayed in their homes, ignoring the warnings. Many said that it can't be that bad. Boy, they were wrong! There were rescues of people trapped by rising waters. There were carriers who lost everything. Carriers have come together donating uniforms. Branch 36 received eight boxes of new and used uniforms from Branch 3520 in Arlington, Virginia. Many thanks go out to Brian Congleton for organizing this collection of uniforms.
|Some stations have made cash collections. Branch 36 used our Annual Dinner-Dance to raise money. We raffled off a flat screen TV and asked for donations from people using a photo booth that we supplied. We sent this collection to the Red Cross. The Red Cross and other faith-based organizations were a big help in devastated areas. They handed out meals, water, blankets and many other items to Sandy's victims. This ordeal did not end when the hurricane moved on. Thousands have lost their homes, cars and possessions. Those whose homes were spared were without electricity, gas and heat for three weeks in these areas. Some are still without.
The need continues and will continue for a long time. If you can help with a donation of any size, I recommend the Red Cross and PERF (Postal Employees Relief Fund). Do not fall victim to false charities that may have popped up since this tragedy.
With Sandy happening so close to Election Day, we were worried that people wouldn't come out and vote. Luckily, there were little problems in New York and New Jersey on Election Day. Voting tents went up in devastated areas with long lines of eager voters. They put aside their worries about their homes and got on line to vote.
I am very pleased with the results on Election Day. Our President Barack Obama was reelected as were our U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand in New York and Bob Menendez in New Jersey. Chris Murphy was elected as U.S. Senator in Connecticut. We defeated a radical tea party member in the 18th Congressional District in New York by electing Sean Maloney.
Unfortunately, we cannot sit back and relax because the lame duck Congress could pass legislation that could destroy the Postal Service. We must contact our House of Representatives and U.S. Senators and tell them to vote NO on HR 2309 and S-1789. Both pieces of legislation would eliminate Saturday delivery which would also eliminate over 24,000 carrier jobs.
|I mentioned the fund-raising we did at our annual dinner-dance for victims of Sandy. We came close to canceling our dinner-dance because it was scheduled two weeks after the hurricane. We did not cancel it because we received so many calls asking us not to. People wanted a five hour escape from the devastation. Close to 500 carriers and their families and friends were in attendance. Many thanks go out to Chairperson Carmen Flores and the Committee members Helen Amill from Hellgate Station, Tayry Vega from Audubon Station, Sheila Mitchell from Manhattanville Station, Patricio Montenagro from Tremont Station and Mike Kelly from Cooper Station. I also thank all the NALC branches and postal organizations that attended.
This year's honoree was Congressman Charlie Rangel, We presented Charlie Rangel with a plaque conveying our appreciation for all he has done and continues to do for letter carriers. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was well represented at our dinner-dance as well.
|It is now Open Season for Health Benefits. I recommend that you check out the NALC Health Benefit Plan. Premiums were reduced for 2013. I bet your plan increased their premiums. Compare the NALC Health Plan to yours.|
|Outlook September / October 2012|
|The following is the speech that I gave at this year's Branch 36 Retiree Brunch in September.
Good Morning Everyone, Welcome. It is great to see all of you.
Let me start by recognizing today's volunteers who are also integral members of Branch 36. They are Assistant to our Director of Retirees Denis Rhoden, Hearing Officers Helen Amill and Ron Ventre and Congressional District Liaison Carmen Flore.
|Let me share a proud moment that I recently had as President of Branch 36 at our NALC National Convention in July. It occurred when our national President Fred Rolando had the 40th Anniversary video of the 1970 Great Postal Strike queued up for all the convention delegates to see. This is the same video that we played for all of you who were in attendance two years ago at this brunch. This video is an interview of six members of Branch 36 sharing their recollections of what was going on in the Post Office prior to the strike, during the strike and after the strike. These six carriers are NALC President Emeritus Vince Sombrotto, Eugene Spry from Murray Hill Station, Barry Weiner who was from Planetarium Station, Our First Vice President/Treasurer Harold Hillard who was only a sub in 1970, Our Director of Retirees Joe Ramos from Planetarium Station and the sixth carrier who continues to deliver mail in Triboro Station is Anthony Puccio. He is a proud member of Branch 36 for over 54 years and is here today.
