National Association of Letter Carriers News Feed http://www.nalc.org/rss/ National Association of Letter Carriers News Feed Wed, 1 Oct 2014 05:00:00 +0000 AMPS en hourly 1 Tell your senators not to take away health care from millions of working people http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/senate-republicans-finally-reveal-their-health-care-bill-4 Sun, 25 Jun 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/senate-republicans-finally-reveal-their-health-care-bill-4

Click here to download this flyer.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the Better Care Reconciliation Act last week, following seven years of promising the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) and after weeks of negotiations following the House of Representatives’ passage of the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), a bill that the Senate said it could not and would not pass.

The Senate’s legislation, which is different from what the House passed in May, is expected to be voted on in the Senate in the coming days, before senators depart Washington, DC, for the July 4 recess. Following that vote, the Senate and House bills will need to be reconciled before a single bill heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for a signature. Both measures are projected to increase the number of Americans who are uninsured by about 23 million.

Among the defining characteristics of the legislation are provisions to deregulate insurance companies, which would allow them to charge older and sicker Americans more for health insurance, and to eliminate the individual mandate to buy health insurance and the mandate for larger companies (with 50 or more employees) to provide employer-sponsored health coverage.

Ending the individual mandate would undermine the individual insurance market and the Obamacare health care exchanges, while ending the employer mandate would help non-union companies drop coverage to gain an advantage over unionized firms.

Over time, the bill would cripple Medicaid by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the federal-state program that covers tens of millions of disabled Americans, poor children and the elderly in nursing homes, a program that was expanded by the ACA to cover more of the working poor. Such a move would force states to deny coverage to millions of low-income Americans. 

In addition, the bill would reduce tax credits for health premiums purchased on health care exchanges and repeal virtually all of the taxes on high-income Americans and health insurance companies, all of which helped to fund Obamacare’s expansion of health insurance to more than 20 million American families. 

The bill also would give all 50 states the opportunity to drop benefits required by the ACA, such as maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment. While it retains protections for patients with pre-existing conditions (insurers must accept everyone and charge the same rates), the legislation would allow states to waive insurance requirements. This waiver includes rules governing which benefits must be covered, thereby allowing states to drop coverage on troublesome, expensive conditions. Reducing coverage requirements is a convenient way for lawmakers to promise continued pre-existing conditions protection without actually having to deliver it—insurance companies could simply choose not to cover chronic ailments that afflict millions of Americans.

Enactment of this legislation would result in a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. The only Obamacare tax preserved is the so-called “Cadillac-tax,” an excise tax on health benefits above a certain value that is expected to raise insurance premiums for letter carriers and other middle class workers.

With Senate floor action expected soon, all letter carriers should contact their senators now and urge them to oppose this attack on middle-class workers and their families. Call 888-865-8089 and tell your senators that you will remember who took away health care from millions of working people. (If no one answers, leave a message.)

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Redesigned Heat Safety Tool app released (updated) http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/redesigned-heat-safety-tool-app-released Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/redesigned-heat-safety-tool-app-released The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have collaborated to update OSHA’s original Heat Safety Tool app for smartphones.

The updated app, available for both Android and iPhone, provides a clearer user interface while still providing the same information to help keep employees safe when working outdoors in hot weather.

Extreme heat causes more deaths than any other weather-related hazard; each year more than 65,000 people seek medical treatment for extreme heat exposure.

Letter carriers who are exposed to hot and humid conditions can use the app to check the heat index and learn about the relevant protective measures. The app displays the heat index in the user’s location and shows the current risk level. 

Click here to get your current heat index from The Weather Channel—and bookmark the page for future reference.

The app also forecasts the hourly heat index throughout the entire workday, giving employers information they can use to adjust the work environment as needed to protect workers. It provides tips for recognizing the signs of heat-related illness and for rendering first aid, plus links to more information and to NIOSH/OSHA contact information.

Note: If you have the original OSHA app on your phone, it will no longer function after Sept. 30.

To download the updated app and get more information on OSHA’s efforts to help protect employees from the heat, visit OSHA’s heat campaign web page.

UPDATE: Visit the NIOSH page in support of the app to learn more about it and to get answers to frequently asked questions, such as “What is a heat index?”, “When should I use the heat index?”, and “Is monitoring the heat index enough to keep workers safe?”

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Branch Officers Training set for San Diego, Baltimore this fall http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/branch-officers-training-set-for-san-diego-baltimore-this-fall Mon, 12 Jun 2017 08:55:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/branch-officers-training-set-for-san-diego-baltimore-this-fall NALC Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Rhine has announced that two Branch Officers Training seminars will be held this fall.

Branch Officers Training sessions consist of three and a half days of educational seminars tailored to assist branch presidents, vice presidents, treasurers, recording secretaries, financial secretaries and trustees in the performance of their duties.

Branch Officers Training covers the basics for financial officers: taxes; accounting systems and maintenance of proper controls; reporting to the Department of Labor; fiduciary duties under the Landrum-Griffin Act; bonding of branch officers and IRS reporting requirements.

Additional training topics include the NALC Constitution and branch bylaws; branch operations and identifying branch policies; running a branch meeting; maintaining accurate and complete meeting minutes; member notification requirements; record keeping; branch elections and branch dues and how to read a dues roster.

A complete overview of what the training entails was included in Secretary-Treasurer Rhine’s November 2016 Postal Record article, available for review at nalc.org.

One session of Branch Officers Training will take place Oct. 16-19 in San Diego. The room rate (single/double) is $169 plus tax. The other session will take place Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in Baltimore. The room rate (single/double) is $159 plus tax.

The registration form for both classes will be included in the next NALC Bulletin. Please do not make airline reservations until you receive an acceptance letter. Hotel reservation information will be included with letters of acceptance.

