Pasqual Ortiz
Editor of the Outlook
Outlook July / August 2017
Paying it Forward
Writing this month’s article was by far the hardest task to date in my career as a union delegate. As you may recall, my previous article had to do with a journey: whether it was yours, mine or ours. The idea for that article was inspired by John Springman one day as we chatted over food while discussing work-related issues. On that day, he spoke to me of how it all came down to the people you meet on your journey and the various ways those same people impact your life over your 30+ years on the job.

Unfortunately, as many of you already know, John has transitioned from this journey onto the next. Some of us feel we have not only lost a brother and friend, but we have also lost a strong union soldier. John was all about union strong! He lived it with every fiber of his being. That inspiration will never go away. His memory will live on in all who knew him and in the many that learned from him.

His work ethic motivated many and will remain intact when it comes to Vincent R. Sombrotto Branch 36. John would have it no other way! He would often say, “Pasky, the union is all of us, not just one person.” Therefore, so long as the union remains strong and vibrant, the memory of John lives on. Its members, stewards and officers must strive to keep the drive and work ethic never-ending in our union’s blueprint, so John will forever remain with us and in us.

John was more than a union official. John was a dear friend and as near to a parent as I could ever ask for, and for that life experience I am so grateful. There wasn’t a thing I could ask John that he would ever refuse me. It didn’t matter if it was a dollar or a rocket ship. If I asked for it and John could do it, then it would be done. On the other hand, if there was something that he thought wasn’t good for me, he had no trouble telling me about it. He let me know when I was wrong and when l needed to get my act together as well. When my parents died, he didn’t hesitate, he stepped right in and filled that void without ever making it known that he was doing it. He treated me like a son and made sure there wasn’t anything in this lifetime that I would ever need. For that and all that he has done for me, I promise to him and his loved ones to keep his statesmanship, his love of union, his professionalism and everything else that may apply alive and vibrant in the union and beyond. Being around John inspired one to be a better official, parent, friend, brother. I am so grateful for the impact John has had on me. I can only hope to pay it forward one day if I am fortunate enough. We miss you, John. Until we meet again.

Outlook May / June 2017
What a Journey
It seems like just yesterday. How could twenty years have gone by so fast? How could I possibly know back then where this amazing journey would take me, or for that matter, the people that I would come to know? There was no way of knowing how certain people, moments, conversations and ideas would stick out as I walk down memory lane tonight, on the eve of my twentieth anniversary in the postal service.

I honestly do not have any memory of my first day on the job or even last week, really. Nevertheless, I could still to this day point out many noteworthy people and details along the way that made a difference in my postal career. Some are still here, others long gone. There were people that made me stop and listen or think as I walked away. Sometimes their input was great, sometimes simple and small, but all were instrumental. I could pretend that all the encounters in the postal service were positive, but would you believe me? Even with dreaded negative experiences, I was sometimes able to pull threads of information and formulate how I could turn things around in my favor. All of these work experiences shaped me into the employee I am today and I wouldn’t give up a single one.

This journey has taken me to places I never thought I would be, with people I never thought I would know and experiences I never thought I would share. I have made friendships that have lasted from day one to present day and I have also grown close with many of my coworkers for whom I have nothing but the greatest respect. This journey has been a blessing and I feel so fortunate to experience it all, good and bad.

Today, I must admit was one of the hard ones; when I arrived at work I was told that my coworker, whom I call a friend, had become ill on his way to work. He fainted and was taken to the hospital. My heart and chest literally hurt when I heard the news. My good friend is a retiree and someone that I work closely with throughout the work week. My first thoughts were of our past conversations whether about work, family or sports, and the list doesn’t end there. There is nothing we can’t or haven’t talked about, so naturally it hit me hard today when I heard he wasn’t feeling well. My thoughts were that he should be here today with me so we can share even more laughs and agree to disagree on certain things too. That’s what friends are for and it’s alright with me.

