Wayne County, MI

Western

AFL - CIO

Branch 2184

Executive President's Report

January / February 2018

Term Ending Report

 

Contract enforcement

 

      During the past three years (January 2015 through December 2017), Branch 2184 has invested in extensive contract enforcement training for your stewards. This knowledge is paying dividends daily for the members of Branch 2184, as evidenced by the number of grievances that have been filed in some of our stations. In other stations our management counterparts are adhering to the provisions of our contract,

where they were not in the past.

      In October 2017, at our NALC Region 6 (Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan) training held at the Motor City Casino in Detroit MI, Branch 2184 was represented by its largest ever number of Stewards and Branch officers to attend a training session. There were over 30 Branch 2184 contract enforcers at this training including three of our own that served as instructors: EVP Walt McGregory, VP Joe Golonka and Taylor Steward Michele Szafran.

 

“Advanced Formal A and Beyond”

Training Program

 

      In 2016, Branch 2184 sent four Formal Step A union representatives to this training; Jackie McGregory from the Dearborn Annex; Michele Szafran from Taylor; Chris Carmon and Erik Venzke, both from Monroe. This advanced training has helped not only the members in their own USPS installations, but also other members throughout Branch 2184. Each of the Formal Step A designees have assisted in other Branch 2184 offices with grievances. The leadership of Branch 2184 plans to send additional Formal A designees to this cuttingedge training for the benefit our members.

 

Region 6 School of Stewards Training

 

      Branch 2184 recently sent the following station stewards to this training that was conducted by the National Business Agent’s office on January 30 through February 2, 2018: Phil Ashford from Inkster; Beth Bays from Northville: Tracy Mitchell from Trenton; Tamara Bosman from Plymouth; and Paul Bordine from Ypsilanti. This training reinforced basic principles of investigating and processing grievances at the initial step of the grievance -arbitration procedure. All five stewards successfully completed the four-day training and they are now applying what they learned in their offices.

       Along with what has already been set in place during previous years of contract-related instruction, Branch 2184’s current leadership will continue to provide training and guidance for your stewards.

 

Contract COLA: 4th COLA is $520

 

      The fourth regular COLA under the 2016-2019 National Agreement is $520 annually, following the release of the January 2018 Consumer Price Index.

      On February 14, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W, 1967=100) stood at 720.604 in January, 22.024 points above the base index of 698.580 in July 2014. After adding the 0.465 cents carried forward from the third adjustment period, the accumulated COLA through February stood at 25 cents per hour or $520 annually.

      The fifth COLA will be based on the increase in the CPI-W between the base index month and July 2018, less any previously calculated COLAs, and will be payable the second full pay period following the release of the July 2018 index. The four COLAs that have been calculated under the 2016-2019 National Agreement, totaling 55 cents per hour, are as follows: 1st COLA, 1 cent per hour ($21 annually), 2nd COLA, 16 cents per hour ($333 annually), 3rd COLA, 13 cents per hour ($270 annually), and the

4th COLA, 25 cents per hour ($520 annually).

 

2019 Retiree COLAs Projection: 0.9% as of January 2018

 

      The 2019 COLAs for CSRS and FERS benefits are based on the increase in the average CPI-W between the 3rd quarter of 2017 (239.668) and the 3rd quarter of 2018 (TBA).

      Based on the January 2018 CPI-W (1982-84=100) of 241.919, the 2019 CSRS and

FERS COLAs are currently projected to be 0.9%. The 2019 retiree COLA calculation will be finalized in October 2018 with the release of the CPIW for September 2018.

      CSRS annuities receive full COLAs; COLAs for FERS annuities are payable for retirees 62 and older and may be reduced by up to one percentage point from the increase in the CPI.

 

 

CCA back pay update

 

      The Postal Service notified NALC that the retroactive payments for city carrier assistants (CCAs) resulting from implementation of the 2016- 2019 National Agreement would be delayed by one pay period. The payments originally scheduled to be included in Pay Period 3 paychecks payable on Feb. 9 will now be in Pay Period 4 paychecks payable on Feb. 23.