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Contract ratification update: Balloting, rap session http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/contract-ratification-update-rap-session-announced-1 Tue, 27 Jun 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/contract-ratification-update-rap-session-announced-1 Balloting

Per Article 16 of the NALC Constitution, ratification of a proposed national agreement between NALC and the U.S. Postal Service shall be a mail referendum vote and the ballot shall be mailed only to regular members of the NALC as defined in Article 2, Section 1 (a), excluding non-letter carrier regular members as shown by the records of the national secretary-treasurer as of 90 days prior to the date that the proposed agreement is reached—which was May 12.

Didn’t get a ballot?

The last of the ratification ballots for the tentative 2016-2019 National Agreement between NALC and USPS were mailed on June 26.

If you are eligible to vote on the proposed agreement and have not received a ballot by July 5, call NALC Headquarters at 202-393-4695 no later than 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on July 14.

A replacement ballot will be mailed after your eligibility is verified.

Consistent with Article 2, Section 1 (a) of the NALC Constitution, retirees and Office of Workers’ Compensation Program (OWCP) departees shall have no voice or vote in any matter pertaining to the ratification of a national working agreement. 

Shortly after NALC’s recent 2017 National Conference in Atlantic City, NJ (see below), every active letter carrier eligible to vote in the election to ratify the tentative 2016-2019 National Agreement between NALC and USPS was mailed a copy of the proposed pact. Included in the mailing was a letter from NALC President Fredric Rolando, a summary of the contract’s provisions, a ballot and secrecy envelope, a return envelope and instructions for casting a vote.

For a ballot to be counted, it must be received by 11:59 p.m. on July 29.

The NALC Constitution provides that “membership acceptance or rejection of a proposed National Agreement shall be by majority of valid ballots returned by the voters.” If the agreement is accepted, it will go into effect immediately. If the agreement is rejected, then, under the Postal Reorganization Act, the parties may continue bargaining or, ultimately, refer the dispute to an interest arbitration board. Under the law, decisions of the arbitration board are conclusive and binding upon the parties.

If any of the ballot materials described above are missing from your mailing, immediately call NALC Headquarters at 202-393-4695. (Note that the phone number printed in the mailed ballot instructions is incorrect.)

NALC’s Ballot Committee monitored and observed as proposed agreements were mailed to voting members.

Ballot Committee

NALC President Fredric V. Rolando has appointed the Ballot Committee for the purpose of monitoring and observing the dispatch, receipt and tabulation of the ratification ballot for the tentative National Agreement reached between NALC and the U.S. Postal Service. The Ballot Committee is made up of 15 NALC members from branches in no fewer than 15 states. The members of the committee are:

  • Region 1: Barbara Stickler, Garden Grove, CA Branch 1100
  • Region 2: Phillip Rodriquez, Salt Lake City Branch 111
  • Region 3: Mack Julion, Chicago Branch 11
  • Region 4: Adam Fung, Aurora, CO Branch 5996
  • Region 5: Rod Holub, Manhattan, KS Branch 1018
  • Region 6: Robyn Williams, N. Oakland Co., MI Branch 320
  • Region 7: Caitlin Hill, Minneapolis Branch 9
  • Region 8: Antonia Shields, Birmingham, AL Branch 530
  • Region 9: Anthony Ali, Central Florida Branch 1091
  • Region 10: Vanessa Sanchez, San Antonio, TX Branch 421
  • Region 11: John Oross, Dayton, OH Branch 182
  • Region 12: Eryka Tolliver, Pittsburgh Branch 84
  • Region 13: Delano Wilson, Bowie, MD Branch 2611
  • Region 14: Christopher Henwood, Rutland, VT Branch 495
  • Region 15: Joe De Rossi, Jamaica, NY Branch 562

The Ballot Committee arrived in Washington, DC, on June 19 to monitor and observe the mailing of the ballots.

2017 National Conference (aka ‘rap session’)

So that the tentative National Agreement could be fully discussed with branch and state leaders prior to the ratification voting, the 2017 National Conference—better known as a “rap session”—was held June 14 at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, NJ. National rap sessions for state and branch presidents/designees are authorized in non-convention years by the NALC Constitution under Article 3, Section 4 (b).

The rap session was used to educate branch leaders about the proposed contract. It’s hoped that this will give all NALC members the opportunity to attend a branch meeting following the rap session to learn about the tentative agreement and to get questions answered prior to submitting ratification ballots.

The rap session itself was held on the morning of Wednesday, June 14. Workshops were conducted on Wednesday afternoon and repeated in the morning on Thursday, June 15. There were two three-hour workshops held simultaneously on Wednesday afternoon, each covering various topics of interest and importance to branch and state leaders. Those same workshops were repeated on Thursday morning so all attending the rap session had a chance to hear all of the information covered.

Click here to read conference coverage in the NALC Bulletin: Part 1 | Part 2

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Tentative National Agreement is reached http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/tentative-national-agreement-is-reached Fri, 12 May 2017 12:50:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/tentative-national-agreement-is-reached

The National Association of Letter Carriers and the U.S. Postal Service have reached tentative agreement on a national labor contract, covering 213,000 active city letter carriers across America.

The tentative agreement includes provisions rewarding all letter carriers for their contributions to the Postal Service’s extraordinary comeback following the Great Recession; narrowing the compensation gap between city carrier assistants (CCAs) and career letter carriers; creating a formal mechanism to address the problems that have undermined the workplace culture of the Postal Service for much of its history; and preserving the core achievements of our bargaining history, including regular general wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), protections against outsourcing and layoffs, as well as other contractual elements that define our standard of living.