First time delegates at the convention who never viewed this video were so impressed that they asked to have their photo taken with Harold and Joe. This video will be shown at every NALC convention. Letter carriers need to be reminded that we did not always have Middle-Class jobs. This is Branch 36's legacy. This is your legacy. How many of you participated in the 1970 Great Postal Strike? Please stand up and be recognized.
I thank all of you for standing up in 1970 on the picket line and pushing Letter Carriers into the Middle Class. WE, the active letter carriers of today, continue to need your help. Many of you have joined us on picket lines (such as Ruby Almeida) at our House of Representatives and US Senators offices to educate them and the public. Today's Letter Carriers are under attack by ruthless people in Washington DC that want to destroy the Postal Service. They want to sell off the profitable parts of the Postal Service by privatization. They want to cut the number of days of mail delivery. They want the Postal Service to be a PART-TIME employer with no benefits for their employees. This all equates to a war against Letter Carriers.
Can we stop this war against Letter Carriers? The answer is: we have to stop it! It is unfortunate that we have a Postmaster General who doesn't have any innovative ideas on how to put the Postal Service on the road of success! That leaves us to fight.
This war will take place in the halls of Congress and the White House. We have to elect friends of Letter Carriers into the House, the Senate and the White House. This will take all of you being registered to vote and actually voting on November 6th.
It will also take all of you donating to the Letter Carriers Political Action Committee which is COLCPE. I don't mean a dollar donation at this retiree brunch. I need you to go home and think about what we are up against this year and in our future and write a check to COLCPE in an amount that you can afford. Retiree Matty Dimmler gave me a check for COLCPE when he walked in here today for $25.00. I need all of you to write a check for at least $25.00. Therefore, we will not be taking up a collection for COLCPE today. We will be taking up a collection for kids who have Muscular Dystrophy diseases so we can send them to camp for a week. Today is the NALC Annual Fill the Satchel Day for MDA.
What can we all do? If you live in New York State, you can vote to reelect US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She is a good friend of Letter Carriers.
In the Presidential Race we have a choice between a candidate, Mitt Romney, whose party platform is to destroy the Postal Service, wants to turn Medicare into a voucher system and wants to destroy Medicaid.
OR we can vote for President Barack Obama who is not perfect. But who will do more to stop the destruction of the Postal Service. Obama does NOT want Medicare to turn into a voucher system. He wants to strengthen Medicare. Obama does not want to destroy nor diminish Medicaid because he knows that it is not only used by people on welfare. He knows that Medicaid is used by seniors who find themselves in nursing homes in their final years. And he knows that it is used by the disabled who cannot work.
President Obama is by far the best choice for President and for us to win the war waged against Letter Carriers. Obama was also endorsed by the delegates to our NALC Convention.
So help your fellow letter Carriers save the Postal Service from destruction which has been in existence prior to our Constitution and is included in our Constitution. You can do this by Getting Out The Vote and voting for friends of Letter Carriers and donating to COLCPE. You can go to the NALC website: www.NALC.org or look in the Postal Record to see the NALC endorsements in your state.
|Outlook July / August 2012|
Our Fight Continues
|I always look forward to attending the NALC Convention which takes place biennially. This year's convention took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at which a little more than 6,500 letter carriers were present. Branch 36 had 65 delegates in attendance. Our branch had four or five delegates who attended their first convention. They all conveyed to me how impressed they were with how democratic our union is run and how uplifting the speeches are. Our branch also had long-time attending retirees present, such as Ruby Almeida, Stu Levy, Vinny Panchuk and Cleve Morgan. The 40th anniversary postal strike video was shown on the last day of the convention. This video will be shown at every convention. Our First Vice President/Treasurer Harold Hillard and our Director of Retirees Joe Ramos who were interviewed in the video became celebrities again. Fellow delegates wanted to have their photo taken with them. You can see this video on the NALC website: WWW.NALC.ORG|
|NALC President Fred Rolando did a great job chairing the convention. Everyone who wanted to speak was given their three minutes at a mic. Convention delegates debated proposed NALC constitutional amendments and resolutions. There was time allotted for delegates to get to a mic and give suggestions on what the NALC and future conventions should look like. Some suggested that our national conventions take place less frequently.
There was also discussion on the future of the Postal Service. We know that this fight will take place in the halls of Congress. We have to get friends of letter carriers elected in November. Complacency will not work in this election cycle.
