White House Budget for 2019
Continues Attacks on Postal and Federal Workers
Web News Article
02/21/2018 - The White House introduced its proposed Fiscal Year 2019 budget to Congress last week. This non-binding proposal begins an annual, months-long government funding process and also showcases the Administration’s funding priorities, setting the tone for budget negotiations.
For postal and federal workers, this budget is largely a reintroduction of last year’s failed attacks on our pay and benefits, but takes them even further. It:
Increases employee FERS contributions 1% a year for each of the next six years;
Eliminates FERS Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), and reduces CSRS COLAs by 0.5%;
Eliminates the special retirement supplement;
Reduces retirement benefits by using a “high five” salary average formula, rather than the current “high three” average;
Lowers the G-fund interest rate to provide worse returns on Thrift Savings Plan investments;
Increases the share postal and federal workers pay for care under the FEHBP;
Slashes Postal Service personnel costs and reduces mail service to the American people to achieve $44 billion dollars in postal-specific savings;
Decrease FECA compensation for injured workers and institute a new waiting period before they can receive benefits;
Cuts $237 billion from Medicare.
Each of these proposals would be severe cuts to dedicated postal employees, both active and retired.
“We’ve been down this road before, and once again we cannot allow the budget to be balanced on the backs of working people,” said President Mark Dimondstein.
As justification for attacking our paychecks and retirement security, the White House cites the need to reduce the federal deficit; however, the White House and its allies seemed unconcerned with the deficit when they passed a $1.5 trillion bill to finance tax cuts for the wealthy elite.
“Just as we feared when we fought against the disastrous tax proposal, the White House is coming after our hard-earned pay and benefits to ‘fix’ the deficit they are growing,” said Legislative and Political Director Judy Beard.
Many of the Administration’s disastrous proposals were incorporated into last year’s House budget, as part of a $32 billion dollar cut targeted at federal and postal worker pay and benefits. Postal workers, active and retired alike, rallied last year against the budget attacks and stood arm-in-arm with our sisters and brothers in the Federal-Postal Coalition to defend our livelihoods. We flooded Congress with tens of thousands of calls on our coordinated Day of Action against the budget, and thanks to our activism, we were victorious. Congress ultimately abandoned the House budget and instead adopted the Senate budget which excluded these terrible provisions.
As this year’s budget process begins anew, we will bring that same vigilance and action to succeed.
02/17/2018 - On Saturday, Feb. 24, workers will gather from coast to coast for a Working People’s Day of Action to demand an end to the rigged economic system. They will to stand together to fight for social and economic justice including the right to fair bargaining and union representation!
The Day of Action, organized by AFSCME and Jobs with Justice, comes at a crucial time in labor movement history. It is part of the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of the historic Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike. The strike was sparked by the tragic deaths of Echol Cole and Robert Walker on Feb. 1, who were sheltering from a storm inside their truck when it malfunctioned, and crushed them. On February 12, 1968 the black sanitation workers went on strike to demand that their dignity, their humanity and their union be recognized.
Today, workers are still fighting for the same issues. Too many people are killed or injured on the job. The right of workers to come together and have a voice in their workplace is being fought by groups like the National Right to Work Committee – financially backed by the corporate elite who continue to work to weaken unions.
However, working people know that In Our Unity Lies Our Strength, and together we can stand up to the forces that wish to hurt us.
What You Can Do
On Feb. 24, workers will gather together to call for an end to this unfair system.
Visit www.itsaboutfreedom.org to sign up to attend a rally above or to see what other events are planned near you. Click here to download a flyer to pass out at your workplace and in your community.
If you are unable to attend one of the rallies above, you can still spread the message to your co-workers, family members and community of the need for respect, dignity and safety on the job. This includes our 2018 fight for a fair contract. Together we are Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
02/16/2018 - In accordance with the 2015-2018 Collective Bargaining Agreement, career employees represented by the APWU will receive a 25 cent per hour cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), effective March 3. The increase is the result of a rise in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W). It will appear in paychecks dated March 23, 2018 (Pay Period 06-2018), and will total $520.00 per year.
