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May 11, 2017
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May 14, 2017
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May 18, 2017
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May 20, 2017
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May 29, 2017
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Fighting for Workplace Safety
Apr 28, 2017
Fighting for Workplace Safety Web News Article 39-2017 04/28/2017 - Before passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act in December 1970, millions of Americans risked their lives every time they reported for duty – there were no national safety laws designed to protect workers across industries.
Arbitration Advocacy Training July 30-Aug. 6
Apr 28, 2017

Arbitration Advocacy Training July 30-Aug. 6

Web News Article 38-2017

04/26/2017 - Arbitration Advocacy Training will take place from Sunday, July 30 through Sunday, Aug. 6 at the Hilton Albany Hotel in Albany, NY.

The program is designed to provide an in-depth knowledge of the techniques needed to effectively prepare a case for arbitration. APWU members must provide a letter from their local or state president (on local or state letterhead) that authorizes their attendance. Training is provided by APWU National officers and staff.

The deadline to register is Friday, June 23.

Click here for more information and a registration form.


Workers Memorial Day is April 28
Apr 28, 2017

Workers Memorial Day is April 28

Web News Article 35-2017

04/24/2017 - Safe Jobs: Every Worker's Right | Worker's Memorial Day - April 28

The labor movement will observe Workers Memorial Day on April 28, to commemorate those who have been killed or injured on the job and to revitalize the fight for workplace safety.

Each year, thousands of workers die and millions more are injured or sickened from dangerous working conditions. Many employers routinely cut corners and violate the law.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016, nearly 5,000 workers were killed on the job and nearly 2.9 million suffered from non-fatal injuries or illnesses.

During that same time period, ten postal workers lost their lives and 42,259 were seriously sickened or injured. In the last two years, the injury and lost time rate for USPS employees has been over three times the average for other federal employees.

To fight this troubling record, the APWU launched the Stand Up for Safe Jobs campaign, encouraging workers to be aware of the many dangers on the job, and to actively fight together for safe working conditions. Postal workers must remain vigilant at work to enforce safety standards. Go to apwu.org/issues/safe-jobs to learn more.

The theme of this year’s Workers Memorial Day is “Safe Jobs, Every Worker’s Right.” Make it clear that the labor movement will defend the right of every worker to a safe job – and fight until that promise is fulfilled.

APWU members are encouraged to participate in Workers Memorial Day events. To find one near you, visit http://aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/WorkersMemorialDay

If you participate with your APWU local or state union in this or another event for workers’ safety, solidarity and/or to support a legislative issue important to workers, please send pictures of you, your family and/or co-workers to communications@apwu.org for a chance to be featured on the APWU website or in future publications. Remember to wear your union gear!


APWU to Join People’s Climate March on April 29
Apr 28, 2017

APWU to Join People’s Climate March on April 29

Web News Article 37-2017

04/25/2017 - On Saturday, April 29, APWU members will join allies from labor, civil rights, environmental and political reform groups for the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC.

Participants are joining together to “stand up for our communities and climate.” The American Postal Workers Union encourages all its members to come out and march either in Washington, D.C., or in one of the sister marches across the country. Click here to find one near you.

“This is a working class issue all people should be concerned about,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “All workers are deeply affected by the changing climate. The rising sea levels alone will eventually flood the homes of over half a billion people across the globe. We already see droughts, extreme weather, rapid glacier melting, and the warmest global temperatures ever recorded.”

At the 2016 National Convention, APWU delegates adopted a resolution in support of Climate Change, Jobs and Justice.

“Irresponsible employers have created serious environmental problems in the communities where they operate, even as they have treated their workers unjustly, and such environmental irresponsibility threatens the long-term viability of community health and jobs,” it said. “The national union encourages locals and state organizations to participate in coalitions in their areas that fight for environmental justice and the mitigation of the effects of climate change.”

For those who wish to participate in the main march in Washington DC, meet your APWU sisters and brothers in front of the Department of Labor (200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20210) at 11am.

If you participate with your APWU local or state union in this or another event for workers’ solidarity and/or to support a legislative issue important to workers, please send pictures of you, your family and/or co-workers to communications@apwu.org for a chance to be featured on the APWU website or in future publications. Remember to wear your union gear!

