Home

Trenton Metro Area Local   

 

Welcome to Bill's Corner

 

E-Mail Bill

 

____________________________________________________________________

 

The following Christmas Holiday facts are for APWU members and the information contained in the article is from the APWU Collective Bargaining Agreement. I would like to share with everyone the questions and my responses to many questions relating to the upcoming Christmas Holiday.

When is my Holiday? This year Christmas Day, December 25, 2009, falls on a Friday.  If Friday is your normally scheduled workday then your holiday will be observed on Friday, December 25. If Friday is your non-scheduled day then your holiday will be Thursday, December 24 and if Thursday and Friday are your non-scheduled days then your holiday is Wednesday, December 23.

The 3-day holiday period for Christmas is December 23, 24 & 25. The holiday schedule must be posted by December 15, 2009. This posting is mandated by article 11.6.A. The Employer will determine the number and categories of employees needed for holiday work and a schedule shall be posted as of the Tuesday preceding the service week in which the holiday falls.

Do I get paid time and one half if my holiday is other then Friday? All full time /part time regular employees who work on the Christmas Holiday or the designated holiday will receive one and one half times (1 1/2) the base hourly straight time rate for each hour worked. A part-time flexible (ptf) employee, who works on December 25, shall be paid in addition to the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate, one-half (l/2) times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for each hour worked up to eight (8) hours.

Do I receive an extra half (˝) of day annual leave if I work the holiday? No, if you elect to be credited with annual leave instead of the holiday pay you will be credited with up to 8 hours of annual leave. All this provision of the contract does is allow you to switch the holiday leave pay for annual leave; you still get paid for the holiday work hours.

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

On July 20, 2008, a Federal Court issued an order that the AFSM 100 was to be staffed with 5 clerks.  Up to this point the USPS has attempted to read/modify the previous order in many different ways.  Since the July 20th order was issued, the local APWU has attempted to work out the transfer of duties from mailhandler to clerk on the machines.  Needless to say, we have met great resistance from all involved and at all levels. 


The Honorable Joel Pisano, USDJ stated, "The essence of implementing the terms of the settlement agreement is that the positions available on the AFSM-100 are to be assigned to clerks up to a threshold of five positions per machine."  "These are the terms that the USPS must implement."
Read the 7/22/08 Opinion

 

Federal Court Order Awarding the AFSM100 

Work To The Clerk Craft

 

Effective May 28, 2008, US District Court Judge Joel A. Pisano issued his decision regarding enforcement of the American Postal Workers Union/United States Postal Service pre-arbitration Settlement Agreement, dated October 28, 2005, for AFSM staffing at the Trenton P&DC. 

Judge Pisano stated, “The Settlement Agreement provides for the clerk craft to have primary jurisdiction over the positions on the AFSM-100 machines and that, in the event work requires less than six employees to staff the machines, the remaining positions on the machines will be staffed by clerk craft only.  Thereby, if there is a ‘reduction in work [,]’ then clerks only operate the machines.  Although the Settlement Agreement does not define ‘reduction in work [.]’ the terms of the Agreement do not limit the method by which the reduction in work may occur.  That is, the Agreement sets forth a staffing procedure invoked by a ‘reduction in work’ irrespective of how that reduction in work takes place. 

In this instance, the modifications to the AFSM-100 resulted in a ‘reduction in work.’  The addition of the AI and ATHS automated features caused ‘a reduction of the AFSM[-]100 operating crew, [a] decrease[] in operation run times, and efficiencies in the preparation activities.’  (Lewis Aff. II Ex. B).  As a result, the ‘reduction in work’ caused by enhancements to the AFSM-100 machine trigger the Settlement Agreement’s staffing reduction procedure. 

Thus, pursuant to the Settlement Agreement, the clerks maintain jurisdiction over the stations in the AFSM-100 machines in the Trenton facility, irrespective of the enhancements.  Accordingly, the Court holds that there is no dispute of material fact that the Settlement Agreement covers the dispute of which Trenton Metro now complains-whether clerks or mail handlers have jurisdiction to operate the AFSM-100 machines-and is ‘sufficiently specific as to be capable of implementation.’  Consolidation Coal, supra, 666 F.2d at 810.  The Court further holds that the Settlement Agreement is entitled to enforcement. 

Pursuant and in accordance with the Judge’s order, the APWU expects immediate staffing of the three FSM 100 machines with the clerk craft. 

The APWU will monitor USPS compliance with the Judge’s order and pursue appropriate pay remedies for all work performed by the Mail Handler craft on the AFSM 100’s commencing today.

 

Complaint      Opinion  May 28, 2008    Order - July 8, 2008    Opinion July 22, 2008   Order December 30, 2008

____________________________________________________________________

 

August 1, 2008

On July 20, 2008, a Federal Court issued an order that the AFSM 100 was to be staffed with 5 clerks.  Up to this point the USPS has attempted to read/modify the previous order in many different ways.  Since the July 20th order was issued, the local APWU has attempted to work out the transfer of duties from mailhandler to clerk on the machines.  Needless to say, we have met great resistance from all involved and at all levels. 


The Honorable Joel Pisano, USDJ stated, "The essence of implementing the terms of the settlement agreement is that the positions available on the AFSM-100 are to be assigned to clerks up to a threshold of five positions per machine."  "These are the terms that the USPS must implement."


I have attempted to negotiate and sign an agreement with management to the transfer the work from the mailhandler craft to the clerk craft.  The following is what we discussed during the July 28, 2008 Labor management meeting. It must be noted that the USPS has not signed the memo.

On the above referenced date, the APWU and USPS met and determined the following in order to comply with the Order of US District Judge Joel A. Pisano: (Case No 06-2319(JAP).


1. The APWU Clerk Craft shall maintain five (5) duty assignment positions on each  AFSM 100 machine - per shift (tour) at the Trenton P & DC.

2. Any reduction in staffing on the AFSM 100 Operation shall be in compliance with Judge Pisano's Order.

3. The establishment and posting of AFSM 100 Clerk Craft Duty Assignment Positions shall commence in August 2008 to proceed as follows:

A. Four (4) newly established AFSM 100 Clerk Craft Duty Assignment Positions shall be posted for bid for Tour(s) One (1) and Tour Three (3) in consecutive bid cycle postings for three (3) posting periods.  This shall result in a total of twenty- four (24) Clerk Craft Duty Assignment Positions having been posted at the conclusion of October's bidding cycle.

B. Tour Two (2) - Eight (8) newly established AFSM 100 Clerk Craft Duty Assignment Positions shall be posted for bid - initially within the AFSM 100 Section - commencing in August 2008.  Following the initial Sectional Bidding, any resultant residual vacancies which exist after the posting period shall be filled in accordance with Article 12 sectional retreat rights (Article 12, Section 5.C.4).  At the conclusion of Article 12.5.C.4. retreat rights, any residual vacancy remaining shall be posted in the Clerk Craft installation wide.

4. At the conclusion of the October 2008 posting period, the AFSM 100 operation at the Trenton P & DC shall be fully staffed with Clerk Craft employees in accordance with Judge Pisano's Order.

5. In the event overtime is needed to staff the AFSM 100 operation, Clerk Craft employees shall be utilized per the Local Memorandum of Understanding - Section OTDL first, and supplemental OTDL second.  Mailhandlers shall not be utilized at the overtime rate within the AFSM 100 during the transition period.

The Trenton Metro Area Local will monitor the transition and will enforce any violation of the order.   I will continue to update you as events unfold, I do anticipate additional appeals from the other parties involved.

In order to staff the building, management plans on excessing employees in from other postal facilities.  Over the next couple weeks we will begin to see new faces arriving.  We currently have 37 residual vacancies.  We will need additional duty assignments for the AFSM-100 and the DBCS's coming from Toms River and Lakewood.

On August 2, 2008, a team of Trenton maintenance employees will begin the process of installing the Toms River DBCS's in the west wing of the building  (the old carrier annex). They will install one machine per week for the next 3 weeks.  Local management wanted to subcontract the move and the installation of electrical work.  After discussion with Plant Manager Russ Herrick it was decided to do the work in house.

There hasn't been any new information regarding the status of the FSM 1000 or the CIOSS machines.  When information does become available, I will update you. 

In closing, I would like to request all APWU employees to ensure that the mail reaches our customers during the installation of the new DBCS's and during the transition of the AFSM 100, as others may not share the same goals.  We must do what ever it takes to preserve our work and capture all available work.  Let's not give management any reason to remove mail from our facility.

WE MUST PROTECT OUR FUTURE  


July 9, 2008

 

On July 8, 2008 Federal Judge Pisano issued an order denying the Postal Services motion for a stay of judgment pending consideration of its motion to alter or amend the judgment of May 28, 2008, awarding work on the AFSM 100 to the clerk craft.

 

In his ruling, Judge Pisano states in part “the court finds that the USPS has not shown that it would be irreparably injured absent a stay or that it is likely to succeed on the merits of the motion to alter or amend the May 28, 2008 judgment.”

 

I have met with the USPS to discuss the migration of the AFSM 100 AI and ATHS work to the clerk craft.   We should see the transfer of work begin shortly.  I will keep you updated on the progress of this move. 

 

On July 8, 2008 we met to discuss the removal of the LIPS machine and the abolishment of 11 clerk positions on this machine.  There was much disagreement of the time frame to afford the clerks who are impacted.  My position is article 12 must be the controlling provision, which means the union gets 6 months, but no less then ninety days, and the employee must get 60 days advance notice.   The postal services position differs a bit because they are concerned that employees from other facilities are going to be excessed into the Trenton P&DC before the six months and get the residual positions.

 

There was discussion over the overtime and the method in which to select the ET and MPE's to move the DBCS machines from Toms River.  My position is the OTDL will determine the overtime pecking order and seniority will decide who goes to Toms River to disassemble the DBCS.

 

AS of July 9, 2008 the USPS has advised these moves are on hold while they sort out the AFSM transfer of work.  I urge all Lips Keyers to continue bidding to prevent involuntary reassignment.

 

I will continue to update you on all the forth coming changes. Read the order

 


 

 

 

July 2, 2008

 

Tom's River DBCS Machine Update

A meeting was held on July 1st, 2008 regarding the reassignment of the Toms River mail to the Trenton P&DC.  The move of the CIOSS machine to the Monmouth P&DC has been put on hold for several weeks due to logistical and communication problems.  Once these problems are worked out the machine will be reassigned to the Monmouth P&DC.

 Pending completion of the electrical work will determine when the LIPS machine will be removed.  The time frame is approximately two weeks before dismantling the machine. 

In approximately 2 weeks, a team of Trenton maintenance personnel will begin removing the DBCS’s from Toms River.  During the interim period the Toms River mail will be sorted in the South Jersey P&DC.  Within sixty days all three machines will be processing Toms River mail at the Trenton P&DC.

January 1st, the Postal Service plans on removing the AFSM 1000 and bringing several DBCS’s from Lakewood, NJ. 

I insist any movement of personnel must be consistent with Article 12 of our collective bargaining agreement.  I will not hold mandatory excessing meetings with other labor organizations in attendance 

I will keep you updated as the events unfold.  As usual with the Postal Service we can expect changes to today's plan.   

 

 

 


July 30, 2006

AI & ATHS Excessing Update

The first round of in section bidding has concluded.  This restricted bidding will go on for many months before every one is in place.   The award notice is posted on the web site.

The excessing to the needs of the installation is on hold; no one has been excessed to the mail handler's craft.  The potential for excessing still exists, since management has never withdrawn their notification.   I have requested that the USPS withdraw it's excessing notification in writing.  We await their letter.

Many members have approached me with concerns about excessing to the needs of the section.  I will try to answer your questions and concerns about this troubling issue.  First, we need to clarify one very important allegation, it is not the union who gave away our work and it is not the union who wants to abolish your jobs and excess you out of your section.  It is the employer, the USPS, who should get the credit for this. Your supervisor.  I realize this is hard for anyone to affix blame on your supervisor, it's much easier to blame the union.

Superseniority

This seems to have been a topic of many conversations. This provision of the contract was not something I just made up to take care of my own stewards, it has been in the contract for over 28 years, clearly not new or something I just created.  This contractual protection prevents management from removing stewards from their tour and additionally allows the stewards to maintain Superseniority for the purpose of bidding on initial vacancies over excessed employees wishing to exercise their retreat rights.

The following is from the Joint Contract Interpretation Manual, page 79.  The JCIM can be found on Bill's Resource page or at the APWU's Web Site

STEWARDS - SUPERSENIORITY

When it is proposed to reassign a steward or chief steward, the employee will not be involuntarily transferred to another tour, station, or branch of the particular post office, or to another independent post office or installation unless there is no job for which that employee is qualified on such tour, or in such station or branch, or post office.

Following excessing, stewards maintain this "Superseniority" for the purpose of bidding on initial vacancies over excessed employees wishing to exercise their retreat rights.


Excessing to the needs of the section

Why am I being excessed when I am a fsm keyer?

All excessing is done by seniority and grade level; in this excessing event there is a need to excess employees in the flatsorter section.   This section was locally established per Article 30, Item 18.  The section is the flatsorter area on each tour by grade level.  Without established sections, the section could have been the whole building.  In this situation the section is FSM by grade level and all contractual provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement have been adhered to.

During the last local negotiations, the local union desired to change the flatsorter section to automation and mechanization, meaning keyers would be separated from automation.  We had a tentative agreement on this issue but management refused to sign the new local agreement.  If management would have signed the agreement the FSM Keyer would not be excessed. 

You cannot compare overtime opportunities and holiday scheduling with excessing.  They are totally different issues.

NO "BUMPING" CLAUSE

No employee shall be allowed to displace or bump another employee, properly holding a position or duty assignment, pursuant to Article 12.5.B.3. The "no bumping" clause prohibits a senior employee whose job may be abolished from bumping a junior employee from his/her bid duty assignment. The senior employee, however, would be entitled to exercise his/her seniority through the bidding procedure, and accept the duty assignment formerly held by the junior employee who was excessed out of the section and/or installation.

Why didn't we have a meeting before the excessing began?

When the parties were meeting about the excessing it was agreed that the union and management would meet with the impacted employees on all 3 tours.  When management was ready to issue the excessing letters I called about the meetings and was informed they did not recall agreeing to meet with the impacted employees.  I cannot just hold informational meetings on the workroom floor.  We do have union meetings and over the last several months we have had many discussions over excessing at the meetings. 

Remember who gave away your work, who excessed you, who abolished your job, who changed your drop days and who denied your travel pay. The USPS.

Who is the only one fighting for your rights?  The APWU.


 

JUNE 15, 2006

Anthrax Travel Issue

The USPS has appealed the Anthrax Travel Arbitration to the US Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.  The US attorney filed the Notice of Appeal on June 5, 2006.  APWU's Attorneys will continue to peruse this issue on our behalf.  I believe this is another attempt to delay payment of the withheld wages.  You can read the appeal and other correspondence on the web site.

Custodian Positions

The USPS will be conducting a Custodian Exam for APWU Clerks who are interested in reassignment to the maintenance craft. The custodian exam (in-service announcement) is open until June 23, 2006.  Please get an application in the plant mangers office or from your supervisor.  Also please email me or call the union office so I can monitor this processes. 

Excessing Letters to the Needs of the Installation

The US Postal Service has not issued the excessing letter notifying the clerks they would be reassigned outside the clerk craft.  The delay is the result of long term negotiations over creating additional duty assignments in the clerk craft thus minimize the need for excessing.  The local union has worked tirelessly to reduce the number of impacted employees or totally eliminate the excessing outside the craft.  Management is claiming that some additional jobs may be on the next posting.  I believe we are close to stopping the excessing outside the craft.

Abolishment / Excessing Letters to FSM Clerks

I can't explain why the abolishment letters were delayed.  We are still faced with excessing to the needs of the section.  We are still discussing the need for additional keyers in the FSM section.  Nothing has been agreed to on this matter 

Station and Branches

The USPS has notified me that on July 1, 2006, the eleven (11) Zone scheme mail and carriers will be moved from Downtown Station to the Trenton Annex.  On July 10, 2006, the eighteen (18) zone scheme mail and carriers will be moved from West Trenton station to Downtown Station.  At the present moment the USPS is claiming that no clerks will be impacted at the station and branches. 

The Postal Service is considering changing drop days and hours in the Trenton Annex.  I have no details at the present time.  Just a heads up.

COPA

I am requesting that every member please give to COPA.  The union will be soliciting COPA donations.  I ask every member to please pledge 5.00 dollars or more.  Stewards and officers will have pledge cards for you to sign.

As Postal Workers we still face many hurdles and with the upcoming general election we need to have money in the war chest to support friends of the APWU and labor.