NALC President Fredric V. Rolando issued the following statement after the NALC Executive Council unanimously recommended approval of the tentative settlement:

“I’d like to thank all the officers and staff who worked so hard to help reach this tentative National Agreement. Most importantly, I want to thank our members for their patience and steadfast solidarity during the long bargaining process – the strength and unity of our union has always been our most important asset in collective bargaining. Although we were fully prepared, if necessary, to fight for our interests in binding interest arbitration, I am very happy that our members will have a chance to make the final decision about this contract through the ratification process outlined in our union's constitution. The Executive Council unanimously recommends ratification of this contract.”

The major features of the contract are summarized below. Full details about the tentative agreement, along with paycharts, other contractual changes and information about new and amended memorandum of understanding (MOUs), will be presented in the next NALC Bulletin and in the June issue of The Postal Record. They will also be distributed though the union’s electronic platforms in the days to come.  All these communication channels will also be used to announce  the members of the Ballot Committee (who will oversee the ratification vote); the timing and details of the ratification process; and the arrangements for the 2017 National Rap Session, a meeting that will be held in mid-June to educate branch leaders about the proposed contract so they can pass on information to their members before they cast ratification ballots.

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF LETTER CARRIERS

HIGHLIGHTS OF TENTATIVE AGREEMENT
WITH THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE

2016-2019 NATIONAL AGREEMENT

Term

The 2016 National Agreement will last 40 months, covering the period May 21, 2016, to Sept. 20, 2019.

General wage increases and pay upgrade

All letter carriers, career and non-career alike, will receive three wage increases as follows:

  • 1.2 percent effective Nov. 26, 2016, paid retroactively.
  • 1.3 percent effective Nov. 25, 2017.
  • Effective Nov. 24, 2018, all Grade 1 letter carriers will be upgraded to Grade 2. This upgrade will result in an average wage increase of 2.1 percent for Grade 1 letter carriers across all current wage tables. Carrier technicians also will receive a pay increase of 2.1 percent effective Nov. 24, 2018.

CCAs will receive additional wage increases of 1 percent on these three dates for a total of: 2.2 percent on Nov. 26, 2016 (paid retroactively); 2.3 percent on Nov. 25, 2017; and an additional 1 percent increase at the time of the upgrade, Nov. 24, 2018. These additional increases will be paid in lieu of cost-of-living adjustments for CCAs.

Cost-of-living adjustments for career letter carriers

All career letter carriers will receive seven COLAs based on changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) and using the existing COLA formula and the July 2014 CPI as the base month. The first two COLAs will be paid retroactively and the remaining five will be paid in the future as follows:

  • The first COLA will be $21 annually effective Sept. 3, 2016, paid retroactively.
  • The second COLA will be $333 annually effective March 4, 2017, paid retroactively.
  • The third COLA will be effective in September 2017.
  • The fourth COLA will be effective in March 2018.
  • The fifth COLA will be effective in September 2018.
  • The sixth COLA will be effective in March 2019.
  • The seventh COLA will be effective in September 2019.

The COLAs will be applied to the two pay tables for career city carriers in the same manner used in the 2011 National Agreement.

Recently retired letter carriers

Letter carriers who have retired over the last several months will receive applicable retroactive general wage increases and COLAs. The Office of Personnel Management will also make any annuity adjustments made necessary by the retroactive increases.

Step increases for city carrier assistants

The tentative agreement would establish step increases for CCAs. In addition to the wage increases described above, CCAs will receive a 50 cents per hour raise after 12 weeks of service and an additional 50 cents per hour increase after an additional 40 weeks of service. These step increases will be paid retroactively to Nov. 26, 2016, for CCAs with paid hours since Nov. 26, 2016.  For example, CCAs with 52 weeks of service as of Nov. 26, 2016, will get a $1.00 per hour raise, effective on that date and paid retroactively.

Step advancement for certain former transitional employees

Effective May 26, 2018, eligible former transitional employees (TEs) will be advanced in Table 2 of the letter carrier pay scale based on their length of service as TEs after Sept. 29, 2007. Such former TEs will be entitled to between one and four step increases as follows:

Length of creditable TE service          

     Number of additional steps     

2 years but less than 3 years

1

3 years but less than 4 years

2

4 years but less than 5 years

3

5 or more years

4

For those eligible former TEs converted to career status prior to May 26, 2018, the step advancement will be effective on that date. For those converted thereafter, the step advancement will be effective upon conversion to career status. All employees eligible for step advancement will retain time-in-step credit.

Health insurance

In 2017, there is no change in the Postal Service’s share of premium costs for career letter carriers’ health insurance (76 percent of the weighted average Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) plan premium, capped at 79.25 percent of any given plan premium). Following the pattern of previous contracts, the Postal Service’s share will decline by a total of 3.0 percent over the term of the tentative agreement. The share will decrease to 74 percent in 2018 and to 73 percent in 2019. The maximum employer contribution for any given plan will be 77.25% in 2018 and 76.0% in 2019. Over the course of the entire contract, the Postal Service’s share for career letter carriers will remain higher than that paid by other federal agencies that participate in the FEHBP (72 percent of the average premium, capped at 75 percent for any given plan).

The bi-weekly impact of these Article 21 changes will depend on which plans carriers enroll in but will, in any case, represent a small fraction of the bi-weekly pay increases provided by Article 9 of the tentative agreement.

On health insurance for CCAs, the tentative contract maintains the Postal Service’s bi-weekly contribution of $125 toward self-only coverage in the USPS Non-career Health Plan, but it would significantly increase the Postal Service’s contribution toward self-plus-one and self-and-family coverage in that plan (now set at the same $125 bi-weekly contribution available for self-only coverage). In the initial year of CCA employment, the USPS will pay 65 percent of the premium costs. In the second year of CCA employment and beyond, the USPS share would rise to 75 percent of the total premium.