Attachments

Postal Reform Questions & Answers
Apr 11, 2017

Get the Facts

Postal Reform Questions & Answers

Web News Article #34-2017

04/10/2017 - In order to have a healthy, sustainable, public Postal Service, legislation is necessary to protect postal customers and postal workers from USPS’s current financial crisis. The bi-partisan Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 largely caused this crisis, sending the Postal Service on a severe downward spiral. The PAEA mandated the Postal Service “pre-fund” 100 percent of its retiree health benefit liabilities, 75 years into the future.   

This absurd, unfair and unsustainable burden, which costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion each year over the past decade, is a large reason why the Postal Service cut back service and hours of operation, closed processing plants, increased subcontracting and severely reduced staffing. It also hurt the Postal Service’s financial ability to upgrade buildings, update infrastructure and purchase a new vehicle fleet.

In the ten years since the passage of the PAEA, legislators from both the Senate and House of Representatives repeatedly introduced postal legislation. Some bills, such as H.R. 22 in 2009 and H.R. 1351 in 2011, were positive legislative efforts to help address the pre-funding mandate, and were supported by the APWU. Some, such as H.R. 2309 in 2012, were all-out assaults on postal workers and the public Postal Service, causing the APWU to strongly oppose them.

Regardless of the political party in power, all legislative efforts have failed and the pre-funding crisis continues. It is clear that while Congress created the pre-funding mess, they refuse to legislate its solution on a stand-alone basis.

New postal reform legislation introduced in the 115th Congress helps to solve the pre-funding crisis and is fair to active and retired postal workers. The APWU supports two companion bills introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 756 and H.R. 760. As these bills move through the legislative process, the APWU will continue working to improve them.

We received many good questions from around the country regarding the impact of the pending legislation, if it is passed. These questions are the basis for the following “questions and answers.”

Q1: What is H.R. 756?
H.R. 756 is titled the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2017.” It is co-sponsored by a number of Congressional Representatives on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the legislative committee with jurisdiction over postal issues.

Q2: Does it have bi-partisan support of both Republicans and Democrats?
Yes. A rare sight in Washington, key Republicans and Democrats support the bill. It is sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Initial co-sponsors are Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA). It passed the Oversight Committee made up of 24 Republicans and 18 Democrats with an overwhelming voice vote.

Q3: How does H.R. 756 address the pre-funding debacle created by the 2006 PAEA?
H.R. 756 helps to solve the crushing pre-funding burden. By lowering the cost of FEHBP with Medicare Integration, combined with introducing EGWP drug discounts, the Postal Service should be 100 percent funded to meet the requirement of the PAEA. 

Q4: What are the main aspects of H.R. 756 that affect postal workers and retirees?
The bill puts the Postal Service on firmer financial footing, which should lead to positive benefits for postal workers both active and retired. It addresses the pre-funding crisis and increases postal rates to raise revenue. Aspects that will directly affect postal workers and retirees are the creation of a “postal only” health care program within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and the requirement of “Medicare Integration” for postal retirees who are eligible for Medicare.

Q5: If H.R. 756 becomes law, will there be any changes to what health benefits are covered?
There should be no changes in what health benefits are covered as a direct result of the passage of H.R. 756. With or without passage of the bill, FEHBP plans, with OPM approval, make changes annually to what they cover for medical procedures and prescription drugs, as well as co-pays, deductibles, networks and premiums. Those changes may increase or decrease a particular benefit. These FEHBP practices of the past will continue in the future.

Medicare Integration

Q6: What is Medicare Integration?                 
Medicare Integration requires that all Medicare-eligible postal retirees (age 65 or older) enroll in Medicare in order to maintain their FEHBP plan coverage in retirement. This means that all eligible retirees must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A, B and D in order to get insurance through the FEHBP. In order to simplify the enrollment procedure, all Medicare-eligible retirees will be automatically enrolled.

Q7: What do Medicare Parts A, B and D cover?
Medicare Part A covers hospitalization, Medicare Part B covers doctor/physician care and Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.

