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Roscoe Woods
  President

Steve Wood
  Executive V.P.

Gary Thomas
  Vice President

Kevin Osak
  Clerk Craft Director

Joe Wrobel
  Motor Vehicle Craft Director

Mike Gordon
  Maintenance Craft Director

Joe Gordon
  Secretary-Treasurer

Elaine Dunlap
  Editor

John P. Smeekens
  Veterans Director

Lucy Morton
  OWCP Director

Richard Dale
  Human Relations Director

Tracey Kolossa
  Legislative Director


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Union Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, January 12th at 2:00 PM.


Potential Excessing

Urgent Update

Amended (AGAIN & AGAIN) October 13th, 2017

Well sisters and brothers it is safe to say the USPS has pretty much lost its mind.

Via Email on Wednesday October 11th, 2017 we received notice that despite having over 100 PSE Clerks on the rolls, despite an overtime rate just south of 20%, despite clerk craft employees working in excess of 20 hours of overtime in a service week, the genius minds that brought you this current realignment now believe they have 33 too many full time clerks at the Pontiac MI Metroplex.

As your president it’s really hard to comment on the free fall this agency is in when it comes to common sense or logic. We will tear this proposal apart and do everything in our power to see not one full time regular is displaced from the installation.

Click here to review the entire Article 12 notification. [PDF]

Moving on –

The 480-481 Area Local has been getting calls regarding a number of issues that deal with potential excessing in our local and this district, as well as calls regarding impacts to full time jobs. To give you an idea how chaotic and ill-conceived these impacts are nearly all of the current impacts have been cancelled. This agency is lost in the abyss and once again the bargaining unit bearing the brunt of the uncertainty.

Below see a list of the current impacts as of 10-10-17 and their status:

  • Post Office - # impacted
  • Algonac - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Almont - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Bloomfield Hills - 2 FTR
  • Capac - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Carleton - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Chelsea - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Clawson - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Davisburg - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Dearborn Hts - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Dearborn - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Fair Haven - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Grosse Ile - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Hazel Park - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Highland - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Keego Harbor - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Lake Orion - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Marysville - 1 FTR
  • Milford - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Mt Clemens - 4 FTR
  • Post Office - # impacted
  • New Baltimore - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • New Haven - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Oxford - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Pinckney - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Plymouth - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Pontiac - 4 FTR - Cancelled
  • Port Huron - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Richmond - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Rochester - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Romulus - 1 PTF
  • Royal Oak - 6 FTR - Cancelled
  • Trenton - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Union Lake - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Utica - 3 FTR
  • Walled Lake - 2 FTR - Cancelled
  • Warren - 2 FTR
  • Washington - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Waterford - 1 FTR
  • Wayne - 1 FTR - Cancelled

We will review and take appropriate measures to see these remaining impacts are addressed. The flaws in the data are extensive and it’s one more example of an agency that despite millions of dollars spent automating their processes still having no idea who is working and where they are working nor apparently what they are doing.

We have received notice of no other impacts for excessing in our local at this time. If you are approached by management in your office, or another management official approaches you to talk about excessing, you need to call our office ASAP to report it.

Metroplex

The Metroplex plan however ill-conceived is ready to move forward. Most if not all of you have received notice as to how this debacle impacts you. We did not agree to this, the mass repostings do not seem to have any rhyme or reason and despite some very persuasive arguments put forward by our side this management structure is hell bent to bend this model to whatever its Function 1 Scheduler says.

Nine years and we still can’t get the mail from one side of the building to another, four distinct staffing models deployed all at great disruption to our lives and still no one has taken a hard look at how they manage this facility.

We did convince management to make some minor changes but in the end the new plant manager believes she and she alone can fix what is broken in this facility and its clear to us she believes that it's you.

We offered what we believed was a pretty sound proposal – work the bulk of the PSE’s Friday/Saturday/Sunday and Monday giving the full time staff as many week-end off jobs as possible. They never even considered our proposal.

This new plant manager has no respect for craft boundaries, she has no respect for the hard work you do.

As your president I am asking you all to help your union file the grievances we need to file.

I suspect that anytime they move you from an LCTS, DBCS, or AI operation regardless of your tour they are violating your day to day seniority rights. We need you to ask for a steward and let us review whether or not that is the case.

We proposed a work floor that had clearly defined principal assignments. This plant manager said no despite the over 400 grievances filed for just this sort of violation. She seems to believe she can teach her staff to police seniority on a work floor that is over 800,000 square feet.

As far as I am concerned I do not believe she respects us or our seniority. She seems to be a get the mail out at all costs boss and that’s pretty typical these days since we all know, when the grievance settlements start coming in for the article 1.6 and article 7 violations it's not coming out of management's check.

We need to investigate this issue every time it happens so we can support the main article 37 principal assignment grievance we are filing. To get that accomplished we need you to report when you are moved so we can review whether it was done properly.

Keep in mind, management believe the DBCS section on each tour is a principal assignment. When they move you anywhere outside of the DBCS section they must do so by juniority. They have failed at that daily and we see no reason it will change.

Last but not least – YOU MUST CLOCK THE CORRECT OPERATION!

It’s a travesty this agency breeds managers that don’t value you or your hard work, nor do they value this agency and the revenue you earn for it.

I wonder, if it were their money would then be so irresponsible?

Stay Tuned

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

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Nominations for Local Officers

The nominations for 480-481 Area Local elected positions will take place at the January 14, 2018 (unless changed by motion at a prior general membership meeting) General Membership Meeting. Please be sure to update your mailing address if you have recently moved. If you are not currently receiving the Communicator, it is a good indication that we have no good address for you. The Local Constitution language governing the nomination process is as follows:

ARTICLE VIII
Nominations and Elections

Section 1.

At the regular meeting in October of 2011, the nomination of officers shall be held, “However, beginning with the election 3 years after 2011, the nominating meeting shall be in January (2015, 2018, 2021, etc). The ballots shall be counted on the Friday prior to the March General Membership meeting. The term of the officers of this local shall be three years, except that those Officers elected in the year 2011, will serve three years and three months.” Elective offices shall be: President, Executive Vice President, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, Editor, Clerk Craft Director, Maintenance Craft Director, Motor Vehicle Craft Director, Legislative Director and Chief Stewards. Craft Directors shall be nominated and elected by their respective crafts. Chief Stewards shall be nominated and elected by the members of their respective installations.

A candidate must be a member in good standing according to the printout for DCO / Pay Period 19, 2011, P/P 25, 2014, 2017, 2020 etc. to run for office.

Section 2.