Last year we were number 3 in giving to COPA, this year we should try hard to be number 1. 

Please give to COPA -Your future does depend on it.

 

 


 

Excessing   

June 4, 2006

 

Due to the deployment of the Automatic Induction System (AI) and the Automatic Tray Handling System (ATHS) and assigning the Mail Handler Craft jurisdiction for staffing, management has created an over staffing of clerks and will begin to involuntary reassign (excessing) clerks in the near future. 

 

Before we get into the numbers and mechanism involved to begin excessing; you must clearly understand one thing, the union had nothing to do with this excessing event despite what your supervisor(s) are saying.  This excessing and abolishment of duty assignments are solely management actions.  The new management in Trenton clearly wants to hurt you.   They have reverted positions and have not posted the new duty assignments, (like certain supervisors & managers have been saying). They are refusing to reduce the casuals to afford work for career employees.

 

We have had numerous meetings and discussions over this serious matter. The number of impacted employees has changed from 41 clerks to 33 and now it is 22.  As of June 4, 2006, management plans on excessing 22 full time clerks outside the clerk craft.  Management plans on issuing the excessing letter on June 13, 2006 to become effective August 19, 2006.  Remember these are not the union’s dates these are management dates.

 

Management’s plan is to excess the impacted clerks into the maintenance craft, Custodian positions and the Mailhandlers craft.

 

The number of FSM & AFSM duty assignments to be abolished was 41 and now it is 33.  Management’s plan is to issue the abolishment letters on June 13, 2006 to become effective July 22, 2006.

 

The following is the order in which the excessing will occur:

 

1.  Identify limited duty assignments and reassign all light & limited duty carriers back to the carrier craft.

2.  Terminate all casuals to create work for impacted employees.

3.  Reduce the overtime hours to create work for impacted employees.

4.  Identify duty assignment to be abolished within FSM section.

5.  Issue abolishment letters to employees holding the duty assignments being     abolished. 30 days notice is required.

6.   Identify the employees in the section according to Article 30. Item 18. of the Local Memorandum of Understanding.

7.   Identify junior employee in the FSM section. Excess the junior employees to the   needs of the section.

8.  Post vacant duty assignments within the FSM section. Only employees left in the FSM section can bid on duty assignments in the section (sectional bidding).

9.   Identify junior employees being excessed outside the craft or installation.

10. Provide employees with sixty (60) days advance written letter.

11. Bidding among unassigned employees per article 37. 

 

 The new FSM staffing on each tour will be as follows:

 

Tour 1

 

Current Staffing: 22

Projected new staffing is: 12

Impacted employees are: 10

 

AFSM 100 bids: 6

FSM 1000 bids: 6

 

 

Tour 2

 

Current Staffing: 24

Projected new staffing is: 13

Impacted employees are: 11

 

AFSM 100 bids: 9

FSM 1000 bids: 4

 

 

Tour 3

 

Current Staffing: 18

Projected new staffing is: 6

Impacted employees are: 12

 

AFSM 100 bids: 4

FSM 1000 bids: 2

 

As you can see this is management creating one ugly situation.  The biggest question is why did the USPS assign jurisdiction to the Mailhandlers Craft?  Simply put- economics is the only reason. The Mailhandlers have not sought upgrades for their members, they have waived penalty overtime and a level 4 Mailhandler makes less then an APWU level 3 Custodian.  The Mailhandlers union in Trenton has now waived Article 7 (crossing crafts) and is allowing the clerk union to perform their work.  This is troubling.

The Mailhandlers have also withdrawn from the AFL-CIO.

 

If you get excessed to the Mailhandlers Craft the following will pertain to you:

You become a junior regular
You maintain your level 5
You begin a new period of seniority as a full time regular

Your contractual raises are determined by the APWU contract.
You will be brought back to the clerk craft according to clerk seniority. You will regain you former seniority as a clerk.

 

There is no choice about returning to the Clerk Craft.  You must return.

 

I would  recommend you not join the Mailhandlers union because when you come back to the APWU the Mailhandler union will continue to collect your dues.

 

 I have filed a lawsuit in federal court over management actions of refusing to honor an October 28, 2005 settlement agreement that would have given us some additional flat sorter work.  The APWU will pursue all avenues to gain work for our bargaining unit.  We must stop all supervisors and other unions from performing our work.  You can read a copy of the suit on the web page.

 

The following is a letter I sent protesting management's refusal to honor the Collective Bargaining Agreement regarding the excessing.

 

 

May 31, 2006

 

Mr. Joseph Sautello

Postmaster

680 Highway 130

Trenton, NJ 08650

 

Dear Mr. Sautello,

 

This correspondence is a follow up to our meeting of Friday May 26, 2006 regarding USPS possible involuntary reassignment of clerks represented by the Trenton Metro Area Local of the American Postal Workers Union.

 

The APWU expressed at the meeting that Article 12 provisions require the USPS to attempt to reduce potential impact through the following positive actions:

 

            1. Reduce casual employees working in the clerk craft.

 

            2. Reduce overtime in the clerk craft.

 

            3. Return limited duty Letter Carriers to the Letter Carrier Craft.

 

            4. Allow impacted clerk craft employees the option of becoming PTF clerks.

 

Presently there are (20) twenty casuals working in the clerk craft and averaging (40) forty plus hours per week.  Currently overtime in the clerk craft is averaging (18) eighteen percent, approximately 2,750 hours of overtime per week.  There are at least (10) ten limited duty carriers performing clerk craft work for 40 hours per week. 

 

The above represents a total of, at the minimum 4000 hours, which are reducible to minimize the impact on full time regulars.

 

The USPS expressed their position at the meeting as:

 

            1. There will be no reduction in casual hours.

           

2. There will be no reduction in overtime hours.

 

            3. The will be no return of limited duty letter carriers to their craft.

           

            4. Impacted clerks will not be permitted to become a PTF within their craft.

 

The espoused USPS position represented above is not in compliance with one of the basic principles of Article 12: that the dislocation and inconvenience to full time regular employees shall be kept to a minimum.

 

The Collective Bargaining Agreement, Joint Contract Interpretation Manual as well as the parties mutual regional understanding, are all in agreement that the provisions of Article 12 must be applied prior to dislocating employees.

 

The APWU takes with extreme seriousness these matters and hopes the USPS will comply with the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

 

The massive numbers of hours that are reducible do not justify reassignment of any clerks from the craft.

 

Please advise me in writing as to your position on these important matters. 

 

 

Sincerely,

  

 

William J. Lewis

President

 

 

 

The postal service plans on having meetings with impacted employees on all 3 tours.  I will be attending the meetings to ensure you are told accurate information.  I will not be selling their story.  Remember they created this mess and it clearly was intended to hurt us.   I will continue to work up to the last minute to help lessen the impact
 

May 18, 2006

Excessing Update

A meeting was held May 17, 2006 for the AI/ATHS (Automatic Inductions/Automatic Tray Handling System) excessing.
 
As usual, the Postal Service was not prepared.  They were relying on the old impact statement that contained erroneous information.  The Postal Service plans to excess up to 41 clerks to other crafts, ie:  custodian and mail handler.
 
Any member desiring to become a custodian please advise me ASAP, you must have taken the custodial exam.
 
The Postal Service has informed me that the number may be reduced from 41 to 32.  But absent from being in writing we must rely on the impact statement.  As of now, no members will be excessed outside the installation.
 
The Postal Service has refused to post new additional jobs.  They also refused to honor a settlement relating to the AFSM 100.
 
The excessing will not take place prior to the impacted employees receiving sixty (60) days notice.
 
I will update you with more details in the very near future.
 
In closing, the information I have provided is based on today's meeting.  The Postal Service historically changes like the weather.

 


April 20, 2006

Excessing Meeting

On April 17, 2006 the parties convened to discuss the excessing of Kilmer and Trenton impacted employees.  The manager of labor relations informed me that Trenton was not going to be discussed.  I questioned him as to why was I invited,  he informed me I was invited because I was the NJ state president.  I was shocked because only 3 months ago when Monmouth was excessing I was barred from attending the meeting, reason being, I was too disruptive.  The true reason why we did not discuss the Trenton excessing is the Postal Service was not prepared to discuss the impact.  We did discuss the excessing plan for Kilmer and we also got to see the new FSM 100 Automated Induction units operating. Central Jersey Area Local's President Hank Anderson did a fabulous job in reducing the number of employees being impacted in his facility.  Hank also insisted that the six month regional notification as required by the contract be adhered to prior to any excessing.  The postal service responded by saying they will only give sixty days notice and will revert all clerk vacancies.  It is clear the postal service only wants to excess clerks into the mail handler craft and not into any clerk residuals that may open.  In Kilmer they posted 40 new mail handler duty assignments.
 
In Trenton we are awaiting a new corrected impact statement before we can proceed with a regional excessing meeting.  I will also insist we get six months advance notification before any excessing occurs.  We can expect the postal service to violate the principles of Article 12 and rush into excessing.   I will continue to enforce the contract and will work hard to minimize the impact on the clerk craft.  I will advise you of the new meeting date when it is announced.
 
I am hoping the voluntary early retirement (VER) in the 3 plants will yield sufficient clerk vacancies.
 
Several of our members excessed from Monmouth inquired about junior employees remaining in the Monmouth P&DC. The NBA's office has been made aware of this situation and are currently discussing it with the postal service. Any member who is allowed to retreat back to Monmouth will create a vacancy, that position will then be posted for bid and if it becomes a residual we will hold it for the Trenton Excessing.
 
 
Management will be posting a new notice for the custodian test, if any one is interested please take the test.  We are currently holding seven custodian positions for excessing.
 
Currently we don't have any residual clerk positions in the Trenton P&DC.

April 13, 2006

Excessing Information

On February 8, 2006 the USPS assigned the Mail Handler Craft jurisdiction for staffing on the Automated Flat Sorting Machine 100 with Automated Induction and Automatic Tray Handling system enhancements.  This designation created a unique problem in the Trenton P&DC and other P&DC's.  The problem being there is insufficient staffing of mail handlers to work these new assignments.

The Postal Service is attempting to convince clerks to down grade to mail handlers in lieu of being excessed.  This action would be considered a voluntary reassignment and you would become a PTF in the mail handler craft.  Under Article 12 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement you have the right to become a PTF in your own craft and facility prior to being excessed.

I urge no one to become a PTF at this time with excessing going on in the New York and Philadelphia areas.  If you are under the Civil Service Retirement System this could affect your annuity.

Here are some of the pros and cons of volunteering to be reassigned to another craft or being excessed.

Volunteering to another craft

You become a junior PTF
You become a level 4 or 3
You begin a new period of seniority as a part time flexible
No retreat rights back to the clerk craft

Excess to another craft

You become a junior regular
You maintain your level 5
You begin a new period of seniority as a full time regular
You will be brought back to the clerk craft according to clerk seniority. You will regain you former seniority as a clerk.

We have an excessing meeting on Monday April 17, 2006. I will provide a follow up.
 

April 12, 2006

Great News on the Anthrax Travel Grievance!

On April 6, 2006, the US District Court/District of New Jersey ruled in favor of the union.  The court denied the Plaintiff's (USPS) motion to vacate Arbitrator Pecklers' arbitration decision and granted the defendant's (APWU) motion to enforce the arbitrator's decision.

   "The court ruled in part "The arbitrator reached his decision based on letters sent to the employees by management, the collective bargaining agreement, and other arbitration decisions. In addition, the Court finds that the arbitrator drew from the essence of the agreement to fashion his award. The arbitrator did not alter the agreement when he concluded that Plaintiff had not changed the official duty station for the reassigned employees. He interpreted the terms of the agreement within the scope of his authority. Therefore, this Court will not disturb the arbitration award."

This decision brings us one step closer.  I have contacted the USPS at the area level to begin discussions over implementing the settlement. There are still several grievances live in the system relating to the anthrax travel. 

The Postal Service still has the right to appeal the judge's ruling.  Any appeal by them will only show that they are delaying the remedy portion of this case.  The union can seek additional sanctions if they appeal this.

Many questions have been emailed to me regarding when will we be compensated.  A year ago I began to request time reports, statements and travel records and the postal service denied us access to this evidence.  I will aggressively pursue this matter and attempt to bring closure to this grievance.

Brothers and Sisters, we have come a long way in this matter and we have been successful in many different forums in keeping this grievance alive.  We must continue to fight them until we receive what is due us.

I will keep you updated and I urge you to just ignore any and all rumors.  The award is on the local web page - TrentonMetroAreaLocal.com.  Also take a look at the history of this case and see what your union has done. 


April 1, 2006

Excessing

The union had been notified that management intended to excess 41 level 5 clerks out of the Trenton P&DC.  This number has now been reduced to 34 level 5 clerks. The excessing is due to the deployment of the new Automatic Induction Unit (AI) and the Automatic Tray Handling System (ATHS).  The postal service has assigned the new work to the mail handlers craft.  These new modifications to the AFSM 100 will cause a reduction of 4 clerks per machine.

The notification letter to the union had several procedural errors and contained less than accurate information.  The letter will need to be reissued and it must contain precise information.  The minimum time frame is 90 days before excessing, not the 60 days as stated.  My position is we must receive 6 months notification and I will fight hard to get what we are entitled to.  The letter stated we had 10 level 6 keyers in the flat sorter section, we only have 2 level six clerks in the flat section and the rest of the keyers are level 5.  This changes the mix. Excessing out of the section is among all level 5 clerks in the FSM section.  Once the new letter is issued and I have reviewed the impact statement I will meet with management at the regional level. 

The first excessing meeting has been set for April 17, 2006 at 11 am in Kilmer.

Several members who may be impacted due to the deployment of AI have retreat rights to their former facility and they have asked if they maintain these retreat rights.  After discussions with North Eastern Regional Coordinator Liz Powell, the parties agreed the impacted employees get retreat rights to both Trenton and their former facility.

Other members who are in a bidding restriction due to volunteering to be reassigned in lieu of a excessed employee have asked, now that they are impacted, are they eligible to bid? The parties have had discussions on this and I am waiting for a Memorandum of Understanding which would release them from the bidding restriction.

I am constantly looking where we can create new positions and help reduce the impact.  Currently there are no residual clerk positions in Central Jersey due to managements wholesale reverting of clerk positions for the past several weeks.  The Trenton Plant is currently running overtime at 20 to 25 percent.  That means there are clerk positions available and I must use overtime and casual hours to help create new positions.  Management will resist our attempt; they have been mandated to get the clerks into lower paying mailhandler positions.

The postal service plans on creating new mailhandler positions to staff the AFSM.  Currently in Trenton there are insufficient mailhandlers and from what I am hearing this shortage is nation wide.  Plans are to staff these positions with excess clerks, and they  will attempt to get you to request a transfer to the mailhandler craft as a PTF.  If you want to become a PTF you can always opt to become a PTF in the clerk craft in lieu of being excessed.  I recommend against any full time clerk becoming a mailhandler PTF. 

If you are excessed into the mailhandler craft you will receive saved grade but with a new seniority date. Once its your turn according to your seniority, you will be returned to the clerk craft, and regain your old seniority. You do not have an option you are just returned to the clerk craft.  Also your retirement could be affected by becoming a PTF.  I will explain this in a later email.

The rumors are out of control on this subject, I will update you as events unfold. I will post letters as I receive them on the local's web page.

VER

The postal service has advised me of a voluntary early retirement (VER) only for function 1 plant employee in the Trenton P&DC, Kilmer P&DC and Monmouth P&DC.  Employees identified as VER eligible were pulled from on-rolls data as of March 21, 2006 and will be sent the offer package on May 8th.  The VER window period is May 12th to June 12th and the decision to retire is irrevocable after June 12th.  The approval/disapproval notices will be sent to the employees on June 12th.  The VER effective date will be June 30th.  

Tour 2 Automation - 1-Hour Start Time Change

The postal service has advised me today, March 31, 2006, they are moving tour 2 automation (letters) hours from 7 am to 8 am.  The service's reason for this move is tour 1 is still processing the mail at 7 am. The service and the union have agreed to give 30-day advance notice before any hours are changed.  Any employee desiring to move before the 30 days please contact me.

The postal service has plans to changes other hours.  Any hours that overlap another tours by more than an hour are being looked at. They plan on adjusting tour 2 first and then move to the other tours.


Anthrax Travel Grievance

The judge has not issued her decision on the postal service motion to vacate the arbitration decision.  Once the decision is rendered I will email you.


With all the new development I will begin to email you to keep you up to date and try to eliminate the rumors. 