Q8: Will this cost employees, upon retirement, additional premiums? What about retirees who are not yet 65 years of age?
Medicare Part A has no premium. Medicare Part B currently has a standard premium for new enrollees of $134.00/month. Each year, Medicare Part B premiums are set based on the Consumer Price Index, so premiums can change. There is no additional premium for Medicare Part D because it is part of a retiree’s FEHBP plan coverage. Retirees under 65 years of age are not Medicare-eligible and thus will have no additional Medicare premiums until they become Medicare-eligible.

Q9: If a postal worker is still an active employee after reaching the Medicare-eligible age of 65, will they have to enroll in Medicare Part B to maintain their FEHBP coverage?
No. Only when an employee retires does the Medicare Integration mandate apply. 

Q10: Will Medicare Integration remove retirees from medical coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program? 
No. H.R. 756 sets up a “postal only” group within FEHBP for active and retired postal workers. For Medicare-eligible retirees, Medicare will be the primary insurance and a FEHBP plan will be the secondary insurance. Medical and prescription bills not covered by Medicare are covered by the FEHBP plan (if the medical care or drugs are normally covered by the plan’s benefits).

Q11: Will the postal only group insurance be run by the USPS?
No. USPS management will have no more authority to run the postal only health plans than they do now. The FEHBP “postal only” plans will continue to be administered by their plan sponsors, with OPM oversight.

Q12: Will retirees have access to all the FEHBP plans that other federal employees/retirees have?
Mostly yes. Eligible plans in the “postal only” group will be ones with over 1,500 postal participants. Right now, over 30 plans would be eligible, including all of the union-sponsored FEHBP health plans. Current retirees in a FEHBP plan with under 1,500 postal participants will be “grandfathered in” and can stay with their health plan – or switch to a FEHBP postal plan. 

Q13: Are “pre-1983” postal Civil Service retirees who did not contribute to Medicare covered under the provisions of H.R. 756?
Postal Service employees who retired prior to 1983 will be exempt from Medicare Integration, unless the retiree had sufficient quarters in a non-postal job, qualifying them for Medicare.  

Q14: If a Medicare-eligible retiree has a spouse who is covered by an FEHBP plan, and is not yet 65 years of age, will there be a change in how the spouse gets medical coverage?
No. The spouse will be fully covered by the FEHBP plan until he or she becomes Medicare-eligible. At that point, the spouse will be required to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to maintain FEHBP coverage. 

Q15: If H.R. 756 passes, what happens to a dependent under 26 years of age who is currently covered under a FEHBP plan?
No change will take place as a result of H.R. 756.

Q16: If H.R. 756 passes, will it have an effect on the FEHBP premium cost for active and retired postal workers?
Yes, it will have a positive effect. According to numerous health care actuaries, Medicare Integration will likely lead to cost savings for the FEHBP plans with three possible outcomes for both active and retired postal workers: 1) Some outright reduction in FEHBP premiums; 2) Slower growth of premium increases; and 3) increase in benefits provided. These anticipated savings are part of what makes this pending legislation fair to both active workers and retirees.

Q17: These are tumultuous times and there is much talk of doing away with and/or privatizing Medicare. If that were to happen, how would that affect our health coverage if H.R. 756 passes?
In the unlikely event of the elimination of Medicare, then there is really no Medicare Integration required of employees. Annuitants, including spouses, would maintain their FEHBP plan as their health insurance

Q18: If passed, when would the Medicare Integration provisions of the bill go into effect? How will affected retirees know the impact on their individual situation?
January 2019 is currently the proposed effective date. There is language in H.R. 756 that mandates an extensive education program for affected employees prior to Medicare Integration implementation. Furthermore, if H.R. 756 becomes law, the APWU is committed to creating its own education program.

Q19: How many of the current postal retirees will be affected by Medicare Integration if this bill were to become law?
Approximately 20 percent of Medicare-eligible postal retirees are not currently enrolled in Medicare Part B. They will be required to enroll if they wish to keep their FEHBP coverage. 