Job security protections for letter carriers

The no-layoff clause that protects letter carriers after six years of service as career employees is retained in the tentative agreement. In addition, prohibitions against contracting out city carrier work would be continued for the duration of the 2016-2019 contract, if the contract is ratified.

Joint Workplace Improvement Process

The tentative accord includes an MOU on improving workplace culture. The parties have agreed to establish a Joint Workplace Improvement Process to address a number of issues to provide safe, efficient work environments in which employees are treated with dignity and respect.

CCA complement and conversion to career status

Upon ratification, there would be a one-time conversion to career status for CCAs with relative standing date at least 30 months prior to the ratification date. The conversions would work as follows:

  • In 200-workyear offices, eligible CCAs will be converted to full-time regular career status in their installation.
  • In 125- and 100-workyear offices, eligible CCAs will be converted to part-time flexible career status in their installation, rather than waiting to convert to full-time career status as a CCA.

The parties have agreed to consider the possibility of another one-time conversion after one year.

Additionally, the parties have agreed to address situations where CCAs work in small offices with no clear path to a career opportunity.

There is no increase to the CCA employment caps in Article 7 of the Agreement or to the number of CCAs currently on the rolls. However, the Postal Service will maintain a percentage of the additional CCAs previously agreed to by the parties through a number of MOUs. These MOUs, which would continue in the tentative agreement, have provided additional career conversion opportunities for CCAs, about 47,000 to date. The vast majority of these CCAs did not have to serve probationary periods as career employees. The MOUs continue to include a weekly meeting to monitor appropriate staffing levels through career conversions and voluntary transfer requests.

CCA holidays

The following six days shall be considered holidays for CCAs: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The amount of holiday pay a CCA will receive will be determined by the size of the office in which the CCA works.

CCA leave provisions in local agreements

The agreement requires the parties to negotiate choice and incidental leave provisions for CCAs during local implementation. It also establishes an alternate dispute resolution process for impasses related to CCA leave prior to arbitration.

Article 8 improvements

All overtime, regardless of whether such overtime was worked on a carrier’s own route, will count toward equitability for overtime desired list (ODL) carriers. Additionally, management will be required to post equitability totals weekly, rather than quarterly.

An MOU is incorporated into the agreement to continue to allow the local parties the option of developing a process that allows employees who transfer from another installation or are converted to full time following the signup period to place their names on either the ODL or the work assignment list. Existing agreements pursuant to previous versions of this MOU will remain in effect.

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POSTAL FACTS: June 12, 2017 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-june-12-2017 Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:38:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-june-12-2017 What reporters and commentators are writing and saying about the Postal Service, and how NALC members and leaders are making their voices heard.

Post Office provides valuable service (Wisconsin State Journal)

Logo for Wisconsin State JournalNALC President Fredric Rolando’s letter to the editor of the Wisconsin State Journal ran on June 12. Prompted by an earlier letter to the editor, Rolando provided facts about postal finances and urged Wisconsin’s congressional representatives to support constructive reform. The Wisconsin State Journal is Wisconsin’s second-largest newspaper, after the Milwaukee Journal, and is the leading news source for Madison, the state’s capital.

Click here to read the letter.

VOTING: Mail would help (The Coeur d’Alene Press)
Vote by mail (Idaho Statesman)

Idaho State Association of Letter Carriers President John Paige’s letters to the editor ran in The Coeur d’Alene Press on June 2 and in the Idaho Statesman on June 8.

Click here to read the letter in The Coeur d’Alene Press.
Click here to read the letter in the Idaho Statesman.

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POSTAL FACTS: June 5, 2017 (updated) http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-30-2017 Mon, 05 Jun 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-30-2017 What reporters and commentators are writing and saying about the Postal Service, and how NALC members and leaders are making their voices heard.

Misconceptions dishonor U.S. mail (The Columbus Dispatch)

Logo for Atlanta Journal ConstitutionOn May 27, Ohio’s The Columbus Dispatch ran a commentary-length letter by NALC President Fredric Rolando that focused on the value of letter carries and the U.S. Postal Service, postal finances and the recent Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive.

Click here to read the piece.

Blame Congress for U.S. Postal Service fiscal woes (The Mercury)

On May 26, Pottstown, PA’s The Mercury ran a commentary-length letter by President Rolando.

Click here to read the piece.

Trump's Fix for Post Office's Deep Losses: Cut Back Saturday Delivery (The Wall Street Journal)
President Trump’s 2018 budget resurrects unpopular USPS cost-cutting initiatives (Linn’s Stamp News)
NALC’S Rolando: Trump budget ‘a missed opportunity’ on postal reform (Press Associates)

Rolando was quoted in a May 26 story in The Wall Street Journal about postal proposals in the Trump administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2018. He also was quoted in stories on the same topic by Linn’s Stamp News on May 27 and by Press Associates on May 26.

Click here to read The Wall Street Journal’s story (via MSN; it also was posted on the Fox Business and Morningstar websites).
Click here to read Linn’s Stamp News’ story.
Click here to read Press Associates’ story (PDF).

Let’s vote by mail (Times-News)

Idaho State Association President John Paige’s letter to the editor of Twin Falls’ Times-News ran on May 29 and in the Idaho State Journal, Idaho Press-Tribune and Idaho Falls’ Post-Register on May 30.

Click here to read the letter in the Times-News.
Click here to read the letter in the Idaho State Journal.
Click here to read the letter in the Idaho Press-Tribune.
Click here to read the letter in the Post-Register.

New laws are anti-worker (Lexington Herald-Leader)

Kentucky State Association of Letter Carriers President Bob McNulty’s letter to the editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader ran on June 2.

Click here to read the letter.