Never in a million years, would I have thought from Route 15 at Morrisania Station, where it all began, that this journey would take me down Memory Lane with the news of a friend feeling ill today. This journey is something unique and amazing. As the years compile, you won’t remember everything, but the important people and memories you will fondly always remember. You will recall who worked your route, whose case was where on the work floor and many other odd things that don’t seem to matter now, but someday will. All I can say is, pay attention to the journey because you don’t get a do-over. Make the best of it, hug your friends a little tighter and let go of the negative vibes that won’t matter in the long run.

Have a safe and sound summer and be prepared for the heat and hot weather.

PS: In case you were wondering, the latest news is that my friend is doing well and I, for one, am very happy to hear it.

Outlook March / April 2017
Misguided Management
I have come across many management officials in my travels and each has been distinct in their own ways. However, when it comes down to the delivery of mail, they share a very similar mentality. Many are under the assumption that by waving the invisible, magic wand in the carrier’s direction, all mail will vanish instantly and in a timely manner, no less.

The common thread between them doesn’t end there, management officials all frequently voice the following words over and over, “There’s no mail anymore.” This statement is biased to say the least and based on unfair comparisons. It references bygone days when first class mail may have been more abundant. Nonetheless, it clearly doesn’t tally the volume of DPS we handle nowadays. Even on a so called “light day” there are still deliveries that require a knock on the door or a signature. This shared mentality simply cracks me up. My own retort to those words would be, “Don’t tell me its light unless I am delivering less than 100 pieces.” Management’s opinions of light, average and heavy are questionable to say the least, and carrier’s opinions obviously differ. It is easy to sit at a desk and make a groundless determination. It is much more difficult to put on the uniform, step in the carrier’s shoes and walk the route daily to make a true determination.

Management must remember that there are more deliveries to consider other than the DPS when they have that clipboard in their hand. What about the other deliveries? Remember carriers deliver letters, flats, small parcels, large parcels, and EDDM. What about the SPRs and the mail-pieces that require signatures? All carriers must wonder why all that is forgotten when determining the weight of the mail. Misguided management, one can only presume.

This article has been an introduction to a more important issue: the day when management takes you into the office for a so-called chat. This chat more than likely will take place after you have been walked or had a 3999 conducted on you within the scope of an official Count and Inspection. Many stories have been told of management officials calling the carrier in to discuss his or her performance and their own personal observations. With a sheet of paper in hand, management rattles off some numbers and statistics. The whole run down on your performance from the volume of letters and flats, to the time you hit your first MSP and everything else in between. After a short while, you are informed that the time you demonstrated on the day of your 3999 is now the draconian term called, “demonstrated ability” and that you must perform at that expectation until the day you retire or die, whichever comes first. It is typically said in the following ways: “I’m going to hold you to that standard from now on;” or “It’s expected that you maintain your demonstrated ability from here on out;” or something very similar. To all those statements, I shout, “STOP RIGHT THERE!” You have just been threatened with something that doesn’t even exist. “I am going to hold you to that” can be interpreted as: there will be consequences if you do not live up to this standard. Charges should be pressed immediately on that management official. First and foremost, how dare management threaten you and do so with a term that the USPS or NALC has never agreed upon - this is simply unacceptable. Do not let anyone hold a threat over your head. There is no place for it in the modern day postal service. Days of tolerating such infractions are long gone and there is no room for it on the work floor. Management must be professional and should a supervisor feel corrective action is necessary, it must be handled properly. If you feel threatened in any way, tell your steward immediately. Management has been called into account on many occasions and required to provide verbal and/or written apologies. I, myself have been witness to an arbitrator requiring that a written apology be posted for a said amount of time or that an apology be delivered on the workroom floor, in front of the other craft employees. Remember never let management bully you in any way, ever!

Outlook January / February 2017
You or Me?
Let’s review something for the sake of clarification, which in turn may help stop the endless finger pointing. Some people are under one impression, while the rest are under a totally different one when it comes to this subject. I would like to take a moment to answer the following questions. Who and where does the responsibility lie when it comes to a grievance regarding a letter of discipline being issued to the grievant or to the union on behalf of the grievant? Whose job is it to grieve a letter of discipline? My answer is that everyone involved has a responsibility and that responsibility depends on who you are, what you know and when you find out about it.