The nominating process shall begin after the reading of the minutes and financial report. The nomination process shall be as follows. Any member wishing to nominate a candidate shall stand and remain standing until called upon; when called upon they shall state their name, craft and home installation; they will then submit the name of the nominee for the office in question. Self-nomination is permitted. Nominations shall remain open until every member standing has had an opportunity to submit their candidate for nomination. Nominations will not be official unless the candidate accepts the nomination by the conclusion of the nominating meeting. The chair of the meeting will take nominations for a specific office (President, Executive Vice President, etc.) When the nominations for that office are closed, before going to the next office, the chair will ask each person nominated whether they accept the nomination. At that point, each candidate will say “I accept.” “I decline” or “I defer until the end of the meeting.”

A candidate’s declaration to accept or decline is final, with one exception. If subsequently nominated for another position, the candidate may accept the other position and decline the position previously accepted (either when nominated for the other position or by deferring that decision to the end of the meeting. After nominations have been taken for all elective offices, the business of the meeting shall resume. Prior to adjournment, the chair shall read back the names of the candidates who deferred their decision. Candidates must accept or decline at that point by writing down their decision and handing it to the Election Committee Chair. The Chair will read all these responses aloud after everyone has made their decision. Any candidate who accepts nominations for more than one elective office shall be declared ineligible for all of them.

If a candidate is not present at the meeting, a signed statement from the candidate accepting the nomination for a specific position will be accepted, if presented by a member in good standing at the time the candidate is nominated.

A candidate who is unable to attend the meeting due to an emergency shall leave a message on the answering machine at the Local Union Office no later 3:00pm the same day, stating the position for which s(he) accepts nomination. After this process is completed, all candidates may submit their commonly known name as they wish it to appear on the ballot to the Secretary/Treasurer and the Chair of the Election Committee. Immediately after the meeting adjourns, a blind draw will be conducted by the Election Committee chair to determine the order in which names shall appear on the ballot. Each candidate may observe or have an observer during this process. Any candidate who calls in for an emergency will be placed last.

Note: The constitution, in its entirety, is available on this website. Go to 480-481 Documents and the constitution is the first document listed.

Joe Gordon
Secretary-Treasurer

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Potential Excessing

Urgent Update - Amended (AGAIN) 7-24-17

The 480-481 Area Local has been getting calls regarding a number of issues that deal with potential excessing in our local and this district, as well as calls regarding impacts to full time jobs. To give you an idea how chaotic and ill conceived these impacts are quite a few of the impacts that have been cancelled were less than three weeks old, in fact I received the the previous impacts two weeks ago this coming Friday. This agency is lost in the abyss and once again the bargaining unit will bear the brunt of the uncertainty.

As noted at the last union meeting we have impact statements for:

  • Post Office - # impacted
  • Algonac - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Almont - 1 PTF
  • Bloomfield Hills - 2 FTR
  • Capac - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Carleton - 1 FTR
  • Chelsea - 1 PTF
  • Clawson - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Davisburg - 1 PTF
  • Dearborn Hts - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Dearborn - 1 FTR
  • Fair Haven - 1 FTR
  • Grosse Ile - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Hazel Park - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Highland - 1 PTF
  • Keego Harbor - 1 PTF
  • Lake Orion - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Marysville - 1 FTR
  • Milford - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Mt Clemens - 4 FTR
  • Post Office - # impacted
  • New Baltimore - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • New Haven - 1 FTR
  • Oxford - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Pinckney - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Plymouth - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Pontiac - 4 FTR
  • Port Huron - 1 FTR
  • Richmond - 1 PTF - Cancelled
  • Rochester - 1 FTR
  • Romulus - 1 PTF
  • Royal Oak - 6 FTR
  • Trenton - 1 FTR - Cancelled
  • Union Lake - 1 PTF
  • Utica - 3 FTR
  • Walled Lake - 2 FTR
  • Warren - 2 FTR
  • Washington - 1 PTF
  • Waterford - 1 FTR
  • Wayne - 1 FTR

Seems you are all over staffed. I suspect your managers and supervisors will do one of two things, ride you to work harder, or start doing the work themselves. Either choice is unacceptable. Per the USPS normal manner of conducting business most if not all of these impacts are filled with errors. We will review and take appropriate measures to see these impacts are addressed, in a lot of cases the impacts have been reached due to PTF transfer or PSE conversion. The flaws in the data are extensive and its one more example of an agency that despite millions of dollars spent automating their processes still having no idea who is working and where they are working.

We have received notice of no other impacts for excessing in our local. If you are approached by management in your office, or another management official approaches you to talk about excessing, you need to call our office ASAP to report it.

Additionally we have been approached by management at the Metroplex to discuss once again the realignment of the work force in that facility. (Last realignment was just under 3 years ago.)

We received a very loose draft of their proposal and since that date (June 30th, 2017) we have sent to them a request for information so we might better understand how they are arriving at the decisions they are proposing to make.

Rumors being what they are we expect that once this plan is finalized we can address the details but at this point what we have is a proposal and they have never made public what is proposed. They have provided some of the requested information and we are waiting for the rest.

At the heart of our discussion now is how management determines what an "earned hour" is. Their entire proposal is based on something called the Function 1 Scheduler and it determines the alignment and staffing of assignments by using "earned hours".

It is very difficult for your union to offer any meaningful input when we have no idea how the service is reaching its conclusions.

They have yet to provide for our review where the PSE complement will be utilized. Unless we know for certain how many PSE's and where and what hours they are working it’s very difficult to discuss what is proposed.

Additionally we are all aware that management has created this situation by their eliminating jobs en masse through the reversion process.

Once we have a clearer picture of what will be happening we will make it a point to get on all tours and all sections to inform our membership.

Stay Tuned

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

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480-481 Area Local, APWU
& VFW Post 4659

Veteran's 4th Annual Gold Outing

Sunday September 17, 2017
Cracklewood Golf Course

18215 24 Mile Road — Macomb, MI 48042
• 7:30 Check-in ~ 8:30 Shotgun Start
• Cost is $90.00 per person - $360.00 per team
Make checks payable to VFW Post 4659
• 18 Hole - 4 Person Scramble
(Includes hot dog, chips, and beer or pop at the turn and Buffet Dinner)
Proceeds to Benefit the Veteran's Programs for Both Organizations
Limited spaces available so sign up early
For details see www.apwu480.org or VFW Post 4659 Clubroom
E-Mail lvkogelman@comcast.net with your questions.
Hole sponsorships are available - Starting at $75.00
50/50 Raffle - Door Prizes and much more
Deadline is August 25th
Click here for a PDF flyer and application.

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Get the Facts
Postal Reform Questions & Answers

APWU Web News Article #: 34-2017

04/10/2017 - In order to have a healthy, sustainable, public Postal Service, legislation is necessary to protect postal customers and postal workers from USPS’s current financial crisis. The bi-partisan Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 largely caused this crisis, sending the Postal Service on a severe downward spiral. The PAEA mandated the Postal Service “pre-fund” 100 percent of its retiree health benefit liabilities, 75 years into the future.