 

February 3, 2006

The Annex

The Postal Service has finally unveiled their master plan for the Tour 1 secondary duty assignments (scheme clerks) that were assigned to the annex.  All secondary flat and letters will be sorted at the stations.  The plan calls for the abolishment of all tour 1 secondary duty assignments.

All statehouse duty assignments on tour 1 and tour 2 will also be abolished.

The 11-zone form the downtown station will be moved to the annex in the very near future.  The 11-zone move will create space in the downtown station, which will enable management to move all of the 18-zone mail into downtown.  Management would not reveal the staffing needs of the West Trenton Office after the 18-zone move.

The Crosswicks carrier routes will be moved to the annex also.

With the movement of the 11 zone and Crosswicks to the annex, management has proposed to create 5 new duty assignments with the 11-zone, Crosswicks scheme and some of the annex's schemes and post with a 4 AM start time. 1 duty assignment with similar schemes will be created with a 10 am start time.  The union is reviewing this mix of schemes to determine the amount of memory items.  The proposal also calls for the creation of 3 new State House positions in the annex with a 3 AM start time. There was limited discussion of rest days for these new duty assignments since management is convinced no one should have consecutive days and nevertheless, weekends.   All newly created positions will be posted for bid.

Monmouth AMP

The latest information on the Area Mail Processing (AMP) and the Involuntary Reassignment (excessing) from Monmouth P&DC is fifteen (15) level five (5) clerks will be reassigned to the Trenton P&DC effective January 7, 2005.  Five (5) clerks will be assigned to tour 3 and ten (10) will be assigned to tour 1.

Over the course of the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend the 087 incoming mail will begin to be processed at the Trenton P&DC.  We are already processing the 087 out going mail. 

The first round of the selection process for the Monmouth employees is completed  and failed to yield a sufficient amount of full time positions available for these employees.

There seems to be an abundance of inaccurate information flying around relating to what are these employees rights when they are reassigned.  Eleven (11) of the fifteen (15) employees maintain retreat rights back to Monmouth and also have bidding rights once they are reassigned to Trenton.  Four (4) of them don't have retreat rights and are also locked out from bidding for 180 days the reason being these four people volunteered in lieu of an impacted employee.  All 15 employees maintain their seniority.

At this time there are no intentions on excessing maintenance employees. 

I will continue to monitor the events relating to this AMP to protect all APWU employees. 


Bill Lewis


2005 Christmas Holiday Facts

By Bill Lewis

 

The following Christmas Holiday facts are for APWU members and the information contained in the article is from the APWU Collective Bargaining Agreement.  I would like to share with everyone some of the questions and my responses to many questions relating to the upcoming Christmas Holiday. 

When is my Holiday?  This year Christmas Day, December 25, 2005, falls on a Sunday and according to article 11 section 5.A, “Holiday on Non-Work Day” When a holiday falls on a Sunday, the following Monday shall be observed as the holiday.  

If Sunday is your normally scheduled workday then your holiday will be observed on Sunday, December 25. If Sunday is your non-scheduled day then your holiday will be Monday, December 26 and if Sunday / Monday are you non-scheduled days then your holiday is Saturday, December 24. 

The 3-day holiday period for Christmas is December 24, 25 & 26.  The holiday schedule must be posted by December 20, 2005.  This posting is mandated by article 11.6.A. The Employer will determine the number and categories of employees needed for holiday work and a schedule shall be posted as of the Tuesday preceding the service week in which the holiday falls. 

Do I get paid time and one half if my holiday is other then the actual holiday?  All full time /part time regular employees who work on the Christmas Holiday or the designated holiday will receive one and one half times (1 1/2) the base hourly straight time rate for each hour worked. 

A part-time flexible (ptf) employee, who works on December 25, shall be paid in addition to the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate, one-half (l/2) times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for each hour worked up to eight (8) hours. 

Do I receive an extra half (˝) of day annual leave if I work the holiday?  No, if you elect to be credited with annual leave instead of the holiday pay you will be credited with up to 8 hours of annual leave.  All this provision of the contract does is allow you to switch the holiday leave pay for annual leave; you still get paid for the holiday work hours. 

Happy Holidays 

Bill Lewis

President

Local #1020

 


September 20, 2005

 

Tour 1 Scheme

There has been no further development in the realignment of the Trenton Tour 1 secondary schemes.   Management is still claiming they are trying to get a handle on the volume in each scheme.   This move has not been limited to scheme mail, it includes state house, parcel post and some box mail.

Let me share with you what I believe is going to happen. Management in the beginning of October will post for bid several new jobs with begin tours of 3 or 4 am most likely with spilt days off.   The spilt days off are a customer service thing and only managers in customer service are allowed to enjoy weekends. I will grieve this when they post them.   After the new bid holders are trained or if they are qualified and placed immediately into the duty assignments, management will then begin excessing to the needs of  sections.  

I found this portion of a news article very interesting and much to my surprise we are going in the opposite direction.   "The service is exploring ways to realign its infrastructure by closing annexes, consolidating operations and employing tools to model its efficiencies in its current operations by expanding automation, improving material-handling operations, creating a comprehensive transportation network and introducing standardization programs," the GAO report said.   This maybe true in other areas, but Trenton is the exception to the rule.  

As the nation struggles to conserve fuel, management in Trenton explores ways to increase the fleet's consumption by adding 10 additional trips.

USPS Spokeswoman Debra Mitchell said "that every penny increase in gas means an $8 million increase in transportation expenses over last year. The post office has absorbed some of the increases with regular profits, she said. But the postal service also offsets some of the expense by being able to buy fuel at bulk prices that are somewhat lower than prices at the pump." 

We could have bought fuel in bulk, but management took the new fuel tanks out of the ground in the VMF so we can pay the higher prices at the pumps. Good move guys!

Will someone please tell me how we are saving money and efficiency with this move of the Tour 1 mail?

Just to clear the air, some managers in the annex are saying the union wanted you sent over here.   I had absolutely nothing to do with the move and this was all planned without the union's input.  

18-11 Moves

The 18-zones move is still on, the West Trenton 18-zones will be merged with the 18 zones in the downtown station and the 11 zones that are in downtown will be moved to the annex.   Management has not officially advised me of this move, but training plans are underway without the unions input, as usual. This move will occur on or about October 1.

By making the carriers drive from the annex to downtown will also increase fuel consumption.

Extending Window Hours

Management has also extended the retail window hours to 7 PM at West Trenton and Circle Branch stations.   This change will occur on October 1, 2005.   Management notified the clerks before we were notified. Management had a contractual obligation to consult with the union, but maybe next time they will allow us input first.   The window operations have been run on a shoe string for many years and now with an additional 10 hours being added to the operation, I predict major grievance activity in these offices.   I found out about the extended hours from emails from clerks, so please keep me informed.

Now for some good news

After the meeting on August 29, 2005, I began to immediately inquire and request additional jobs to be posted.   I was notified today that management plans to post approximately 15 new tour 2 mail processor clerk bids.   Tour 1 has not responded to the union's inquiries.   I am requesting these jobs before the 087 consolidation of the Monmouth P&DC which may happen as early as this fall.


 

Trenton City Scheme Mail - Part 2

On Monday, August 29, 2005, a meeting was held to advise the union of managements plans to move the tour 1 state house and city scheme operations to the carrier annex. The operations and employees will move on September 10, 2005.

The union was not provided an opportunity to digest the data prior; before the decision to move the mail. Last week I requested information prior to the meeting, and the request was denied.  The decision today was made absent of any input from the union.  The reassignment is limited to tour 1 at the present time.

The union has some concerns about safety and security issues at the annex.  These concerns were presented to management long before the move was planned.  Management has made no attempt to correct these concerns.  

There is also some contractual questions that need to addressed. I will not state my concerns since management monitors my emails.  I would like to keep an upper hand in this case. If the contract is violated, no matter how small I will file the appropriate action.

 

Trenton City Scheme Mail  - part 1

The Postal Service has not officially notified me of any employees moving from one location to another.  This does not mean it will not happen.   Let me explain what I have been unofficially told.   

Many months ago, management informed me of this elaborate plan of moving the city scheme distribution to the carrier annex.    This plan also consisted of moving mail from West Trenton to the Downtown Station. Then moving mail from the Downtown Station to the Carrier Annex and additionally bringing in mail from Crosswicks.  This was plan one, the only problem was, there was insufficient parking for the carrier vehicles at the proposed locations so the plan was on hold as they looked for parking for the trucks.

Then, I was informed that they were moving all the scheme mail distribution from the P&DC to their respected stations, as an example; they were going to move the Carrier Annex mail to the Carrier Annex, Circle Branch mail to Circle Branch, Villa Park mail to Villa Park and Downtown mail to Downtown and so on.  This plan was also put on hold as they worked out the logistics.

Then I heard that they were conducting a study to move the state house mail operation from the P&DC to the Carrier Annex.   When I made an inquiry in this move, I was told they were working on a plan to move the state house mail and they would get back to me.  

Throughout the preparation stage of this master plan management has kept saying the move was going to happen at the end of the summer.   Every time I asked for specifics about which mail, which employees, which location I was informed we are working on it.   

Now with the end of summer rapidly approaching I asked management on Monday, August 15th about  the moves.   They informed me that 5 employees and the state house mail was moving in a couple of weeks, as I am awaiting my written notification of the state house move, rumors started surfacing about other mail moving. Once again on Wednesday, August 17th I picked up the phone and made an inquiry about the scheme mail moving. Once again, I was assured that the only plan they had at this time was to move the state house mail.  

On Friday, August 19th, many members emailed and informed me about what they were being told by both station mangers and the plant supervisor.    Every one has the same story of mail moving, employees being moved, employees hours being changed.   

Hearing this I made a call for the third time in a week on the same issue and much to my dismay I heard, "Oh, did I forgot to mention it to you."   I was stunned to hear they were moving the mail and employees without the union's input.

Management had a legal obligation under NLRA to notify and allow the union input prior to notifying the affected employees.   The contract provides for time frames for notification of excessing of employees outside their sections.   I should not be shocked that they were unable to get this right; customer service has not been able to get a holiday schedule right.   You know it is not that they can't get it correct; customer service couldn't care less about our rights.

The biggest question that surfaces in my simple mind is why all the secrecy?   Management has the right to move the mail; they clearly have the right to reassign employees per the Collective Bargaining Agreement.   So why?   They do not want the scheme clerks to have time to bid on other jobs.   The success of this move depends on the clerks being reassigned and not having time to bid on other jobs in the plant.   

Management's story today is that the clerks will move with their same hours and drop days and after all the glitches are worked they will begin the process of reposting and eliminating the plant jobs.   The best advice I can give is, if you need the hours and certain days off, begin bidding now.    All P&DC scheme jobs are in jeopardy of being moved and the possibility exists of all P&DC scheme jobs being reposted and abolished.

Why all the movement of the mail?   No one from management has said why all the movement.   The reason I believe is, they need the space for the 087 mail coming in. To process this mail we would need additional machines, which would require more space.

Another thought is the customer service managers would get more employees which would maybe get them higher levels of pay.

I spoke with the president of the Red Bank Local and he has been notified of the movement of the 087 mail to Trenton.   No notification has been given at the regional level of any excessing from Monmouth P&DC as of yet.

The local union has requested information on this matter from management. As soon as I obtain the information I will pass it on.  

Surprise!!!! Surprise!!!!! I have been invited to a planning meeting on Monday, August 29th, what a joke.

Other P&DC Issues

Management has determined there is no need to continue testing for anthrax in the Trenton P&DC.  They claim OSHA has concurred with them on this issue.   The Dry Filter Units will be removed during the month of September.   I will check with the APWUs safety and health department.

I find this a bit disturbing since the PO has tested the Brentwood facility for over a year.   We get 5 months.    I have not read where they have discontinued the testing down there.   Talking about Brentwood, an employee working in there has been diagnosed with Legionnaires' disease.

Construction

Contractors will begin removing portions of the look out gallery in the southwest portion (old carrier annex section) of the building.   The reason I inform you of this is, the panels of the look out gallery contain asbestos, so please stay clear.   This renovation is needed for the installation of the LIPS machine, you know the machine we never used.   Additional work is needed down in that section to get more space for additional DBCS's.

Travel Grievance

Attorneys for the APWU filed an answer in federal court to the Postal Service's complaint to vacate the Anthrax Travel arbitration award, we also counter sued for enforcement of the award.  Further legal action against the USPS is being considered.

Justice delayed is justice denied and Postal Management must be held accountable.


Automated Postal Centers

 

The new Automated Postal Centers (APCs) will be capable of providing 80 percent of the most common transactions handled at full service windows.  These machines will be available 24/7 for our customers to conduct postal business.  Not all post offices will be receiving the APCs; at the present time only high volume offices with long waits will see them. 

Some of the features of the APCs are; weighing and rating letters, flats and parcels up to 70 pounds. Dispensing variable rate postage in any denomination for Express, Priority, First Class, Certified mail, International (under a pound) and Parcel Post. Providing postal service and mailing information, and zip code lookup.  Printing express mail forms and generating a receipt for payment are also some of the features of the APCs.

If this state of art technology is promoted properly it could have a major impact on window service operations and cause a reduction in over the counter sale and thus reduce the need for our current staffing of sale and service associate positions, so far I have not seen this overwhelming success but I am still cautious. The machine does not sell single stamps nor does it accept cash.  Only credit cards and debit cards are accepted. 

Who will perform the routine duties associated with this equipment?  The USPS and APWU agree that a sale and service associate will perform the duties associated with this equipment.  The clerk will restock the paper, PVI tape and stamp books.  The clerk may also clear jams in the machine.   The postal service has contracted the servicing and repairs to the company that designed and installed them.  The national maintenance division has filed a national level grievance over the work being contracted outside the maintenance craft. 

During the first 90 days following the deployment of the APCS, the postal service will be hand picking an employee to be the APC Customer Advisor, this individual will encourage customers to use it, help them get acquainted with the machine and assist them with their transaction.  Management has the right to select any employee to serve as a APCs Customer Advisor.  The APWU doesn’t seem to have objections to the use of non-APWU bargaining unit employee from receiving the 3.5 hours training.  The APWU does caution management not to cross the duties of a lobby director or clerk with this APC Customer Advisor.  Who is kidding who? As the APWU loses bargaining unit positions daily we cannot afford to allow any work even if it is one day or 90 days to be given to other crafts.   The work is clearly retail work and should go to an APWU sale and service associate working in the retail center.  Management has taken the position that the work associated with the APC doesn’t belong to the Self-Service Postal Clerk since the APC is automatic and not mechanical.  This I will have to explore a bit more to determine if this position is correct. 

Since I will be receiving this piece of equipment when the Trenton P&DC reopens in about 2 months and as always I will continue to preserve APWU work, I plan to approach management and encourage them to use a sales and service associate as an APC Customer Advisor.  I will have grievances filed on any one who is not a sales and service associate who stocks the machine, and initiate grievances for any work being performed by contractors. We must strengthen our resolve to protect our work and aggressively defend it.


February 7, 2005

Today, Monday, February 7, 2005, the Postal Service advised me that the ribbon cutting ceremony has been delayed for another week.  The new date is March 13, 2005 (tentative date, to be changed again... and again... and again!)

 
The delay is contributed to the Mystery Guest, who has been unable to make the last two tentative dates.  This delay causes our return to be pushed back to March 19, 2005 (Saturday). 
 
On a more positive note, the bio detection system was installed.  The tour 3 supervisors and mail handlers received training on the operation of the system today.
 
I was successful in getting the lunchroom and additional rest rooms open for the employees to use, who are coming down to test the machines.  Maintenance management is taking the position that the Maintenance employees cannot use the lunchroom at this time (unknown reasons).  I hope to get this corrected tomorrow.

February 6, 2005

Work continues to bring the Trenton P&DC back online.   The plan at this moment is to bring processing mail to test the overhauled DBCS on Tuesday, February 8, 2005.   This date is exactly one year from the announcement that the building was deemed safe to reoccupy.   Management has informed me, that the machines will be tested on tour 2 and 3 with 085 standard mail.

Mail Processing Clerks will be chosen by seniority to return.   Those clerks coming on site should be aware that there are no provisions for food or beverages in the building.   Up to this point the maintenance employees on site have not been allowed to use the swing room or any break area in the building.

I will try on Monday to get use of the swing room and additional rest rooms. If not, you will have to use the carrier annex rest rooms and the break trailer, which is located in the parking lot.   I will also attempt to get bottled water in the building.   Despite these minor obstacles I am truly excited and look forward to welcoming you back to Trenton.  

In the upcoming days additional maintenance employees from Monroe will be assigned to the P&DC.


The plant will be fully operational by March 12, 2005, and the ribbon cutting ceremony will be March 6, 2005.  

