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COVID 19 - INFORMATION
Aug 16, 2022

COVID-19 Test Kit Fulfillment Pilot Extended

July 28, 2022 

On July 27, 2022, the APWU and USPS agreed to once again extend the COVID-19 Test Kit Fulfillment Pilot MOU in 23 sites throughout the country. The MOU continues work performed in PSAs and Annexes identified in the original MOU dated January 12, 2022. These duties include kitting (i.e., packing) and labeling of COVID-19 test kit packages by Clerk Craft employees, career and PSEs, working in these facilities. This is the third extension of the MOU.

The most recent extension adds additional language which guarantees PSEs who perform these COVID-19 test kit duties with a minimum of 20 hours each service week. If 20 hours are not available in the kitting operation, the PSEs will be paid up to the 20-hour guarantee. However, the MOU also states, “if management determines there is not a consistent minimum of 20 hours of work in the kitting operation due to a reduction in kitting volume, the Postal Service may separate those PSEs for lack of work”. Any separations under this provision must be done “by inverse relative standing on the appropriate PSE roll”.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein praised the extension of the MOU, stating, “I want to thank Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks and the Clerk Craft officers responsible for negotiating this extension. Once again, we have provided more work opportunities for both our career workforce and our PSEs. Once again, postal workers and the APWU are ensuring this vital public service continues to be accessible to the public through the ongoing pandemic.”

The extension continues until October 7, 2022 unless the parties further extend it by mutual agreement. The MOU is linked to this article for easier access to the document.


Aug 16, 2022

COVID-19 At Home Tests

Sarah Jane Rodriguez

July 13, 2022 

You’ve probably heard of COVID-19 at-home tests but what are they exactly, when are you supposed to use them, and what do the test  results mean?

An at-home over-the-counter (OTC) test is a rapid antigen test that offers a quick and easy way to screen for COVID-19. These diagnostic tests are FDA authorized for self-testing at home. This means you collect your own sample, perform the test, and read the result yourself without the need to send a sample to a laboratory

When to Take an At-Home COVID-19 Test

Test yourself if... Timing
You have any COVID-19 symptoms Immediately
You were exposed to someone with COVID-19 At least 5 days after your exposure
If you test negative for COVID-19, consider testing again 1 to 2 days after first test.
You are going to an indoor event or a gathering Members are covered for up to 8 tests per covered family member per month

How to Get an At-Home COVID-19 Test

You’ll be happy to know that COVID-19 at-home tests are 100 percent covered when you’re enrolled in an APWU health plan!

If you're enrolled in the High Option: If you're enrolled in the Consumer Driven Option:

Claims for at-home OTC COVID-19 tests will automatically process at $0 copay when members order through the Express Scripts Pharmacy or check out at an in-network retail pharmacy counter.

Claims for at-home OTC COVID-19 tests will automatically process at $0
copay when members order through the Optum Store or check out at an in-network retail pharmacy counter.

Members may also purchase an FDA authorized at-home COVID-19 test at any in-store or online retailer. This option will require the member to pay upfront and get reimbursed after. *Maximum reimbursement of $12 per test.

Members may also purchase an FDA approved at-home COVID-19 test at any in-store or online retailer. This option will require the member to pay upfront and get reimbursed after. *Maximum reimbursement of $12 per test.

Members are eligible for up to 8 tests every 30 days for each covered family member.

Members are covered for up to 8 tests per covered family member per month

Visit www.apwuhp.com for a list of in-network pharmacies, reimbursement forms and additional details.

Visit www.apwuhp.com for a list of in-network pharmacies, reimbursement forms, and additional details.

If you are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plan enhancement:

• Medicare Advantage members are covered for up to 8 tests per covered family member per month.
• Please visit www.uhcretiree.com/apwuhp or call 1-855-383-893 for complete details.

You can also order free at-home COVID-19 tests through USPS. Go to https://special.usps.com/testkits to get up to 8 free tests delivered straight to your home.

It is very important to read the complete manufacturer’s instructions before using the test. If you do not follow the instructions, your test result may be incorrect.

What Your Test Results Mean

If your test is POSITIVE: If your test is NEGATIVE:

• The test detected the virus and you have an infection.
• Tell your healthcare provider or begin a telehealth virtual visit as soon as possible to discuss the following:

• Isolation and quarantine guideline
• Masking protocol
• Possible treatments that may be available for you
• Age and underlying conditions

• Watch for symptoms. If you have any emergency warning signs, seek emergency care immediately.