This absurd, unfair and unsustainable burden, which costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion each year over the past decade, is a large reason why the Postal Service cut back service and hours of operation, closed processing plants, increased subcontracting and severely reduced staffing. It also hurt the Postal Service’s financial ability to upgrade buildings, update infrastructure and purchase a new vehicle fleet.

In the ten years since the passage of the PAEA, legislators from both the Senate and House of Representatives repeatedly introduced postal legislation. Some bills, such as H.R. 22 in 2009 and H.R. 1351 in 2011, were positive legislative efforts to help address the pre-funding mandate, and were supported by the APWU. Some, such as H.R. 2309 in 2012, were all-out assaults on postal workers and the public Postal Service, causing the APWU to strongly oppose them.

Regardless of the political party in power, all legislative efforts have failed and the pre-funding crisis continues. It is clear that while Congress created the pre-funding mess, they refuse to legislate its solution on a stand-alone basis.

New postal reform legislation introduced in the 115th Congress helps to solve the pre-funding crisis and is fair to active and retired postal workers. The APWU supports two companion bills introduced in the House of Representatives, H.R. 756 and H.R. 760. As these bills move through the legislative process, the APWU will continue working to improve them.

We received many good questions from around the country regarding the impact of the pending legislation, if it is passed. These questions are the basis for the following “questions and answers.”

Q1: What is H.R. 756?
H.R. 756 is titled the “Postal Service Reform Act of 2017.” It is co-sponsored by a number of Congressional Representatives on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the legislative committee with jurisdiction over postal issues.

Q2: Does it have bi-partisan support of both Republicans and Democrats?
Yes. A rare sight in Washington, key Republicans and Democrats support the bill. It is sponsored by House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). Initial co-sponsors are Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Representatives Mark Meadows (R-NC), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Dennis Ross (R-FL) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA). It passed the Oversight Committee made up of 24 Republicans and 18 Democrats with an overwhelming voice vote.

Q3: How does H.R. 756 address the pre-funding debacle created by the 2006 PAEA?
H.R. 756 helps to solve the crushing pre-funding burden. By lowering the cost of FEHBP with Medicare Integration, combined with introducing EGWP drug discounts, the Postal Service should be 100 percent funded to meet the requirement of the PAEA.

Q4: What are the main aspects of H.R. 756 that affect postal workers and retirees?
The bill puts the Postal Service on firmer financial footing, which should lead to positive benefits for postal workers both active and retired. It addresses the pre-funding crisis and increases postal rates to raise revenue. Aspects that will directly affect postal workers and retirees are the creation of a “postal only” health care program within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and the requirement of “Medicare Integration” for postal retirees who are eligible for Medicare.

Q5: If H.R. 756 becomes law, will there be any changes to what health benefits are covered?
There should be no changes in what health benefits are covered as a direct result of the passage of H.R. 756. With or without passage of the bill, FEHBP plans, with OPM approval, make changes annually to what they cover for medical procedures and prescription drugs, as well as co-pays, deductibles, networks and premiums. Those changes may increase or decrease a particular benefit. These FEHBP practices of the past will continue in the future.

Medicare Integration

Q6: What is Medicare Integration?
Medicare Integration requires that all Medicare-eligible postal retirees (age 65 or older) enroll in Medicare in order to maintain their FEHBP plan coverage in retirement. This means that all eligible retirees must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A, B and D in order to get insurance through the FEHBP. In order to simplify the enrollment procedure, all Medicare-eligible retirees will be automatically enrolled.

Q7: What do Medicare Parts A, B and D cover?
Medicare Part A covers hospitalization, Medicare Part B covers doctor/physician care and Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs.

Q8: Will this cost employees, upon retirement, additional premiums? What about retirees who are not yet 65 years of age?
Medicare Part A has no premium. Medicare Part B currently has a standard premium for new enrollees of $134.00/month. Each year, Medicare Part B premiums are set based on the Consumer Price Index, so premiums can change. There is no additional premium for Medicare Part D because it is part of a retiree’s FEHBP plan coverage. Retirees under 65 years of age are not Medicare-eligible and thus will have no additional Medicare premiums until they become Medicare-eligible.

Q9: If a postal worker is still an active employee after reaching the Medicare-eligible age of 65, will they have to enroll in Medicare Part B to maintain their FEHBP coverage?
No. Only when an employee retires does the Medicare Integration mandate apply.

Q10: Will Medicare Integration remove retirees from medical coverage under the Federal Employee Health Benefit Program?
No. H.R. 756 sets up a “postal only” group within FEHBP for active and retired postal workers. For Medicare-eligible retirees, Medicare will be the primary insurance and a FEHBP plan will be the secondary insurance. Medical and prescription bills not covered by Medicare are covered by the FEHBP plan (if the medical care or drugs are normally covered by the plan’s benefits).

Q11: Will the postal only group insurance be run by the USPS?
No. USPS management will have no more authority to run the postal only health plans than they do now. The FEHBP “postal only” plans will continue to be administered by their plan sponsors, with OPM oversight.

Q12: Will retirees have access to all the FEHBP plans that other federal employees/retirees have?
Mostly yes. Eligible plans in the “postal only” group will be ones with over 1,500 postal participants. Right now, over 30 plans would be eligible, including all of the union-sponsored FEHBP health plans. Current retirees in a FEHBP plan with under 1,500 postal participants will be “grandfathered in” and can stay with their health plan – or switch to a FEHBP postal plan.

Q13: Are “pre-1983” postal Civil Service retirees who did not contribute to Medicare covered under the provisions of H.R. 756?
Postal Service employees who retired prior to 1983 will be exempt from Medicare Integration, unless the retiree had sufficient quarters in a non-postal job, qualifying them for Medicare.

Q14: If a Medicare-eligible retiree has a spouse who is covered by an FEHBP plan, and is not yet 65 years of age, will there be a change in how the spouse gets medical coverage?
No. The spouse will be fully covered by the FEHBP plan until he or she becomes Medicare-eligible. At that point, the spouse will be required to enroll in Medicare Part B in order to maintain FEHBP coverage.

Q15: If H.R. 756 passes, what happens to a dependent under 26 years of age who is currently covered under a FEHBP plan?
No change will take place as a result of H.R. 756.

Q16: If H.R. 756 passes, will it have an effect on the FEHBP premium cost for active and retired postal workers?
Yes, it will have a positive effect. According to numerous health care actuaries, Medicare Integration will likely lead to cost savings for the FEHBP plans with three possible outcomes for both active and retired postal workers: 1) Some outright reduction in FEHBP premiums; 2) Slower growth of premium increases; and 3) increase in benefits provided. These anticipated savings are part of what makes this pending legislation fair to both active workers and retirees.