The first group of Postal Employees to return to the building were APWU Maintenance and now APWU Mail Processing Clerks are the first to begin working the mail. This is only appropriate since we paved the way and fought the battle to reopen this building.

 

January 23, 2005

The contractor still plans to be completed with the renovations on January 31, 2005.   At that point the Postal Service will conduct a walk around with the contractor and generate a list of items that are not acceptable to them (the Postal Service).

The concerns I have are with some of the electrical systems and the reason being is, I can't seem to get a straight answer. The fiber optics is not passing the final acceptance test. The fire alarms, the card access systems and the door release systems have all failed preliminary tests.   Some of the structure wiring is also failing.   These are not minor problems and raise serious safety concerns with me and may delay the opening.   

The 2 boilers have failed the final inspection and are awaiting re-inspection.    They are able to operate and are keeping the building warm.

The mail processing machines have not been hooked up to the network in the computer room due to problems with cabling.    This is not good.

The water seems to be the main topic of concern. The water has been recently tested for anthrax and I am told the water is safe. The water system will be re-chlorinated this week. The Postal Service now intends to install drinking water systems.   This is good news since most of us prefer not to use the water fountains.   I have been monitoring the water problem and don't see the problems all are claiming it to be.   This may be the issue that delays the whole return process.

The final cleaning of the building is under way and the place is looking good. The final coat of wax has been applied to the floor. Both docks have also been painted.  

On Saturday, January 22, 2005, we unloaded the AFCS from West Jersey and will begin installing it as soon as our electrician runs the wires for the bio detection system.   We will be removing an AFCS from Kilmer next.   We are also overhauling a second OCR and still troubleshooting the second BCS.  Check the web site for up to date machine status.

The registry cage is being installed in the same location; also all new letter cases are being assembled and will be placed in the same general locations.  

Plans are under way to move the 1 AFSM 100 next month and then move the 2nd one soon as we move into the Trenton P&DC. The LIPS machine will be placed in the former carrier annex for now and the low cost tray system will also be moved.   The workroom floor is the warehouse for all the new equipment coming in. The last several weeks we have moved the equipment from one end to other for the final waxing of the floor.

The plan now (and it is not my plan)  is for employees to take their combination lock from their locker in Monroe and when they get to Trenton they will be assigned a new locker and then they can place their lock on the locker.   Be prepared to move and remove all your personal belongings prior to the end of February.

The postal service is not sure if the access system is the same as Monroe.   Comment; if I were planning this portion of the project I would have instructed the company and the software designer to make sure the systems were compatible, but I guess that's why I am not in charge nor would I want to be.  

During the month of February mail-processing clerks will be brought down to the Trenton P&DC to run standard mail on the machines and test the true sorting capability.   I will enforce the principles of seniority on who will get to volunteer.   I hope we do not experience the same disturbing scenario I had with the maintenance members who chose to stay in Monroe and collect the blood money.   It is time to step up, we fought hard to reopen the P&DC and it is time to come home.   The Postal service has taken the position if you are instructed to return and refuse, your travel pay will be terminated.

I do believe that a few employees will be traumatized to an extent they cannot return to the P&DC.  Every member will be receiving a letter from management soliciting his or her intentions about returning.   I guess no one can tell you the building is 100% safe, all I can say is, I have worked in that building for the past 10 months and I have no doubts the building is safe and it is 100 times better than Monroe.   If you are a member and you are having second thoughts about returning to the building please contact me.   Please email me with any questions you may have about the building.

To monitor daily events on the building, check in at the Trenton Metro Area Local web page, I will keep it current with events.  

 


 

On Thursday, January 13, 2005, the Anthrax Travel Grievance was presented to Arbitrator Michael Pecklers.  The issue was, are we entitled to be compensated for the time spent traveling to temporary duty assignments.  To get the Postal Service to the Arbitration hearing was an exhausting 18 month struggle for the local.  I must commend National Business Agent, Jeff Kehlert for the professional presentation he puts forth for the union.  
 
I have participated in many arbitration hearings and I must comment on the professionalism displayed by the Postal Service's team of advocates and the way the hearing proceeded. 
 
We also presented other issues related to the anthrax attack against us.  The issue in the second hearing was if we were entitled to be compensated for time spent receiving medical care and treatment for exposure to anthrax.
 
The issue of compensation for travel has been put to rest and now we must move forward and prepare to return to the Trenton P&DC.  We could expect the arbitrator's decision in about a month.
 
Thank you for your support,
 


January 1, 2005
Trenton P&DC Update


I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Healthy New Year.   I thank each and every one of you for your support over the past year.  Together we have come a long way and we are almost back in the new Trenton P&DC. I have had discussions with Postal Management regarding the return of mail processing operations to Trenton.   As of today the time frame is:

January 8, 2005, all mail processing machines will be running and capable of sorting mail.

January 31, 2005, the contractors will be completed with the renovations and the building will be turned over to the Postal Service.  

The whole month of February will be used to test the mail processing machines.   They will sort standard mail to work out any problems that may surface.

The main event will be on February 27, 2005, with the ribbon cutting ceremony with an elaborate celebration in store at the Trenton P&DC. This event will be for union members and families.   I have attended the planning meeting and it was hard to find anyone who worked in the Trenton P&DC on the committee.  

February 28, 2005, the Main Office Window Service will reopen to the public.

The first week of March will be used to finalize move in day plans.   March 5, 2005, the Postal Service will terminate mail operations in Monroe and begin mail processing in the Trenton P&DC. The latter part of that week the Postal Service will phase back in the 085 and 086 outgoing mail.

As always these are not my plans and I have had no input and are subject to changes without notice.

I have been in contact with the national APWU regarding any employee who may be traumatized about returning to the Trenton P&DC. The Postal Service refused to discuss this issue with the APWU Regional Coordinator, Jim Burke. I have contacted Bill Burrus office about implementing the same Memorandum of Understanding that pertained to the APWU members in Brentwood.  I will additionally request our Congressman's assistance in this matter.

The travel compensation issue is scheduled for arbitration on January 13, 2005.   I hear members discussing the thousands of dollars they are getting, and this is not reality. The arbitrator may say the Postal Service didn't violate our contract and we get zero or on the other hand the arbitrator may sustain the grievance and award the full remedy that will be the hours spent commuting to Kilmer, South River, Monmouth and a few other locations. Either way it is a gamble for both parties.   There have been ongoing discussions with the Postal Service about resolving this issue.   I will make a presentation of both parties proposals at the local union meeting on January 8, 2005, and then poll the members in attendance for their views and guidance.   In the mean time we are preparing for arbitration and further legal action if warranted.

With the reopening of the Trenton P&DC, management plans on making staffing changes.   Management wants to move city scheme mail to the annex, make adjustments on start times (all tours) and make drop day changes on Tour 3.    Most of these changes are based on high amounts of overtime.   Maybe if they had maintained the proper staffing they would not have the high volume of overtime.

The next several months will prove to be challenging, and the Postal Service will test our resolve and they have repeatedly proven they cannot be trusted.   We must continue to show our solidarity, we must continue to organize and raise COPA money. No local in history has been through what we have endured and still are united. Make no mistake that we are prepared to fight the injustices ahead of us. Inclosing today, I once again thank you for allowing me the privilege of leading us during these disturbing times and I ask you to keep the leadership of your union in your prayers and thoughts to help us bring this ordeal to closure.

Yours in Unionism,

Bill Lewis
President
Trenton Metro Area Local #1020


Christmas Holiday Facts

The following Christmas Holiday facts are for APWU members and the information contained in the article is from the APWU Collective Bargaining Agreement.  I would like to share with everyone the questions and my responses to many questions relating to the upcoming Christmas Holiday. 

When is my Holiday?  This year Christmas Day, December 25, 2004, falls on a Saturday and according to article 11 section 5.A, “Holiday on Non-Work Day” When a holiday falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be observed as the holiday.  

If Saturday is your normally scheduled workday then your holiday will be observed on Saturday, December 25. If Saturday is your non-scheduled day then your holiday will be Friday, December 24 and if Friday and Saturday are your non-scheduled days then your holiday is Thursday December 23. 

The 3-day holiday period for Christmas is December 23, 24 & 25.  The holiday schedule must be posted by December 14, 2005.  This posting is mandated by article 11.6.A. The Employer will determine the number and categories of employees needed for holiday work and a schedule shall be posted as of the Tuesday preceding the service week in which the holiday falls. 

Do I get paid time and one half if my holiday is other then Saturday?  All full time /part time regular employees who work on the Christmas Holiday or the designated holiday will receive one and one half times (1 1/2) the base hourly straight time rate for each hour worked. 

A part-time flexible (ptf) employee, who works on December 25, shall be paid in addition to the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate, one-half (l/2) times the employee’s regular straight time hourly rate for each hour worked up to eight (8) hours. 

Do I receive an extra half (˝) of day annual leave if I work the holiday?  No, if you elect to be credited with annual leave instead of the holiday pay you will be credited with up to 8 hours of annual leave.  All this provision of the contract does is allow you to switch the holiday leave pay for annual leave; you still get paid for the holiday work hours.

 Happy Holidays

 


 


Press Release: 11/15/04

Trenton Metro Area Local #1020

Release: Immediately 

Union Representatives tour the once anthrax contaminated mail facility in Hamilton, NJ

 

Hamilton, NJ.  Union representatives of the Trenton Metro Area Local #1020 of the American Postal Workers Union toured the Trenton P&DC to get a first hand look at the progress made in restoring the once anthrax contaminated mail facility located in Hamilton, NJ. 

Bill Lewis, President of the APWU local said “This is the first time in 3 years employees who serve as local union representatives have had an opportunity to view the once contaminated building, and they were pleased with the progress made thus far in restoring the facility.  We are all confident the building is safe for the employees to return, and no one who toured the building had any reservations about entering the facility”. 

“I am extremely proud of the APWU maintenance employees from Trenton and from around the country who came to help restore this mail processing facility.  This was a monumental task to refurbish all of the mail processing machines rendered inoperative by the chlorine dioxide gas used to kill the anthrax spores” said Lewis. 

We are grateful to our elected leaders who have been there throughout the whole ordeal; especially Congressman Christopher Smith, Hamilton Township Mayor Glen Gilmore and US Senator Jon Corzine. 

The union still has concerns over staffing, and which mail operations will be returned once the plant is operational.  Management has indicated to the union that the move in day plans, staffing and mail operation decisions have been completed, yet this information has not been shared with the Local.  The union’s skepticism is increased by postal management’s recent hiring of non-union workers to process mail. 

For additional details contact:

Bill Lewis, President

609-631-7745

E-mail: Bill Lewis TMAL@aol.com

Web Site: TrentonMetroAreaLocal.com

 

Chemical / Biological Agents in the Mail

 Who is next?

 Are we as a union prepared to assist our members?

 

The Postal Service advised me on Friday, October 15, 2004, that they were removing an overhauled AFSM 100 from the Trenton P&DC and moving the machine to Monroe, the interim Trenton facility.  One of the FSM 1000s will be removed from Monroe and the AFSM 100 will be placed in its spot.

The reason provided to me for this move is management is removing the 087 flat mail from the Monmouth P&DC in Eatontown, NJ and is going to process the mail in Monroe.  

Union members who attended the meeting Saturday, October 16, 2004, advised that the 087 mail has already begun to be processed in Monroe.  Maintenance employees who were in attendance, advised they already have begun disassembling the AFSM 100 for its journey to Monroe.

This AFSM 100 was totally rebuilt by postal service maintenance employees. The overhaul of this machine including moving it for the installation of the new floor took 6 months.  Removing this machine from the Trenton P&DC has raised some serious concerns with me.  I believe this is a major step backwards in our eventual return to Trenton.  In the past, when I have questioned some bone head moves I was told, I was not a manger that's why I don't understand.  Well, I guess because I am not a manger is why I don't understand.

Well, if I was a manger and my true intentions were to get this once anthrax contaminated P&DC fully functional within the next few months I would focus all of my resources into getting this building capable of processing mail.  

Several Bad Ideas & Union Concerns:

If you planned on moving the mail from the Eatontown P&DC why not move their machines along with the mail.  

Develop a plan to process flat mail on the overhauled machine in Trenton, it is a workable plan, management planned on doing it with letter mail on the AFCS's and the DBCS's.  

Staffing issues have not been discussed.

Lack of space for storage of mail and trailers have not been discussed.

My concerns of the sick building syndrome will return with the upcoming heating season and additional machines and people.


The new time frame for reoccupying the Trenton P&DC is now moved back until March/April, 2005.  I still believe if we stay focused and direct all of our attention on Trenton an earlier return date could be achieved.

Yours in Union Solidarity,

Bill Lewis
President
Trenton Metro Area Local #1020

 

October 18, 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The Anthrax attacks on our nation and post office happened 3 years ago.   For many postal employees and citizens of this country, the attack and hardships afflicted on the Trenton and Brentwood Postal Workers and other Postal Employees, are forgotten.    When I travel to different postal events in the capacity of the president of this great local, I am horrified to hear that people are led to believe the nightmare has ended and we are all back home working.

We must never forget our fallen brothers from Brentwood who died because no one cared for Postal Workers, or our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer from the after affects of anthrax and the antibiotics.   We have all suffered at the hands of an uncaring employer who chose to fight us instead of caring for it employees.    Let no one fool you, they refused to get us medical help, refused to pay for medical bills, refused to relocate us closer to home, even tried to close our facility, no, I stand corrected, consolidate, refused to compensate us for the time spent traveling, as outlined in their own manuals.  

We cannot replace the time stolen from our lives and families.  We cannot replace our health that was damaged by exposure to anthrax and the antibiotic treatment.

You must be proud of yourselves for all you have endured, substandard working conditions in Monroe, South River, Annex and the Trailers.   We have commuted countless miles to other Processing Centers to keep the mail moving and to feed our families.  

Collectively we have fought all of these injustices and will continue to fight for our rights. Many in the postal family have chalked the Trenton Local up. Did we fool them?    We can stand tall today for all of our accomplishments. Many other local's memberships spiral downward, but we continue to recover and our membership is growing.    Instead of being excessed we are receiving new members every payday. Instead of being consolidated with other facilities, other facilities are being consolidated with us.

The proof of our commitment to fight is shown today as work continues on bringing our P&DC building back to life.   The building will be equipped with state of the art technology for sorting mail. The environmental equipment will provide a comfort level second to none.   The building will have a Bio-detection and filtration system; these systems are being installed at the present time.   This will be a new postal facility.

There are several reasons for our success; we're able to mobilize our membership, we are raising political funds (COPA), and developing relationships with all our elected leaders. Utilizing our resources wisely, we concentrated on organization and communicate with each other.   

Today we can take a moment to reflect on our accomplishments, we can lick our wounds and mourn our dead, but we must fight like hell for the living and renew our commitment to reopening the Trenton P&DC in the upcoming weeks.

Proudly wear you union shirt on Monday and stand tall.

Yours in Unionism,


Bill Lewis
President
Local #1020

 

 

June 8, 2004

I have been notified by management that everyone who works for the Trenton Plant will be required to work on Friday, June 11, 2004, the National Day Of Mourning.  The letter states you will be entitled to a day of your choice.

Some employees have already been denied their day of choice.  If you are denied your choice you should file a grievance.  Representatives of management who will decide the outcome of your grievance will have the day off.

Management is hoping everyone forgets or gives up the day they are entitled to.

I was somewhat disturbed by the wholesale refusal to allow anyone off who works for the plant, but I was not surprised, just another form of their appreciation.  Come employee appreciation day, most will have forgotten and will join management in the festivities.


June 7, 2004

The Postmaster General, has declared, Friday, June 11, 2004 as the National Day of Mourning for all postal units.  I am in discussion with local management about allowing employees off on Friday.  As of writing this email, they have not made any final determination on Operational needs.  Many questions have been presented to me, so I have enclosed in this email the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) on the the National Day of Observance.  As soon as I have further details I will pass it along.


June 7, 2004

ALL POSTAL INSTALLATIONS

SUBJECT:  National Day of Mourning

To honor the memory of former President Ronald Reagan, the U.S. Postal Service will observe the National Day of Mourning on Friday, June 11.   There will be no regular mail delivery or retail hours.   Express Mail will be delivered.

All postal units, including headquarters, area, and district offices will observe this day of mourning.   Postmasters must take prompt action to notify the public and major customers of service changes in their communities.

Additional details on operational and administrative activities will follow.

John E. Potter

 

Memorandum of Agreement
Between
The United States Postal Service
And
The American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

Re: Clarification of Regulations for National Day of Observance
The parties agree that the following procedures will apply to affected employees if the Postmaster General or designee determines that the Postal Service will participate in a National Day of Observance (e.g. National Day of Mourning), subsequent to the declaration of a National Day of Observance having been made by Executive Order of the President of the United States.