      The back pay period covers Nov. 26, 2016, through Sept. 15, 2017. This payment will include the 2.2 percent general wage increase and the addition of two $0.50-per-hour step increases in the new CCA pay scale where applicable. The two $0.50-perhour

step increases are payable at 12 and 52 weeks of service.

      Eligible employees are those that served as CCA letter carriers between Nov. 26, 2016, and Sept. 15, 2017 and were employees of the Postal Service on or after Aug. 7, 2017. Former CCA letter carriers who were active on Aug. 7, 2017, and have since separated from the Postal Service should check back for further updates on when and how their back pay will be distributed.

 

EDITORS NOTE:

 

      As we go to press the National has issued this statement: CCA Backpay Update - As letter carriers eligible for retroactive pay began reviewing their earning statements over the weekend, errors were discovered. NALC has been and will continue to work with USPS to identify those affected and correct the errors as soon as possible. We will provide more information as it becomes available.

 

LCPF: Why it is so important!

 

      The following is from the current administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 Federal Budget proposal: Federal Retirement

     Increase FERS contributions. For active federal and postal employees covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the budget calls for gradually equalizing employee and agency payroll 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.)

      High-5 average. The pension cuts don’t stop there for active employees. The budget calls for reducing Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and FERS pension benefits for new retirees by basing annuities on workers’ highest average pay over five years (high-5) instead of over the highest three years (high-3), thereby reducing annuity calculations.

    Eliminate annuity supplement. It also would eliminate the annuity supplement that covers the gap for employees 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.

      Slash COLAs. For all retirees, the administration’s budget calls for eliminating or reducing cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs). For current and future annuitants under FERS (which covers any employee hired after 1984), the budget would eliminate basic annuity COLAs entirely. For those under CSRS, COLAs would be reduced by 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.

       TSP-only coverage for new employees. In media reports about the budget, the administration is also said to be studying a policy to end the defined benefit portion of FERS for all new federal employees (including new career city carriers), leaving new

employees with only the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), the defined contribution plan for FERS participants.

      Reduce the TSP’s G Fund interest rate. This proposal includes a change to the government bond fund ("G" fund), the largest and most popular investment vehicle available in the TSP. Millions of active and retired G Fund investors would receive a

reduced rate of return. The new rate would be tied to the interest rate on 90 day Treasury bills instead of an average of medium and long term Treasury bond rates. This would reduce the rate from 2.33 percent (in the 12 months ending in January) to 1.55 percent -- which translates into a $1.4 billion annual loss for TSP participants. The cost of this proposal to participants would rise dramatically if longer-term interest rates continue to rise.

      Federal Employees Health Benefits Higher premiums for workers. For both active

and retired federal employees, the budget proposes decreasing the federal government’s contribution to the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) to 65 to 75 percent, down from the current 72 to 75 percent range.

      Although details for how the new contribution levels would work in practice have not been specified, this proposal would likely increase contributions for all retired members, cutting significantly into their monthly take home pay. A 7 percentage point cost shift for a $20,000 per year family health plan would raise retiree contributions by more than $1,000 annually.

      The impact of the FEHBP proposal on active letter carriers would be minimal in the near term, since contribution levels are set in the NALC labor contract. But this change would drive the Postal Service to continue to try to shift costs to employees during collective bargaining.

      WE ALL MUST DO OUR PART! Help protect what we have already fought so hard for thus far! Call the Branch 2184 office at 313 295 1640, and a branch officer will help you sign up for our Letter Carrier Political Fund. $5 a pay period is all that you need to sign up for. Don’t wait, ask your steward for more details.

 

UNIFORM BANK

 

Thanks to all of those both active and retired who have contributed to our uniform bank. We are still in need of all types of gently used letter carrier uniforms. Stop in at the Branch 2184 office or give them to your steward.

 

 

In unionism,

-- Walt McGregory

EVP Branch 2184