The COLAs are in addition to general wage increases.
This is the sixth cost-of-living increase under the 2015-2018 contract:
$0.00 The first COLA would have been effective Sept. 5, 2015
$0.00 The second COLA would have been effective March 5, 2016.
$21.00 The third COLA was effective Sept. 3, 2016.
$333.00 The fourth COLA was effective March 18, 2017.
$270.00 The fifth COLA increase effective Sept. 2, 2017.
$520.00 The sixth COLA effective March 3, 2018.
The COLAs received so-far during the 2015-2018 CBA will total $1,144 per year.
Postal Support Employees (PSEs) do not receive cost-of-living increases, but have five general wage increases under the 2015-2018 contract. On Nov. 25, 2017, PSEs received a pay increase of 2.3 percent and will receive a 21-cent raise on May 26, 2018.
APWU and Postal Service Extend Moratorium on Private Retail Outlets
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
02/13/2018 - In an effort to protect against further contracting out of retail operations and defend the integrity of customer service and our jobs, the APWU secured a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement that imposed a moratorium whereby the Postal Service could not expand any Village Post Offices, Contract Postal Units and Approved Shipper outlets.
As part of this MOU, with the exception of the Stop Staples campaign, the APWU agreed that we would refrain from challenging the existing USPS“business relationships” through the same type of activism used in the Stop Staples campaign. That campaign ultimately led to the cancellation of the Approved Shipper program in Staples stores across the country in February of 2017.
During this moratorium, the union and management agreed to enter into discussions to address the future of retail operations. The Clerk Craft officers have met several times with the Postal Service to discuss the issues involved.
The moratorium initially expired in July 8, 2017, but was extended through the end of 2017. On February 7, 2018, the parties extended the MOU until September 20, 2018, thus protecting more retail jobs from potentially being lost to these programs through the expiration of the current union contract.
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell
Each year, this department seeks to assist local officers in performing the administrative duties they were elected to do. All the listed chores are essential to running your local or state union. Once you start scheduling, you will be surprised how easy it is to keep up with your local duties.
W-2s and 1099s must be issued by Jan. 31. The W-2 form is used to document income earned by union employees. Similarly, the 1099 form is used to detail the amount of income that is earned by independent consultants hired by the union. Understanding the difference in tax payment accountability between a full-time (W-2) and contract (1099) employee is important because the union must withhold and pay taxes for employees, but only has to report income to the IRS for non-employees.
The LM Reports for 2017 must be electronically submitted. The LM report is an annual financial report required to be filed by the Department of Labor. The LM 2, 3, or 4 for 2017 must be electronically submitted by March 31, 2018. Complete instructions for electronically submitting these forms are available at http://www.apwu.org/issues/department-labor.
Your 2018 budget. Part of responsible management of the local’s funds requires that the budget be reviewed and prepared for the next year. A budget committee usually consists of the president or vice president, treasurer, and some knowledgeable officers and members. The final budget is presented to the executive board for review, then voted and approved by the membership.
Meeting calendars (general membership, executive board and training). It is best to map out the meeting schedule for the local at the beginning of the year, rather than do it on a month-to-month basis. This permits local officials to schedule around holidays or other events that would probably result in poor attendance. It also allows your members to adjust their personal schedules so they can attend. Advance scheduling will help local leaders avoid conflicts with other meetings.
Conference and convention schedule for the upcoming year. Advance planning for upcoming training seminars and conventions is critical in making sure that local members can schedule for them.
Shred old financial records and grievances. Federal law requires that local officials keep original hard copy or electronic files of all its financial records for five years. After five years, these records should be shredded or disposed of, because they contain personal information that could result in identity theft. (Any building title documents and other real estate papers should be kept as long as the property is owned by the local). Additionally, disposing of hard copy files will free up significant storage space. Large quantities of hard copy files should be shredded by a commercial company. Electronic files should be fully and completely erased. Closed grievance files older than five years should also be disposed of and shredded.