Listening to the political ads on TV in Minneapolis and in Pennsylvania last week was really scarifying. These inaccurate ads are run over and over again. The makers of these scare-tactic ads which are lies, hope that if voters hear them over and over again they will start to believe the misinformation. We as letter carriers need to either research for ourselves the voting records of candidates on letter carrier issues or listen to the NALC for endorsements. The NALC website is a good source to find out if your member of Congress is a cosponsor of a letter carrier endorsed congressional bill.
If both houses of Congress and the white house are taken over by people who are not friends of letter carriers, we could all be in trouble. Our benefits such as health benefits for active carriers and retirees, our retirement age, our pensions, etc. would all be on their chopping block.
We have come a long way since the Postal Strike in 1970 and now is not the time to allow our enemies to destroy out middle-class way of life. This middleclass is not limited to the Postal Service. Con Ed workers were locked out of their jobs. Fellow Branch 36 officers joined me at a rally for Con Ed workers in July. I understand that they now have a tentative agreement. Verizon workers still do not have a contract. These companies that obtain record profits have one goal and that is to destroy unions. We all need to stand up and let these 1% CEOs know that we are here to stay. Our fight continues.
|Outlook May / June 2012|
|My thanks go out to all of Branch 36 carriers, active and retired who walked the picket line outside our U.S. Senators Schumer and Glllibrand's offices on April 12th.
Unfortunately, I was out of town and could not attend, but viewing all the videos and photos from the rally fills me with pride. Our neighboring branches also attended our rally in Manhattan. This rally was repeated outside all U.S. Senators' offices around the country. It was easy for Branch 36 because both of our senators have offices in the same building in Manhattan. These rallies were called for by NALC President Fred Rolando to make it clear that the NALC is opposed to Senate Bill S 1789 as written. We were hoping to have three amendments passed which would maintain six-day delivery and door-to-door delivery service. We were successful in passing the door-to-door delivery service amendment which was cosponsored by New York's U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Many thanks to U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. We can further thank Senator Gillibrand by voting for her in November. She is up for reelection.
|Another good friend of letter carriers is Congressman Charlie Rangel. Charlie finds himself in a primary this year. I attended a breakfast honoring him this week. I told Charlie at the breakfast that he has our support. He has a 100% voting record in our favor and deserves our support. His primary is on June 26, 2012. If you live in his newly drawn Congressional district, please get out and vote. No one can afford to stay home in this district on June 26th. Do not allow the Tea Party super packs to remove our friend Charlie Rangel from office.
I also thank all of you who participated in this year's 20th Annual NALC Food Drive. Your participation ensures that children do not go to bed hungry. Many thanks to our partners on a local level such as NY District Post Office management and City Harvest. Many thanks to Branch 36 co-chairs David Velazquez from Wakefield Station and Mike Kelly from Cooper Station. Your energy and enthusiastic spirit helped win our success.
I hope to see many of you at our day at Citifield to watch the Mets beat the Reds on Father's Day, June 17, 2012. Tickets are going fast. Call Tony Ortiz at the branch to reserve your tickets and T-shirts
|Outlook March / April 2012|
|Orlando Gonzalez has been appointed by our national President Fred Rolando as a Regional Administrative Assistant for Region 15. Orlando will be working as an assistant to our Business Agent Larry Cirelli. Orlando is very deserving of this appointment. He puts 110% into every job that he undertakes. He has been a shop steward in Cathedral Station for many years handling Informal and Formal Step A's of the grievance procedure. On the branch level Orlando has been the Customer Connect Coordinator and Food Drive Chair. Most of you know Orlando as the Editor of Branch 36's publication, The Outlook. He has also been very involved as a member of the Route Adjustment Team, JARAP. His experience should serve the members of Region 15 well. I am sure that he will continue to make Branch 36 proud.|
|With Orlando moving on to a full-time NALC job, it leaves the Editor of the Outlook job vacant. I have asked our Trustee and Webmaster Gregg Levy to take on the job as Editor and he has accepted. I have asked shop steward Sheila Mitchell of Manhattanville Station to replace Gregg as a Trustee and she has accepted. David Velazquez of Wakefield Station will take over as Customer Connect Coordinator and will join Mike Kelly of Cooper Station as co-chairs of the Food Drive.|
March 17th Rally
|I and around 20 letter carriers attended a rally on March 17, 2012 to save postal jobs and stop Post Office closures. This rally was organized by an organization called Community/Labor United for Postal Jobs and Services. I knew that we wouldn't get many carriers to attend because of the time and day. Carriers deliver mail on Saturdays between 12 noon and 4:00 p.m. There were close to 200 participants, mostly from N.Y. Metro A.P.W.U. Branch.