Q17: These are tumultuous times and there is much talk of doing away with and/or privatizing Medicare. If that were to happen, how would that affect our health coverage if H.R. 756 passes?
In the unlikely event of the elimination of Medicare, then there is really no Medicare Integration required of employees. Annuitants, including spouses, would maintain their FEHBP plan as their health insurance

Q18: If passed, when would the Medicare Integration provisions of the bill go into effect? How will affected retirees know the impact on their individual situation?
January 2019 is currently the proposed effective date. There is language in H.R. 756 that mandates an extensive education program for affected employees prior to Medicare Integration implementation. Furthermore, if H.R. 756 becomes law, the APWU is committed to creating its own education program.

Q19: How many of the current postal retirees will be affected by Medicare Integration if this bill were to become law?
Approximately 20 percent of Medicare-eligible postal retirees are not currently enrolled in Medicare Part B. They will be required to enroll if they wish to keep their FEHBP coverage.

Medicare Part B

Q20: Why do approximately 80 percent of APWU retirees already voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part B?
With the combined benefits of Medicare Part B and their FEHBP plan, enrolled retirees have virtually 100% medical coverage with no co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance or catastrophic limits.

Q21: If an over-65 retiree did not voluntarily enroll in Medicare Part B at age 65, what happens to the late enrollment penalty if the bill is passed?
Under current provisions of the law, there is a 10% late enrollment penalty for each year after a person became Medicare-eligible, but did not enroll. H.R. 756 waives the late enrollment penalty for Medicare Part B to allow current retirees to enroll.

Q22: Is there any financial assistance with Medicare Part B premiums for those who are already Medicare-eligible but did not previously enroll?
H.R. 756 has a transition provision for current retirees and covered family members. The USPS will pay 75 percent of the Medicare Part B premium the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the third year (only for retirees and dependents who did not enroll in Medicare Part B before the passage of H.R. 756). Furthermore, there are a number of Medicare Savings Programs (MSPs) to assist low-income beneficiaries with their Medicare Part B premiums. Eligibility and availability vary state by state.

Q23: If a disabled veteran, getting their health care coverage through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Health Benefit program, has FEHBP coverage for a spouse, will they be mandated to enroll in Medicare as well?
The way H.R. 756 is currently written, yes. However, the APWU is working to improve and clarify the language surrounding this issue.

Q24: If I have a physician who opts out of Medicare Part B, will I be forced to change my existing doctor?
No. For doctors who opt out of Medicare, which is an extremely small number (less than 1 percent), your FEHBP plan will pay towards your medical expenses as set forth in its benefits and coverage rules. Medicare Part D

Q25: How does Medicare Integration into Part D affect my premiums?
Prescription coverage is already provided in all FEHBP plans. There is no additional Medicare Part D premium that would be paid under the bill other than the premium already paid for FEHBP coverage.

Q26: Medicare Part D has what is called a “donut hole” creating a gap in prescription drug coverage. How will this affect annuitants under H.R. 756?
Whatever Medicare Part D does not cover in the “donut hole” will be covered by a person’s FEHBP plan, if the FEHBP plan provides coverage with what is commonly referred to as a “wrap around plan.” A "wrap around plan" for Medicare Part D gives a person complete prescription coverage. The APWU Health Plan will provide prescription "wrap around" coverage in the new “postal only” group and it is anticipated that other FEHBP plans will, as well.

Q27: If my current medicine is not covered under the Medicare Part D formulary, will I lose the coverage for that particular medicine?
No. Your FEHBP “wrap around plan” will cover what is not covered by Medicare Part D, based on the FEHBP plan’s benefits. Keep in mind that FEHBP plans cover different medicines in different ways, which can change from year to year. That practice will not change as a result of H.R. 756, and employees will need to review their options carefully during Open Season.

Q28: What is the Employee Group Waiver Program (EGWP)?
The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003, the law that created Medicare Part D, also created the Employee Group Waiver Program (EGWP). It is a program that incentivizes employers to cover health benefits for their retirees by providing access to discounted drugs. Right now, the EGWP does not currently apply to the FEHBP; however, H.R. 756 would allow the “postal only” FEHBP plans access to the EGWP discounts. In turn, access to the EGWP should save the FEHBP plans, individuals and the Postal Service significant amounts of money on the cost of medications.

Other Issues

Q29: What is the companion bill, H.R. 760 about?
H.R. 760, the Postal Service Financial Improvement Act of 2017, allows the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund (PSRHBF) to invest up to 30 percent of its funds in a Thrift Savings Plan-like account. Currently, all PSRHBF money (approximately $50 billion) is in U.S. Treasury accounts, earning very low interest. With medical inflation running at 6-8 percent annually, the USPS loses large sums of money each year simply trying to keep up. Sensible investment approaches would allow the PSRHBF to generate more income to match medical inflation.

Q30: Why does the APWU support H.R. 756 when there is no language to restore overnight delivery standards?
The return of overnight delivery standards is an important goal of the APWU. However, pressing for it in this bill undermines its passage because neither the USPS nor the mailers agree to support this language. The reality we face is that no legislation will survive in the current political environment without the support of the four major postal unions, postal management and a significant portion of the major mailers. APWU’s effort to restore service standards will continue in other forms.

Q31: What about protection against further postal and plant closures?
If USPS finances are stabilized, there is less pressure to cut back on services. Conversely, if postal reform legislation is not passed soon, the Postal Service may look to implement further service cuts, such as eliminating delivery days, closing processing plants, reducing staffing, shuttering post offices and subcontracting more work – and services. Remember, a declining Postal Service is also an easy target for full-blown privatization.

Q32: Will H.R. 756 undermine our union rights?
No. As opposed to some “postal reform” bills over the last few years, H.R. 756, as this article goes to press, does not attack collective bargaining rights, the right to dues check-off or the right to official union time.

Q33: Different legislative initiatives over the years have attacked injured workers. How does H.R. 756 treat injured workers?
There is no change to current law.

Q34: What is the current status of the legislation?
The bills are in the early stage of a long arduous legislative process. Both have been “marked up” and approved by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Once the bills are reviewed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - to "score" their financial impact on the overall federal budget - and are reviewed by other committees of jurisdiction, they will advance to the full House. If the bill(s) pass the House, the process will move to the Senate.

View the original article on the APWU website.

