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    Updated December 5, 2005    
    
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No. 05-21   December 2, 2005
 
   

Young Demands Senator Lift ‘Hold’ on Reform Bill

 
NALC Prepares Action if Bond Refuses
   

NALC President William H. Young has demanded that Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-MO) stop blocking a Senate floor vote on bi-partisan reform legislation that would help the U.S. Postal Service provide more efficient service to Americans and also prevent unnecessary postage rate increases.

In a November 30 letter to Bond, Young said the scheduled increase of first class postage from 37 cents to 39 cents in January, along with increases for other classifications, could have been avoided if S. 662 had been enacted by this time.

"The blame for this rate hike falls squarely on those who have held up postal reform," Young said.

Young asked Bond to lift the ‘hold" he has placed against S. 662, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2005, and allow an up-or-down vote prior to the expected adjournment of the First Session of the 109th Congress before Christmas.

Young added that if Bond does not immediately lift the "hold", the union is prepared to take direct action – beginning next week – to bring this egregious conduct by Bond to the attention of all residents of his home state of Missouri.

Postal reform legislation, backed by NALC, was passed by the House of Representatives on a 410-20 vote in July. S. 662 was subsequently approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in a near unanimous vote, paving the way for Senate floor action. Under Senate tradition, however, a senator is allowed to prevent further action on a bill or nomination simply by placing a "hold" on the bill.

In his letter, Young noted that Bond had stopped action on the bill due to objections by Hallmark Cards, Inc. regarding the manner in which postage rates can be adjusted. Hallmark is headquartered in Kansas City. Young called the Hallmark proposal "a back-door attempt to retain today’s flawed system of rate-making-by-litigation which wastes time and money and hopelessly ties up the Postal Service in red tape."

"I urge you to think of the interests of the millions of Missourians who rely on the USPS for business and personal mail service on a daily basis," Young wrote Bond. "In the Internet age, the ability of the Postal Service to maintain affordable and universal mail service in Missouri through the state’s 1,113 facilities depends on the ability of the USPS to operate and price its products more flexibly."

Young said nearly 10 million Americans, including 187,000 in the state of Missouri, rely on the USPS and related sectors (printing, publishing, direct advertising) for employment. Included are 6,300 NALC members in Missouri.

Due to the overwhelming support for the legislation among both Republicans and Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tried in November to convince Bond to allow a floor vote, assuring him that he would have an opportunity to offer a floor amendment based on Hallmark’s concerns. Bond rejected the offer.

   
  Latest accumulation!

Seventh COLA Reaches $676

   

The projected accumulation for the seventh of eight regular cost-of-living adjustments under the 2001-2006 National Agreement stood at $676 following the November 16 release of the October Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The seventh COLA will be based on inflation between July and January 2006 and will be payable in the second full pay period following release of the January 2006 index.

The $676 annual accumulation equals 32 ½ cents per hour or $26 per pay period.

The accumulation toward the 2007 retiree COLA stood at 1.3 percent following release of the October index. The 2007 retiree COLA will be based on the increase in the average CPI-W between the third quarter of 2005 and the third quarter of 2006.

As previously announced, retirees under the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) will receive a 2006 cost-of-living adjustment of 4.1 percent and retirees under the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) will receive a COLA of 3.1 percent. Under current law, FERS COLA increases are set at 1 percentage point below the CSRS COLA if the CSRS COLA is 3 percent or higher.

The accumulation toward the 2006 COLA for Federal Employees Compensation Act (FECA) participants increased to 4.9 percent based on the latest figures. The 2006 FECA COLA will be based on the increase in the CPI-W between December 2004 and December 2005, and will be effective March 1, 2006.

   
 

Member ID Numbers Now Used

Due to security reasons, branch rosters accompanying dues reimbursement checks were changed effective PP 22-05 to reflect the NALC member identification (ID) number instead of Social Security number.

Secretary-Treasurer Jane E. Broendel regrets the inconvenience and confusion this may have caused but said security concerns required that NALC make this change as quickly as possible. Should a branch face difficulties due to this transition, please contact the office of the Secretary-Treasurer for advice.

   
 
Blockbuster Apologizes
   

In response to a letter from NALC President William H. Young, a top official of the Blockbuster, Inc. video-DVD firm has apologized for running a promotional ad that could encourage the general public to refrain from giving their letter carrier a Holiday time gratuity for a year of good service.