I was asked to speak. I have quoted my speech for all to read, especially those who wanted to be there but couldn't make it.
Good Afternoon everyone. My name is Charlie Heege and I am the President of Branch 36 of the National Association of Letter Carriers. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
My family can't believe that I am not with them watching the parade! I told them that I had to be here with my second family because Saving Postal Jobs and Stopping the Closures of Post Offices and Mail Processing Plants is a high priority for me. I will meet up with them later!
March 17th has always been an important day for me growing up. It became an even bigger day when I joined Branch 36 back in 1979 and found out that March 17th is the day when 2500 members of Branch 36 got together only a couple of blocks from here to take a Strike Vote. That was 42 years ago today.
Back in 1970 the issue was wages and benefits. Letter Carriers in 1970 with a family of four were eligible for Food Stamps because their wages left them below the poverty line. We have come a long way since then.
Today's issue is the Survival of the Postal Service!
Unfortunately we have Postal Management in Washington, DC who are HELL BENT on destroying the Postal Service. AND we have some Members of Congress who want to help Postal Management destroy OUR Postal Service.
ARE WE Going To Let Them? HELL NO!
One of their Proposals is to Eliminate Saturday delivery! Eliminating Saturday delivery is the wrong proposal, a proposal that would negatively alter services to the public and to businesses, threaten the viability of our Postal Service, and will be the beginning of the end of the institution that has served our country for well over 200 years! Our First Postmaster General was Benjamin Franklin back in 1775. This is not what he envisioned for the Postal Service!
Those who would be most affected are, most importantly, the elderly, also residents of rural communities, those who need their mail order prescription medicine or other important goods on weekends, not to mention small businesses, that are open on weekends and need the ability to send and receive financial documents! Eliminating Saturday delivery would provide additional costs on all who are compelled to deal with other more expensive delivery companies. Taxpayers wouldn't save any money, because the taxpayers DON'T FUND THE POSTAL SERVICE, the Postal Service earns its revenue on its own, by selling stamps and services.
ARE WE GOING TO LET THEM ELIMINATE SATURDAY DELIVERY? HELL NO!
IT IS SIMPLE LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: cutting Saturday delivery is the wrong proposal. It is clearly the wrong way. Eliminating Saturday Delivery would sacrifice 17 percent of service AND only save 4 percent in costs! This is not a rational formula! This would drive customers away and further reduce revenues.
This will also jeopardize the Postal Service's ability to deliver goods that are ordered online. The Postal Service is continuously providing 'last-mile' delivery of these packages for FedEx and UPS. Our service is much more efficient than our competitors, but not if we allow them to destroy it.
ARE WE GOING TO LET THEM? HELL NO!
Growth was confirmed by Postal Service CFO Jim Corbett, who talked about a net operating profit of $200 million during the 2012 fiscal year's first quarter. He said it was 'driven by strong growth in online merchandise sales'. This is up 7 percent from last year's first quarter.. We have growth potential! Why would they want to destroy that?!
When is the best day to deliver those packages? Saturday - when people are home.
The real burden facing the Postal Service is not in providing first class service to the public. The burden is from the mandate from Congress that the Postal Service be the only Government agency OR private firm that is required to prepay future retiree health care benefits! This Congressional mandate requires that the Postal Service prepay the next 75 years! And do so within a decade! This equates to $5.5 billion yearly!
Paying the government $5.5 billion dollars a year (a year!!!) accounts for 85 percent of the Postal Services debt ("red ink")!' This is a problem Congress created, and a problem that Congress needs to fix immediately!
We will continue to work with the friends we do have in Congress like Senators Kirstin Gillibrand from New York and Bernie Sanders from Vermont as well as work with our customers and our friends in the business community, to strike this proposal from pending legislation and President Obama's budget BEFORE it comes up for a vote! Yes you heard that correctly! Eliminating Saturday Delivery is proposed in President Obama's Proposed Budget.