1. Full-time employees whose basic work week includes the National Day of Observance as a scheduled work day but who are not directed to report for work will be granted administrative leave for that day.

2. Full-time employees whose  basic work week includes the National Day of Observance as scheduled work day, and who perform service, will be granted a day of administrative leave at a future date, not to exceed eight hours

3. Full-time employees whose basic work week includes the National Day of Observance as a non-scheduled day and are not directed to report to work, will be granted a day of administrative leave at a future date.

4. If the National Day of Observance is a full-time employee's non-scheduled day and the employee is scheduled to work, the employee will receive overtime pay, plus up to eight hours of future administrative leave for the number of hours worked.

5. The same provisions apply to part-time regular employees as apply to full-time employees. The total hours of administrative leave should only equal the scheduled hours for the National Day of Observance, which may be less than eight hours. However, part-time regular employees whose basic work week includes the National Day of Observance as a non-scheduled work day and who are not directed to report for work on the National Day of Observance will be granted a day of administrative leave at a future date equal to the average number of daily paid hours in their schedule for the service week previous to the service week in which the National Day of Observance occurs, which may be less than eight hours.   

6. Part-time flexible employees should be scheduled based on operational needs. Part-time flexible employees who work will be granted a day of administrative leave at a later date. The day of administrative leave will be based on the number of hours actually worked on the National Day of Observance, not to exceed eight hours. Part-time flexible employees who are not directed to work on the National Day of Observance will be granted administrative leave at a future date equal to the average number of daily paid hours during the service week previous to the service week in which the National Day of Observance occurs, not to exceed eight hours.

7. Transitional employees will only receive pay for actual work hours performed on the National Day of Observance. They will not receive administrative leave.

8. If an employee is on leave or Continuation of Pay on the National Day of Observance, the employee will be granted a day of administrative leave at a future date, not to exceed eight hours.

9. An employee on OWCP, AWOL, suspension or pending removal on the National Day of Observance will not be granted administrative leave. If the employee on AWOL, suspension or pending removal is returned to duty and made whole for the period of AWOL, suspension or removal, the employee may be eligible for administrative leave for the National Day of Observance if the period of suspension or removal for which the employee is considered to have been made whole includes the National Day of Observance. Such determination will be made by counting back consecutive days from the last day of the suspension or  removal to determine if the employee had been made whole for the National Day of Observance.  

10. Where provisions in this Memorandum of Agreement provide for a day of administrative leave to be taken at a future date, such leave must be granted and used within six months of the National Day of Observance or by the end of the Fiscal Year, whichever is later. However, administrative leave will not be granted to employees who are on extended leave for the entire period between the Day of Observance and six months from that date, or between the Day of Observance and the end of the Fiscal Year, whichever is later.

11. Administrative leave taken at a future date must be taken at one time.

12. Administrative leave to be taken at a future date may, at the employee's option, be substituted for previously scheduled but not used annual leave.

13. Administrative leave to be taken at a future date should be applied for by using the same procedures which govern the request and approval of annual leave consistent with Local Memoranda of Understanding.

 


May 31, 2004

Trenton P&DC

Restoration of the Trenton P&DC is in full swing; contractors are on site and are assessing the work and have brought their construction trailers and supplies.  The wash down of the building is under way.  They are actually washing the ceiling and walls by hand.  They have completed the former carrier annex section and they are a quarter of the way complete in the P&DC.

Work continues on the mail-processing machines.  DBCS 62 is up and running and our maintenance staff has been able to sort bar coded mail on it. We are still waiting for parts like the Ink Jet Printer, camera, and just a few minor things.  Once these parts are received they can finalize the machine.   Work continues on AFSM 37 and DBCS 61.

An increase in security around the building has begun. A new security fence has been erected around the building; Let me tell you I have never seen so much fencing.  The new security firm is in place and has issued new ID badges with a bar code on them.  Every time you enter or leave the building you are scanned in and out. The only way into the work site is through the security trailer where you are scanned.

Most of the machines that are being disposed of are loaded into the dumpster. 

We had a problem with the Dry Filter Units testing when we switched contractors; we went to a 5-day testing and then to 6 day.  The Postal Service will use the on site lab on the weekends, and testing will continue on a 7 day cycle.  There has been no positives or false positives in the last 5 weeks.  This is a good sign to me that neither a dead nor a live spore has been detected.

While working in the building I have found some mail on the loose mail preparation system, (Barney).  This mail has been tested and deemed clean, another good sign.

Demolition has begun in the building.  The Main Office Window Services has been totally gutted.  The box mail boxes, window service counter line have been removed, the tile floor has been jackhammer out.   On the workroom floor all the water fountains, toilets and sinks have been removed.  Sheetrock by the swing room hall way and some area of carpet row have been removed.  All the flexible ductwork, wires and doorways have been removed from carpet row.  All of the employee lockers were also removed and disposed of.

The project of the new asphalt-planking floor should begin any day now.  They plan on beginning in the carrier annex and then they will start on the main floor.  Maintenance will have to move the machine around the building.  This will be a time consuming task.  The cleaning, floor installation and electrical work will all delay repairing the machines.   

Testing of the buildings electrical system will commence this week.  The testing of the electrical system will be done at night.  Our night shift maintenance team will not be able to work thus creating another major delay in restoring our machines.  When you only have a handful of employees and you lose 3 or more that is a major setback.

The big circus tent erected in the parking lot two and half years ago has been taken down and the circus has left town, the only thing is they left some of their clowns behind. The removal of the tent will set the stage for the resurfacing of the parking lot.

I have been notified that we may begin to bring in other maintenance employees to the Trenton P&DC. We were hoping to get 40 or more volunteers but this has proven to be a nightmare with coordinating between the different plant managers.  The other facilities have not been releasing the maintenance employees.  I wonder sometimes if this is one company; or is this just another attempt to make Trenton fail.

Overall, I think things are looking better for us, the general contractor has given the December 3, 2004 as the completion date.  The post office has given the December 24, 2004 as the completion date for all the mail processing machines to be overhauled

 


April 27, 2004

Focus Groups

The USPS has contacted me to see if any of our members would be interested in participating in EAP Focus Groups.   The purpose of conducting these focus groups is to see how you feel about reentry into the Trenton P&DC once the renovations are completed.   Participation in the Focus Groups is strictly voluntary and on the clock.

Focus groups will be held in Monroe, Kilmer and the Annex. Dates and times to be announced.  

***** Hearing impaired employees need to advise your supervisor if they are interested so an interpreter can be scheduled.

Anyone else that is interested in the focus group please contact your supervisor.

Trenton P&DC

I must report that the rebuilding process of the mail processing machines is moving along at a snail's pace.   This is not due to the maintenance personnel.   The delays are contributed to the lack of parts, supplies and tools from our suppliers.   Every manager I speak to offers a different reason/excuse for the long delays and the back orders in receiving the much needed supplies. I am having a hard time digesting their reasoning since management had two and half years to get ready and  having Brentwood as a working model.

I must commend our maintenance staff for doing so much with so little.  They are doing an incredible job.  One of the team members went to Home Depot to purchase supplies on his lunch with his own money. 

DBCS 62 is 75% percent rebuilt and the modules have been reassembled. It looks good but unable to run.   It has been repainted and awaits the remainder of its parts.

DBCS 61 has been disassembled and the modules are being stripped of its corrosive parts and then will be cleaned and refurbished

The overhaul of the first AFSM 100 is currently under way.

All of the BCSs and some OCRs have been disassembled and are staged in an area awaiting a trip to the junk yard along with the FSM 881.

Overhaul of the air handlers is still on going.   Once the air handlers are all up and running work on the chillers and the heaters will begin.

The new contractor will begin work on or about May 1, 2004.  The first step to refurbishing the building is to wash the interior.  No time frame has been set for any of the other repairs or, lets say, they are not telling me.

Candy For COPA

Candy for COPA operation will be suspended when we have a heat wave like last week.  The reason is, the candy was melting in Monroe.  I would like to thank everyone who has helped in making this year's COPA drive the best we ever had.  We are still  far away from our goal of $20,000.00.  WE must give more and work hard to raise money.   I would like to request additional members to assist in our fund raising events.  I would like to hear from you.

Clerk Bids

Clerk Posting # CL 177 is posted solicting bids for the clerk craft.  The posting closes on Friday, April 30, 2004.


March 29, 2004

Trenton P&DC

The Trenton maintenance team has completed it first week of working toward overhauling the mail processing machines.    We have begun the slow process of rebuilding DBCS 62. The restoration process has been hamper by lack of parts and hardware.   The maintenance stockroom staff is inventorying the parts and determining which parts are good.

Other activity in the building is the air duct cleaning has been completed and work on the heating and air conditioning units are underway.   All of the furniture has been disposed of and now all offices are bare.    The cleaning process of the floor has begun; I would not believe the stains could have been removed.   Now the floor are truly looking better.   It has also helps with the appearance of the building.

Air Monitoring

The facility has been equipped with Dry Filter Units, which are used to sample the air for anthrax spores. Once a day the filter are removed and sent to the state lab for analysis.   This system work on DNA and even dead spores has DNA and the spore will be detected when tested.   The results are posted every day.   Well we had our first encounter with a dead spore and the communication between the state lab and the contractor failed.   The original test came back negative, then it was declared inconclusive, then declared a positive.   A culture was taken and the spore was declared negative.   The problem is no one notified the post office of a possible positive.   I have requested that DFUs be placed wherever postal employees are working, and this was done immediately.

Additional Help Needed

The postal service informed me they were having a problem getting additional employees to assist in the overhaul.   Hearing that I placed an ad on the Internet and have I received a favorable response from many maintenance employees across the country.   I am sure that Trenton Management will frown upon this just because the union did it.   I have forward the list of volunteers to management and await their response.

COPA

I would like to take everyone who has participated in the COPA drive.   We still have not reach our goal and I request you purchase a COPA ticket and do your part.   I have heard some employees say I pay dues, why should I give.    WE CAN USE DUES MONEY FOR COPA.   In order to give an elected official a donation to help get them reelected the money must be donated from the membership.    Every time the President or Vice President goes to a fundraiser they leave with millions.   So it safe to say special interest groups are all paid up.   You can be assured that their agenda will be the top priority and little thought will be given to your needs as a postal worker.   If the President gets reelected and if both houses are Republican  control you can assure that you will be next on the chopping block.   Once again please come forward and make you contribution this week.

 


March 21, 2004

Annual Leave

Applications for Annual Leave for the Third Period Of 2004 will be accepted during the period of March 20, 2004, through April 2, 2004.  This Annual Leave Period covers May 29, 2004, through September 17, 2004.

Please email me and let me know if your office has not posted the notice.

Trenton P&DC

Restorations of the mail processing equipment will begin Monday, March 22, 2003. The original date was March 17, 2003, but that date was pushed back due to safety issues.  This is the first step to our eventual return to Trenton.

I have been onsite most of the past week working on the safety plan and attending site orientation for the maintenance employees who will be performing the overhaul of the mail processing machines.  The first machine to be overhauled is DBCS 62.

Inside the building, all of the mail processing machines that were in the path of the anthrax letters are removed.  All of the office furniture in the administrative section has been disposed of; that includes filing cabinets, work stations, computers, chairs, you name it, it's gone.   All refrigerators and vending machines are also history.

Everything on the floor except for mail processing equipment has been removed.

I will update everyone as work progresses in the building.  A Postal Office Activation Committee (POAC) meeting will be held Monday and I will attempt to get a time frame and a list of which machines will be replaced.   


March 5, 2004

Trenton P&DC

The latest information on the building is the mail processing machines will be rebuilt.  This is a change from the original plan.  I am sure this information will change again.  Maintenance will be rebuilding one machine to see what is involved and how it will perform after the overhaul.  Maintenance will be receiving safety training on reentry into the building and working in a construction work site.  The P&DC floor will be encapsulated and asphalt planking will be laid over the existing floor.  I am sure this story will also change.  I only report what I am told.

Trenton VMF

The contract was signed by local management to have the soil removed from under the VMF building. The soil became contaminated after management allowed the hydraulic fluid to leak out of the lift. The Postal Service did plan on replacing the lifts during the shut down.  I wonder how the supervisor who knew they were putting several hundred gallons of oil into the lifts can justify this one.  They will not have to, they will just promote them.

Carrier Annex

The part of the reoccupation plan of the P&DC is to leave the carrier annex operation where it is currently housed on route 130.  There has been no agreement yet on the land next to the annex where we park.  The potential new owner is unable to sign a lease with the postal service because the closing was delayed.  So there is no official word on whether the carriers annex will return or stay where they are when the building reopens.

COLA Update

An increase in the Consumer Price Index in January means that after the sixth and final month of the fifth Cost-of-living Adjustment period under the National Agreement, employees have accrued an annual raise of $208.

The adjustment amounts to 10 cents per hour increase, which works out to $8 per pay period. The fifth COLA will be effective March 6, and will be reflected in the March 26, 2004, paychecks (pay period 07-2004).

There were two COLA increases in 2003 ($291, effective Sept. 6; and $250, March 8). The only COLA increase the previous year was a $312 adjustment on Sept. 7, 2002.

COPA

The local is once again conducting a COPA drive to raise funds to get our political friends reelected.  Please give like your future depends on it. It does. Thank you for your support in the last few COPA drives.

 


February 29, 2004

Clerk Posting

Clerk Posting, CL-176 was posted on 2-25-04 for clerical employees to bid.  The closing date is 3-5-04.  These are the same bids that were withdrawn several weeks ago. The union has a grievance settlement for the delay of the posting and for awarding the duty assignment.  If the Bids are not up in your office please let me know.

Trenton P&DC

Work continues on the removal of the fumigation equipment.  I have taken a second tour of the facility and I was able to get a closer look at the mail processing machines. There is more damage then I originally reported.  The Postal Service had a team in this week to inspect and make recommendations on the fate of the machines.  I have been informed that no postal employee will be permitted to work on site until all the fumigation equipment is removed for safety concerns.  

Monroe

I have made several requests for the results of the air quality test performed in the Monroe Processing Center (Trenton P&DC temporary center).  Each time I have been told that it was not available. A meeting was scheduled on Friday, February 27, 2004, but was canceled at the last moment.

I keep getting complaints from different employees about symptoms of sick building syndrome (SBS).  I am in the process of exploring different approaches insuring that our rights are protected under OWCP.

Excessing

Last week the Trenton P&DC received 2 new employees who were reassigned from Newark, NJ.  More excessing or reassignments of employees to the Trenton P&DC is anticipated  These employees have certain rights when they are excessed or they volunteer in lieu of an impacted employee.  Since the Postal Service only informed me 2 days before these employees arrived I had limited knowledge of their status.  I have met with the Postal Service and received the necessary data on this excessing.   
Employees who are involuntarily reassigned (excessed) maintain their seniority (in craft).  Employees who elect to be reassigned to the gaining installation will take their seniority with them. Reassignment of those full-time or part-time regular clerks shall be treated as details for the first 180 days to avoid inequities in the selecting of preferred duty assignments by full-time or part-time regular clerks in the gaining installation. Such senior employees who accept reassignment to the gaining installation do not have retreat rights.

There are several disagreements with management and the local regarding excessing.  I have requested a second meeting including the region and area to get the parties position on this situation.  


February 8, 2004

The Trenton P&DC is deemed safe.  
The fumigation was successful in killing the deadly anthrax spores.


I have met with the Postal Service along with the other labor organizations, we were informed that the building is safe to reoccupy.   At the briefing there were representatives of OSHA, NJDHSS and the fumigation companies, Shaw and Saber.  We were shown a slide presentation of how the gassing and testing process worked. We also viewed the results of the samples taken.  

I asked one question, “Were any of the environmental samples taken positive for anthrax spores?”  The answer was, "no"; not one was positive.   Dr. Eddy Bresnitz, State Epidemiologist/Senior Assistant Commissioner New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services, confirmed this information along with the representative of OSHA and the fumigation company. This was also the consensus of the 16 members of the Environmental Clearance Committee. I am awaiting a copy of the letter clearing the building.   Vito Cetta, District Manager has stated he will share this letter with all of the employees of the Trenton P&DC.

Feeling comfortable with the results presented to me, I participated in the tour of the inside of the facility.   I thought I would have had some anxiety when we entered the building, surprisingly I didn’t. We went through the containment area where the workers enter and leave the building; this is an extension that was built onto the carrier annex. This area is where the workers got washed down and removed their protective equipment.