Let’s begin with the letter carrier. Once management issues a carrier any kind of discipline, the responsibility lies, first and foremost, with the grievant. The carrier must immediately notify and supply a copy of the disciplinary letter to his or her steward. That is the first and most essential step the carrier must take to be in the right direction, moving forward. Another essential thing to know is, do not assume the union is aware of the discipline because that type of thought process is a recipe for disaster. The scales will surely not tip in your favor if you choose to assume the union/shop steward is aware or will grieve the discipline automatically. Remember, do not assume that anyone knows about your write-up because that will be a huge mistake.

This answer is twofold and the other crinkle in this matter lies with the shop steward. Once a shop steward is aware of a disciplinary action taken against a fellow letter carrier, he or she is responsible to file a grievance for that particular carrier immediately. It does not matter if the carrier has received the action or not. On a personal note, as soon as I become aware of a discipline being issued, I file a grievance immediately. It does not matter to me if the carrier has been notified. As a matter of fact, it actually works out better for the carrier if he or she was not notified. That technicality can be used to have the discipline thrown out; but I save that argument for a different and more proper forum.

The point I would like to stress is that everyone must play their part and that part will be measured by who you are, what you know and when you know it, as I alluded to in the beginning of this article. So whether you are the grievant with the letter of discipline or the shop steward privy to disciplinary information, you must do your part.

Other important factors to remember: if the grievant receives discipline and the union is not present for that issuance, the grievant has the responsibility to notify his or her shop steward to file a grievance for that action. If management issues a letter to someone and then gives the union a copy of that discipline, it is the steward’s responsibility, right then and there, to file that grievance (if one has not already been filed). If we all follow this recipe for success, there will be minimum mix-ups and confusion when it comes to this issue.

Once the discipline is grieved then the grievance and merits will go where they belong. Although these steps do not guarantee the grievance being upheld, it does guarantee that your case is heard and your point of view is considered, rather than being dismissed on the grounds of a timeliness technicality, which causes a pain to the heart. Don’t let your discipline slip through the cracks.

Outlook November / December 2016
Money is Time and Time is Money
All too often, I have received calls from union members complaining about management conducting PS 3999s or 1838s. Remember it’s okay; don’t let it get to you! It means nothing, really. Let management do what they want. Remember money is time and time comes down to money. If the Postal Service wants to spend their time and waste their money watching you doing your job and the way you do it, so be it. If they have time to waste and money to spend, let them use it any way they choose. As long as they have enough money left over to pay their employees, let them do as they wish. The important thing to remember is, do not stress over it.

These 3999s, otherwise known as “walks” have been going on for a long time. We should all be familiar with them by now. I will go over it quickly in this article. A walk cannot and will not determine “a demonstrated ability”, just because management uses both terms in the same sentence. Don’t let the numbers penetrate your head, the same way they penetrate your supervisor’s head. It is merely a snapshot of your day on that particular day. A strong argument and lots of documentation would be needed to try to establish that day’s walk and numbers as anything closely associated to this demonstrated ability term. Management is supposed to walk with you and cannot determine or set the pace for you as you walk. Shame on you, if you allow them to do so; you’ve heard it now straight from the horse’s mouth. There is nothing further to discuss. Management is supposed to observe, not participate. They should not do anything to help foster quicker delivery or anything of that nature. It is mainly a quick snapshot of the route on that particular day and the way which “YOU” do the route. Not by any means, the way management would want you to do the route. Once the numbers come back regarding your total street time, my advice for you is to listen, and as they enter one ear redirect them right out the other one. Remember, the numbers mean nothing to you or to me regardless of their obvious importance to management.