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Trump administration releases FY2018 budget plan http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/trump-administration-releases-fy2018-budget-plan Wed, 24 May 2017 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/trump-administration-releases-fy2018-budget-plan On May 23, the White House released its Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal as a follow up to the “skinny budget” released in March.

The $4.094 trillion request, titled “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” proposes job-killing delivery service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service and calls for massive federal spending reductions over 10 years, including major cuts to federal and postal employee pension benefits. The controversial budget, which is not binding on Congress and serves only as a declaration of the administration’s spending priorities, was immediately declared “dead on arrival” by leaders of both parties. 

For active federal and postal employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the budget calls for gradually equalizing employee and agency contributions for pension benefits. This would cut our pay and raise our pension contributions by 1 percent of pay per year for up to six years, costing active carriers up to $3,600 annually after six years. (The actual impact would depend on when FERS employees are hired: Letter carriers hired before 2013 now pay 0.8 percent, while letter carriers hired after 2013 pay 3.1 percent or 4.4 percent, depending on their exact date of hire. The FERS contribution rate, which would eventually be split 50-50 for all letter carriers under this budget proposal, now stands at 14.5 percent.)

For retirees, the administration’s budget calls for completely eliminating cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for current and future annuitants under FERS (which covers any employee hired after 1984). For those under the Civil Service Retirement System, COLAs would be reduced by one-half of 1 percent (that is, 0.5 percent) each year. These changes would devastate the finances of retirees who rely on annual COLAs to keep up with the cost of living.

The pension cuts don’t stop there. The budget also calls for reducing CSRS and FERS pension benefits for new retirees by basing annuities on workers’ highest average pay over five years (high-5) instead of over three years (high-3). It would also eliminate the “Social Security supplement” that covers the gap for workers who retire under FERS before they qualify for Social Security benefits at age 62. For letter carriers and other blue-collar federal employees with physically taxing jobs, this cut would be especially painful.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that the administration would so recklessly attack the livelihoods of active and retired federal retirees who have devoted their lives to our country,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “NALC will vigorously fight any budget proposal that attacks our members or the Postal Service.”

“The biggest losers from President Trump’s draconian cuts to federal employee pay and benefits will be the American people who count on dedicated federal employees to care for our veterans, maintain our national parks, and process Social Security checks each and every day,” said Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA). “Cuts of this magnitude will make it impossible to recruit and retain the qualified workforce we need to meet our nation’s challenges.”

With regard to the Postal Service, the budget calls for $46 billion in vaguely defined cuts and revenue changes over a decade. It proposes reducing the frequency of delivery (presumably eliminating Saturday delivery) and scaling back door delivery. Rather than resolving the pre-funding burden, the budget seems to propose giving the Postal Service greater freedom to raise rates to cover future retiree health care costs. As a result, the administration’s postal proposals are certain to be opposed by all of the Postal Service’s major stakeholders, unions and mailers alike.

“Sadly, the new administration seems to have ignored the growing consensus in the mailing industry over ways to strengthen the Postal Service,” President Rolando said. “If enacted, the Trump proposals would threaten the long-term viability of the Postal Service and the huge industry it supports.

The budget plan breaks many of President Trump’s campaign promises to working families, including promises not to cut Medicaid and Social Security and to look out for so-called “forgotten Americans.”

Proposed budget cuts also include $616 billion from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); $272 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, among others; $143 billion from the federal student loan program for low-income college students; and $72 billion from Social Security disability programs. The proposed budget would slash the budgets of the Labor Department and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) by more than 20 percent, placing the rights of all working Americans at risk.

“We have seen promise after promise just broken, as if they didn’t even matter,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. “Candidate Trump campaigned as a populist, said he wanted to help the working people, but since he has taken office he has governed like a hard-right conservative—pushing policies that help the uber-wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”

The budget plan has expectedly received harsh criticism from Senate Democrats, but a number of Senate Republicans have taken to condemning it as well. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and John McCain (R-AZ) suggested the budget was “dead on arrival.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called the budget “terrible.”

Combined with the administration’s tax cut proposal and its proposal to eliminate health insurance coverage for 24 million Americas by gutting the Affordable Care Act, the Trump budget and economic policy would effectively and massively shift public resources and income upward to the nation’s wealthiest families.

“That’s unacceptable and immoral,” President Rolando said.

It is important to note that Congress typically rejects much of what a president requests in a budget plan, and that administration proposals such as this one are frequently messaging statements to Congress. Ultimately, the budget process is controlled by members of the House and the Senate, who will determine whether to incorporate elements of the administration’s request. This makes it imperative for letter carriers to urge their representatives in Washington to reject attacks on the federal workforce or on the Postal Service and its networks.

NALC will resist any attempts by Congress to adopt any elements of the Trump budget that would target the Postal Service, its employees or its retirees.

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POSTAL FACTS: May 22, 2017 (updated) http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-18-2017-1 Mon, 22 May 2017 11:00:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-18-2017-1 What reporters and commentators are writing and saying about the Postal Service, and how NALC members and leaders are making their voices heard.

Opinion: Congressional politics hinders Postal Service (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Logo for Atlanta Journal ConstitutionOn May 15, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published online a commentary piece by NALC President Fredric Rolando that noted, among other things, how pre-funding disguises the actual profits brought in by postal operations.

Click here to read the piece.

News media coverage of USPS’ FY2017 Q2 report

On May 10, the USPS released a report on its financial performance for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2017 (covering January, February and March of 2017). Much of the news media’s coverage of the report was constructive. President Rolando and Postmaster General Megan Brennan were the most frequently quoted, with reporters generally including in their stories references to the external burdens of pre-funding and last year’s exigent price rollback.

Postal Service, citing losses, seeks higher stamp prices (Associated Press)

Logo for Associated PressRolando and Brennan are the only people quoted in the Associated Press story; a quote from the president wraps it up.