• The test did not detect the virus, but doesn’t rule out an infection.
• Some self-tests are designed to be used in a series
(also known as serial testing). Consider repeating the test 24 to 48
hours later. Multiple negative tests increases the confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19

Check out our website at apwuhp.com or the resources below for more information!
Sources: cdc.gov; covid.gov; fda.gov


Aug 16, 2022

What Is There To Hide?

Tiffany Foster

July 13, 2022 

(This article first appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

In May 2022, the USPS Atlantic and Southern Area notified the Regional Union Leadership and the Management Associations that Postal Service HQ was disbanding the HQ COVID Command Team. The disbandment based on the Atlantic and Southern Area would discontinue the district’s daily reporting of positive COVID-19 cases.

Does Management know something about the COVID pandemic that we don’t? COVID has not gone away. We are still living with it and trying to stay safe and protect our members and families.

Initially, the Atlantic Area stated the disbandment would eliminate the stand-up talks and MMO 031-20 cleaning when a positive COVID-19 case was reported. After our investigation, the regional APWU found that the Atlantic Area was incorrect and retracted its previous position.

Management is still required to give stand-up talks and do the MMO cleaning when a positive COVID-19 case is reported in the office.

Another position taken by the Atlantic and Southern Area Leadership is that the disbandment eliminated the tracking of COVID-19 cases. Well, that can’t be true. Below are the policies still in effect:

  • Close Contact Tracing
  • Return to Work Process
  • Social Distancing
  • Notice of Positive Case Talk
  • Training Room Size Limitations

Based on the Postal Service’s policy, employees are still required to report positive COVID-19 tests to their supervisor. The Occupational Health Nurse Administrator (OHNA) is still doing contact tracing, per postal policy. Doesn’t this indicate that Management is still tracking and recording positive COVID cases? If not, why is there a need for the employee to report a positive test to the supervisor?

Why don’t they want the Union to know when a positive COVID case is reported? What is there to hide?

We need your help.

Article 14 states it is Management’s responsibility to provide safe working conditions, and it is the Union’s responsibility to cooperate with and assist Management in its efforts to fulfill this responsibility.

Due to the Atlantic and Southern Areas ceasing to provide the daily district COVID reports to the Union, it prevents us from verifying and ensuring that you received the stand-up talk about a positive COVID case in your workplace and that the MMO cleaning was done.

If a positive COVID case is reported in your office, please get in touch with your steward. Let them know about the positive case reported so they can verify that Management gave the stand-up talk and followed the MMO cleaning procedures.

1767- the unused enforcer

PS Form 1767 is an underused postal form.
PS Form 1767 is used to report unsafe, hazardous work conditions and practices. This form can also be used to report abusive supervisors, managers and a hostile work environment.

In accordance with Article 14, this form must be readily available in the workplace so employees can, if they choose, fill them out while remaining anonymous.

We are seeing a rise in the abusive treatment toward the employees from supervisors and managers.

What can you do? Write statements, fill out 1767s, and request a steward are some of the things that you can do to report, document, and notify Management about your work condition.

If faced with a hostile work environment or abusive supervisor or manager, it is critical to document what took place, the date and time, and record the name(s) of witnesses, if there were any.

It is essential that your steward is provided with this information. It allows them to initiate an investigation and file a grievance, if one exists, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement.

The struggle continues as we continue to fight.

My fellow Coordinators, Omar Gonzalez, Western Region, Sharyn Stone, Central Region, Ken Beasley, Southern Region, AJ Jones, Eastern Region, and myself are always ready to get in good trouble.


Jan 10, 2022

How to File an OWCP Claim When Diagnosed with COVID-19

January 10, 2022 

Currently, there is a spike of COVID-19 diagnosis throughout the United States. Postal Employees are not exempt from contracting COVID-19. Following national trends, there is also a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases at the Postal Service. Not knowing how COVID-19 can affect any one person whether it is a mild illness, a severe case, a case of “long” COVID-19, what the long-term effects might be, or sadly even death, it is vital that those who contract the virus understand that it is their right to apply for worker’s compensation benefits to protect themselves and their families.

If you are a postal employee, no matter if you are a career employee or non-career employee, you are entitled to file a claim with the Office of Workers Compensation Programs. The one caveat is that you must have worked at the Post Office at some point during the 21-days prior to your COVID-19 diagnosis, and are required to complete an approved form of COVID-19 testing to prove you are sick. Employees that have claims approved are entitled to have their medical costs and lost wages paid. Approved Claimants are also entitled to request that any annual sick or annual leave used be “bought back” and redeposited to their leave balances. Also, should a postal employee pass away due to COVID- 19, their survivors are entitled to benefits under the compensation programs if there is an approved claim.