It was an eerie feeling once inside the building.   I was amazed to see how truly clean the building was, not a speck of dust or paper.  I detected an odor and it took me half the tour to realize what the smell was, it was clean air, and not your typical stale building smell.   There were no signs of postal life except for the skeleton remains of the mail processing machines.

It was disturbing to me at this point how a building full of employees processing millions of pieces of mail is now reduced to a ghost town.

The mail processing machines are in terrible shape and need to be totally overhauled or replaced.  Believe me they are in bad shape and maintenance has their work cut out for them.   Anything metal inside the building is showing signs of rust and will need replacement.   Many of the interior walls are broke open to allow the flow of the gas and the installation of the huge piece of fumigation equipment.

Most of the fumigation equipment has been removed from inside the P&DC. Except for the large pieces. Most of the equipment outside is gone.   Within several weeks, restoration of the building should begin.  

This is truly good news for us, but we are still a long time away from processing mail in the Trenton P&DC.  I will continue to update you to the progress of the renovation.


February 8, 2004

Is Monroe making you sick?  

Sure is!!!  Just as I expected, the air quality in Monroe is not the best for your health. Many members have voiced their concerns to me and the local filed a written complaint with the Postal Service.  The USPS hired a company to come in and evaluate my complaint.   I met a representative of URS Environmental Company prior to their study.  I have made several inquires to the USPS for the results of this study. I have not yet received it. The USPS has informed me that the Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels are elevated. The Postal Service is in contact with their engineering department to see how it can be corrected.  I will continue to press the Postal Service to release the study to me, and will share this with you.  If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms; headaches, eyes, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin or other unexplained conditions you may be suffering from "sick building syndrome".  

Clerk Posting

Clerk posting CL-175 was withdrawn.  The reason was management failed to post the notice soliciting bids in all of our Stations, Branches and in Kilmer.  Management unilaterally extended the posting to correct their original screw up.  Guess what, they forgot to post the extension in all the locations again.

I thank the members who informed me that the notice was not posted.  

Mileage

I have been advised that some employees are submitting inaccurate mileage reimbursement.  You are only entitled to the differences, use the following formula to assist you.

Use the formula below to calculate the amount for which you may be  reimbursed.
_______ Mileage from home to temporary duty station
______- Mileage from home to permanent duty station (minus)
_______Allowable mileage
.37.5__x Standard mileage rate from appendix A
______Amount you may claim for reimbursement

They are conducting audits to see how many other employees have been submitting incorrect mileage.

Stations & Branches

There seems to be some discussions going on about moving some clerk hours to an earlier start time.  When the P&DC shut down we had an increase in overtime on the end tours so they moved everyone's hours back.   Now the carriers are coming in too late so the company is discussing moving the hours forward.   

There haven't been any discussions between me and any of the station managers.  

Rumors

In the next few days news will be released about our building, with this pending news irresponsible people are spreading inaccurate news and rumors.  Please do not listen to any rumors about the building or our future. I will work hard to keep you informed of all events as they develop.


January 25, 2004

Trenton P&DC

No test results from the anthrax fumigation. Results could be known in about 2 weeks.  A meeting is scheduled on Thursday, January 29, 2004, to start planning to reoccupy the P&DC.

Travel Grievance

Join in with your coworkers and send a post card to the PMG Potter protesting the withholding of our wages.  These wages are owed to us for traveling to work due to the closing of the Trenton P&DC.  See your representative for a card.  This is for all Trenton employees.  View the post card on the local's web page.

There seems to be some confusion about me pursuing the travel grievance.  I will continue fighting to have our cases heard in Arbitration.  The membership at the January meeting approved the expenses necessary to fight this unjust delay.

The national APWU is awaiting management's response to the Step 4 grievance on this matter.

Annual Leave

Since management has a problem posting the annual leave notice, I will once again start emailing the notice when I receive it.  Please email me and let me know if your office has it posted.

Applications for Annual Leave for the Second Period Of 2004 will be accepted during the period of January 24, 2004, through February 6, 2004.  This Annual Leave Period covers March 6, 2004, through May 28, 2004.

Clerk Bid Posting


Clerk posting CL 175 is posted for clerk craft employees to bid.  The opening date is 01/23/04 and the closing date is 02/02/04.  Note the change in the posting, it was posted on a Friday and not Wednesday as in the past.

There are 3 weekend positions on this posting that are the result of grievances.  The special delivery position was won in arbitration, the other 2  were the results of step 2 grievance settlements.    

Mileage

Some members have informed me that management is not paying the 37.5 per mile. This change in the mileage payment was effective January 8, 2004.  The rate is required by Article 36 of our Collective Bargaining Agreement.  Contact your steward if you are not being reimbursed at the appropriate amount.

COPA

I would like to thank the members who have contributed to COPA.  The APWU's National Tabloid reported an incorrect amount of COPA funds from our local and the correct amount will be reported in the next issue.   But we fell short.

Last year our COPA drive was unsuccessful. We did not raise the 5,000.00 dollars needed to give to our friends in Congress.  I found this deeply troubling.  With all the work our Congressman has done to help us, I was totally embarrassed to only be able to obtain 2,500 from the APWU COPA fund.  It is very hard to ask for money when you don't contribute enough to the fund.

With this being an election year, we will need to raise 10,000 dollars from our local to ensure our friends are reelected.  Let me make one thing perfectly clear, this is your battle especially the young employees.  Special interest is pouring millions of dollars into the Bush's war chest.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to raise money and would like to get involved in fund raising, please give us a call.


January 20. 2004

Trenton P&DC

We hope to get the results from the fumigation by the beginning of February.  Once the results come back negative, workers will begin to remove the fumigation equipment and the miles of pipes and wires from the building.  After all the equipment is removed, Trenton maintenance employees will begin restoring the mail processing equipment.  

Despite no test results, restoration work has once again resumed at the Trenton P&DC.  Workers have begun to remove the machines that were in the path of anthrax tainted letters. Three Advance Facer Cancelers and three Delivery Bar Code Sorters are being cut up and properly disposed of.  What was conveyed to me was the machines will be removed from the building, decontaminated and buried in a land fill somewhere.  

I wonder if any of the parts will be auctioned on E-Bay?!!  

Restoration of the building will include bathrooms being remodeled, painting the entire facility, carpeting, ceiling tiles, new furniture and a HVAC system that works. There are discussions under way with what to do with the asbestos flooring, several options are being explored and no decisions have been made yet.

The first Post Office Activation Committee meeting (POAC) is scheduled for January 29, 2004.  I plan on being involved in all aspects of restoration and our eventual return to Trenton.  

Is Monroe Making us Sick?

I have met with the company that will be performing the air quality study of the Monroe Distribution Center. After speaking with employees about their concerns dealing with the air quality in Monroe I contacted the Postal Service and filed a complaint. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms; headaches, eyes, nose or throat irritation, dry cough, dry or itchy skin or other unexplained conditions you may be suffering from sick building syndrome.  You should contact me and you might consider being interviewed by the company performing the study.  Check the local's web page for additional information on sick building syndrome and the information provided to the local from the Postal Service.

Mileage

Just a reminder that effective January 8, 2004, the mileage reimbursement  was increased to 37.5 cents per mile for automobiles.  

Anthrax Travel

The Postal Service has met with the union at the national level on Friday, January 16, 2004 to discuss the grievances pertaining to the travel issue.  The Postal Service has taken a totally new position, this one is the best yet.   A Temporary Permanent Duty Assignment,  that's what we are considered now in Monroe.   Spare me!!  

For full details and all the correspondence between the parties go to the local's web page.  Additionally we have posted on the 21 century postal workers web page     21st Century Postal Worker Message Exchange
  to encourage discussions on these stall/delay tactics.

Personal Property

Surprise!!! The Postal Service is wholesale denying employees claims that were submitted when they recieved their belongings back from the building.  The signal the Postal Service is sending is, you should take what you are given..  The denial and the process the service is using is in violation of Article 27 of the CBA.  Contact your steward if you have not been paid for a claim or if you have been denied.

Jurors Pay

A recent Postal Bulletin indicates that changes have been made to the F-15 Handbook and the Employee and Labor Relations Manual regarding what payments a juror may keep when on court leave. The revised language provides that a juror may keep allowances at a daily rate of $25 or less, but must turn over any fees in excess of that amount to his or her supervisor. The notice further states that payments to a juror for actual expenses, including mileage reimbursement based on miles driven, are not considered a court allowance.


 

December 26, 2003

The following Email was shared with me by the New Jersey Board of Health.  I am sharing this email with you.  My policy has been from day 1 to share all information with you.  I will not put the usual Bill Lewis spin on it, as I have been accused of putting a negative spin on all my emails.  Ha! ha! ha!  Like anything positive has happened to us.  The last paragraph states this information was shared with a union representative, well I was not included, no surprise.
 
Please share some of your thoughts with me on this subject, and I will share your ideas and comments with our congressional representatives.  If anyone knows which union representatives were included, please advise me.   
 
Hope everyone had a peaceful holiday.
 
Bill 
 
As I hope you know, since January 2002, CDC has conducted a program evaluation of those individuals who received at least 60 days of antibiotics because of potential exposure to Bacillus anthracis during the 2001 anthrax attacks. This program  evaluation included an assessment of adverse events associated with post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) and adherence to recommendations to take at least 60 days of PEP to prevent inhalational anthrax.  Through a contract with RTI  International, a continuing evaluation follows these individuals and monitors them for adverse events that may have been caused by either long-term antibiotic use or the anthrax vaccine.  Any deaths or hospitalizations are further investigated by obtaining the individual's medical record and  abstracting data about medical history and events occurring during the monitoring period to see whether these events could be attributed to a severe adverse event.

CDC conducted interviews targeting the approximately 10,300  exposed people from Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, New York City, and Washington, DC, who were recommended to receive at least 60 days of PEP as well as those who chose to receive additional antibiotics alone or with anthrax vaccine under an Investigational New Drug Application (IND).  The evaluation includes monitoring of potentially serious adverse events at 10-14 days, 30 days, 60 days, 12 months and 24 months for individuals following an initial receipt of PEP, as well as additional monitoring of health status at 6 months for individuals enrolled in the IND.  CDC is also collecting information on numbers and causes of deaths that have occurred since September 2001 in postal facilities where employees received PEP or PEP and anthrax vaccine. 

I'm emailing you because some of the people we're following reside in your state.  Many of those on the TO: line have been involved in these evaluations previously; however, in several states, our previous contact person is no longer at the health department.  Apologies if I've forwarded this message to the wrong person. 

Of the 10,300 exposed persons, 6178 persons (65%) participated at the 60 days follow-up.  Overall, 16% (n=842) reported seeking medical care for side effects caused by PEP.

However, only 3% sought medical care and were told to stop PEP because of adverse events.  Individuals who were not located at 60 days or who so requested were not targeted for additional follow up. Data from this 60 day follow up is published in the October 2002 EIDJ.

Of persons targeted at the 12-month follow-up (between February and May 2003), 70% completed interviews. Preliminary analysis of that data is complete.  Health events remain commonly reported including nausea, diarrhea, heartburn, dizziness or lightheadedness. However, as before, we have not identified a causal link between antibiotics and those health events.  Based on reported persistence or seriousness of symptoms, we requested patient consent to review medical records. Analysis of these medical records indicates that serious adverse events were rare at 12 months; none were judged by our independent reviewer to be definitely, probably or possibly, and unlikely to be related to antibiotics.  We found no substantive differences in adverse events reported by those who took Doxy vs Cipro and no association between musculoskeletal symptoms or neurological symptoms and use of either antibiotics.  A final monitoring of adverse events among these persons will be initiated in February 2004 (24 months follow-up).

On Friday, December 19, we will present the preliminary findings from the 12 month follow up to interested congressional staffers (in the morning) and to USPS management and union representatives (in the afternoon). Please let me know if you'd like further information.    
 
Nancy


Nancy Rosenstein, M.D.
Chief, Epidemiology Section
Meningitis and Special Pathogens Branch
Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases
National Center for Infectious Diseases CDC


December 24, 2003

Trenton P&DC

On December 23, 2003, I attended the first of many meetings planned for the renovation and our eventual return to the Trenton P&DC. I requested the meeting to inquire about the status of the testing and to establish what role maintenance personnel will play with the restoration of the Trenton P&DC.

Testing is on going within the P&DC and the test results have not been provided to the Environmental Clearance Committee.   Once the committee has all the test results they have 30 days to issue a recommendation.  It has been reported to me that the fumigation contractor is removing some of the equipment from the site; this equipment was rented and was being returned.

There are several different phases of work to be performed within the P&DC. The contractor will be responsible for restoring the building back to its original state.   Our personnel will be responsible for restoration and disposal of some of the mail processing equipment.

As of today, 3 Advance Facer Cancelers and 3 DBCS’s will be disposed of.    These machines were in the direct path of the known anthrax letters.   The mail preparation system (Barney) will be completely overhauled.   The SPBS, FSM 100, FSM 1000 and the remaining DBCS’s will also be completely overhauled.

There is still some uncertainty in dealing with the removal of the asbestos floor tiles.   If the decision is made to remove the floor tiles, then the plan will be to dismantle and move the mail processing equipment to other parts of the building while the floor tiles are removed and new flooring laid.    Believe me this will a big delay in the opening of the building.

The problem Trenton is facing that Brentwood did not have to deal with is, we have to maintain Monroe and overhaul the P&DC at the same time.   There were discussions determining which maintenance personnel would be working in the P&DC and who will be working in Monroe.   No one will be forced to work in the Trenton P&DC. Those employees who choose not to work on the overhaul will be permitted to work in Monroe.  

Seniority will be the determining factor if we have too many volunteers to work on the overhaul.   All occupational groups who are performing the overhaul work will receive equal overtime opportunities to work up to 12 / 60 limit in Monroe or the P&DC.

Maintenance management will be holding meetings with employees to explain what to expect when they reenter the facility. The building will be treated as a construction site; hard hats, steel tip shoes and safety goggles will be worn while working at the site.   There will be continuous air monitoring and testing during the whole renovation process. A continuous surveillance of employees health will be maintained during this period. If you call out sick, someone will follow up to see if the symptoms are anthrax related.

Plans are under way to back fill and support our mail processing operations with maintenance personnel from other facilities.   In the event we have insufficient maintenance volunteers, employees from other facilities and contractors will be used to get this building up and running.    My only goal is to get the Trenton P&DC up and running so all 500 of us can end this nightmare.

Monroe
                     

On, December 18, 2003, USPS representatives conducted a walkthrough of the Monroe facility to determine what was needed to resolve the air quality complaint filed by the APWU.   I have spoken with these individuals about our concerns of the sick building syndrome.  

They have proposed the following steps be taken to help alleviate/or improve the problem.   My position is without an ongoing 20% fresh air exchange we cannot alleviate the problem.  

Administrative control

Interview employees with complaints to determine location in the building they work, etc.
Make certain we have HEPA vacuums for each machine.
Scrubber schedule (how often)
Scrubber schedule how often water is dumped and cleaned.
Status of filling vacant maintenance positions (9).
Sampling will be determined by URS
They will meet with unions in January to discuss plan of action.

Engineering Control

Dust filters over machines (this is the only engineer control they're currently suggesting).

The USPS will contact Matrix (landlord) to make certain the 3 fans on top of the building are operating at full capacity.

The USPS will contact me for the names and their work locations of people who have filed complaints. A meeting will be scheduled for January.
If you are experiencing increased medical conditions, which you believe, are related to this building I need to speak with you.

Anthrax Travel Grievance

The Postal service has moved the travel grievances out of the local's hands.   The case is at step 4 and the following is the Postal services position.   They were unable to hide in Trenton so they will attempt to delay and hide behind the backlog of the national.   At the January meeting I will present a plan to the membership to counter this stall tactic.   I.e.: legal action, mailing campaigns, picketing at the district offices and or manager houses.    Once again this is your battle, are you going to stand up and fight or are you going to accept the status quo?

...The Issue concerns whether employees who are directed to report to another facility, when their facility is closed, are entitled to compensation for travel time under the provisions of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual, Section 438.13.   In accordance with the provisions of Article 15, the Postal Service is initiating a dispute at Step 4 of the grievance procedure on the following interpretive issue:

The Issues and facts giving rise to the dispute are:

The Trenton P&DC was closed due to anthrax contamination, and the employees were assigned to work at other facilities.

The Postal Service's position is that directing employees to report to another location, when the employee's normal work location is closed due to circumstances similar to the situation in Trenton, is not a “one-day assignment outside the local commuting area,” as defined in Section 438.133 of the ELM.   The new facility becomes the employee's official duty station, and therefore in accordance with Section 438,121 any travel time is a normal incident of employment and not compensable.

