Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Dream Shall Never Die

This is the cause of my life. It is a key reason that I defied my illness last summer to speak at the Democratic convention in Denver—to support Barack Obama, but also to make sure, as I said, "that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American...will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not just a privilege." For four decades I have carried this cause—from the floor of the United States Senate to every part of this country. It has never been merely a question of policy; it goes to the heart of my belief in a just society. Now the issue has more meaning for me—and more urgency—than ever before. But it's always been deeply personal, because the importance of health care has been a recurrent lesson throughout most of my 77 years.
— Ted Kennedy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Union Negotiates Monetary IncentiveFor Retirements, Separations

Moratorium on Excessing Through Oct. 9

APWU Web News Article #099-09, Aug. 25, 2009

APWU-represented employees who retire or separate on or before Nov. 30, 2009, will receive a monetary incentive of $15,000, in accordance with an agreement negotiated by the union. The incentive will be paid in two installments to eligible employees.

“This agreement achieves a long-standing objective of the APWU,” said union President William Burrus
The incentive will be offered to eligible career full-time employees who terminate their service through regular retirement, Voluntary Early Retirement, or voluntary separation. (Eligible PTR and PTF employees will receive proportional percentages of the incentive.)

To qualify for regular retirement, employees must have at least 30 years of service and be age 55; must have at least 20 years of service and be age 60, or must have at least five years of service and be age 62.

To qualify for early retirement, employees must have at least 20 years of service and be 50 years of age or must have 25 years of service at any age. (The annuity is reduced for employees covered by the Civil Service Retirement System [CSRS] by 2 percent for each year employees are under age 55.)

Employees who do not qualify for regular or early retirement but wish to receive the incentive may resign.

Not covered by the agreement are employees who were issued a notice of discharge on or before Aug. 24; MPE 9s, ET 10s, and ET 11s who cannot be replaced without training; Operating Services employees; employees in the Accounting Services section of the IT/ASC bargaining unit, probationary employees, and Transitional Employees.

Eligible full-time employees may, at their option, end their service on or before Sept. 30, or they will be assigned a date of Oct. 31 or Nov. 30 by management, based on operational needs. Employees will be paid $10,000 within two pay periods after separation, and will receive an additional $5,000 on Oct. 29, 2010. Part-time employees will be assigned a date of Nov. 30.

Negotiations over the agreement, which was finalized Aug. 24, took two months, Burrus said. “Our goal was an incentive of 50 percent of a year’s salary. Because of the difficult economic times, however, the agreement had to be structured to avoid adding to the deficit. Nonetheless, we feel that the settlement will provide a modest incentive to employees to end their service.

“The USPS financial condition is precarious,” Burrus said. “The congressionally-imposed obligation to pre-fund the retirees’ health insurance fund has caused tremendous deficits over the last two years, and without legislative relief, improvement is not in the forecast.

“Management has been forced to reduce costs, but unfortunately, the cuts have been applied disproportionally to bargaining-unit employees, especially to those in mail processing,” the union president said.

“Because our contract prohibits layoffs, the only means for cutting work hours have been to reassign full-time employees and to reduce the hours of PTFs,” Burrus noted. “Excessing and work-hour cuts cause severe hardships for our members,” he said, “so finding a way to make voluntary complement adjustments became an urgent matter.”

There will be a moratorium on excessing from Aug. 24 through Oct. 9 to allow time to assess the vacancies created by the retirements and separations. During this period, excessing notices that have already been issued will be reviewed.

If more than 25,000 employees indicate they wish to accept the offer, the parties will discuss implementation, based on a proportion of the number of employees in the complement of the APWU and Mail Handler crafts. Mail Handlers are expected to receive an offer virtually identical to the APWU-negotiated agreement.

The agreement includes the following:
  • There will be a $10,000 payment to eligible full-time employees who terminate their service through regular retirement, Voluntary Early Retirement, or voluntary separation, to be paid as soon as administratively possible, but no later than two pay periods after separation;
  • Each full-time employee who terminates employment also will receive a $5,000 payment on Oct. 29, 2010;
  • Part-Time Regular and Part-Time Flexible employees who terminate their service will receive a proportional percentage of the $10,000 and $5,000 incentive, as follows:

Number of Paid Hours ...................Percent of Incentive Payment

Under 520...............................................................................25
520 and under 1020...............................................................50
1020 and under 1520..............................................................75
1520 and over............................................................................100

The agreement applies to all non-probationary career postal employees in the APWU bargaining unit employees, including employees in the Clerk Craft, Maintenance Craft, Motor Vehicle Services Craft, mail equipment shops, material distribution centers, occupational health nurses, with the following exceptions or limitations:
  • Employees who were issued a notice of discharge on or before Aug. 24, 2009, are excluded;
  • MPE 9, ET 10, and ET 11 employees will be eligible if the residual vacancy created as a result of their retirement or separation can be filled by a qualified employee who does not require additional training to fill their vacancy;
  • Operating Service employees are not eligible;
  • Employees in the Accounting Services section of the IT/ASC Collective Bargaining Agreement are not eligible.
For the full text of the agreement, click here [PDF].