"It is gratifying that Blockbuster officials responded quickly, acknowledged they made a mistake and set about to correct the situation. We are pleased that Blockbuster utilizes the U.S. Postal Service and NALC-represented letter carriers in dealing with its customers and we look forward to continuing that relationship in the future." – President Young.

Shane Evangelist, senior vice president and general manager of Blockbuster Online, wrote to President Young:

"Please accept our sincerest apologizes (sic) regarding the promotional advertisement on our delivery envelopes that read: Free delivery, yes. Tip the mailman, no. Receive and return your DVDs with no shipping costs."

Young demanded the apology and termination of the ad campaign in an October 31 letter to Blockbuster Chairman and CEO John Atioco. The matter was brought to Young’s attention by the office of Region 15 NBA George Mignosi after a shop steward in Cranford, New Jersey Br. 754 saw the ad.

In his letter, Young noted that Blockbuster relies on the very same letter carriers to

deliver their product to their customers. He added that while postal customers do not regularly tip their carrier, it has become a common practice for such expressions of appreciation to occur during the Holiday period.

"These customers do not need a suggestion from Blockbuster that they can save a few bucks by eliminating this tradition of generosity and appreciation," Young wrote.

Evangelist responded that Blockbuster appreciates all that the Postal Service, and especially letter carriers, do for their customers.

"I am personally sorry that our attempt to be amusing with our message disparaged letter carriers in any way," Evangelist wrote. "We have removed the advertisement from our envelope campaign. It will no longer be part of future printing runs. Rest assured, we will be much more mindful of how we present our relationship with letter carriers in the future."

   
 
December 12 Deadline!
 
Only a Few Days Remain To Enroll
In 2006 NALC Health Benefit Plan
   

Only a few days remain before the December 12 end of "Open Season" and the once-in-a-year opportunity for letter carriers and other postal employees to enroll in the NALC Health Benefit Plan for next year.

It’s also the last chance – for another 12 months – to assure yourself and your family have a top flight health care package at a reasonable cost and competitive with any in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program.

Act now!

 

If you are not already enrolled in the NALC Health Benefit Plan, contact your USPS Personnel Office to sign up using PostalEase, or see your NALC branch health benefits representative. But you must act by December 12, the end of Open Season.

All NALC members have been mailed an information packet about the NALC Health Benefit Plan. In addition, a special insert and other articles appeared in the November issue of the Postal Record. You should compare the information about 2006 rates and benefits with those of other Plans and assess the needs of yourself and your family.

You will find the NALC Health Benefit Plan provides speedy service, a top-level mail-order prescription program and comprehensive medical coverage to take care of everyone from infants to the elderly, including services covered by physicians, inpatient and outpatient hospital services, emergency treatment, and mental health and substance abuse treatment. In addition, regular savings are available to NALC Health Benefit Plan enrollees by using the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network of hospitals and physicians.

This is a summary of some of the features of the NALC Health Benefit Plan. Detailed information on the 2006 NALC Health Benefit Plan can be found in the Official Brochure. Before making a final decision, please read the Plan's officially approved Brochure (RI 71-009). All benefits are subject to the definitions, limitations, and exclusions set forth in the Official Brochure.

   
 
Nationwide Mobilization
 
International Human Rights Day is December 10, 2005
   

On December 10, workers throughout the world will hold events to support human rights, including freedom of workers to form unions. In the United States, the AFL-CIO has mobilized demonstrations in cities across the country and urges all working men and women to join in demanding that workers be guaranteed to freedom to have a union voice on the job.

NALC President William H. Young encouraged NALC members and their families to join their AFL-CIO brothers and sisters in participating in these events. Additional information and location of events are available on the AFL-CIO website: www.aflcio.org.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney will join hundreds of other global union leaders in Hong Kong Dec. 10 for a rally to coincide with the meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO is holding its biennial ministerial conference in Hong Kong to advance free trade. Unfortunately, the trade talks have failed to address labor issues in the new global economy.
International Human Rights Day commemorates the anniversary of the ratification of the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which established the right of people in every nation to come together into unions and bargain contracts.

As part of its support, the union movement is backing S. 842 and H.R. 1696 (the Employee Free Choice Act) which would require employers to recognize a union as collective bargaining agent after a majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation.

   
 
  © 2001-2005 National Association of Letter Carriers, AFL-CIO