NALC NATIONAL CONFERENCE REPORT
This month's report is separated into five pages and was created with the combined effort of the following Branch 2184 Officers:
Page 1) Mark Judd, President
Page 2) Walt McGregory, Executive Vice President
Page 3) Joe Golonka, Vice President
Page 4) Jackie McGregory, Recording Secretary
Page 5) Cathy Tondreau, Financial Secretary-Treasurer
(Continued from page 3)
Safety and Health Workshop
On Saturday, August 10, the NALC National Union conducted four two-hour workshops for those attending the National Conference in Denver. The safety and health workshop, facilitated by NALC National Director of Safety and Health Manny Peralta and other national officers, covered a wide range of issues, beginning with the USPS Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An especially troubling statistic is the 176 USPS employee suicides since 2010.
Manny Peralta also reported on the continuing is-sues with letter carrier heat illness, which has contributed to numerous illnesses and also some fatalities across the United States. The Postal Service has acted in a reluctant and even obstructive manner in response to heat related issues with letter carriers, and the NALC has acted aggressively to address this. Unfortunately, instead of compliance with OSHA citations and other proactive means of addressing heat safety, the USPS continues to ignore or even legally challenge them.
Manny also addressed the continuing issues with USPS vehicle issues, noting the importance of twice yearly preventive maintenance checks of the vehicles as well as proper daily vehicle inspections by letter carriers. He then discussed continuing issues with the USPS “CARE” program;” as well as issues with the problematic USPS “safety ambassador” program. The NALC’s position remains unchanged regarding the “safety ambassador” program – we should not participate under any circumstances. Finally, Manny reported on park point accidents, which have resulted in five letter carrier fatalities and seventeen serious injuries to letter carriers getting mail from the back of their postal vehicles.
NALC Secretary-Treasurer Nicole Rhine reported on various matters, including hotels for next year’s National Convention, and also discussed per capita tax reimbursement to branches with members in a leave without pay status. Assistant Secretary-Treasurer Paul Barner reported on the stringent requirements for the completion of I-9 forms (Employment Eligibility Verification) for all employees that are hired or contracted.
Jim Yates, NALC Director of the Mutual Benefit Association (MBA), and his staff provided a highly informative overview of the many options for life insurance and annuity policies offered through the MBA. The NALC MBA is not for profit and has many valuable options for members.
Stephanie Stewart, Director of our NALC Health Benefits Plan, provided an informative overview and discussion of our union’s excellent and cost-effective plan. The NALC Health Benefits plan currently has 130,000 members and covers 230,000 members and family members and is the third largest plan in the Federal Employee Health Benefits (FEHB) program. The NALC plan offers valuable health assessments that many plan members have not yet taken advantage of. 46% of the NALC plan members have one or more chronic health conditions.
Dan Toth, NALC Director of Retired Members re-ported on retirement related issues and recent developments. Kevin Card, NALC Assistant to the President for Workers Compensation, gave a very enlightening report concerning recent developments with OWCP; an agency which he noted was “in chaos.” There have been several structural changes within OWCP that directly impact injured letter carriers, most of them positive in nature. One of these, which is already in effect, requires an individual OWCP claims examiner to handle a case from beginning to end, thus ending the frustrating practice of “musical claims examiners” that our injured members have long dealt with.
Even more encouraging is an OWCP program that is just beginning to be rolled out, whereby an injured letter carrier can file their claim (CA-1 or CA-2) electronically by use of a computer that will give them direct access to an OWCP portal. This will make the reporting of a job-related injury or medical condition much more user friendly, and most importantly, it will allow an injured letter carrier to bypass local postal management when initiating the claim. This will directly eliminate most problems with supervisors and local management caused by their refusal to provide OWCP forms or by providing the wrong forms as well as serious misinformation, as well as eliminating much of the widespread abuse and intimidation in-curred by letter carriers when reporting job-related injuries.
Finally, Dan Toth reported that an astounding 21% of USPS FERS employees (nearly all USPS employees are now FERS employees) have chosen not to contribute anything to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), thus willfully forgoing even the 5% agency matching contributions. This is a troubling statistic, as the refusal to participate in the TSP is a financially harmful choice.