The main point of this article is in regards to the recent 1838s, which management has been conducting in certain stations. In the same way I stressed the lack of importance of the 3999s, the same is true for 1838s; don’t stress the numbers. Both the 3999 and 1838 were designed to be part of the traditional Count and Inspection process. Outside of the Count and Inspection process, these forms and practices mean nothing at all. The 1838 was actually designed to be filled out by the carrier, all but one day of the traditional inspection. Being that management doesn’t allow you to count the mail along with them when they do these sporadic 1838s means it means nothing to me along with the fact that its being done outside of its intended design within the Count and Inspection. If I can count and verify the mail on a form that screams I should be doing it, then how far will those numbers get? They won’t go too far in my opinion. Couple that with the fact that the 1838 was done outside the scope of the M- 41/M-39s Count and Inspection true process means that you should not let any of those courses of action be of any importance to you. All you need to do is your best and the rest will be history.

Management still has the right to observe and to correct deficiencies within the scope or not of the 3999/1838, so keep that in mind. There is nothing in place to stop them from observing us as employees all day, week or year. Let them watch; time is money and money is time. How they choose to waste or spend it is all up to them, so don’t sweat it.

The main point is to not let the 3999/1838 stress you out or make you live your life on the route any differently than you do. As long as you are working and not participating in negligent behavior, let them continue to waste time and money on us. Regardless, the mail will be delivered one way or another. That is what we do, we deliver regardless of how much time it may take.

I would like to personally wish all union members a safe and happy holiday season. This is truly the time to reflect on the time you spend and who you spend it on. I hope to see you at the next meeting!

Outlook September / October 2016
Take Advantage
There are many benefits to take advantage of as letter carriers. I surely would, should I ever have the need to do so. I was quite surprised by how many seasoned letter carriers are unfamiliar with the unique benefits offered by Branch 36 to its members. My main reason for addressing this topic is to familiarize the new employees coming into the system of the great benefits available to them as union members, and to remind all letter carriers in general. So, whether you are a 30-year veteran or a newly hired CCA, take advantage of these great benefits.

The Dental Voucher is the one benefit that gets the most praise. If you need dental work done, simply call the branch secretary and ask for a dental voucher. The voucher entitles you to a thorough dental cleaning, an exam and a full set of x-rays when you use Branch 36’s recommended provider, Group Health Dental Associates. All other dental care will be offered at a 33% discounted rate at this same provider. Should you choose to go to a different provider, you will be entitled to the monetary value of the voucher.

The Eyeglass Voucher covers a complete eye exam, and a choice of a select group of frames to be determined by Branch 36’s recommended provider, General Vision. All additional services that surpass the benefit are the sole responsibility of the patient. Should you choose to go to a different provider, you will be entitled to the monetary value of the eyeglass voucher.

Members may also request eyeglass vouchers for their family members ($45.00 per voucher) by sending a check payable to: Branch 36 Welfare & Scholarship Fund, or call Branch 36 at (212) 239-3901 with any questions. This is one benefit members should take advantage of because of the constant daily strain on our eyes.

Branch 36 Credit Union is open 5 days a week if you need banking services such as: loans, checking accounts, savings accounts, etc. Inquire about the loan rates or any other rates that may apply and which suit your needs.

These are a few of the benefits being offered to the members of Branch 36. Visit our website at and click on the benefits link for further information.

Outlook July / August 2016
Knock Knock, Who’s There?
The M41, sections 321.4 (foot carriers), 322.31 (motorized routes), and 323.3 (parcel post) in a nutshell state, “Determine if someone is home, by ringing a doorbell or knocking on a door.” Each has a varying language of its own, but it is basically the same. Knock on the door! These quotes come directly out of the M41. Each one instructs you to ring the doorbell or knock (in the absence of a doorbell). You won’t find “ring the intercom” anywhere. There is no language in the M41 stating, “Carriers do not go beyond the second floor, third floor or any other floor. Carriers should walk up as many flights as possible in order to make a delivery. When delivering to a six floor walkup, the carrier has the right and responsibility to take that piece of mail (parcel, SPR, Express, or Accountable mail) upstairs to the customer’s door. Remember, someone paid postage for that delivery! A 20 story building with an elevator that is out of order and needs a package delivered to the 18th floor is a totally different story. The point being, a carrier has the responsibility to make the delivery at the customer’s door.

