Pasqual Ortiz e-mail
Executive Vice President
Outlook January / February 2018
My First Time
Over the Holiday Season, I was initiated into some new experiences as a branch officer. One particular favorite was a humbling experience for me. I was able to personally meet and greet our membership during the month of December as we made our rounds station by station through Manhattan and the Bronx. It was great to have an actual physical connection with the members (even if it was just a quick handshake) it meant a lot to me. I was welcomed with open arms and wished good fortune by so many. I felt like the luckiest and most blessed person on the planet. What an awesome Christmas gift for me and a proud moment knowing that I represent such honorable people. I was wowed many times over by how many carriers were cheering me on, even though they didn’t know me. That feeling of appreciation still lingers on. I thank you all for the warm welcome and all of the supportive comments.
Another favorite moment happened when I heard the membership acknowledge their love and regards for the late John Springman with heartfelt words and condolences to the full-time branch officers. That was simply icing on the cake and a true testament to the character of our membership and for John as well. It was apparent to me that John was dearly loved throughout the Bronx and Manhattan.

Being a nerdy union guy, I had so much more to cheer about in the month of December. During the Quarterly Shop Steward Seminar, we were lucky enough to have the NALC Executive Vice President Brian Renfroe as a guest speaker. He discussed all stewards’ concerns and answered many questions regarding vital information in a Q and A. Many important topics were discussed such as: the new contract, current disputes at the national level, and legislative issues.

Those legislative issues raised the most concern, in my opinion, because ultimately those can be translated into dollars and cents. Several threats loom over our take home pay, which could mean less food on our tables down the road. Examples being: potential rising health care costs associated with the intentional attempt of the current administration to destroy the Affordable Health Care Act and a newly approved tax code overhaul. Both of these issues could mean an increase in health care costs and/or a need to fund a future budget deficit, off the backs of government employees, which would translate into less take home pay and therefore less food on the table.

The common denominators of some station issues seem to be supervisors and managers taking away time earned on the clock from carriers. Believe it or not, the Postal Service and their management team are actually stealing money from their workforce. I have seen it with my own eyes; the supervisor will change a Begin-Tour time to a later time to avoid having to pay that dreaded penalty time. Another way it has been done is by shortening the end tour or extending the lunch period. The lunch period is the one that actually amuses me the most. Imagine the calculated thought that went into that idea; to try and figure out a way to get away with it and hide under the radar. I have also seen a supervisor/manager extend a carrier’s lunch time beyond their allotted half hour. Carriers are entitled to a half hour lunch period (after the 8-minute wash-up time, of course)! Management officials are actually going into the computer and giving the carrier an hour lunch period or an hour and twenty-five-unit’s worth of lunch time. This essentially robs the carrier of at least sixty to eighty-five units of time. We all know carriers are not paid for that half hour lunch break and the same would hold true for any amount of time for lunch. Whoever came up with that racket is quite clever to say the very least. If one were to scan through a TAC report, it would be easy to miss that lunch issue because an “out to lunch/in from lunch” move doesn’t look too fishy on the surface. There is a way to catch this though. Carrier TAC reports don’t usually show a lunch move unless the carrier is taking that lunch in the office. When carriers hit the street the lunch move is automatic and shouldn’t pop up as a ring or move. Once the supervisor makes that move, it would signal something fishy is going on because carrier lunch moves should not pop up. They are automatic once the carrier hits the street and has been on the clock for more than six hours. So that’s a huge red flag for all of us to be aware of when looking into this matter. Make sure that any manual lunch move/swipe is for a half hour only. Anything more than that means the carrier is not getting paid for time that he or she worked.

Another pay concern is with the newly hired CCAs. Let this article be a warning to both shop stewards and new hires. As the CCAs have been making their way from being newly hired to stations they have not been getting paid for the hours they were on the clock before arriving at the station. Human Resources is failing to put in the time for hours the new hires were on the clock during the hiring phase and before the station phase. The station supervisor’s main concern is in making sure the carrier is paid for the time at the station. In the meantime, during the blame game, when everyone passes the buck, the carrier loses because he or she was never paid for the time spent on the clock prior to reaching the station. Don’t let that happen to you!

I look forward to sharing more news and information that occurs between this article and the next. Remember to verify that you are being paid correctly. Stay in tune with the legislative process to avoid a potential decrease in your take home pay and always remember the Officers of Branch 36 are only a phone call away.

Outlook November / December 2017
‘Tis the Season
Things can get mighty testy at times when the Holiday Season is in full swing. There are many moving parts, which must remain totally in sync, in order for the moving parcels, letters and packages to move seamlessly to their destinations. Things may fluctuate and range from the good, the bad, and the ugly, and believe it or not, it can all happen in a day’s work. Still, in spite of the season’s chaos, there is always glee and hope left behind in the end. That feeling of giving it your all is always a good feeling. This last month of the year can bring an entire year of sweat and hard work into perspective, leaving you with hope and a better outlook for the year to come.
Some good things to ponder, we have a new contract with some nice goodies to enjoy. CCAs can now bid for vacations. Vacation percentages have increased within our Branch for certain weeks in the new leave year. Retro-pay is on its way (if it hasn’t already arrived before this periodical makes its way into your mailbox). I am grateful and thankful for it all and for so much more as it pertains to the contractual protections we share as letter carriers.