Medicare Part B

Q20: Why do approximately 80 percent of APWU retirees already voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part B?
With the combined benefits of Medicare Part B and their FEHBP plan, enrolled retirees have virtually 100% medical coverage with no co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance or catastrophic limits.

Q21: If an over-65 retiree did not voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part B at age 65, what happens to the late enrollment penalty if the bill is passed?
Under current provisions of the law, there is a 10% late enrollment penalty for each year after a person became Medicare-eligible, but did not enroll. H.R. 756 waives the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B to allow current retirees to enroll.

Q22: Is there any financial assistance with Medicare Part B premiums for those who are already Medicare-eligible but did not previously enroll?
H.R. 756 has a transition provision for current retirees and covered family members. The USPS will pay 75 percent of the Medicare Part B premium the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the third year (only for retirees and dependents who did not enroll in Medicare Part B before the passage of H.R. 756). Furthermore, there are a number of Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) to assist low-income beneficiaries with their Medicare Part B premiums. Eligibility and availability vary state by state.

Q23: If a disabled veteran, getting their health care coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Benefit program, has FEHBP coverage for a spouse, will they be mandated to enroll in Medicare as well?  
The way H.R. 756 is currently written, yes. However, the APWU is working to improve and clarify the language surrounding this issue.

Q24: If I have a physician who opts out of Medicare Part B, will I be forced to change my existing doctor?
No. For doctors who opt out of Medicare, which is an extremely small number (less than 1 percent), your FEHBP plan will pay towards your medical expenses as set forth in its benefits and coverage rules. 

Medicare Part D

Q25: How does Medicare Integration into Part D affect my premiums?
Prescription coverage is already provided in all FEHBP plans. There is no additional Medicare Part D premium that would be paid under the bill other than the premium already paid for FEHBP coverage.

Q26: Medicare Part D has what is called a “donut hole” creating a gap in prescription drug coverage. How will this affect annuitants under H.R. 756?
Whatever Medicare Part D does not cover in the “donut hole” will be covered by a person’s FEHBP plan, if the FEHBP plan provides coverage with what is commonly referred to as a “wrap around plan.” A "wrap around plan" for Medicare Part D gives a person complete prescription coverage. The APWU Health Plan will provide prescription "wrap around" coverage in the new “postal only” group and it is anticipated that other FEHBP plans will, as well.

Q27: If my current medicine is not covered under the Medicare Part D formulary, will I lose the coverage for that particular medicine?
No. Your FEHBP “wrap around plan” will cover what is not covered by Medicare Part D, based on the FEHBP plan’s benefits. Keep in mind that FEHBP plans cover different medicines in different ways, which can change from year to year. That practice will not change as a result of H.R. 756, and employees will need to review their options carefully during Open Season.

Q28: What is the Employee Group Waiver Program (EGWP)?
The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003, the law that created Medicare Part D, also created the Employee Group Waiver Program (EGWP). It is a program that incentivizes employers to cover health benefits for their retirees by providing access to discounted drugs. Right now, the EGWP does not currently apply to the FEHBP; however, H.R. 756 would allow the “postal only” FEHBP plans access to the EGWP discounts. In turn, access to the EGWP should save the FEHBP plans, individuals and the Postal Service significant amounts of money on the cost of medications.

Other Issues 

Q29: What is the companion bill, H.R. 760 about?
H.R. 760, the Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017, allows the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (PSRHBF) to invest up to 30 percent of its funds in a Thrift Savings Plan-like account. Currently, all PSRHBF money (approximately $50 billion) is in U.S. Treasury accounts, earning very low interest. With medical inflation running at 6-8 percent annually, the USPS loses large sums of money each year simply trying to keep up. Sensible investment approaches would allow the PSRHBF to generate more income to match medical inflation.

Q30: Why does the APWU support H.R. 756 when there is no language to restore overnight delivery standards?
The return of overnight delivery standards is an important goal of the APWU. However, pressing for it in this bill undermines its passage because neither the USPS nor the mailers agree to support this language. The reality we face is that no legislation will survive in the current political environment without the support of the four major postal unions, postal management and a significant portion of the major mailers. APWU’s effort to restore service standards will continue in other forms.