“Today’s financial report shows the underlying business strength of the U.S. Postal Service while also indicating the need to address external matters beyond USPS control,” said Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, which is backing the House bill.

The AP piece was used by The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Charlotte Observer, ABC News and other major outlets. Click here to read it in the Post.

Postal Service seeks ‘firmer financial footing’ from Congress, new appointments from Trump (Federal News Radio)

Logo for Federal News RadioRolando and Brennan are quoted in this Federal News Radio item, a two-topic piece that dealt with USPS asking President Trump to make postal appointments before covering postal finances.

Fredric Rolando, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, who generally supports the postal reform effort, called on lawmakers to keep the momentum going on this legislation.

“Today’s financial report shows the underlying business strength of the U.S. Postal Service while also indicating the need to address external matters beyond USPS control,” Rolando said in a statement. “Addressing the external financial burdens posed by the price rollback and by pre-funding would allow USPS to continue to provide Americans and their businesses with the industrial world’s most-affordable delivery network.”

Click here to read the story.

USPS Loses Nearly $600M, Says It’s Close to ‘Solid Financial Footing’ (Government Executive)

Logo for Government ExecutiveThe story in Government Executive quoted Rolando as well as USPS Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett.

Click here to read the story.

NALC’s Rolando: Postal Service turned a profit on operations in the last six months (Press Associates)

Press Associates’ story covering the quarterly report quoted Rolando alone and extensively.

Click here to read the story (posted on the American Federation of School Administrators’ website).

Coverage also was provided by Fedsmith and Morgan Stanley.

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<i>Deliver the Cure with MDA Guidebook</i> now available http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/ideliver-the-cure-with-mda-guidebooki-now-available Thu, 18 May 2017 14:22:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/ideliver-the-cure-with-mda-guidebooki-now-available Deliver the Cure with MDA Guidebook

The updated Deliver the Cure with MDA Guidebook is now available for download.

In it, you’ll find information about the longstanding partnership between NALC and MDA, how to get involved and make a difference, keys to a successful fundraiser, partnership guidelines, Combined Federal Campaign opportunities, important information about securing funds—and a whole lot more.

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NALC statement on USPS’ quarterly financial report http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/nalc-statement-on-usps-quarterly-financial-report Wed, 10 May 2017 10:42:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/nalc-statement-on-usps-quarterly-financial-report On May 10, the U.S. Postal Service released a report on its financial performance for the second quarter of Fiscal Year 2017, covering January, February and March of 2017. Here is National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando’s statement about this report:

Today’s financial report shows the underlying business strength of the U.S. Postal Service while also indicating the need to address external matters beyond USPS’ control.

The quarterly operating profit of $12 million puts the Postal Service in the black by $533 million halfway through the 2017 Fiscal Year. Since the start of FY 2014, postal operations have a total operating profit of $3.7 billion.

That’s impressive for a government entity that earns its revenue and gets no taxpayer money while enjoying strong public and political support. It shows the importance of strengthening the unparalleled postal network—the centerpiece of a $1.3 trillion national mailing industry that provides 7 million private-sector American jobs.

At the same time, two key matters—the pre-funding of future retiree health benefits and the rollback in stamp prices—need to be addressed.

The reported red ink in recent years has stemmed from a factor unrelated to postal operations: the 2006 congressional mandate that the Postal Service—alone among all public and private entities—pre-fund future retiree health benefits, at an annual cost of $5.8 billion ($1.45 billion quarterly).

And the second quarter’s revenue would have been $500 million higher without last year’s rollback of stamp prices from 49 cents to 47 cents. It was the first rollback since 1919 and it makes little sense because USPS already has the industrial world’s lowest rates. It reduces postal revenue by $2 billion per year.

Two efforts are underway that could alleviate these matters.

The Postal Regulatory Commission is reviewing the postage rate-setting system, with a decision scheduled for this year. At present, USPS is capped by the Consumer Price Index, but the CPI is an economy-wide measurement of consumer goods and services that doesn’t fit a transportation and delivery provider. The PRC has the ability to correct this mismatch and relieve the resulting financial pressure.

And House of Representatives legislation already voted out of committee would address pre-funding and other financial issues, including a partial restoration of stamp prices.

Addressing the external financial burdens posed by the price rollback and by pre-funding would allow USPS to continue to provide Americans and their businesses with the industrial world’s most-affordable delivery network.

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NALC submits comments in PRC’s rate-setting review http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/nalc-submits-comments-in-prcs-rate-setting-review Thu, 23 Mar 2017 09:48:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/nalc-submits-comments-in-prcs-rate-setting-review The Postal Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) required 10-year review of the way the U.S. Postal Service sets its prices for postage and postal products is underway, with NALC making an official submission to the agency before the public comment window closed on March 20.

Chief among NALC’s recommendations is that the PRC should eliminate the price cap on so-called “market dominant” products such as First Class Mail.  The cap has failed to provide the means to achieve the most important objective of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Financial Act (PAEA): financial stability for USPS.

The price cap is tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), an index that is not relevant to the cost of universal mail delivery and fails to provide postage rates high enough to cover the Postal Service’s legitimate costs, to pay down what its owes to the U.S. Treasury, to make needed capital investments in vehicles and facilities, and even to earn modest profits. Such profits would let the agency build up some cash reserves to help it ride out any emergency situations or other unforeseen circumstances.

Further, the cap has kept the Postal Service from fulfilling the PAEA’s mandate to pre-fund the health benefits of future postal retirees. No other public agency or private company has to pre-fund even one year in advance; USPS must pre-fund these benefits decades into the future.

Pre-funding, in fact, is responsible for 90 percent of the Postal Service’s reported losses over the past 10 years. Unfortunately, the cost of the pre-funding mandate was not factored into PAEA’s rules for rate-setting.