 

 


December 7, 2003

Trenton P&DC

There are no test results yet from the fumigation. I have requested a meeting to discuss the first phase of employees returning to the building if and when it is deemed safe. Based on the Brentwood model, maintenance employees will be the first to return. The meeting is scheduled for December 22, 2003.  At this meeting I hope to be brought up to date on management's plans on restoring the Trenton P&DC and providing maintenance coverage for the Monroe facility.  So please don't be jumping to conclusions and listening to people who are not informed.  This will be the first of many meetings involving the return to Trenton.

Cipro Law Suit

On Wednesday, December 3, 2003, Caroline Reeves, of Sheller, Ludwig & Badey the law firm that filed the class action suit against Bayer the makers of Cipro has advised me there is a problem with going forward with the suit.  There were two reasons for the possible withdrawal of the suit, Robert Wood Johnson Hospital provided employees with a fact sheet when they received their antibiotics.   The second was many employees did not seek medical attention for the adverse reactions to the Cipro drug.  Employees will receive a letter from the law firm explaining the details of the decision to withdraw.    

Anthrax Travel Grievances

On Wednesday, December 3, 2003, I was advised by Jim Burke, Eastern Regional Coordinator for the APWU that the Postal Service is sending our travel grievance back to step four for a different interpretative issue.  Clearly this is just another delay tactic to prevent this case from getting to arbitration.   I am asking the assistance of our national officers to respond and assist the local in getting this matter before an arbitrator.   

Wednesday was employee appreciation day for the Trenton Employees.   The Postal Service shows their appreciation by screwing us one more time in delaying the anthrax travel cases.

COPA

Our local's latest COPA drive was a total flop only $600 dollars was raised. I thank the many members who gave so generously. I was hoping to raise $3,000 dollars to assist our political friends in their upcoming elections. Next November elections are not that far away.  President Bush was in New Jersey and was able to raise millions for the GOP for the upcoming presidential election.  

Forget about everything you hear about Postal Reform, you should be concerned about Trenton consolidation.  Despite a letter from PMG Potter assuring our return to Trenton, I still have concerns about Tour 3 returning.  Brentwood is now ready to open and they are not bringing their outgoing mail back with them.  The only hope we have is to have strong political support.  It is imperative that our friends get elected.  I truly hope you reconsider and give to COPA. It's your job you are supporting when you give to APWU COPA.

Brentwood P&DC

Some workers have returned to the Brentwood P&DC.  Managers and administrative personnel began to move back into their facility. Mail processing should return early next year.   Based on Brentwood's experience, we should be back in Trenton in 2005.

2004 Leave Year

The new leave year begins on January 10, 2004, Pay Period 3.  You can start using your leave on this date.


December 2, 2003

Travel for Training

I recently learned that management is not compensating APWU members for their time spent traveling to Kilmer for training.  This is violation of our Collective bargaining Agreement.  In accordance with Article 36.2.C, all travel for job-related training will be considered compensable work hours.  An employee is in travel status from 'portal to portal' which results in the employee being paid from the time they leave their residence until the time they get to their temporary duty station. This provision of our contract covers all bargaining unit employees.

If you have been denied travel compensation contact your steward and file a grievance or let me know and I will try to straighten this problem out.  In the future I recommend you keep a log of the mileage, time spent traveling to and from the training site and the time you spent training.

With more and more training scheduled in Kilmer, we need to enforce this provision of the contract.  Local management is trying to eliminate the training room at the Downtown Post Office and force everyone to Kilmer for training.  We have been successful in blocking this move this time.

Personnel Office

The personnel department in the Trenton P&DC is now operating on a part time status.  The EAS Personnel Assistant has been promoted and management has no intentions on filling the position.  They plan on staffing this operation only two days a week.   

The following is from the NAPS web site.

USPS plans to shut district Personnel Services offices (no author given)

NAPS recently received an update on the Postal Services plans regarding Human Resources Shared Services and the Human Capital Enterprise Initiative. The latter was designed to develop and deploy an enterprise system as a replacement for the outdated systems that currently support Human Resources processes, the agency noted. “The backbone of this project is the implementation of a commercial, off-the-shelf HR/Payroll package that will incorporate HR functionality for all postal employees into a single integrated system,” according to a spokesperson for Labor Relations.

The system supports the implementation of shared services by providing the technology to automate, re-engineer and streamline processes in order to shift routine and repetitive HR transactions to self-service and a centralized shared services center. Approximately 75 systems and subsystems will be greatly modified or eliminated as a result of this initiative. “All district Personnel Services offices will be closed as a result of the Human Resources Shared Services and the Human Capital Enterprise initiatives,” the Postal Service said. “There currently are approximately 1,340 jobs in Personnel Services offices that will be eliminated. About 90 of these assignments are bargaining unit and 1,250 are nonbargaining unit. “Additionally, there are a number of limited-duty employees working in these offices who also will be impacted."

Excessing of bargaining-unit employees will be conducted in accordance with the appropriate provisions of the National Agreement(s). “Employees still will be provided access to activities provided through Personnel Services offices, but in a different and more efficient manner than today.” The current general timeframe and major milestones, which are tentative and subject to change, for this initiative are:

• May 2004—Alpha site implementation begins, with a phase-in of various processes.
• January 2005—Changeover to new system and replacement of Complement Management System at alpha sites.
• The process of closing Personnel Services offices at alpha sites will begin sometime after January 2005.
• April 2005—Begin rollout by performance cluster.
• October 2005—Begin closing remaining Personnel Services offices.
• May 2006—Rollout complete

The deployment of 310 personnel central kiosks to plants and large bulk mail centers. The kiosks give employees round-the-clock access to HR self-service applications such as PostalEASE, employee training history, change of address and emergency contact information. In addition, the kiosks will offer employee access to job bidding.

The kiosks are a joint effort of HR and Information Technology. They're a fast, convenient and secure way to conduct routine personnel matters. Kiosks will be placed in locations accessible to employees, such as swing rooms, cafeterias, near employee entrances and in existing bidding areas. (source USPS)


November 20, 2003

Health Benefits
The open season for health benefits has been extended.   The new dates are November 10, 2003, through December 29, 2003.   The reason for the extension is a delay in printing the 2004 Guide to Federal Employees Health Benefit Plans.

At the request of the APWU there will be a Health Fair in Monroe instead of Kilmer on December 2, 2003.  

Important: Open Season changes must be done using PostalEASE. The SF 2809 form is no longer being used and is not being accepted by personnel offices. If you do not already have your PostalEASE PIN you should obtain it as soon as possible! Personnel offices are stating that it could take as long as seven to ten days to receive your PIN.

PostalEASE; to get your PIN, Call 1-877-477-3273. Press, 1 for PostalEase.
When prompted, enter your SSN. When prompted for your PIN, pause, and then press 2.
Your USPS PIN will be mailed to your address of record the next business day.

Annual Leave, Stations & Branches
The submission period for submitting applications for annual leave has been extended until November 24, 2003, COB.   The reason for the extension is management's failure to post at some of the Stations/Branches.  If the official notice is still not posted please advise the union.

Personal Belongings
The process of returning Trenton P&DC employees' personal belongings still continues. If any employee has damaged or missing items, you must submit a claim within 14 days.   Request a PS Form 2146, Employee's Claim For Personal Property, from your supervisor.   This form has to be completed by the employee, a union representative and the employee's supervisor.  

Flu Shots
Employees at associate offices, stations and branches, or plant employees, who did not receive a flu vaccination will be reimbursed for the cost of the vaccine up to $15.00.   Employees must submit an original invoice from a medical provider containing their current address.   Payment should be made to employees at window services in cash. I anticipate problems, so reach out if you don't get paid.  

Important Dates to Remember

Thrift Saving Open Season; October 15, 2003 -December 31, 2003

Health Benefits Open Season; November 10, 2003 - December 29, 2003  

Flexible Spending Account Open Season; November 10, 2003 - December 21, 2003

Annual Exchange Open Season; November 15, 2003 - December 15, 2003


I'd like to wish every postal employee and their families a Happy Thanksgiving.


November 20, 2003

WHAT IS COPA?   COMMITTEE ON POLITICAL ACTION

COPA lobbies, in the political arena, on behalf of the APWU represented employees.  Politicians understand two things; votes and money.   If we are to be successful in our attempts to save our jobs, we must have both.   COPA funds those politicians that support maintaining universal service and uniforms rates.

It is vitally important, during this crisis, that all Postal Workers actively support COPA.   The Committee on Political Action will be working to prevent the implementation of the changes recommended by the Presidential Committee on the U.S. Postal Service.   These changes will probably be voted on this month.

COPA donations are voluntary.   They are not a part of your Union dues.   Union funds cannot be used by COPA.  

Note: Contributions or gifts to COPA are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes.   COPA will use the contributions it receives for political purposes, including making contributions to candidates for federal, state and local offices, and addressing political issues of public importance.   Contributions to COPA are voluntary.   More or less than the suggested amount may be given, and the amount given or the refusal to give will not benefit or disadvantage the person being solicited.   Federal law requires political action committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year.


SAFETY

Safety is everyone's job; it takes priority.   "You are not expected to get hurt to get the job done" -- we need to hold management to these words.

Management long ago implemented PS Form 1767, "REPORT OF HAZARD, UNSAFE CONDITION OR PRACTICE".  Now, as it was always supposed to be, it is up to the employees to fill out these forms.

If you are not comfortable with surroundings as they pertain to safety, it's your duty to fill out 1767's.  If this form is not filled out, and unsafe or unhealthful conditions persist, how is management to know (whether they actually know or not) that there are violations on the workroom floor?

For instance, use these forms to remind management that good housekeeping practices make everyone's workday safer and more efficient.

The Supervisor's Safety Handbook, EL-801, Section 142.3, states: "A supply of Forms 1767's must be readily available in the workplace so that employees can, if they so desire, obtain them while maintaining their anonymity."

When the unexpected happens, it's up to each of us to do the right thing, don't turn your cheek and look the other way -- like management has done and still does.

Let's make management accountable for safety violations on the workroom floor.   Fill out 1767's, keep a copy for yourself and give a copy to your steward.   Even if you submit 1767's anonymously, still give a copy to the union so there can be a follow-up on reports of unsafe working conditions.

Reprinted from Elizabeth Horn director of safety and industry summer 2003 edition


November 9, 2003

Trenton P&DC
As we all know the fumigation process went extremely well.  They are currently collecting samples and test strips.  We will have a long wait before we hear the official results from the environmental clearance committee. The results will be made public when the committee completes their review and studies the data collected.

Locker Contents
The process of returning employees locker contents has begun.  If any employee has damage to their belongings you must submit a claim within 14 days, contact your steward ASAP. 

Grievance Settlements
There is a major problem with grievance settlements being processed.  There is no way to know if you have been compensated or if the settlement agreement was implemented.  I am currently trying to work out an administrative process with management to settle this issue.  In the mean time, I recommend if you have not been paid, you should approach your supervisor with your settlement, so he/she make the necessary adjustments.  If there is a problem notify your steward or contact union office. 

Arbitration Update
The local was successful in arbitration obtaining a full time clerk/special delivery messenger position.  Many years ago the Postal Service reverted this position and we grieved the reversion under the special delivery messenger MOU.  We are currently negotiating the days and hours of the position.  This position will be for the clerk craft.  The duties will be sorting mail, delivery of mail and other duties in the carrier annex. We are attempting to make it a tour 2 Sat/Sun position.  I will update you when an agreement is finalized.

Safety
Recently I have visited area offices, stations and branches.  I have found some of the conditions unacceptable.  As employees, we are entitled to work in a safe/clean work environment.  I am pushing for a better safety program where all  are involved.  I am requesting volunteers to be safety representatives (safety captains for the stations and branches).  If you are interested, please contact me.  If you find that your office restrooms, or work floor are dirty or in need of maintenance, please reach out.

When we have the plant safety and health meeting, the unions main concern is the air quality in Monroe.  Many members in Monroe have contacted me about these conditions.  One member proposed installing dust eaters above the mail processing machines.   I will present this to management.

If anyone has any safety concerns please let me know.

Anthrax Travel Grievances
I will give a quick overview of all the events and where we are today with this issue. This is a major class action grievance that affects five hundred Trenton Union Members from all three APWU crafts.

On July 24, 2003, management informed the Eastern Regional Coordinator's office they were canceling the July 31, 2003 date with Arbitrator Pecklers.  The reason provided was they were changing advocates and their new advocate was not available.  It should be noted that these cases were reviewed and dates were mutually agreed upon.

On August 11, 2003, the anthrax travel issues scheduled for July 31, 2003 were rescheduled for September 26, 2003 with Arbitrator Pecklers. Management requested to have a meeting on September 23, 2003 to discuss resolution of the anthrax issues. On September 22, 2003, they called and confirmed that they would be at the union office around noon.  Well, to say the least, management never showed, their excuse being they were unable to meet with a "higher authority" to get approval.  Anticipating their next move, I reached Jim Burke because I believed they were going to cancel the date again.  Jim agreed with me, there would be no cancellation.

On September 25, 2003, management attempted to cancel the date with the Eastern Regional Coordinator's office.  When we refused, they unilaterally contacted the arbitrator and canceled the date.  We learned of this action on the day of the hearing, September 26, 2003, from New York Metro Area Advocate Jim Davidson.  I commented that the arbitrator was late, and Mr. Davidson stated, "he's not coming, we contacted him and canceled". 

Upon hearing this news I contacted Jim Burke's office.  NBA Eric Wilson confirmed they did indeed cancel the date after contacting the USPS.  NBA Jeff Kehlert, the APWU advocate for this date, spoke with Arbitrator Pecklers, who conveyed he was  "sandbagged" by the USPS and was led to believe it was a mutual cancellation.  Arbitrator Pecklers immediately gave three dates to choose from.  The Postal Service failed to respond to calls by the arbitrator or the APWU.  Jim Burke chose October 6, 2003 for the hearing, and after the date was assigned, the USPS surfaced and told the arbitrator they were not available.  The arbitrator, now seeing their stall tactics, informed the USPS if they could not agree upon a date he would assign a date for all parties to appear.

The USPS, having exhausted all of their stall/delay options, informed Jim Burke they were sending the grievance to Step 4 for interpretation.  Based on what they are claiming is interpretive, it is clear they are playing a delay game.

On Monday October 20, 2003 I met with the National Labor Relations Board to file a ULP and discuss the Postal Service's actions of barring the local from arbitration.  Since we already have an open ULP about them barring us from the grievance arbitration process I piggybacked this complaint with the existing one.   As a remedy I am requesting a complaint be issued and the NLRB direct the Postal Service to arbitration.  Additionally I am requesting the board review the arbitrator's decision when it is issued.

The USPS had 30 days from the date they referred the grievance to Step 4 to present their interpretive arguments.  November 7, 2003 was the 30th day, and no arguments were presented, NBA Jeff Kehlert contacted APWU headquarters to get the grievance sent back to regional arbitration. This was accomplished on Friday at 4:30 pm.    I will request the APWU contact the arbitrator to see if he has any date available in the near future.

Clearly the USPS has demonstrated that their only reason for the Step 4 referral was to delay the hearing and deny the Trenton members their day to be heard.  With this recent action of not presenting any interpretive issues and all the other evidence I presented to the NLRB I would hope the NLRB will see this as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

I am constantly reading how the USPS focus is to improve their labor relations; this is clearly not the case in the Central New Jersey District or New York Metro Area.  Regardless of what games the USPS will play I will meet them head on and we will be sitting at the arbitration table presenting the travel grievances.  I cannot predict what the arbitrator's ruling will be, rest assured we will be heard.  Stay tuned for the latest.


October 30, 2003

Keep this Confidential 

Tour of the P&DC that I could not take...

On July 9, 2003, I was barred from taking the tour of the fumigation equipment at the Trenton P&DC because I refused to sign a Non Discloser/Confidentiality Agreement. This decision was at the advice of our attorney.   As your President, I was looking forward to the tour so I could share what was happening.   At that time I chose not to silence myself and did not participate.   The only legitimate reason to participate would be to gather information to relay to you, since I was unable to share this information, I chose not to go on the tour.

Well, the reason I am writing today is our employer felt that I was a threat to the security of the fumigation equipment.  They thought I would sell the top secrets to the terrorists and therefore was not been permitted to tour the grounds.   Today, October 30, 2003, the Postal Service gave an open house tour of the equipment to the news media, cameras and live TV footage. They did not have to sign an agreement of Non Discloser/Confidentiality.

Despite their lack of trust, I will continue to the best of my ability to obtain information for us.   Our struggle is far from over.