As previously reported, under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law on March 11, 2021:

Section 4016 of the law provides that a federal employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19 and carried out duties that required contact with patients, members of the public, or co-workers, or included a risk of exposure to the novel coronavirus during a covered period of exposure prior to the diagnosis, is deemed to have an injury that is proximately caused by employment.

In simple terms, this means that if you are diagnosed with (have a positive test) and you file an OWCP claim, it will be more than likely approved. You are not required to prove you contracted the disease at work. In order to receive benefits, those diagnosed must submit a claim. Do not expect management to do this for you and do not expect them to inform you that you have the right to file a claim.

When you file a claim for COVID-19 you are entitled to request continuation of pay (COP). This is pay at your regular rate of pay paid to you by the postal service during your COVID-19 illness absence. You are entitled to COP if you file your claim within 30-days of your diagnosis. If you are filing more than 30-days after your diagnosis, you are not entitled to COP. Please note, that for the first three days, the law requires a “waiting period” that you must use sick, annual, or leave without pay (LWOP) before COP kicks in. However, if your absence lasts longer than 14-days, the first three days will be converted to COP. Any non-scheduled days also count towards the three day “waiting” period. COP can be paid for up to 45 calendar days after which any additional missed time will be paid as worker’s compensation payments by OWCP.

In order to file a claim, it is recommended that you do so through e-COMP. You must register at https://www.ecomp.dol.gov

Doing so ensures that OWCP receives your claim form, receives the necessary laboratory reports because you upload the documents. They system automatically forwards documents to your supervisors to complete and tracks whether or not the Postal Service has done their part. Using e-COMP gives you tracking and you can hold management accountable because you can see what they have and have not done. It should be noted that you can register on e-COMP at any time — whether you have an injury or not. In fact, it is a good idea to register and establish an account in case you need to use it anytime during your career for any at-work injury. It is also one thing less to worry about if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The instructions below are not all inclusive and do not guarantee claim approval. To file a claim and to receive COP:

  • Notify your supervisor that you are sick with COVID-19

  • Get an an approved form of COVID-19 testing to prove you are sick. 

    • The best form of testing for proof of illness is a laboratory PCR test.

    • A positive Antibody or Antigen COVID-19 test result, together with contemporaneous medical evidence and documentation from a medical professional, may also be accepted.

    • If no positive laboratory test is available, a COVID-19 diagnosis from a physician together with rationalized medical opinion supporting the diagnosis and an explanation as to why a positive test result is not available may also be accepted. 

    • AT HOME & RAPID TESTS ALONE ARE NOT SUFFICIENT TO SERVE AS PROOF OF ILLNESS - they require an accompanying statement from a doctor.

  • Submit a PS-Form 3971 and check COP as the reason

  • Register on e-COMP if you have not done so: https://www.ecomp.dol.gov

  • Once registered on e-COMP, login to your account

    • Click on new claim on top right of page

    • On next screen, make sure "Federal Employee" is selected

    • Make sure to select Postal Service as the agency

    • Click “File Claim”

    • Click “next”

    • Select the COVID-19 Claim and enter information requested in the online form

    • Once requested information is entered, upload a copy of the positive laboratory COVID-19 results or other relevant medical documentation

    • After uploading, make sure you select “continuation of pay”

    • It is recommended you save a copy of your claim or at least write down the ECN number for your claim

Here are some links to references for OWCP claims due to COVID-19:

Register for e-COMP
Video Tutorial on Registering for e-COMP
Video Tutorial on Filing COVID-19 Claim through e-COMP

Additional Resources:
Now It Is Easier to File FECA COVID Claims | American Postal Workers Union
Claims under the Federal Employees' Compensation Act due to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) | U.S. Department of Labor
FECA Bulletins (2020-2024) | U.S. Department of Labor (these are the instructions claims examiners must follow)

You have the right under the law to file an OWCP claim for COVID-19! Do not let management discourage you from filing a claim. Do not let them tell you that you have to prove your sickness was contracted at work as this is not a requirement of the law. It is in your best interest to file for the benefits. You protect yourself and your families by doing so. If you follow the steps and have a laboratory test confirmed case of COVID-19, you will likely be approved. However, the APWU cannot guarantee claim approval.




Page Last Updated: Aug 16, 2022 (10:19:10)
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