I didn’t grab this topic out of thin air or in order to instruct carriers on how to do their job. It comes from questions directed at union representatives through phone calls regarding management and SOP/lnstructions concerning vertical deliveries, which take you to a door and away from a mail receptacle. Let’s get one point straight, the moment management writes you up or puts you up for removal for not making an attempt (as the book states) there won’t be too much room for confusion regarding this issue.

In early July, Bronx management was asking carriers at a particular station to sign a document affirming that they either read or understood a memo that had come from headquarters. The memo, in part, read: “Upon arrival to a customer mail receptacle, check to see if the package can fit in the mailbox without damaging the package. If an item does not fit in the mailbox... delivery must be attempted at the customer’s residence.” This memo might have made it to your station or possibly not, but the message has been delivered. The message exists and is out there on behalf of the service and to its letter carriers. Heed, the warning! Do not take this memo lightly. The fact that the postal service wanted written proof of the carriers understanding of the memo means to me that within a short time, management will try to implement a disciplinary agenda with regards to scans, attempts and deliveries. Let’s face it, the writing is on the wall. Not only does the M41 mandate/authorize you to make the attempt at the door, but Postal Management is circulating a memo within the agency to make you aware that you should be making an attempt at the customer’s door.

Make the attempt or try your best to do so. Intercoms don’t always work or function properly and may not fit accordingly into the grand scheme of things. The door is your safest bet. Management officials cannot take away your ability to deliver to someone’s door. It is your right and obligation to do so as well. First and foremost, let’s keep our disciplinary records clean by not giving management a reason to accuse us of Failure to Follow Instructions or some other bogus charge.

Outlook May / June 2016
One question that never seems to go away is the one in reference to sick leave (otherwise known as the famously worded “bang up”) and the required documentation. The rules of documentation, as per the ELM, change with the circumstances involved. The ELM clearly specifies what happens with an absence of less than three days or more than three days.

I will first begin with the easy one: an absence of more than three days. The ELM simply means four days or more. Keep in mind, when you bang up four days or more, you must provide medical documentation. It must be a clear explanation of the illness or injury, sufficiently stating that the employee was unable to perform his or her duties for the entire period of time the employee was out. Don’t be mad at me, I am just the messenger trying to keep you informed of the rules and regulations for the main purpose of job security.

Documentation must be provided by a physician or an attending physician. It must explain the nature of the illness. It does not have to state a specific serious illness like say: pneumonia. You do not have to provide such personal medical information to management. The ELM does not state a prognosis or diagnosis; it simply states the nature of the illness or injury. Therefore the physician may call it an “upper respiratory infection” or something in that ballpark. Take a look at the ELM section 513.36. It clearly does not say prognosis or diagnosis. If management gives you a hard time, do not freak out. Simply provide what the ELM states and you will be well on your way with the proper documentation.

The tricky part regarding sick leave can actually be with three days or less, but it just may seem more complex. The three days rule is pretty straight forward. Management, however, may try to get slick in two ways: first, because they are simply innocent and not knowledgeable of the rule; or second, because they are trying to give you a hard time. Either way, the golden rule is to ALWAYS follow the instructions and grieve it later.

The ELM states, “...supervisors may accept the employee’s statement explaining the absence.” If you bang up and you don’t hear the word “medical” then this means you can write your own statement and give it to the supervisor. However, if you do hear the word medical, do not freak out.

The ELM also states (for less than three days) that medical documentation is required with reference to Restriction (this is a lengthy task and rarely ever applicable), or when in the interest of the protection of the Service (just as hard a task as the Restriction part). I will not reveal those pearls in print. However, if you hear medical evidence and your absence was less than three days, then this is where the golden rule comes into play. If you follow the instructions, not only do you avoid extra disciplinary charges (failure to follow, AWOL, etc.), but you win contractually. This kind of win not only leaves a bitter taste in management’s soul, but it gets you compensated for travel time, carfare and any copayments that you can prove you paid. Provided, of course, management does not justify the documentation and as I said, that it is not an easy task.