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Bipartisan Postal Reform Bill Passes Through Committee

Upon my return from our nations capital we see HR 756, the bill on postal reform, clearing its first hurdle on its way to the house floor for a vote. The APWU at the HQ level is preparing a Q&A to answer the many questions you will all have. Take a look at the story below, we have attached the bills (HR 756 and its companion HR 760) in their entirety.

Feel free to email the local with your questions - if we can answer we will, if not we will forward them to the legislative department for answers.

I can be emailed at apwusteward@hotmail.com

As always, stay tuned...

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local
MPWU Legislative Dir.

Bipartisan Postal Reform Bill Passes Through Committee

WASHINGTON – Today, with a bipartisan voice vote, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved H.R. 756, the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, as amended. Upon approval, the bill’s original cosponsors, including Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Reps. Mark Meadows (R-NC), Dennis Ross (R-FL), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), and Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), released the following statement:

Oversight & Government Reform

“The Postal Service is in dire need of real reforms, and this bill puts it on the course toward financial stability. These desperately needed policy changes prevent a taxpayer bailout of the Postal Service and will save billions of dollars over the next decade. We are pleased to see this bill pass through committee and urge the House to follow suit as soon as possible.”

Click here to view a summary of the bill. Click here to view notable changes from legislation introduced during the 114th Congress.

Background:
The bill, first introduced January 31, 2017, addresses unfunded liabilities of the United States Postal Service (USPS), makes reforms to keep mailing costs affordable for consumers, and encourages innovation, all without additional borrowing from the U.S. taxpayer. The Committee followed up on introduction in early February with a legislative hearing on the bill and the continued need for postal reform.

In May 2016, the committee held a hearing to examine the need for timely and comprehensive postal reform legislation. In June 2016, the committee introduced H.R. 5714, the Postal Service Reform Act. In July 2016, the legislation overwhelmingly passed out of committee.

What the bill does:

Makes USPS more efficient:

  • Cuts Costs: CBO Score, Unified Budget Savings of at least $2.2B
  • Streamlines and Secures Mail Delivery through cluster boxes for eligible businesses, voluntary residential conversions
  • Strengthens Accountability by holding Postmaster General accountable for results
  • Improves Oversight by having the Postal Regulatory Commission review postage rates, mail delivery performance

Keeps promises to customers, employees:

  • Guarantees Pension Liability by making clear USPS is responsible for accrued pension liabilities
  • Improves Employee Health Care by improving coordination of care through a USPS-only health care plan and Medicare integration
  • Emphasizes Local Service Opportunities by having USPS provide state, local, and tribal government services at local post offices, reducing the cost of service and raising postal revenue
  • Supports Rural Access by obtaining local community input on post office closure

View the original PostalReporter.com post.

View a copy of the H.R. 756 bill here.

View a copy of the H.R. 760 bill here.

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Environmental Conditions at Michigan Metroplex

Hello Brothers and sisters,

The OIG received a complaint from the APWU in December of 2015 expressing concerns for the safety and health of employees at the Metroplex.

The complaint mentioned the facility is located at an old General Motors site, may be contaminated and, therefore, needs further investigation.

The attached report is just a continuance of the investigation into the air quality and work environment at the MI Metroplex. The APWU has remained engaged at the local and HQ level in this process and we continue to discuss what improvements can be made at the Metroplex to ensure we have a safe place to move our customer's mail. As your President I have been in communication with APWU HQ and USPS District and Plant management regarding the implementation of the OIG recommendations.

I have briefed the Maintenance Craft Director Mike Gordon as well Metroplex Chief Steward Eric Neal, copies of this report have been sent to all members of this local executive board and the stewards at the Metroplex.

On behalf of the 480-481 Area Local I want to thank APWU President Mark Dimondstein, Executive VP Debby Szeredy and MVS Director Mike Foster for the leadership as we confronted these issues. They were instrumental in getting this issue the national attention and oversight necessary to see that the proper reforms and repairs were made to the methane detection system in the MI Metroplex.

Stay tuned, once the final report is issued we will make it available for all of you to review.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

You can view a copy of the January 25, 2017 report here:
Environmental Conditions at Michigan Metroplex Processing and Distribution Center

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Outta This World Order

Hello Sisters and Brothers,

With the announced retirement of long time Communicator Editor Paul Felton the 480-481 Area Local would like to congratulate Elaine Dunlap the current Chief Steward in Rochester and our former Maintenance Craft Director into the position of Editor for the 480-481 Area Local Communicator. I am certain Elaine will make us all proud. I expect Elaine will continue the tradition of strong editorial content as well as giving us a round up of all that is happening in the world of postal workers.

While Paul's much earned retirement brings to end an era of outstanding work when it comes to our paper I have no doubt Elaine will continue that tradition. Elaine has written her first editorial and since our winter edition is not due to come out until late December I thought we could share her first article here on our homepage.

Enjoy the read and good luck to you Brother Felton and thank you for those decades of excellence.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

Outta This World Order

It is one week after the 2016 presidential election has come to a close. Donald J. Trump has been elected to be the 45th President of the United States. There is a major divide in our country at this time. Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by over a million more votes than President elect Trump. By the time this paper comes out we will see if the Electoral College votes to install Trump or they throw some kind of Hail Mary pass.

Tensions are high. World leaders and American citizens are anxious about the radical change Trump has declared he will bring to bear. Every day since the election there have been protests around our country. There have been citizens that support Trump, some, seemingly unconscious of the irony, waving the Confederate Flag, telling the protesting citizens to get over it, you lost.

There are backers from all sides saying we need to come together behind our President-elect and give him a chance to get the job done. Often I have heard people say that if Trump fails- all of us fail. I anticipate that anyone reading this article would want our country to prosper, not fail. I certainly do not want it to fail.

I am heartened that the Millennials and Generation Z dove into the democratic process with tenacity I had not seen before. Yesterday, I watched 14 year old high school students protesting and marching in Washington DC. Gives me hope that they will stay involved and strive to become the leaders they want to see run this country.

I was disheartened by people that voted third and fourth party candidates as an objection to the two party system. If you want more than a two party system, it needs to start well before your candidate loses his/her primary. And perhaps if Independent Bernie Sanders had held true to being an Independent instead of running Democrat, this would no longer be a two party system. Let that sink in.

I am always dismayed by the eligible voters that do not vote. It’s hard to have a government claim it is by and for the people when almost half of them do not vote. We must give urgent attention to determining why this happens: is it disinterest? Lack of time, transportation, childcare? Voter suppression?

As Americans we like to see our republic as the highest form of democracy and one to be admired around the globe. We’ve been fighting for it and seeking to create a more perfect union for over 200 years. Now the world is starting to look at us like we are the crazy uncle whose stories you suffer through at family dinner, while the others roll their eyes behind his back. Only this uncle is armed for Armageddon. Let that sink in.