Q31: What about protection against further postal and plant closures?
If USPS finances are stabilized, there is less pressure to cut back on services. Conversely, if postal reform legislation is not passed soon, the Postal Service may look to implement further service cuts, such as eliminating delivery days, closing processing plants, reducing staffing, shuttering post offices and subcontracting more work – and services. Remember, a declining Postal Service is also an easy target for full-blown privatization.

Q32: Will H.R. 756 undermine our union rights?
No. As opposed to some “postal reform” bills over the last few years, H.R. 756, as this article goes to press, does not attack collective bargaining rights, the right to dues check-off or the right to official union time.

Q33: Different legislative initiatives over the years have attacked injured workers. How does H.R. 756 treat injured workers? 
There is no change to current law.

Q34: What is the current status of the legislation?  
The bills are in the early stage of a long arduous legislative process. Both have been “marked up” and approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Once the bills are reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - to "score" their financial impact on the overall federal budget - and are reviewed by other committees of jurisdiction, they will advance to the full House. If the bill(s) pass the House, the process will move to the Senate.


Final Payment for Retirees Regarding 1.6.b Global Settlement Remedy Agreement to be Distributed on April 21st
Apr 06, 2017

Final Payment for Retirees

Regarding 1.6.b Global Settlement Remedy

Agreement to be Distributed on April 21st

Web News Article #33-2017

04/05/2017 - The Postal Service is distributing the final payment of the 1.6.b Global Settlement to retirees on April 21st. The payment is part of the remedy agreed upon in the Global Settlement reached between the APWU and the USPS on December 5, 2014. Eligible active employees have already received their final payment.

Retirees/employees no longer working for the Postal Service will have their payment sent to their last employing work office location. Individuals should check at the location where they received their initial check payment.  Because former employees are receiving a separate check, there may be a gap of a few days or a week at the most before their check arrives at their former post office.

It is important that retirees alert their Postmaster and/or station manager of a pending check arriving in their name.  In the event retirees fail to pick up their check, at some point, they will be returned to the USPS HQ Finance/Payroll Department. 

Retirees can go online to determine the amount they are due to receive on the final round of payments by taking the following actions:

1.       Log onto www.apwu.org.

2.       Enter the “Members Only” tab and follow the prompts for the $56 Million 1.6.B Global Remedy Initial Payout Submitted to the USPS.

Follow the process for retirees and/or employees no longer working for the Postal Service.


2017 APWU Scholarship Deadline Extended
Mar 29, 2017

2017 APWU Scholarship Deadline Extended

Web News Article #32-2017

03/29/2017 - The deadline for the submission of applications for the E.C. Hallbeck academic scholarship ($8,000 over a four-year period) and vocational scholarship ($3,000 over a three-year period) has been extended to May 31, 2017, APWU Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell has announced. 

Applicants must be the child, grandchild, stepchild, or legally adopted child, of a current, retired, or deceased APWU member and a senior attending high school or other secondary school. 

“Don’t miss out on this benefit of union membership,” Powell said

brochure [PDF] and application forms for the E.C. Hallbeck scholarship [PDF] and the vocational scholarship [PDF] can be found on the APWU webpage.


Promises, Promises
Mar 27, 2017

Promises, Promises

(This article first appeared in the March-April 2017 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)

By Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez

I’m not referring to New Year’s resolutions many of us already broke. I refer to what promises to be an interesting year.

Like millions of Americans, I, too, was devastated by last November’s election results. However the election is over and we are into the first 100 days of radical changes in government and our lives.

January 19 was the Obama Administration’s last day. I will not go into a litany of his accomplishments or failures. I want to focus on some events to come that promise to be – or at least have the potential to be – an impact on you in 2017. Please don’t fall for “alternative facts” or fake news.