Remember, leave the grievance to Branch 36 officials. The details to a grievance can be spoken about on a one on one basis, either with your shop steward or any official at Branch 36 Headquarters. That is what we do, so leave that part to us. The most important part is that you remain a winner in every way: both disciplinarily and contractually. Have a safe summer everyone!

Outlook March / April 2016
Hold on to Your Hold-Down
As the winter sluggishly moves along, thoughts of spring and summer come into mind and so to, do the Prime Leave Selections (vacation weeks). Assignments will need to be temporarily filled as carriers begin enjoying that hard earned vacation time with friends and loved ones. This is prime time for hold-downs (formally known as “Opting”). CCA’s, Unassigned Regulars and Reserve Carriers are eligible to bid for these hold-downs; pending some criteria of course. Yet, mysteriously for some reason, management frequently comes down with a severe case of amnesia. It seems to be especially true when staffing is not working in the budget’s favor. Figuratively speaking, management will almost convince you that someone’s life is on the line if they don’t take you off that hold-down. Well, I say don’t believe it. Speak to your shop steward!

Hold-downs are mainly generated throughout the summer months because carriers’ vacations increase during that period of time and therefore, greater opportunities for hold-downs arise. This does not mean that hold-downs do not exist at any other time of year. It simply means that according to statistics, there is a greater likelihood for hold-downs during carriers’ peak vacation season.

Reserve carriers, unassigned carriers and CCA’s have the right to Opt. An assignment that is anticipated to have a vacancy of more than 5 work days is eligible for Opting. The hold-down includes: the scheduled work days, scheduled rest days, and scheduled hours (begin tour and end tour) of the assignment as posted for bid. This works differently for CCA’s, Reserve Carriers and Unassigned Carriers. Be sure to speak to your union/shop steward regarding any questions about a hold-down that you may want or already have. Keep in mind that hold-downs are valid only until they end. Once you opt for an assignment, you will not be able to jump from one opt to another, if the original opt has not ended. The regular carrier has to return to work and work on that assignment, in some sort of capacity, in order for that Opt to end. Outside of that, you are the official owner of the Opt from sunrise to sunset and for all of the season, within a year.

If and when (and I stress the WHEN) management takes you off your Opt, make sure to speak to your steward and most importantly, grieve it. Many, if not all management officials, can’t tolerate losing the flexibility of a CCA’s scheduling once they have opted onto an assignment. Because you assume the assignment’s schedule and can’t be told to do a thousand different pivots or tasks in a day. They may hate it, but they have no choice but to abide by it. “The parties agreed...” is all they need to understand. There is not much more to it than that. If the parties mutually agreed it was bad for business to do Opts, then they would not have mutually agreed to the provision.

If an employee on a hold-down typically works on a Sunday, management will often try to get slick by telling them that they have to or need to change their rest day. Do not believe it. Do not be fooled. Do not sign the PS Form 3189. This practice is done to avoid paying you overtime on the sixth day (being you are GUARANTEED the five scheduled days). The scheduled 5 days do not include: Sunday or the rotating rest day. That is management’s ploy to try and fool you. They try to come across as they have your best interest in mind, a favor to you or an opportunity for you to rest. Don’t believe that hype. If I have to sacrifice my sacred Sunday because I am scheduled to work, then I would want to make sure that Sunday’s work paid and compensated me for my sacrifice at the right price (overtime).

Article 41 of the National Contract explains Opts (hold-downs) in great length. You can read it for yourself. You can ask your shop steward to help or you can reach out to the union. We are always happy to serve. Enjoy the warmer weather and make sure to keep your eyes and ears open while on the streets of New York City and the Bronx!