President-elect Trump has promised to be the president of all Americans, “drain the swamp” and ‘bind the wounds of division.” Currently, President-elect Trump is choosing his transition team and cabinet. So far they do not look like promising outsiders or unifying leaders that he told us would bring about positive changes. Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff? He is a Washington insider and the chairman of the Republican National Committee. White Supremacist Steve Bannon for Chief Strategist? At the time of this writing the Secretary of Labor has not been named. That job is intended to protect American workers and worker rights. But the names I see that are being considered for that position have a history of a much greater allegiance to protect employers and not workers. To a large chunk of society the potential cabinet and presidential appointees are notable mostly for their racist, sexist, and homophobic views and for being often a politically inexperienced crop of wealthy white people.

Oh yeah, and there are media reports that he wants his kids to have top secret security clearance. Anybody else remember the audacity of First Lady Hillary Clinton trying to shape universal healthcare in the nineties? And my goodness, Michelle Obama telling us to exercise, wearing sleeveless dresses and showing her arms! Arms, I am willing to bet, every woman over 50 would love to have. How did we get from there to here? Here being where the next First Lady, Melania Trump, has plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speeches, posed naked for a magazine and lied for years about having a college degree. Here being where we elected a president that bullies and brags about sexually assaulting women, makes fun of disabled people and slews vile comments about immigrants, veterans and women.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I did not vote for and do not look forward to Donald Trump as our next president. He will be my president regardless of my disdain. I love my country and honor its constitution. The constitution gives me freedom of speech and freedom to protest and I intend to do both. I will continue to promote and vote for the politicians that I believe have the best interests of our postal jobs and my belief system.

I can’t speak for all postal employees, but I need this job. No matter who postal employees voted for, we had better come together and be vigilant about job security, wages, benefits, and safety. We had better police our elected officials and their appointees. We better pay attention before we lose our great gig. After all, Mr. Trump does not believe in paying his own employees.

Elaine Dunlap

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Filling the G.A.P.S…

Hello Everyone!

480-481 Area Local Field Steward Marty Jablonski has written the article below and Maintenance Craft Director Mike Gordon and me thought it important enough information to get it out to you all now.

Thanks Marty for summing it all up - as a custodian myself I believe Marty explains the importance of policing what we do ourselves on a daily basis. The work we protect is our own - management as shown time and time again they will manipulate hours to get out of paying us all what we are owed.

We must all work together to protect our work.

Enjoy!

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

Filling the G.A.P.S…

G~~ GET A~~ ALL P~~ POSSIBLE S~~ SAVING of jobs,

Attention all Maintenance Stewards, now is the time to make sure you are on the lookout for the Line H numbers at your office to see if Management has once again skewed your numbers so they do not owe by simply cutting your cleaning frequencies or changing numbers.

The MS 47 specifically states, Section 110 GENERAL 111 “It is the responsibility of the postmaster manager of a postal facility to assure that custodial maintenance is sustained at a satisfactory level. When making staffing determinations, management MUST make a commitment to MAINTAIN a clean and healthful working environment. When determining what, when, and how often to clean, this commitment must be the principal concern.

When looking at your FY16 Line H calculations, make sure you are requesting Employee Everything Clock Rings to track your custodial hours as these we have found are the most accurate to do actual calculations. This is also something you want to get in the habit of keeping up on all year long as I am sure you do with your ODL OT List. The more up to date you are the easier it will be to see if management will owe or not and make sure your grievance, if necessary, is timely.

You should also be anticipating a form titled, “Custodial Survey”, from the union office, this will be a great assistance for you when you are looking over your 4852 to make sure your custodians are getting credit for all the work they are actually doing. Over the years management has found it easier to utilize custodians as their catch all go to workers. For instance, Go Deliver Express, shrink wrapping tubs, breaking down cardboard for recycling, separating plastic, setting up rooms for conferences, parties, meetings, traveling from office to office to run empty equipment, dropping placards in collection boxes, and many other errands. We are not errand workers, we are custodians, with specific jobs and tasks that we are supposed to do every day. Your job is the one they are looking at cutting so do not believe for a minute that those favors you are doing will stop them from cutting your position in order to avoid paying you money at the end of the year. Now granted not all these items may be an everyday thing but they are taking away your time to clean your building the way it should and that management is doing everything they can to cut maintenance hours and staffing so DO NOT HELP them CUT YOUR JOB. Make sure everything you are doing is on the proper operation and if unsure ask them what operation you should be swiping to. Lastly, make sure your custodial MS 47 package is correct and current, Management has been shaving numbers off slowly and by changing frequencies, room sizes, from active to inactive, number of tours, and jobs actually being done. Remember if the work you do is not included in the package and it isn’t project work then it is subtracted from the year end totals. Make sure you get what money you deserve by protecting your job! If you are unsure what jobs you should or should not be doing and don’t understand your package ask your Maintenance Craft Director for assistance or call the union hall and they will give you someone to assist you.

Know your job, Do your job, Keep your job!

In Solidarity

Marti Jablonski
Maint. Steward

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480 481 Area Local Endorsements
for APWU National Elections!!

480-481 Area Local Endorsements for the election of officers for the APWU as discussed and voted on at the September 11th, 2016 480-481 Area Local GMM. We urge all of our membership to review these endorsements and vote for those candidates:

President
Mark Dimondstein (I), Greater Greensboro Area Local (NC)

Executive Vice President
Jeff Kehlert, Trenton Metro Area Local (NJ)

Industrial Relations Director
Vance Zimmerman, Greater Cincinnati Area Local (OH)

Legislative/Political Director
Judy Beard (I), Detroit Area District Local (MI)

Health Plan Director
John L. Marcotte (I), Gaylord Local (MI)

Research and Education Director
Charles P. Smith, Puget Sound Area Local (WA)

Clerk Craft Director
Clint Burelson (I), Olympia Local (WA)

Assistant Clerk Craft Director (B)
Lynn Pallas-Barber (I), 498-499 Area Local (MI)

Maintenance Craft Director
Steve G. "Steve" Raymer (I), Madison Area Local (WI)

Assistant Maintenance Craft Director (B)
Terry B. Martinez (I), Dallas Area Local (TX)

Motor Vehicle Service Division

National Business Agents, Central Region
William Wright, Indianapolis Area Local (IN)

Retiree Dept. Director - While the general membership cannot vote for this position the membership at the September 11th, 2016 meeting does endorse and urge all retirees in the APWU to vote for:
Joe Gordon, 480-481 Area Local (MI)

Additionally the members in attendance at the September 11th, 2016 meeting approved the following contest to get out the vote in this national election:

Resolution to encourage our members to get out the vote in the 2016 APWU National Election - Presented to the membership for vote on 9-11-16.