Not all that glitters is gold, however. Many of you may think what I am about to say is similar to preaching to the choir. I only mention it with the best of intentions, hoping to save at least one person. Many of us would say that it makes no sense to jeopardize a career over a theft situation of any kind. Why would one jeopardize a career and good paying job? On occasion, a person comes on the job, sees how things operate, and thinks it rnay be easy to take one little thing and get away with it. I say, stop and think about it, is it really worth it? Trust me, it is not. Big Brother is always watching and electronically monitoring everything you do. Don’t take the chance.

Some of these situations make their way into the media, which brings us to the ugly part that I mentioned earlier. The ugly part happens to be the constant rainy cloud that hovers over letter carriers’ and government employees’ heads when one of us does something we shouldn’t. It attacks our bottom line mighty dollar along with an attempt to make us look bad in the public eye. Recently, a local New York City News Crew misrepresented one of our local stations in the Northern Bronx. In my opinion, they attempted to shed a dark shadow over the Postal Service. Why anyone within our own organization would allow that image to be casted upon us is a complete mystery to me. Unfortunately, this type of publicity doesn’t help the constant barrage on Letter Carriers’ rights, wages and working conditions. The ever-present threats from Congress, along with those who hate to admit we deserve what we have gained through collective bargaining, have not magically disappeared. Therefore, we must continue to support the labor movement, especially specific to our causes and concerns as letter carriers. We must remain informed and familiar with what is happening, and continue to support the Letter Carrier’s Political Fund. If you haven’t been supporting it, now is the time to do so.

There is more delight in being joyous than there is in being gloomy when the Holiday Season is upon us. We may not all enjoy the cold weather, but obviously we can’t ignore the beauty and vibrancy within our great city. Pine trees will soon line the sidewalks and the grit on the vendor’s hands and clothes will be a testament to the city’s grind! Clouds of steam will be roaring as the horses exhale along 5th Avenue, which will only add to the majesty of Midtown. Pelham Parkway and Allerton Avenue will illuminate the eyes of sightseers both young and old up in the Bronx. While Bay Plaza, Fordham Road and The Grand Concourse, along with other shopping centers, will be nonstop hustle and bustle.

It is my sincere hope that all members of this great branch enjoy this season and the last weeks of this year, celebrating in whatever way they choose. May the fruits of your labor reap the most bountiful harvest this Holiday Season. Best wishes to all stations and members of the Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch, and may you all ring in a great New Year!

Outlook September / October 2017
So Much in So Little Time
So many things are happening and in record speed; it seems in the blink of an eye. We have a new contract. Federal employee benefits are in jeopardy once again. Hurricanes have caused disastrous conditions and turned people’s lives upside down. All of these events have occurred in succession and in what seems like at the speed of lightning.

Our new contract is in effect; nearly eighty thousand members agreed and approved of it, which goes to show the overwhelming support of the membership for this contract throughout our nation. The new contract brings with it wage increases, COLAs, and other nice benefits. This contract addresses various CCA issues, which make modifications to the two previous contracts and benefits for CCAs who were once TEs. Contract information is out there and you can find it on your mobile app, NALC websites and station bulletin boards.

With the new contract, things are not as sweet as they seem. Congress is usually thinking about ways to balance the budget and unfortunately, one way of doing it is off the backs of government workers and letter carriers through spending cuts. With just the stroke of a pen in Congress, our list of concerns could increase and many benefits we value could be stripped away. Our growing list of concerns consists of higher contributions into the federal retirement system, the elimination and or reduction of COLAs for FERS and CSRS employees. When the wheels churn on Capitol Hill, many disturbances could be felt across the board from FERS employees to CSRS employees to Retirees as well. This is why the Letter Carrier Political Fund is so important. We must continue to pay our fair share in the fund to ensure that we keep vital benefits as federal employees. The political struggle never ends, just evolves from one monster to another with each Congressional cycle. That is why we must remain attentive to the goings on in Washington, D.C.

This Hurricane Season has hit hard once again and overnight many people have lost everything both literally and figuratively. Houston, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico have been overwhelmed with recent hurricane systems, which ravaged the Caribbean and Florida as well. Many lives have been turned upside down and suffered devastating losses. The effects of these storms will be felt for years and years for many as they try to rebuild all that was lost. There are letter carriers in every one of these affected areas, who are just like you, hardworking individuals. Did you know that CCAs are not eligible for administrative leave? This fact is hard to fathom, but it’s true. You can help though! The NALC is directly involved with the PERF (Postal Employees Relief Fund), a fund designed specifically for dire times such as these. More information on PERF and its benefits are on the website or the mobile app, and within the link - https://www.nalc.org/news/naic-updates/carriers-encouraged-to-give-through-cfc.

Last, but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge and give thanks to the person who has given me the greatest opportunity of my lifetime when he appointed me to the position of Executive Vice President of Branch 36. There aren’t enough words to ever express the gratitude I feel towards my mentor, President Charlie Heege. The appreciation goes far beyond the obvious, the promotion, and straight to the pride in knowing that he has the faith and confidence in me to believe I could step into this role and be successful. I look forward to working side by side with him and for the opportunity to learn all I can from his great experience as a union leader. I am well aware that he has taken a large leap of faith in selecting me and I promise I will not let him down. From the bottom of my heart and with all the blood that runs through it, I promise to work one hundred and fifty percent to make you proud. Thank you for your decision, Mr. President!

I further promise to work hard for every member of this great union and I am fully ready to accept the challenge with all the strength and might within me. I plan to succeed just as much as I plan not to fail. Talk doesn’t cut it, but action speaks volumes. I will work hard to maintain this position and I will work even harder for our membership. Thank you all for the warm welcome and well wishes. Thanks especially to the man who made this possible for me, thanks Charlie.




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