Update local inventory of assets. Did the local purchase any equipment, furniture, or other items with a value in excess of $500 dollars last year? In accounting, fixed assets do not necessarily mean immovable; any asset expected to last, or be in use for, more than one year is considered a fixed asset. Every time these types of items are purchased for the local union, they should be recorded in your inventory of union assets.
Archive membership and executive board minutes. The minutes of your executive board meetings and membership meetings are legal records of the operations of your union. Because these minutes will contain the motions passed to authorize spending local funds, they are also financial records. Unlike regular financial records – which are required to be kept for five years – your minutes should be kept forever, as they document the history of your union.
Active or Retiree? Play an Important Role in 2018!
(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
By Executive Vice President Debby Szeredy
As we go into the New Year, I’d like to remind our members how important our retirees are to our future. Our country has become a war zone and we must unite as strong activists, whether you are a retiree or an active postal worker. We can choose to participate, or we can sit back comfortably in our homes, guaranteed to lose our rights and our livelihoods.
Local and state organizations need to look to our retirees as a vital part of our union. They should share resources with retirees and encourage more chapters to be formed. Retirees are our family and are our activist backbone, who fought to preserve the worker protections we have today. We are all in this battle together.
Built the Union
Today’s retirees helped build the American Postal Workers Union. During the 1970s and 1980s, they were staunch defenders of the union, many taking part in the Great Postal Strike of 1970. Thousands served as both negotiators and stewards, representing workers on the job and securing the benefits we have today.
As young postal workers, our retirees were not willing to be fired at will, segregated by color, or denied safety and health provisions, wage increases and collective bargaining rights. As young workers, many fought in the Vietnam War, marched for the equal rights amendment, supported better worker protections and became active in their unions. Gains become a reality when workers participate.
Today, we see a government that is actively cutting workers’ rights with a vengeance. Those brave young workers, who are now retirees, are also affected by the proposed cuts, especially to health care and retirement benefits.
Wealth of Knowledge and Experience
There is a place in every local for retirees. They are great mentors and can help provide training and give valuable advice to workers. There are many local officers who are retired or will be retiring soon, and they would like to see new workers step up into union leadership positions.
Retirees can also help with the contract campaign and anti-consolidation activities, as well as build relationships with elected officials. They can reach other organizations that can become part of A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. One of the primary reasons the Stop Staplescampaign was so successful was because of the countless hours worked by dedicated retirees across the country.
Only when we stand and act together in solidarity, can we grow. We must fight to keep the Postal Service vibrant and serving our community with equal access to affordable, prompt, postal services.
We must protect our rights as workers. We are at a serious place in history and every member must get involved now. We cannot win this battle without large numbers of people acting together.
Let’s make 2018 the year that all postal workers, retirees and our communities come together, Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow.
WARNING! Voluntary Early Retirement has Potential Side Effects
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
01/11/2018 - The Voluntary Early Retirement (VERA) recently announced by the Postal Service has generated many questions from the members of the APWU. The Postal Service published a list of 93 questions and answers shared with our members in an earlier web article.
Many are asking, “Should I accept early-out retirement?” It is not the place of the national APWU to give advice on whether to retire or not. That is a personal decision. However, it is decision with implications that members should know and consider.
USPS management did not discuss the VERA with the APWU in advance of the announcement. The APWU national officers initiated a January 10 meeting with postal management to address issues and concerns about the VERA. In this meeting, the union pressed its views that:
the Postal Service is not overstaffed, and service to the public is suffering due to understaffing; and,
if the Postal Service moves forward with misguided plans to reduce the workforce, the Postal Service should offer a monetary incentive for those eligible for regular retirement as well employees eligible for an early-out.
Incentives have been offered numerous times in the past for both bargaining unit and supervisory employees.