President Obama deserves credit for addressing the issue of pre-funding future retiree health benefits in a short-term manner in his budget, but this is a long-term problem that needs a long-term solution
The shift to a 5-day delivery would sacrifice 80,000 full and part-time jobs, including 25,000 city carrier jobs, by adding that many hardworking Americans to unemployment lines is WRONG.
ARE WE GOING TO LET THEM? HELL NO!
I am very happy to see all of you here today but we must do more. All of us must be registered to vote and we must get our neighbors and family members to register to vote. AND WE MUST GET OUT THE VOTE. WE need to elect Members of Congress and US Senators that are in favor of SAVING POSTAL JOBS and who are in favor of stopping the Postal Service from closing Post Offices and Mail Processing Plants.
|Outlook January / February 2012|
|I am a proud union member of the National Association of Letter Carriers and proud to be the President of Branch 36. 2011 will go down as the year of attacks on unions. We experienced it in Wisconsin, Ohio, and now Indiana. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker and his cronies in the state Senate stripped state workers of their collective bargaining rights. Wisconsin firefighters, police, teachers and many other workers occupied the state building. Wisconsin voters forced recall elections of the state senators who voted with Walker. Over one million Wisconsin voters signed petitions to recall Governor Walker. Hopefully, he will be sent packing in July. Ohio voters stopped their governor in the November election by voting down his union-attacking referendum. We now have the governor of Indiana and his cronies in the state's senate passing anti-union legislation. The governor of Indiana is lauded as the Republican Party's up and coming star. That is ridiculous to me since he was President Bush's financial advisor. It was former President George W. Bush and his advisors who got us into the financial mess inherited by President Obama when he took office.|
|Union attacks are not limited to these three states. Now billionaires can create super PACs to back candidates who are anti-union, attributable to Supreme Court decision. We are all bombarded with attack ads by all forms of media. They want everyone to believe that unions are the bad guys. Unions did not create the deficits of the federal, state and city governments, but these anti-union billionaires want the general public to believe that we are the problem.
The truth is billionaires want more and more money. They know that unions created and help to maintain the middle class. The 1% billionaires look at the middle class wages as money out of their pockets, money that could be added to their bottom line. To them, the elimination of union jobs is the elimination of the middle class. They will be happy if we all work at minimum wage, at part-time jobs without benefits, but we have something more powerful than the 1% super PACs. We have the right to vote. We have the right to turn off the TV and radio when the 1%'s brainwashing commercials come on. We have the right to vote for candidates who are going to improve the lives of workers. We have the right to vote for candidates who will ensure that our senior citizens have access to Social Security and Medicare. We also have the right to forget about side issues such as abortion, gun control, and others and focus on our wallets.
What I am asking all of the proud members of Branch 36, NALC is to show your pride by registering to vote and vote for pro-union candidates. We, as union members, are not the bad guys. They want all to believe that we are bad guys because we want a living wage that would allow us to send our kids to college. They want all to believe that we are the bad guys because we demand health insurance benefits to take care of sick members of our family. They want all to believe that we are bad guys because we want retirement pensions after working thirty years on-the-job
.We have to stop this brainwashing perpetrated by the 1% and stand up and show our pride as union members. If you have a union T-shirt, wear it in public. Show your pride. Do not allow the 1% such as Congressman Issa (R. Calif.) who is the richest member of Congress, to strip postal workers of our hard fought-for wages, health benefits, and pensions. Issa's legislation HR 2309 would do just that and make all of us part-time employees.
We all must be involved and remain up-to-date on all postal legislation. We were successful in stopping a vote on HR 2309 and S 1789 in the U.S. Senate, but they can reintroduce those U.S. Postal Service destructive legislative bills at anytime. Become a NALC E-activist by going to: www.NALC.org. You will receive alerts and updates.
The NALC is presently in contract negotiations under mediation. Don't think that the Issa's in Congress aren't looking over the P.M.G.'s shoulders to see what he may agree to. If the two parties, NALC and U.S.P.S., are left alone to negotiate in good faith, I believe an agreement is possible.