And without adequate revenue, USPS cannot fulfill its fundamental mission of providing prompt and reliable mail delivery to every residential and business address in the U.S. at least six days a week.

NALC’s submitted comments were reinforced by the inclusion of a study performed at the union’s request by well-known experts, including two former PRC research directors. The study concluded that capping USPS’ rates at the rate of growth in the CPI prevents the agency from achieving financial sustainability.

The CPI is a common measure of inflation, factoring in the average prices of a wide set of basic consumer goods. But this broad index used by the PRC to set limits on postage rates bears little relation to the actual costs incurred by the USPS as it conducts business and provides universal delivery services. NALC believes that the regulators should drop the CPI price cap and introduce a more flexible system of regulation.

NALC also urged the commission to allow USPS to file for a one-time rate adjustment to allow the agency to make a moderate operating profit and help it achieve a measure of near-term financial stability. This so-called “true up” increase should be implemented before the new system of rate regulation is introduced to replace the CPI price cap.

The regulators are reviewing not just the CPI cap, but all of the rules and regulations governing postage rates for market-dominant products and whether the current price indexing system should continue. The PRC could end up making no changes to its current rate-setting system or creating an entirely new one.

Although the public comment period has ended, NALC continues to work with the other postal unions to help ensure that the PRC goes about the review in a constructive, positive way. Postal management, mailers, trade associations and other interested parties also are taking part in these review discussions. Any proposed change in the rate-setting system is likely to involve another public comment period. The union fully intends to take part in the commission’s future deliberations—gathering data, evaluating alternatives, making recommendations and submitting testimony.

NALC remains hopeful that the PRC will restore rates to sensible levels before implementing a new rate-setting system.

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25th annual Letter Carriers’ ‘Stamp Out Hunger<sup>®</sup>’ Food Drive is Saturday, May 13 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/25th-annual-letter-carriers-stamp-out-hungersupsup-is-saturday-may-13 Fri, 12 May 2017 09:37:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/25th-annual-letter-carriers-stamp-out-hungersupsup-is-saturday-may-13 The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) will conduct its 25th annual national food drive on Saturday, May 13.

The Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive, the country's largest single-day food drive, provides residents with an easy way to donate food to those in need.

Customers simply leave their donation of non-perishable goods next to their mailbox before the delivery of the mail on Saturday, May 13. Letter carriers will collect these food donations on that day as they deliver mail along their postal routes and distribute them to local food agencies. Visit stampouthungerfooddrive.us to learn more.

The Letter Carriers’ food drive is held annually on the second Saturday in May in 10,000 cities and towns in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. It remains as important as ever, with many people facing economic struggles. Hunger affects about 50 million people around the country, including millions of children, senior citizens and veterans.

Letter carriers see these struggles in the communities they serve, and believe it's important to do what they can to help.

“It’s an honor to be able to help people in need by leading an effort that brings out the best in so many Americans,” NALC President Fredric Rolando said. “All of our food drives have been special. The fact that this year marks the 25th anniversary makes this one a bit more special.”

The timing is important, with food banks, pantries and shelters running low on donations from the winter-holidays and with summer looming, when most school meal programs are suspended.

Last year, letter carriers collected a record 80.1 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes. That brought the total since the NALC’s food drive began in 1993 to 1.5 billion pounds.

On May 13, as they deliver mail, the nation’s 175,000 letter carriers will collect the donations that residents leave near their mailboxes. People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag (paper or plastic) containing non-perishable foods, such as canned soup, canned vegetables, canned meats and fish, pasta, rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday.

Carriers will take the food to local food banks, pantries or shelters.

Several national partners are assisting the NALC in the food drive: the U.S. Postal Service, the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, United Way Worldwide, the AARP Foundation, the AFL-CIO, Valpak and Valassis.

This year’s effort includes a public service announcement with actor and director Edward James Olmos.

People who have questions about the drive in their area should ask their letter carrier, contact their local post office, or go to stampouthungerfooddrive.us, facebook.com/StampOutHunger or twitter.com/StampOutHunger.

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The 280,000-member National Association of Letter Carriers represents letter carriers across the country employed by the U.S. Postal Service, along with retired letter carriers. Founded by Civil War veterans in 1889, the NALC is among the country's oldest labor unions.

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POSTAL FACTS: May 5, 2017 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-5-2017 Fri, 05 May 2017 10:27:00 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/postal-facts-may-5-2017 What reporters and commentators are writing and saying about the Postal Service, and how NALC members and leaders are making their voices heard.

Delivering more than the mail (Times-Republican)

NALC President Fredric Rolando had a guest editorial in Marshalltown, IA’s Times-Republican on May 4. The president’s piece informed readers in north-central Iowa about postal finances, the value of USPS and letter carriers, and the way forward legislatively.

Click here to read the piece.

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Filmmakers set out to tell letter carriers’ stories http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/filmmakers-set-out-to-tell-letter-carriers-stories Tue, 07 Mar 2017 12:11:14 -0500 http://www.nalc.org/news/nalc-updates/filmmakers-set-out-to-tell-letter-carriers-stories Postal TalesEvery letter carrier has stories. Stories about co-workers. Stories about routes. Stories about customers.

“What’s interesting about letter carriers, they’ll talk and talk,” joked retired Johnstown, PA Branch 451 member Joe Antal.

Carriers often have so many stories because they’ve worked in the same place, sometimes on the same route, for so long, he added. “We had carriers in Johnstown, and we probably have them in other areas, where once a guy got on a route, he never got off, 20 or 30 years. They got to know people.

“Even with me,” Antal said, “I moved around a little bit, but you see the kids go to school, get married and they invite you to the wedding. That makes it very personal.”