If you are eligible for the VERA you will receive a packet in the mail from the USPS. The packet will have vital information about your opportunity for an early-out. The packet will include your annuity estimate (this is not a guarantee of what your annuity payments will be; OPM makes the final determination of your annuity and it could be different than the estimated amount provided in your packet) and information about available benefits including eligibility, limits, and costs. Anyone considering the early-out offer needs to study the packet.
You are eligible for USPS-sponsored retirement counseling – both group and individual. Information on who to contact and how to arrange counseling will be in the packet. The packet along with your counseling session(s) will explain eligibility for any annuity supplement, your health insurance premiums, how your FEGLI life insurance can change, and other issues. According to a settlement agreement with APWU, local management must arrange reasonably private space for employees who wish to receive individual counseling on the clock. Your spouse can participate in the counseling session(s). Take advantage of every opportunity to learn the specifics about your retirement benefits.
Some points to consider when making your decision:
As of now there is no financial incentive to retire early, unlike the 2009 and 2012 VERAs where incentives were negotiated with the APWU.
In its August 22, 2017 request to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for VERA approval, the Postal Service said that 10,522 APWU represented employees will shortly be “impacted” by “differing personnel actions” and “repositioning initiatives.”
The Postal Service estimates that only 1,712 of the 10,522 APWU represented employees will accept the VERA.
Those who apply for the early-out will see financial/income impacts, including:
If you are an employee covered by CSRS you will have your annuity reduced by 2% for each year you are under age 55.
If you are covered by FERS you will only earn 1% of your salary as an annuity for each year worked (e.g. if you worked 20 years, your annuity will be 20% of your high-3 average salary).
If you are under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA) you will not receive the Social Security Supplement until you reach the MRA. Find your MRA using this OPM Chart. FERS is a three-legged stool: a modest annuity, social security, and retirement savings in TSP. When you reach the normal minimum retirement age (MRA); but are not yet eligible for social security, you get an “annuity supplement” to provide that social security leg. For example, if you are age 50 and your MRA is 57 you will not receive the supplement until you turn age 57 and the supplement will end at age 62 when you can start receiving social security payments.
You will not receive Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs) on your annuity until you reach MRA.
With an early retirement you can’t make additional contributions to TSP or receive employer contributions as you would with continued employment.
TSP withdrawal restrictions are not eased for those accepting a VERA.
Your life insurance coverage (FEGLI) may change. The amounts of coverage may decrease and the costs (if you continue coverage) will likely rise.
Your health insurance premiums will increase if you currently are covered by the Consumer Driven APWU health plan.
Make your decision on complete and accurate information about your retirement benefits. APWU will continue to share important information on the VERA and will share any new information that comes to light.
USPS Announces Voluntary Early Out Retirement (VERA)
WEB NEWS ARTICLE #:
01/04/2018 - Today, January 4, 2018, the APWU was notified by letter that the USPS is offering voluntary early out retirement (VERA) for eligible clerk craft employees.
This letter was received with no advance notification to the union or negotiations with the APWU over who the VERA applied to and under what conditions.
The APWU immediately initiated information requests to USPS management regarding this VERA and demands for bargaining over its scope and impact.
”It is concerning that employees who are now faced with such a serious consideration regarding their work and retirement future, have not been given sufficient advance notification and needed information,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “Such a life changing and irrevocable decision should not be forced to be made in a rush due to management’s lack of consideration.”
Click here for the 2018 VERA Questions and Answers, provided by the USPS.
Click here for the 2018 VERA "Steps At-a-Glance," provided by the USPS.
The APWU will provide further information and education material as it becomes available.
The decision to retire is among the most important you will ever make. Employees contemplating retirement are eligible for retirement counseling and should take advantage of the opportunity. The APWU encourages you to consider the decision carefully and urge you to participate in USPS-sponsored counseling so you can make an informed decision. Employees requesting additional help after a group session will be accommodated on an individual basis. In accordance with a 2009 pre-arbitration settlement, local management must arrange reasonably private space for employees who wish to receive individual counseling on the clock.