Let's show the 1% that the 99% have many more votes and use our votes to increase the numbers making up the middle class and not allow the 1% to destroy it.
|Outlook November / December 2011|
Save America’s Postal Service Phase II
|Job well done! At last count, Branch 36 collected over 47,000 signatures on petitions to save Saturday mail delivery. Branch 36 officers visited every station and a mailing was sent to each retiree. We informed all of the importance of getting involved. We made it known that we needed ten times the amount of Branch 36 members in signatures. This equated to every member filling one full page with ten signatures. We knew that getting 100% participation was impossible. We also knew that others would step up to take up the slack. I was surprised in the response from retirees. We sent out over 1900 letters and received around 10% in responses. Saving Saturday delivery is very important to active carriers, but it should also be as important to retired members. There are more retirees than active carriers receiving maintenance medication through mail order. Without Saturday delivery, these medications would not be delivered until Monday, if not received on Friday. This can be a long wait if you are out of your medications. If Monday is a holiday, you won't receive them until Tuesday.|
|The NALC is using every form of communication possible to keep members informed. They sent out petitions through the mail, they sent emails to NALC EActivists, and they had a conference call on a Sunday evening. President Rolando spoke and answered questions for one and a half hours during the conference call. Not only were we able to ask questions, but were also able to leave comments and suggestions at the end of the call.
Branch 36 and our national officers are doing everything possible to Save America's Postal Service but it is going to take all members and their families to get involved.
We must defeat HR 2309 in the House and make changes to S1789 in the Senate. Both of these bills as written can be detrimental to the Postal Service. HR 2309 has no redeeming qualities. It is out to destroy the Postal Service. S1789 has some good intentions, but as written will eliminate Saturday delivery in two years. It only reduces the heavy burden of paying future retiree health benefits by a small margin. These payments need to stop until the Postal Service is profitable and has a surplus.
Everyone needs to call your Member of the House of Representatives and tell them to vote NO on HR 2309 and tell your U.S. Senators that S1789 as written is not good enough.
As I wrote above, it was a job well-done gathering signatures just as it was a job well-done manning the rallies on September 27th. I thank all of you.
|Open Season is in full swing for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Those of you who do not have the NALC Health Plan should take a good look at this letter carrier owned health plan. Don't just compare the premiums. Compare the benefits as well. Brian Hellman, who is from Branch 36, is the Director of the NALC Health Benefits Plan.|
|Outlook October / November 2011|
Nationwide Rallies To Save America’s Postal Service
|I had another, one of many, proud to be Branch 36 President moments on Tuesday, September 27, 2011. Branch 36 took part in five rallies, three in Manhattan and two in the Bronx, outside Congressional district offices of Congresswoman Maloney, Congressmen Nadler, Serrano, Rangel and Crowley. These were in conjunction with the nationwide rallies taking place outside every Congressional District office by all four sister unions, that is, the NALC, APWU, Mailhandlers and Rural Letter Carriers, as well as the management association NAPS. This turned into the largest oneday rally in postal history. What made me the proudest is the number of Branch 36 letter carriers who participated.|
|The purpose of these rallies was to thank those members of Congress who are cosponsors of legislation H.R. 1351, and to convince those members of Congress who are not co-sponsors to sign on. H.R. 1351 is bipartisan legislation which, when passed, will allow the Postal Service to use monies that the Postal Service has overpaid into federal retirement systems, FERS, and CSRS. Once the Postal Service has access to its own money, there will be no need for closures of neighborhood post offices and no need to eliminate six-day mail delivery. The rally participants also educated the public as to the ridiculous requirements imposed by the Bush lame-duck 2006 Congress on the Postal Service. The 2006 legislation forces the Postal Service to pay 75 years of future retirees' health benefits and pay all of it within ten years, which amounts to a 5.5 billion dollar payment each year! No other U.S. company or agency is required to do this.
We also asked Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 137 which is a resolution to keep six-days of mail delivery. We were successful in many ways. We started Tuesday with 216 co-sponsors of H.R. 1351 and around 150 co-sponsors of H.R. 137. By Wednesday, we had 220 co-sponsors of H.R. 1351 and over 200 cosponsors of H.R. 137. We now have a majority to move the legislation to the floor for a vote. This is non-partisan legislation. This is to save America's Postal Service. This is both a Democrat and Republican issue.
We also asked Congress not to co-sponsor H.R. 2309 (lssa-R-CA). This Issa bill is better known as the "Postal Destruction Act." Representative lssa wants forced layoffs, forced retirements and the closures of thousands of Postal facilities. To date, he has one co-sponsor, his buddy from Florida, Ross (R). Let's keep it this way.