Consolidation Moratorium Expires in April

April 1 promises disruptions and forced employee migrations. It is time for locals to re-educate members on the Principles of Seniority & Reassignment in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). There are three basic elements (among many) when excessing occurs:

  1. The USPS is required to give notice to the Region of the operational changes no less than 90 days in advance (six months whenever possible). Normally it includes a notice of withholding for residual vacancies to place impacted employees. To prevent erroneous information, local managers are not to discuss excessing from the craft or installation with employees until an Area/Regional Article 12 meeting is held.
  2. To minimize impact to career employees, all Postal Support Employees (PSEs) working in the affected craft and installation will be separated to the extent possible, depending if separating PSEs will yield sufficient hours for a regular duty assignment. The sole criterion for selecting excess employees is seniority.
  3. Affected employees get advance notice (not less than 60 days if possible) before involuntary details or reassignments are made from an installation. After attrition is applied, PSE hours are reduced, and volunteers are solicited, affected employees are issued a minimum 30-day notice that identifies their placement and report date. Employees need to be informed of their “Retreat Rights.” The local union should ensure the Retreat Right process and change in seniority is explained. Excessing employees outside the installation cannot occur more than once every three calendar months and is currently restricted to 50 miles (check your craft Memorandums of Understanding for more information).

The simplified process above contains the basic information a member needs to know when consolidations and excessing occur. While the CBA requires new Area Mail Processing studies, there are no provisions that prohibit excessing (involuntary reassignments) so long as the principles of reassignment and seniority are properly applied. You can access the Joint Contract Interpretation Manuel in Article 12 of CBA at apwu.org.

Postal Reform & Lay-Offs

Management’s legislative goals promise to impact your job. The GOP’s stated mantra basically is “the government works for the people, the people do not work for the government.” In other words, cut back government employees.

USPS is an independent establishment of the Executive Branch of our government. It is important to remember how the management of the USPS operates, from the President of the United States down to your direct supervisor:

  • USPS is under the direction of a presidential-appointed Board of Governors, which directs their powers through management.
  • Management blames much of what hinders USPS on labor costs, price caps and product restrictions. They claim these are “legislative restrictions” on USPS’s business model and seek to have Congress impose “postal reform.” This reform could affect our health benefits, our jobs through “right sizing” mail-processing infrastructure and transportation networks. This “leaning out” in reality is abolishment, excessing, consolidations and privatization of services including “optimization of retail services,” through closing post offices (replacing them with postal “stores” and retail partnerships instead).
  • The Office of Strategic Planning and National Performance Assessment programs align management’s goals. With our government in the hands of corporate elites, such postal reform could possibly lead to the relaxation by Congress of the Private Express Statutes, which would have our Lay Off Protection Memorandum in the CBA expire.

Would management allow our postal monopoly to be undermined? They promised to have fair employment practices, safe secure workplaces, effective training, fair supervision, honest/open communication, job security and performance recognition. So, you tell me. Remember we are a part of the Executive Branch and as the recent hiring freeze exception showed, we can be impacted by White House whims by the stroke of a pen.

Worker Protections Weakened

The government agencies we rely on to ensure fair working and living standards will be directed by corporate elites. The new Department of Labor will tilt even further against workers. Regulations prohibiting manager’s unfair labor practices will be undermined. Weakened OSHA safety standards will increase injuries and deaths. Veteran Appeal Rights will give way to agency rights. Even time on the clock for grievances can go away.

So much promises to change. What must not change is our resolve to fight for better working and living conditions.

Fighting for better economic and social conditions, as well as against unjust laws, is what I and my fellow coordinators, Sharyn Stone, John Dirzius, Mike Gallagher and Kennith Beasley promise to do.

Join us and the APWU as we fight for our future!


Postal Regulatory Rate System Review Underway
Mar 27, 2017

Postal Regulatory Rate System Review Underway

APWU Weighs In, Calling for an End to CPI Price Cap

Web News Article #31-2017

03/25/2017 - The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) submitted comments before the March 20 deadline to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) for their ongoing “10 Year Rate System Review,” required by Congress in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The Commission is reviewing the effects of the current rate system, capped by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), to see how it impacts the Postal Service's ability to meet the objectives stated in the PAEA. The PRC requested comments from stakeholders, including the public, about the Postal Service’s rate setting system. 

This rate setting system blocks the ability for the USPS to raise revenue. The union’s recommendations included eliminating the CPI cap on “market dominant products,” including products such as First Class Mail. This would allow the Postal Service to have the flexibility needed to meet their financial challenges.