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Postal Press Conference Photos #2

Learning from the Past to Conquer the Challenges of Today

As the Conference booklet would put it:

This workshop explored the relevance of labor history in today's labor movement. By examining how our predocessors built and maintained effective unions, we can learn what stategies and tactics might be currently usefull. As the labor movement increasingly becomes comprised of a new generation of members, it's important to pass on the lessons that the founders of our unions learned so well themselves.

This session will help comunicators educate their readers about the purpose of unions, inspire them to increase their involvement and encourage them to face up to the issues of today.

Peter Rachleff, Instructor

Peter is a labor historian based at Macalester Cellege in St. Paul, MN. and is no stranger to the American Postal Workers Union with connections back to 1980 in one form or another. He has published two major books, Black Labor In Richmond, Virginia, 1865-1890 (University of Illinois Press, 1989) and Hard Pressed In the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future Of The Labor Movement (Sounth End Press, 1993).It is this writers opinion that this is one of the most interesting workshops at the Conference.

How to Write More Gooder

Exerpt from a workshop at the recent 2009 PPA National Editors' Conference

Instuctor: Jennifer Sherer

In today's microwave world, readers want information fast. Therefore, if the union's message is to be heard, newsletter writers must strive to communicate quickly and clearly. This workshop focused on news writing, feature writing and headline writing.

Participants learned how to write news stories that demand to be read: explored ways to write feature stories that leave readers satisfied but ready for more; learned how to create vibrant headlines that pull readers into the story, and examine why it's critically important to include "real people" in every aspect of writing.

Note: Jennifer is currently director of the University of Iowa Labor Center. She teaches classes on a range of subjects, including steward education, organizing and mobilizing, collective bargaining, labor communications labor and employment law (particularly the Family and Medical Leave Act), and public policy issues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Two Wisconsin Labor Publications Claim Journalism Awards at National Conference

The American Postal Workers Union National Postal Press Association held its National Conference recently in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Editors from throughout the U.S. attend the Conference in order to sharpen their editing skills and get recharged for the next two years before the next Conference. Editors got tuned into writing, layouts, labor history, photos, and what’s legal and what’s not among other things.

The Awards Banquet is the finale of the Conference where those Editors that submitted their publication to the scrutiny of the judges for a number of Journalism Awards sit with their fingers crossed with hopes of hearing their publication title called out.

Thanks to Jennifer Schweitzer, John Miceli, and their Local contributors, Milwaukee claimed an unheard off seven Awards. Jennifer is the Editor of the HI-LITES and John is the Assistant Editor. The awards are as follows:

John Miceli: First Place - Best News Story
Jennifer Schweitzer: First Place - Best Community Service
Carl Pietrzak: (member) Hon. Mention - Best Creative Writing
Greg Preuss: (steward) Hon. Mention - Best Headline
Chris Czubakowski: (officer/steward) Hon. Mention - Best Non-Postal Labor Story
Hi-Lites: Hon. Mention - Best Non-Professional (A) Single Issue
Hi-Lites: Hon. Mention - Best Overall Excellence Non-Professional (A)

The BADGER BULLETIN was fortunate to secure one award for: First Place – Best Professional (Single Issue) which is very much appreciated. Credit must go to our contributors who determine the content and our publisher – Stacy Publishing. (Thanks Tom and Laury!)

PPA Award Winners (Seated L to R) John E. Durben, Editor - THE BADGER BULLETIN, Jennifer Schweitzer, Editor - THE HI-LITES

Photo Credit to: BAY BREEZE Editor, Steve Winnowski

Congratulations to all of the 2009 Award Winners

Click on Photo to enlarge

Postal Workers Cost Of Living Adjustment Is ZERO..Again!

APWU COLA Information:

In July, the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) fell to 627.093, still well below the July 2008 index of 644.303 (upon which our last COLA increase was based). The CPI-W must rise above 644.303 before another COLA is due. After the final month of the six-month measuring period, the sixth COLA under the 2006 National Agreement and the Operating Services Agreement, which would have been effective Aug. 29, 2009 (pay period 19-09, pay date Sept. 18, 2009), will be zero.

The fifth COLA, which would have been effective March 14, 2009, was also zero, due to the fact that the January 2009 CPI-W had fallen below the July 2008 CPI-W (upon which our last COLA increase was based).

Editor: The next non-COLA salary increase: November 2009

Source: Postal