Branches had very little notice prior to September 27th to get these rallies together. The rallies had to take place this week because Congress was scheduled to be in their local offices. Branch 36 was told that we were the lead organization at two Congressional offices, those being Congressman Nadler and Congressman Serrano. NALC/Branch 36 congressional liaisons were asked to do the organizing, Natan Sheyer is the C.D.L. for Nadler and Jose Ramos is for Serrano. They both obtained rally permits from the N.Y.P.D. and sent out flashes to every Branch 36 station. Branch 36 officers split up all the stations and visited the carriers on the workfloor to make sure every carrier knew the importance of these rallies.
The A.P.W.U. were the leads for Congresswoman Maloney, Congressmen Rangel and Crowley's offices. We decided to give carriers the option of attending any one of the five Congressional offices. I am very happy to say that we had over 1500 participants collectively at these five locations. C.D.L. Donna Thompkins and C.D.L. Carmen Flores did an outstanding job organizing the hundreds of carriers who showed up at the offices of Charles Rangel and Carolyn Maloney.
I attended the rally at Nadler's office along with John Springman and N.Y.S. ALC President George Mangold and 400 carriers. Just as Congressman Nadler came out of his office to speak to us, we heard the beat of drums. We were happy to have the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrators join us. This brought us close to 500 people. All were very respectful and thankful to Congressman Nadler who is a co-sponsor of H.R. 1351 and H.R. 137. Nadler had encouraging words for the Postal crowd and the Wall Street crowd. It was nice to have a drumbeat as we chanted our Save America's Postal Service slogans. I encourage all who can to join the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations. Their message is to point out that Wall Street/Banks received bailouts, but college graduates who can't find a job, get no help to pay their student loans.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Congressmen Rangel and Serrano also came out and spoke to our rally participants. All five of these members of Congress are co-sponsors of H.R. 1351.
Tony Ortiz took the lead at Congressman Serrano's office and Harold Hillard and Pat McNally took the lead with C.D.L. Donna Thompkins at Congressman Rangel's office. C.D.L. Carmen Flores took the lead at Congresswoman Maloney's office. Congressman Serrano did not leave the rally until he shook every participant's hand!
I noticed at Nadler's rally and the other Branch 36 rallies by looking at the photos and videos, that non-members also participated. Branch 36 is allowing active non-members to join the NALC without payment of a year's back dues, during the month of October. We need all carriers acting as one in solidarity in these strange times that we live in.
I am positive that more rallies will follow. Thank you to all of you who feel this was important enough to come out and have your voice heard.
|Outlook July / August 2011|
|Remember when summer meant vacation with the family and no worries at work? You can't say that this year. On a national level we have a "clash of the Titans" over the debt ceiling. As our country looms close to default, our elected officials find it hard to compromise. Let's hope that the "right-wingers" don't win. It is mind-boggling when I hear freshman representatives say that they don't care if our country defaults on our debts. If that happens, it will be another blow to whatever is left of the middle-class.|
|None of us can afford to sit back and watch. We must get involved. Sign up as a NALC e-activist by going to our website: WWW.NYLCBR36.ORG or the NALC website: WWW.NALC.ORG It only requires an e-mail address. You will receive e-mails from NALC President Fred Roland on issues that need immediate action such as e-mailing your House of Representatives or senator. You also need to be signed up for COLCPE payroll deductions for active carriers or annuity deductions for retired carriers. There are things happening in our capitol that can affect active and retired carriers. The one thing that is most important is to be registered to vote and actually vote. If you don't vote, then you have no one to blame but yourself. You are stuck with whoever gets elected.
My son is working in Wisconsin with, "We Are Wisconsin." He will tell you that too many voters stayed home on the last election day in Wisconsin and as a result, the State Legislature and the governor were able to strip state workers of their right to negotiate a contract! The people of Wisconsin woke up and recalled nine of their senators. The recall elections are taking place this month. Hopefully, the voters will go to the voting booths this time and give back to their teachers and their firemen their rights.