Due to the lack of revenue from the rate cap, as well as the retiree health pre-funding requirement not factored into the pricing system, the USPS cut costs. The cuts included consolidations of mail processing facilities, service standard degradation and cutting hours, thus denying good quality postal services to thousands of communities across the country.

The APWU outlined in their comments how the “Price Cap is the barrier to achieving a public postal system that satisfies the Universal Services Obligation and meets all the objectives set out by Congress.”

The financial pressures of this CPI cap places the Postal Service at risk. It holds back the necessary infrastructure changes, needed capital investments and the ability for the USPS to fix safety and health issues – such as replacing an outdated fleet of vehicles. It also strangles the USPS' ability to restore and protect good postal services.

“Under any reasonable view of the Postal Service’s financial condition, it is evident that laboring under the Price Cap for the past decade has put the Postal Service in a difficult financial situation,” the APWU added in the comments submitted to the Commission. “It is evident that the Price Cap prevents the Postal Service from achieving its statutory Objectives and mission. Particularly in meeting Objectives to maintain quality service and achieve adequate revenue for financial sustainability.”

The APWU’s comments were prepared by a committee of officers, union members, attorneys and economic specialists. They pulled studies and utilized the research available on the last 10 years of USPS’ failings in meeting the necessary objectives as required by law.

The PRC will review the comments submitted and complete the project as required by Congress and the PAEA. Their proposal is expected by the fall of 2017.

The APWU will continue to be engaged with their sister postal unions throughout this process to ensure the protection of the public Postal Service. Many organizations, including the four postal unions, postal management, a number of affiliates of A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service and other stakeholders submitted comments exposing the crippling effects of the price cap.    

Thank you to participating APWU members

APWU wants to thank the local presidents and members who also submitted comments to the PRC. Their experience shows that there is widespread reductions in the quality of postal services, affecting communities across this country. 

Locals who participated: Omaha Area Local (NE), Joplin MO Area Local, New York Metro Area Local, Wilmington NC Area Local, Montgomery County Area Local (MD), Des Moines Area Local (IA), Fox Valley Area Local (IL), Wichita Area Local (KS), Mississippi Coast Area Local, New Hampshire State, Central NY Area Local, Prescott AZ Local, Greater Northland Area Local (Duluth, MN)

Also a special thank you to Byron Preminger (Des Moines Area Local Legislative Officer) and David Yao (Seattle Area Local Vice President) for submitting their own comments to the Commission.  


Postal Reform Act of 2017 Moves Forward
Mar 27, 2017

Postal Reform Act of 2017 Moves Forward

Web News Article #28-2017

03/20/2017 - On March 16, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “marked-up” and approved the Postal Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 756). A mark-up is a formal process where a congressional committee can consider and amend a bill before advancing it to the full House of Representatives or Senate.

Recognizing the need to set the Postal Service on sound financial footing, the APWU supported H.R. 756 advancing through committee. The favorable vote to move the bill out of the Oversight Committee is one of several key steps in a lengthy legislative process. 

Since the passage of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), the Postal Service has been dragged down by the weight of the pre-funding mandate and has struggled financially to keep its head above water.  “This bill takes us to higher ground,” stated Rep. Cummings, as the key components of H.R.756 ensure the long and short-term financial viability of the Postal Service.

As previously reported, the bill largely solves the disastrous pre-funding mandate while at the same time treating our retirees fairly. The bill would also allow the Postal Service to modestly raise postage rates immediately, generating roughly an additional one-billion dollars in annual revenue.

Revisions

Several revisions to the bill were considered in last Thursday’s mark-up, addressing some of APWU’s concerns.

After H.R. 756 was introduced in January, President Dimondstein and APWU’s Legislative Department requested clarifying language to ensure that prescription drug benefit coverage under FEHB would not decrease through Medicare integration. A manager’s amendment (a change to the bill by its sponsor) was offered by Chairman Jason Chaffetz to address this concern. The manager’s amendment was adopted by the Committee.