Whereas: The APWU is a fully democratic union that gives all members in good standing their voice through their vote - as in one person, one vote,

Whereas: We are one of the largest Area Locals in the APWU and it is important we use that strength to see those officers we endorse win election and hold office,

Whereas: We have spent a considerable time choosing who to endorse for this year's 2016 electin of national officers,

Therefore Be It Resolved: The 480-481 Area Local President will ask the Chaiperson of the APWU National Election Committee Anthony "Tony" Turner to randomly draw 20 ballots from those designated as having come from the 480-481 Area Local.

Those 20 names will be entered into a local drawing where the first 19 pulled will receive a $25.00 Visa Gift Card and the 20th name drawn will receive a $100.00 Visa Gift Card. This drawing will take place at the October 2016 general membership meeting.

Download a copy of the 480-481 Area Local Endorsements.

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New Contract
Now Available Online

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Methane Detection System

4-12-16 Update:

The APWU is happy to post for your review a letter written by Senators Stabenow and Peters as well as Representative Brenda Lawrence that was sent to PMG Brennan. We are thankful for their direct involvement and oversight as we try to make certain the USPS is providing a safe workplace for us all.

In addition we are providing for your review a request for information sent to management by the local.

We have provided this document to APWU HQ as well as our Congressional representatives so they are fully aware of what efforts we are taking so we can all be certain we are working together. Recently OSHA and Great lakes Area were in the Metroplex. I cannot tell you what exactly they were there for since no one in Area or District bothered to tell your President that they were coming.

While we welcome OSHA’s further involvement, when we became aware of this visit I expressed the following to Great Lakes Area Vice President:

“I have a decent working relationship with District Manager Lee Thompson but after speaking to her about this visit and the fact we received no advance notice we are not satisfied that management here in the Detroit District or in the GLA understands the importance of keeping the local union looped in when we are dealing with such serious issues. Maintenance Manager Mike Brown sought out some union assistance once OSHA arrived and it was just luck that there was a APWU steward available to assist. Had management contacted my office in advance I might have come out myself to assist and make certain the membership we represent knew we were all working together to find solutions to the problems and perhaps that show of unity might have gone a long way to calming the fears in the Metroplex about the working environment.

"I take my job very serious, I do my best to be respectful and to engage with management in those processes that require a joint effort. Simply put the employees who work in the MI Metroplex do not trust local management. Failing to provide advanced notice of these types of visits to local union leadership shows a disregard for our leadership in addition it further degrades the employees trust and my leaderships trust in management with respect to this methane issue.”

We will continue to push forward and we will not be deterred from seeing the people we represent have a safe work place.

Roscoe Woods
Letter to PMG Brennan [PDF] Union's Request for Information [PDF]

MI Metroplex Methane Update: March 2016

Metroplex Methane Test Results, March 23rd, 2016 [PDF]

Recently there was a report posted on the internet that dealt with a concern raised by the APWU regarding issues associated with the Methane Detection System in place at the Pontiac MI. Metroplex. The report can be found here [PDF].

Some background:

After a series of work place fatalities spanning 14 months the 480-481 Area Local of the APWU reached out to APWU HQ to discuss our concerns. Among issues we were concerned with, excessive overtime, a tense and at times hostile work environment, under-staffed machines as well as issues we had with the methane detection system.

As President - First I called OSHA, then I called APWU HQ in D.C.

APWU National President Mark Dimondstein as well as Vice President Debbie Szeredy after talking to me reached out to the OIG at the HQ level and the OIG investigation that resulted in the report linked to above began. An OIG investigatory team came to the Metroplex and stayed for a few days doing a series of interviews, Chief Steward Eric Neal and I were interviewed about our concerns.

Additionally I reported on this issue at the October 480-481 Area local Membership meeting. Attached to this update is a document that shows the results of the methane testing that was conducted in January of 2016.

The report attached [PDF] notes that on the date of testing there were no immediate health or safety concerns regarding the methane levels in the Metroplex. The report notes that there seems to be a problem with the detection system itself.

The USPS is taking measures to see these “faults” are in fact remedied so we can all be certain this system is working properly. The actions taken are at the recommendation of the OIG and the oversight is from not only the OIG but all the impacted unions and management associations.

As a side note, this testing was not done by the USPS, it was done by an independent outside agency.

All documentation associated with this issue has been forwarded to APWU HQ. I have had several meetings with our national leadership as well as the OIG on this issue and I want to assure the members of the 480 481 Area local that we are engaged in ensuring that there is no health risk associated with the air quality at the MI Metroplex.

The investigation has yet to be completed and once it is and we have the final report I will report to you all the results.

I want to thank the Mail Handlers Union for their leadership in this issue as well as Senior Plant Manager Brian Fisher for providing us the documentation in a timely manner so we can make certain the OIG’s recommendations are being followed as well as making sure our leadership at all levels has the data.

I also want to thank our national leadership for taking swift action to see the OIG investigated this facility and our concerns.

The contract requires that we all follow the instructions of our supervisors unless of course those instructions could harm us or others. I want to assure all of you that if your union thought for one second the air in the Metroplex was a risk to your health we would be out front telling you all to stay out.

Questions or concerns please give us a call,

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

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No Words

Sisters and Brothers,

The article posted below sums up with a firsthand account what an utter failure this Governor's leadership has been in dealing with this disaster that is and remains the Flint Water Crisis. Were it not for the volunteers on the ground getting it done who knows what the actual human cost of this man made crisis might actually be. I too do not have the words to describe what I have seen in just the few moments I have been there in Flint.

The one word I do come back to time and time again is shame. This should never have happened in what I truly believe is the greatest nation on this earth. Shame.

I ask you all read the story, then call your governor - call your state Senator and House Rep and demand they get off their butts and focus on this crisis until it is resolved.

Contact information for all is listed below the story.

The struggle is real and it does in fact continue.

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

No Words....

By: Beverly Davidson, LMSW

Yesterday two of my friends and I had the honor of volunteering in Flint, MI for a small NGO called Crossing Water. This is a volunteer organization started by some members of the National Association of Social Workers-MI chapter. The goal of this group is to create connections among community groups in Flint to help serve impoverished communities who are deeply affected by the current water crisis. What I saw was heart-breaking beyond words. And it was only one day there. I am trying to imagine living this way and I can’t.

We came to a low-income housing complex run by the Flint Housing Commission. I saw a case of water on people’s doorsteps that had been delivered earlier in the day by volunteers. There was no governmental system in the complex to test water, distribute water, or provide lead-testing to the children. This is a complex managed essentially by HUD. Where are the government leaders?