I would like to take this time to extend a personal thank you for your vote of confidence with regards to the Acclamation of the Vincent R. Sombrotto Officers. We are all grateful for your support. Thank you again!

Outlook January / February 2016
Check Your Paystub
It is always great to actually see your hard work come to fruition in the form of cash on payday. Everyone likes to see their money after a hard week’s work and our CCA’s are certainly no exception. Imagine coming to work and not being paid for it.

In various stations, this issue has hit home for some of our new CCA’s. Some CCA’s haven’t received their pay for their first few days of training, while others haven’t received full pay for a hard day’s work. This problem can affect everyone! Let me explain.

While CCA’s transitioned from the orientation phase to the station phase, some were paid accordingly for their time while others were not. For whatever reason, be it negligence, incompetence or an honest mistake. This event is occurring all too often. It didn’t take long for CCA’s to realize they were not being paid properly when they made their way to stations after leaving the Morgan Facility and training phase. I would like to remind all employees, not just the CCA’s, it is a wise practice to keep track of the hours you worked and to double check your paycheck to be sure you are being paid correctly. Do not think you are safe, simply because you are not a CCA. This issue is commonplace with Regular employees too; mistakes are often made and some even go unnoticed.

At the station level, in at least at a few stations, shop stewards have either realized or been informed that management has been taking time away from carriers without contractual justification. This is why everyone needs to CHECK YOUR PAYSTUB every pay period. I won’t bore you with the mechanics of that kind of grievance, but if you are interested all you have to do is ask your steward or give us a call and we’d be glad to explain.

The most relevant part of this article is that everyone, regardless of whether you are a CCA, Regular, Veteran, or Rookie must constantly verify that you are being paid correctly. This should be done from present day into retirement day. Remember, sometimes the people who pay us make mistakes and sometimes people do bad things. It’s time to take back control and be on the lookout for any miscalculations on your paycheck. This can easily be done by using the following:
• Write down how many hours you work and make sure to write down the date, too (you’d be surprised).
- Saturday is day one and Friday is day 7 of the pay period.
- Subtract .50 for the lunch break if you work more than 8 hours.
- Add up all the time from Saturday through Friday. Bingo! You have the total hours worked within a week.
• Any time worked beyond 8 hours in a day is considered Overtime. Any time beyond 10 hours is considered V-Time.
• This applies to all carriers. Make sure your Straight time, Overtime, and V-Time are all correct! Calculate each of those within the pay period.
• If there is a problem with your pay, you should provide the steward a copy of your calculations, along with a copy of your paystub, and a brief explanation as to the actual missing pay and your own calculations. We will handle it from there!

Good luck to you and be safe in your travels.

Outlook November / December 2015
The Station Shuffle
The holiday crunch is now upon us. When staffing doesn’t go as planned, the flexible workforce (CCA’s) may be heavily relied upon throughout the borough to make up for the service’s shortcomings.

Transportation is covered by our Local Memorandums; both the Bronx and Manhattan local agreements cover transportation between stations at the beginning of the agreement. That being said, it is extremely important for all new and seasoned CCA’s to know they have the same rights as career employees in regards to authorized movement from one station to another. There is no reason for any employee to use their own personal vehicle within the performance of their duties. The Postal Service is directly responsible for the transportation of employees. No employees should be spending out of pocket to go from one station to another.

Follow me carefully, as I explain. If a CCA were scheduled to begin a tour at Station A and is told to travel to Station B and clock in there, then a grievance should be filed immediately. If you were scheduled at Station A, then you should be able to clock in at Station A first, before traveling to Station B. You should not travel to Station B while off the clock, ever. Never use your personal vehicle or pay for any type of transportation because there is no way to be compensated for the gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. If you were to get into an accident in your own vehicle, one can only imagine how that would be negatively translated with a paper and pen by management. Why risk it? Do not travel off the clock and do not use your own vehicle.

Remember, we have all worked hard this year, so enjoy the fruits of your labor with your families and loved ones. Happy Holidays to all!