Another concern the APWU voiced with lawmakers is the unintended consequence of certain postal annuitants who could not benefit from Medicare Part B. On this issue, Chairman Chaffetz and Rep. Lynch engaged in an exchange to clarify the bill’s intent. They recognized APWU’s concern and stated unequivocally that this is not the bill’s intent. They committed to further investigate and consider any necessary revisions going forward to address this. A bill is always a work in progress until signed by the U.S. President.

The Committee also adopted an amendment by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) requiring the Postal Service to give members of Congress advanced notice if a postal facility in their district would be subject to closure, consolidation or a reduction in service. As we have seen in past efforts to shutter post offices and mail processing facilities, members of Congress can be key allies in rallying community support in the fight against such counterproductive cuts. Any move to get lawmakers more engaged in the discussion sooner, as this amendment would, is a positive development.

There are key legislative steps still before H.R. 756, including consideration before the full House of Representatives, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the full Senate.

Rep. Lynch, an original co-sponsor of the bill, contrasted H.R. 756 to negative postal reform bills of the past, “I’ve seen the steady menu of bills that varied from the mean-spirited to the draconian, that never saw the chance of getting to the floor.” He further expressed his hope that this bipartisan compromise effort would move through the House.

The APWU supports H.R. 756 advancing through the legislative process and will continue to provide updates and work with lawmakers and allies to ensure a robust future for America’s public Postal Service.

H.R. 760

The Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017 (H.R. 760), introduced by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), was marked up and sent out of committee on March 16th as well. 

The bill is intended to be companion legislation to H.R. 756. If passed, it would require the Department of Treasury to invest between 25-30% of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (PSRHBF). 

Under current law, the PSRHBF is only invested in Treasury Bonds with very low-yielding returns. Medical inflation rises much faster than Treasury Bonds which results in projected unfunded liabilities. If the PSRHBF could be invested in higher yielding funds, like those used for the Thrift Savings Plan, it would produce returns that would help keep up with medical inflation at a much faster pace. This frees up postal funds that could be directed to improve service and strengthen infrastructure. 


Motor Vehicle Service PSE Salary Exception Agreement Reached
Mar 27, 2017

Motor Vehicle Service PSE Salary Exception Agreement Reached

Web News Article #30-2017

03/23/2017 - On March 10, the Union signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Postal Service that remedies the situation where Motor Vehicle Service Postal Support Employees (PSE) who had been granted a salary exception were converted to career status within the same craft but to a lower level and received a starting salary rate in accordance with the June 6, 2014 MOU “Re: Resolution of Postal Support Employee (PSE) Salary Exception Issues,”  and its April 3, 2015 addendum.

This MOU achieves the following:

  • Restores the salary rate of Level 8 PSEs who were converted to a career Level 7 position within the Motor Vehicle Craft and subsequently forced to take the Level 7 salary rate;
  • Upgrades the salary rate of any Level 7 MVS employee who is senior to the newly converted PSE but is receiving a lower salary rate;
  • Preserves the principle of step progression
  • Rescinds any Letter of Demand that was issued to a PSE receiving a higher rate of pay based on their salary exception after being converted to career
  • Resolves national dispute HQTV20160071

The parties agree to address any issues as a result of this MOU, at the national level.


18th Biennial APWU POWER Convention is Aug 24-27
Mar 27, 2017

18th Biennial APWU POWER Convention is Aug 24-27

Web News Article #29-2017

03/23/2017 - The 18th Biennial APWU Post Office Women for Equal Rights (POWER) Convention will take place Thursday, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 27 at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor, 300 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21202.

Delegates should arrive on Wednesday, Aug. 23 and depart on Sunday, Aug. 27. Workshops will be held on Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Regional Caucuses are on Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

The deadline for a hotel room rate is Friday, July 14.

Click here for a full event listing and to register. 


APWU Receives Favorable Arbitration Ruling
Apr 28, 2017
APWU Receives Favorable Arbitration Ruling Clerk Craft Gains 362 Administrative and Technical Jobs Web News Article 36-2017 04/24/2017 - Arbitrator Goldberg ruled that the Postal Service failed to make a good faith effort to return 362 administrative and technical jobs to the Clerk Craft.


Page Last Updated: Apr 28, 2017 (11:42:22)
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