You would think that this is enough to worry about. It is not. We have postal management in Washington, D.C. working the media with half-truths. Yes, the Postal Service is having financial problems. No, eliminating Saturday delivery is not the solution. Instead of sending out press releases only talking about Saturday delivery and closings of thousands of post offices, they need to tell the real story. The real story is that the Postal Service is the only entity in America that has to pre-pay future retirees' health benefits at 5.5 billion a year. The Postal Service is required to prepay the next 75 years of future retirees' health benefits and pay the total amount in ten years! These future retirees are not even born yet! Management also needs to elaborate on the overpayment that the Postal Service made to the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System, totaling over 80 billion dollars.
Besides the above, the Postal Service should remove "service" from its name. They are bent on removing Saturday delivery service and closing post offices. The U.S. Postal better describes it. I am sure this is not what Ben Franklin had in mind.
|Outlook May / June 2011|
NALC Food Drive
|I gave the following speech at this year's Food Drive Kickoff and I’d like toshare it with you.
Welcome to the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 36 "19th Annual Food Drive Kickoff." I look forward to this nationwide food drive every year. The letter carriers of Branch 36 deliver mail six days a week in all communities on every block of Manhattan and the Bronx. It makes me very proud to see Branch 36 Letter Carriers help their fellow New Yorkers. We live in one of the world's richest and most influential cities, yet we have people going to bed hungry. Many of these hungry New Yorkers are children. Letter Carriers become members of the communities
|The NALC Food Drive is the largest one day Food Drive in the country and takes place in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam on the second Saturday in May which is May 14th this year. We here in New York and in Chicago run the food drive for a week from May 7th to May 14th, the reason being that here in New York and Chicago letter carriers ask postal customers to bring a donation of canned or dried foods to their nearest post office. The rest of the country asks their customers to leave their donations by their mailboxes on May 14th, which would be logistically impossible here in Manhattan.
It was a great feeling last year when the record amount of food collected was 77.1 million pounds nationwide, putting us over the one billion pounds point collected since its inception in 1992. We are now in a race to reach two billion pounds or to Stamp Out Hunger, whichever comes first.
The NALC chose the second Saturday in May for our national food drive because research shows that at that time most food bank and pantry food supplies are at their lowest.
It is also the time of year when children get out of school for the summer and no longer have the hot meals that schools provide when in session. This puts an increased burden on already struggling New Yorkers to feed their families.
Here in Manhattan, there are over two hundred food banks and pantries serving our food deprived neighbors. All donated food that we collect in Manhattan will be distributed by City Harvest to pantries and food banks right here in Manhattan and food collected in the Bronx will stay in the Bronx.
We would not be as successful if we did not have partners who want to stamp out hunger as much as we do. I mentioned City Harvest. They collect the food from us and distribute it. This makes our efforts a lot easier. Thank You City Harvest!
The US Postal Service is one partner making it possible for letter carriers to collect food as they deliver mail along their routes. The Postal Service not only allows Letter Carriers to collect food on the clock but also allows usage of their fleet of trucks to transport food donations to central points so City Harvest can pick it up. This year the Postal Service printed up Stamp Out Hunger pins for all Letter carriers to wear promoting the food drive. Letter Carriers in Manhattan and the Bronx were also given permission to wear Food Drive T-shirts during this week. The T-shirts depict a Stamp Out Hunger cartoon created by cartoonists Jeff and Bill Keane which they donate in support of our food drive. Thank you to District Manager Bill Schnaars and Postmaster Bob Brown. The Postal Service also allows the Campbell Soup company to mail out over 82 million postcards for free promoting the food drive. Campbell Soup Company also donates one million cans of soup for our drive. Another national partner is Valpak. Valpak promotes our food drive by placing an ad on the front of their blue envelopes and sends it to 44 million households. This year we also have the National Rural Letter Carriers, the AFL-CIO, The United Way and Uncle Bob's Self Storage as national partners.
On a local level I have two energetic, enthusiastic letter carriers who have volunteered again this year to be Branch 36's Food Drive Coordinators. They are Orlando Gonzalez and David Velazquez. They have been to every post office in Manhattan and the Bronx, getting everyone excited about breaking all records this year. Thank you Orlando and David. Representing the NY Post Office is Pete Fontana. Thank you Pete.
Now we need all New Yorkers to join us in making 2011 the biggest year ever by collecting food donations for our neighbors who are in need. Please bring canned and dry foods to your nearest post office during the week of May 7th to May 14th. Thank You.
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