Outlook September / October 2015
12 and 60 Hour Limits
Did you know there is a limit to how much the service can work you in any given day or week? The National Contract explains that employees are prohibited from working or volunteering to work for more than 12 hours per day or 60 hours per week. Still, carriers are being given tasks that take far more than 12 hours to complete. This practice impacts everyone. CCA’s, the Overtime Desired List and the non-Overtime Desired List carriers are all feeling the strain. This type of grind will catch up with your body over time. (Remember 11.5 hours of work and a half hour lunch period is equal to 12 hours). Primarily, CCA’s and ODL carriers are the most affected, being given too many tasks to complete in a 12 hour timeframe.

There are two obvious ways ODL carriers are impacted:

1) Physically, a 12 hour workday can be exhausting and cause wear and tear on one’s body.

2) All work being done by a CCA or ODL carrier over 12 hours is work that could and should have been done by another ODL carrier who is looking to be maximized, or a CCA looking for more than 4 hours of work, or a Regular Carrier with less than 8 hours of work (if that even exists).

Foot note: ODL Carriers can be required to work 12 hours, in addition to the half hour lunch break.

The remedy for this violation requires some kind of monetary gain in addition to the pay already received. Remember, there is no need to wait for a cease and desist for a first time violation. I recommend that you get what belongs to you because Postal Service management definitely lives by and follows that same thought process. Don’t hesitate to file a grievance and get paid for your hard work and time. Remember, your time is and should be always worth its weight in gold. Don’t let your time and contract, go to waste.

Outlook July / August 2015
Class Rules
I was extremely fortunate to be invited to attend the NALC’s Rap Session in July. The NALC offers a broad range of classes and the one that sparked my interest was the Retirement Class. The instructor was Ron Watson and his lecture actually blew my socks off. The class was not only well thought out, it was very informative. Going in to the class, I assumed it would be strictly about numbers; boy was I wrong! I thought for sure I would hear: “You work X amount of years and you get Y amount of money.”

The class covered topics from the elite “one percent” to how Congress and Legislation have changed retirement rules for new hires after the year, 2013.

The NALC and Branch 36 never cease to amaze me; continuously providing its rank and file the training and hands on experience needed through these various workshops. We attended classes from 9 to 5 and meetings when class was out.

Training doesn’t stop on the National level. Branch 36 manages to get the message out by holding two monthly meetings throughout the year for members and shop stewards along with quarterly seminars, which provide training.

If you are hungry for knowledge, Branch 36 is surely dishing it up. So become an informed carrier, who knows his/her stuff when it comes to rules and regulations.

Outlook May / June 2015
How It All Began
Initially, I had a hard time choosing a topic for my first article. I figured history is always an interesting topic; so why not begin with my own history with this great union, Branch 36. My induction into the union began about 15 years ago when I was a carrier at Morrisania Station. Management forced all letter carriers to do something that we didn’t think we had to do. I lost that grievance, but instead I gained a spark of determination to fight for what is right. The rest of my story is still unfolding.

Back then, I stepped up to the plate at Morrisania Station and began the process of learning everything I could. One of the Hearing Officers noticed something in my grievances and was quick to point out tips on how to be successful. I listened and absorbed every bit of information I could. She told me that being successful didn’t mean winning grievances only. There was much more hard work to do outside the grievance arena. Because I was never one to shy away from hard work, I did what needed to be done. My reward came when I started receiving positive feedback from the Officers of Branch 36. The full time officers, both past and present, certainly appreciated my efforts and for that I am forever grateful.

The importance of Membership Meetings and Steward Meetings were explained to me by that same Hearing Officer. She stated the importance of giving and collecting COLCPE donations and attending quarterly seminars and annual conventions. The key objectives seemed to be to remain active and involved. She promised that the more I put into, the more I would get out of it. She was right! I feel a little luck and hard work goes a long way and I have been very fortunate to be seen, recognized and a part of this great union.

So in a nutshell, anyone can do it. I had no idea what a JCAM, M-39 or even and M-41 was when I began and if I can do it, so can you! Get involved!

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