Recognizing this, a group of international artists based in Los Angeles is putting together a collection of these stories and hopes to create a library of videos and podcasts. The brainchild of renowned artist Christian Moeller, professor and chairman of the Department of Design and Media Arts at the University of California—Los Angeles, and his former student and current research assistant Dasha Orlova, “Postal Tales” intends to tell the stories of letter carriers across the United States. They’ve already made two videos and the results are beautiful.

Moeller was inspired when reading an article about letters to Santa that the Postal Service received.

“I was touched by the beauty of how carefully the United States Postal Service handles those letters,” he said. “We spent some time gathering more information about the ‘Letters to Santa’ program and came to realize that we were tapping into something way more interesting—an aspect of humanity revealed through the multitude of untold stories of letter carriers.”

After doing some research about the Postal Service, the group started to reach out to postal workers and ask for their stories, through Facebook and its website, www.postaltales.org.

“One day, we were unexpectedly contacted by a retired letter carrier by the name of Don Podrasky,” Orlova said.

The Branch 451 member, who lives in Windber, PA, told them, “You don’t want to hear my stories.” But Orlova insisted that they wanted any kind of story, whether it be scary, funny or sad.

What Orlova got was a story about “an old forgotten mining town called Eureka 40 where he delivered mail and came across a familiar ghost who saved his day,” she said.

“Nobody can make up stuff like this and we wanted to find more,” Moeller said.

Podrasky told them to contact his former branch president, Joe Antal, who also gave them a few stories, including one about delivering letters to grateful immigrants from Eastern Europe during the era of the Soviet Union.

Postal Tales imageThe tales made quite an impression. “Postal workers serve their community in much deeper ways than I could have imagined because being a letter carrier goes way beyond the daily job description,” Orlova said. “It is the empathy and humanity the letter carriers bring to their work that I found truly inspiring in the stories I’ve heard.”

Knowing that they had good stories to work from, the artists set out to the Johnstown area in the fall of 2015.

“Johnstown is a special place because it captures a glimpse of a classic American town where the post office is a center for the community,” Orlova said. “Driving around, we were fascinated by the sights of empty coal mines and abandoned storefronts juxtaposed with a vast autumn landscape that cast a golden glow on the surrounding homes and railroads.”

That November, a team of four started the film shoot. The team included Moeller and Orlova, along with multimedia artist and sound engineer Dino Zhang and photographer/filmmaker Serge Hoelschi, who has worked on independent photography projects as well as Hollywood productions.
The artists filmed Antal and Podrasky over the course of a week, which was quite unlike anything Antal had experienced before.

“I had done interviews for TV and radio for postal legislative issues, but this was entirely different,” the former state association president said. “The sound had to be right. The location had to be right.”

And while that meant repeating lines more than once, Antal found the experience to be enjoyable.

“But you know, for me personally, it was interesting,” he said. “It made me feel good, because I got to talk about the post office that I put 38 years in carrying mail. It was nice that people were interested in what letter carriers do and picking me out.”

Podrasky had a better idea of what to expect, having seen the filming of “Slapshot” and “All the Right Moves” in Johnstown, but it still took some getting used to. “They wanted me to talk to the camera and I said that I needed someone to talk to,” he said. “They said, ‘No, it’s like on TV, when the camera is on the guy and he’s talking.’ Everything I’ve ever seen on TV in my entire life is going through my head as I try to figure out what do I need to do to not look like a dork right now,” he joked before laughing.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said.

The filmmakers received permission from the Windber Post Office and local citizens to film throughout the area. “No one was averse to helping,” Podrasky said. “Everyone I introduced them to, I was their mailman.”

They returned to Los Angeles and took a few months to edit the footage. They worked on the sound design and added carefully chosen pieces of traditional and contemporary American folk music to make the short films complete.

When Antal saw it, “I stopped for a minute and said, ‘It’s me!’ It really tells the story of the letter carrier,” he said. “They were always saying to me that this is art, but I say that this is the kind of stuff that we need because we’re always trying to keep the post office going, maintain six-day delivery and door-to-door delivery.”

Podrasky wants to see more carriers get involved. “If we actually get to tell our story from our point of view, rather than some kind of canned reference from the company, it carries a lot more weight,” he said. “I want to hear from the guys who are doing the actual jobs.”

You can watch both pieces at www.postaltales.org. But the artists hope you won’t stop there.

“We hope that letter carriers reading this in your magazine will be inspired to contact us and share their stories,” Orlova said.

“Everyone has a story to tell,” she said. “Whether the letter carrier is new to the profession or retired after 30-plus years of delivering mail, they have all experienced something worth sharing. The stories we are looking for span far and wide, from inspiring, funny, romantic, heroic, embarrassing, scary, supernatural—you name it.”

Contact Postal TalesThe site gives many ways to share a carrier’s story. Options including mailing in the story, submitting it through an online form, by e-mail, or even calling the artists to record the story by phone.

“We often contact our storytellers after receiving their story submission and interview them by phone,” Orlova said. “We have even helped letter carriers edit their stories into compelling pieces that capture the experience they intend to share.”

“I can see ‘Postal Tales’ becoming a large and constantly growing collection of short stories,” Moeller added. “A never-ending project dedicated to collecting stories and producing as many individual episodes, all three to five minutes long, that come our way. The internet and digital streaming technology have changed TV programming and people’s watching habits, and luckily have made room again for content in short form.

“Similar to the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm, the stories will become a vast collection of tales,” he said, “all told by letter carriers to create a beautiful portrait of America through the eyes of the postal worker.”

Podrasky echoed that humanizing element. When people might first see a letter carrier, they see the uniform, he said. Then, “the uniform starts telling a story, and by the time it’s done, it’s not a uniform anymore. It’s a real human being.”

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