 

October 26, 2003

The fumigation process is now completed.  At 7:30 this morning the reentry team entered the building to secure equipment and position fans to help reduce the humidity.  I find it simply amazing that the process went without one problem.  I am not declaring the process a success until the zero growth standard has been met and the environmental committee declares it safe.  On Monday morning crews will enter the building and begin the retrieval of the spore strips and begin environmental sampling. The building will be treated as it is still contaminated until it is deemed safe.

The process of testing and reviewing the results could take up to 3 months.   We should receive the results by February.  This weekend was just another step in getting back to Trenton. Over the next couple of months I am sure many rumors will surface.  As soon as I have official notice of the results I will share it with everyone.

The local web page contains articles relating to this weekends events.

October 25, 2003

On October 25th, 2003, Mayor Glen Gilmore briefed me on the fumigation process.  The process was successful.  Later this morning, I met with Vice President, Tom Day, who went into further detail that the process went very smooth.  There were only three minor leaks from the building which were all sealed immediately, the process was a huge success.  At 8:00 am this morning the scrubber system was activated.  This system removes the chlorine dioxide from the building.  They expect this process to take 20 hours.  The next step after the scrubber will be to dehumidify the building.  By Monday morning they will begin the process of removing the test strips and taking environmental samples.  At the completion of the fumigation process which will conclude this weekend, we will have a two month wait before the results will be released.  I will update you tomorrow on the performance of the scrubber system.

News articles relating to the process are located at  Trenton Metro Area Local  or Trentonmetroarealocal.com

October 24, 2003 

Two years and five days since the closing of the Trenton P&DC, the building is finally being fumigated.  At 4 PM today, chlorine dioxide was pumped into the building.  The temperature and humidity were at the proper levels.  It will take 4 to 6 hours for the gas to reach its proper concentration.  The gas must be held for 12 hours. Tomorrow morning the fumigation will have been completed and the scrubbing process will begin.  I will be attending the Saturday morning briefing and will keep you updated on this process.


October 15, 2003

Trenton Fumigation

The building is ready and progress toward receiving final United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) approval (FIFRA Crisis Exemption) for the USPS Hamilton Facility Chlorine Dioxide Fumigation is proceeding well.  

We believe the FIFRA Crisis Exemption will be received on or about October 20, 2003.   The approval provides a 15-day window in which to perform the fumigation.   The following is the fumigation schedule, this is in anticipation of USEPA authorization.   The fumigation will require a minimum of 12 hours contact time as required by USEPA.

Fumigation Date:

Oct. 24: Commence Chlorine Dioxide Generation no earlier than 4:00 p.m. (Friday.)

Oct. 25: Cease Chlorine Dioxide Generation no later than 6:00 p.m. (Saturday.)

Hamilton township has been notified of fumigation so they can mobilize their Emergency Response Team in advance of this anticipated action.  


At the request of the APWU, Congressman Chris Smith has contacted the EPA.  The EPA informed Congressman Smith that everything is on target.  Congressman Smith will stay in contact with the EPA.  We cannot afford any delays.  It has been a long two years.

THIS IS CONTINGENT UPON THE ISSUANCE OF THE FIFRA CRISIS EXEMPTION BY EPA.


October 7, 2003

Trenton P&DC

The building is ready for fumigation, that's the latest from the USPS.  This weekend there will be a low level test performed.  Low levels of chlorine dioxide gas will be pumped into the building.  The Postal Service is still working toward the October 25, 2003, date for gassing.  There is still a real possibility that anything could go wrong and postpone the gassing.  If the low level gassing performs properly and meets all the guidelines, the USEPA should issue a crisis exception for the use of chlorine dioxide to eradicate the deadly anthrax spores.

There is still one obstacle to overcome, the EPA wants to change some procedures that were used in the Brentwood P&DC.  Even though these procedures prove to be safe and effective the EPA wants to change the concentration levels of the gas and the surrogate used on the spore strips.  The way I see this is, the EPA wants to use the Trenton P&DC as an experiential Lab Rat.  We all realize this could be the EPA's last chance to play scientist and developed new methods, data collection, review and research of the deadly anthrax spores at such a large level.

I have asked Congressman Smith to contact the EPA on our behalf and explain to them how the shut down of the Trenton P&DC has impacted our lives, and urge them to proceed without delaying.  Unnecessary delays would cause continuing hardship to our customers and us.  I agree that the fumigation process has to be done correctly and it must be safe for everyone.  I have a hard time digesting why change something that worked and proved to be effective in killing anthrax spores has to be changed. 

Arbitration Hearing

Management has refused to arbitrate the travel grievance on October 6, 2003.  They have refused to give a date to the arbitrator.  When the arbitrator was ready to direct them to appear they sent the grievance to Step 4 of the grievance arbitration for an interpretation of what is the commuting area of Trenton.  This is another game they are playing; I will follow the case through the process.  This is the seventh arbitration date they have canceled and I am in the process of taking action against them.


Returning to the P&DC

The next bridge we must cross is who is going to return to the building when it is deemed safe.  Preparing now will enable me to assist you in possible future placement in other facilities.  I would like to know who is serious about not returning.  With article 12 being involved throughout the whole country we must prepare now.


September 27, 2003

THEY ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

Anthrax Arbitration Canceled

As expected the Postal Service canceled the arbitration hearing for our anthrax issues.   We did anticipate the USPS to try something to delay the hearing. This latest stunt was totally unexpected and unheard of.   They called the Arbitrator and informed him the hearing was canceled.   They led the Arbitrator to believe the cancellation was mutually agreed upon when in fact it was a unilateral decision. Both parties employ the Arbitrator and a mutual agreement is required to cancel.   Let it be noted, this is the second cancellation, the first date was July 31, 2003.

On Thursday, September 25, 2003, the USPS called the Union to cancel the date.   The Union would not agree and informed the USPS we would be at the hearing.   This did not prevent the USPS from asking the Arbitrator at the beginning of the hearing for a continuance.   In most cases the continuance would be granted.

The morning of the arbitration hearing, the Union was prepared to present our case and any motions to prevent any further delays.    Management's representative arrives 30 minutes early with no papers or even a pad of paper.   He makes small talk for 45 minutes and when I asked, "what happened to the Arbitrator",  Management states, “ the Arbitrator is not coming”.  I immediately contacted Regional Coordinator Jim Burkes’ office and advised him of this grievous act of the USPS.   The Coordinator's office confirmed that the Labor Relations Representatives have stooped to an all time low.

The Arbitrator has contacted our advocate and has apologized and stated he has been sandbagged by the Postal Service.   

Medical Documentation Request

Employees are receiving letters from the USPS requesting medical documentation from employees on rehab light and limited duty positions.     If you received this letter, contact your steward for grievance investigation.   I will have discussions with the Postmaster this week.

MVS

I have been informed that Management has unilaterally changed employees hours for Christmas week without any prior discussion with the Union.   Other employees are being solicited for hour changes.   I urge employees not to get into this illegal action.  Remember the Postal Service has shown their true colors this week....

THEY ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

 

 


September 24, 2003

 

Trenton P&DC
 
The EPA has determined the performance test conducted on September 4th and 5th, 2003, has met the standard established by US Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.   With this approval by the EPA, I see no reason why a crisis exception cannot be issued for the use of chorine dioxide gas to kill the anthrax spores.
 
I am also able to inform you today that the wiring for the remote control operation of the mail processing machine is complete and operational.   
 
Lets continue to keep our fingers crossed that there is no long term delay in the final preparation to fumigation of the building.
 
Arbitration
 
The arbitration for travel compensation is still scheduled for Friday, September 26, 2003.   Last week management asked to meet and discuss possible resolution of this issue.   The meeting was scheduled for Tuesday the 23rd of September, well management canceled.   The reasons for the cancellation besides they want to screw us they had to run the case by a higher authority.   You would think they wouldn't have done this with only 3 days from the hearing.    This is the same story they told us when they canceled the week of arbitration.   Eight weeks later they are still looking for this mystery manager to give them the ok to settle.  I learned one thing in this business, they all want to be managers, but no one wants to make a decision.  

 

 


September 20, 2003

Trenton P&DC 

Work is moving on the building.  The results from the performance test conducted on September 4th and 5th, 2003 are still pending.  You must be saying, Bill missed something; it is posted and has been in the press that the performance test was a success.  That is true, the preliminary test results look good.  The postal service is awaiting the results of the scientific data submitted to the USDEP for review.  This approval by the DEP is needed to proceed with the low level testing scheduled in the early part of October 2003. 

The next step is currently underway; the emitters are being installed throughout the building.  Within a few days they will be pumping tracer gas into the facility, to check on the disbursement of the gas, they need to fill the building with tracer gas.  300 fans are installed to help with the even distribution of the tracer gas.   (Note this gas is harmless and will not kill the anthrax spores).  To evaluate the overall effectiveness of the distribution of the tracer gas, fixed monitoring stations are installed, additionally roving teams of workers will use hand held monitors to assist in hard to reach areas.  

Wiring still continues to connect the mail-processing machines, air handlers and boiler to an outside command control center.  All of the machines will be operated by remote control during the fumigation process. 

Construction of the dehumidifiers will begin shortly.  The dehumidification process is critical in the removal of the high level humidity in the building after the completion of the gassing.  The humidity level must be raised during the gassing to aid the chorine dioxide in killing the anthrax spores. 

Lockers and Personal Belongings 

Personal belongings from lockers are now stored in trailers under lock and key.  An inventory was taken of the contents when they were removed from the lockers. Currently plans are underway to open the seal bags and place the contents in boxes to return to the employees.  The postal service has requested that representatives of the labor organizations be on hand during this process.   We will participate in the process if first of all I feel there is no health risks involved and secondly, I don’t have to sign any waivers.  If I have to sign a waiver, I would not be able to report to you about the status and the events surrounding the P&DC.  

Employees who had desks, your contents have been removed, cleaned and plans are now underway to identify who the desks belong to.  The Postal Service claims there is no way of identifying whom the desks belong to.  I will work on this issue and try to bring a quick resolve to this new problem. 

If you should have any questions regarding anthrax, the building, lockers, reoccupying the building or transferring because of fear of not wanting to return, please submit them to me and I will put them together and forward to management for a written response. 

Brentwood Update

 Managers from Trenton recently went to Brentwood P&DC and toured the facility.  The facility looks brand new.  I asked several questions regarding the status of that facility, since our operation mirrors their remediation process. 

The mail processing machines had far more damage then originally expected, bushings, bearings, electrical contacts and so on is all destroyed. The machines will require full overhauls.  The status of new machines is not known yet for Brentwood.  Every fire sprinkler head had to be replaced.  

They claim there is no residual smell of chorine in the building. 

Currently several hundred construction workers and postal maintenance employees have been working in the facility since it had been deemed safe.  OSHA oversees the testing and the continuous surveillance of the health of these employees.  Inside Brentwood there are Dry Filter Units (DFU) running 24 hours a days. The DFU tests the air for anthrax, additionally wipe and air sampling have been on going and there haven’t been any spores found.   

The target time frames for return of the Brentwood workers are:  November for support staff and January 2004 for mail processing.  I did learn that the Brentwood facility would not be bringing their outgoing mail back for processing despite this is a district office.   I found this alarming and disturbing. 

Despite all the work still needed, the postal service is still convinced they can meet the October date. The rumor running around of October 11th is incorrect, the gassing will not happen without another community meeting and the employee brunch.  The brunch is scheduled for October 19, 2003 and the community meeting is October 20, 2003. 

Arbitration Date 

September 26, 2003 is the date of our travel compensation grievance.  This is the second date, management canceled the first one in July.  National Business Agent Jeff Kehlert will present the case for the APWU.  We are ready, but I guess you never stop preparing until the actual hearing.  We are meeting with management’s representative this week at their request to see if we can resolve this dispute.  The local has one busy week ahead us.  This grievance is for all APWU members, all crafts who had to travel outside the local commuting area of Trenton.  Lets hope for the best since the grievance effects all of us. 

I don’t believe in the history of the postal service there has been any large group of union employees who have been impacted in such a manner as we have been.  We faced terrorists who wanted to kill us, misinformation about our health, Government agencies that could not provide us with accurate information or knowledge of anthrax, managers who wanted to excess us and another union fought against us in our struggle.   You know what, we survived! Why, because we stuck together.  There are many challenges facing us in the future and if we stick together and use our resources wisely and our political contacts properly we will prevail.

 


September 9, 2003 

P&DC Test Results

The performance test of the gas treatment of the Trenton P&DC was successful.   I found out by the news media about the results.   I am still awaiting official notification,  maybe they forgot to tell the union. Regardless, I am pleased that the test went well and we are moving forward toward decontamination of the plant.

Keep your eye on the local's web page for updates.

Lockers and Personal Effects

Personal effects from employee's lockers have been removed and sent to be radiated.   Once Shaw Company is ready to release the contents, I will oversee the removal of our contents from the containers.   I know this story about the lockers has been ongoing, I can only report what is told to me.

Skin Rash

I have had employees inform me they are experiencing a skin rash while working in Monroe.   I was wondering if this rash is caused by work or from some other possible chemical agents being in the mail.   If you have had a rash or know of a coworker who has had one, please contact me so I may have the proper authorities look into this matter.   If we don't take care of this ourselves no one else will.

Arbitration

The arbitration for compensation for traveling to our temporary duty assignment is still scheduled for September 26, 2003.   The postal service is bringing an attorney form New York.   Our local is preparing for this big date.  

Early Out

The Postal Service has notified employees that decisions to elect - or revoke - Voluntary Early Retirement must be made in writing no later than October 27, 2003.  

This differs from information in Update # 8-03, issued June 4, which was based on information provided to us by the Postal Service at that time.

Eligible employees were invited to complete forms indicating their interest in early retirement beginning in July.   Employees are eligible if they will be age 50 or older as of November 1, 2003, with at least 20 years of creditable service as of October 31, 2003.   Employees of any age are eligible if they will have at least 25 years of creditable service as of October 31. The effective date for retirement will be no sooner than October 31, 2003.

In the meantime, the union is taking all necessary steps to enforce our agreement with management to offer voluntary early retirement to all eligible APWU-represented employees.   More information on that matter will be provided shortly.


September 4, 2003

On September 3, 2003, a fumigation meeting was held with the labor organizations to bring us up to speed with the progress of the construction of the equipment. I am pleased to say that all phases of the project to decontaminate our P&DC are on schedule and moving forward. 

On September 4th and 5th a test will be conducted on the equipment to see if the system is able to convert the liquid to gas and then break the gas down.  The EPA has sent their mobile air monitoring bus to oversee the testing.  Additionally, sensors have been installed around the perimeter of the P&DC; the green fencing around the compound has a black tube attached to it for the purpose of detecting leaks. 

They have been running water through the system to determine if there were any leaks.  The site coordinator feels very comfortable that the systems will perform properly and they (the USPS) will be able to obtain all the permits to continue. 

They are hoping to conduct a low level gassing about the second week of October and if all goes well, the Trenton P&DC will be fumigated about October 25, 2003. I have to say I am not optimistic about this date after I’ve seen so many dates come and go with no test or gassing in Brentwood.  

There are 5 tanker trucks on site, they have made retention ponds out of concrete barriers with rubber liners to store the trucks.  They will only bring enough chemicals on site as needed for the test.  Once the test is completed the chemicals will be removed. 

Last week they staged a simulated chemical spill with the Local, State and Federal agencies overseeing it.  It was reported that local and state agencies are more cooperative than the EPA.  I have a hard time digesting arguments when they allowed the process to move forward in Brentwood.  I will monitor this problem of the EPA playing scientist at our expense very closely and if necessary I will contact our congressman and senators to jump-start them. 

 

 

APWU 2003 Leave Chart

 

New Mileage Rate & Mile Reimbursement Calculator

 

 Postal security plan would evacuate employees, close mail facilities 4/3/03
 After Anthrax (4/15)

Turning Point 3/15 

 

 

 

GAO Anthrax Investigation to Begin in Jan. 12/13

Congressman Smith's Letter to the CDC 11/27

Press Release 11/27

 



Mayor Glen Gilmore's Proclamation

Hamilton Township Council's Commendation

Rush Holt's Letter

Governor James McGreevey


Image003.jpg (330811 bytes)

 

New Building Meeting Minutes  (10/29)

New Building Details (9/27)

OSHA's Top Ten Violations (1/16)

Gary Kloepfer
National Representative at Large

 

Bill's Update  Your Rights
Message From Bill   FMLA Rights Violated   Clerk's Bidding Phone #
Transfers Transfers Home

 

You decide.

 

In Unity There Is Strength

 

Solidarity Forever 

 

Top   Back

 

1

setstats