We knocked on one door to deliver filters and water. A young man answered who was happy to see us. “Do you have a filter?” He does, but it did not fit, so we gave him another one which would work in his unit. I asked if he had had his water tested, and he was not sure. He showed me the testing bottle he had from his aunt’s house, which was on the floor of his car, but he could not find the paperwork to go with it (which is used for tracking and data analysis). I explained how he had to get his water tested, making sure he understood to use unfiltered water that had been in the tap for at least 6 hours. He had no idea he had to do this, as he had not heard that filtered water was not safe to drink either. Children under six live with him, and they cannot drink even the filtered water. He had no idea, no one told him, and he does not have access to the internet to get all of the updates online. My brilliant friend had the idea that instead of the Governor hiring PR firms to spin his reputation, perhaps he should hire PR firms to get a coordinated message out on safety and testing to ALL the people of Flint.

The next house four young children answered the door gleefully, as if they knew we were delivering water to them. The little girl joyfully showed us her newly painted nails as we talked to her young auntie who was caring for them while their mom was at work. We explained to the aunt about how to get her water tested, and she had no idea of the process. She at least had a filter and we made sure she knew the kids could only drink the bottled water. Then, the young boy strongly and sternly put out his arms for the case of water. I said, “It’s pretty heavy, kiddo,” but he persisted with “I can do it!” I gave him the case and he proudly held it and brought it into the apartment. All I could think about was that this little boy should not have to be so strong and sturdy that his little arms have to carry a case of water for his family, he should be holding out his arms to catch a ball or grab a swing. But he was eager and ready for water. Water he should be getting out of his tap, not out of a bottle.

Knock. knock. A young mom answers her door and we ask if she needs water or a filter. She needed both, and I asked if there were any urgent medical issues. She said her baby had a bad skin rash after a bath the other day, “but it’s ok, it went away today.” NO, NO, NO, it’s not ok. In the state of Michigan in 2016, a mother should be able to joyfully give her baby a bath and trust that her baby will be safe from skin rashes. The saddest part is that this young mom just accepted this without much anger or question. She has learned to live in a world that has treated her less than for so long that she readily accepts that her home is giving her baby skin rashes.

A few doors down, a young man answers the door for his elderly male relative who is homebound. We give him some jugs of water and ask if they have a filter. “yea, someone came by one day and gave us one.” Did you know that you have to change your filter regularly, like every 2 months? He yells to his relative and asks about the filter. “no, we didn’t know that, ya got any?” So we gave him a replacement cartridge. Did anyone tell you to test your water? “Nah, how do you do that?” We give him a test kit, the instructions, and realized that the water testing being done is abysmal.

A woman runs out to our car and asks if she can have some water because her daughter is pregnant. Her apartment is not on our targeted list but of course we will give her water. “Do I need to sign something for the water?” My friend reassures her “No, no, you do not need to sign anything, we are not checking anything, we just want you to have water.” She knows that her pregnant daughter cannot drink even filtered water, but she does not know how to get her unit tested. We give her a test kit. “We need to get our blood tested, do you know where we can go?” I look up test sites on my Iphone, give her some information and tell her to take care of herself and her daughter. She thanks us profusely, and we get in our car and scream. How can this be happening?

I ask another woman if anyone from the Housing Commission has been out here. “Nah, but we got some water delivered once by a guy in a big Budget truck.” Good God, this crisis has been going on for 2 years and no one from Housing & Urban Development (HUD) or the Housing Commission has been out here to educate its residents or test the water?

Later in the afternoon we go further into the East side of Flint. The dilapidated homes are surrounded by barren lots, old abandoned buildings, a trailer park with gutted trailers tagged with graffiti all next to a junk yard and old factory. One house we are trying to reach has a disabled adult who is homebound. His dog is outside and greets us, doing his duty and barking and protecting his home. We respect him, but then I see a person looking out the window. We hold up some water, but no one comes out. I wonder, would I come out and get water and a filter from a complete stranger? Would I want to show my vulnerability and inability to perhaps walk or move, and come face to face with a stranger who reminds me daily that I cannot drink water from my own home? No, I do not think I would. We understand this, we understand that this dog is not menacing, but protecting its owner, and we gently leave the cases of water and filter on the driveway. I hope they understand we do not judge, we do not want to cause shame. We just want them to be safe.

My friend knocks on the next door, and an elderly woman doesn’t get up but let’s her peek in. “We are here with Crossing Water to deliver water to you.” She does not want us to come in and really does not want us to ask any questions. We know she is homebound, is isolated, and has cancer from the canvassing done earlier, which is why we are there. We want to make sure she is medically ok, has a filter and understands the risks. My friend tells her we have 3 cases of water for her. “I only want 2.” No, really, we have three for you. “I only want 2.” Respectfully, we leave two cases for her. And I know my friend will never be able to get this woman’s face out of her mind. What will happen to her? 2 cases of water does not last long.

Across the street we go and knock, knock, knock. A young mother of four races out to greet us in her driveway. “Oh, my god, I’m so glad to see you guys, I just had a baby 3 weeks ago and I’ve been drinking water from the tap my whole pregnancy. I don’t have a car because someone stole the ignition out of it. I have some water for the formula but I have to wash his bottles with the tap water.” We give her a filter, a test kit, and extra jugs, breaking the rules of how much water we can deliver to each house. My heart breaks. I work with infants, I know the effects of neurotoxins during pregnancy. This baby likely has had massive lead exposure that is yet to be discovered. This mom may have known the risks but HAD NO CHOICE but to use her only source of water for the last 9 months. Her older daughter is watching us from the window. She looks sad. But is she mirroring my face?

The city was eerily quiet, with a myriad of In and Out marts, gas stations, bars, vacant lots, run-down houses, and churches surrounding the East side. I wondered where all the water trucks were, where the National Guard were, where are all the governmental leaders? This city has its entire water distribution destroyed, and all we could see were private volunteers at churches and businesses handing out cases of bottled water to people through a make-shift assembly line. We can go to the Middle East, bomb and destroy entire cities, rebuild these cities, and we can’t fix this? Where are the temporary water systems that our government could set up? Where are the military personnel and trucks who could deliver cases of water and filters to people who have no resources nor transportation? Folks are supposed to go to a local fire station, pick up a filter, a test kit, some water, and then return the test kit to the fire station for testing? That’s the plan? Seriously? In 2016, that’s the plan?

I thought we’d see a local Command Central in an abandoned building, a church, or a school where there was a base of operations for water testing, water distribution, and lead testing. I thought we’d see National Guard going door-to-door collecting water samples from each home so that accurate testing and mapping of the city could be done in an organized and coordinated manner. I thought we’d see Red Cross tents throughout the poorest parts of the city. What I did see were local groups and amazing volunteers of people from churches, social service groups, and unions meeting people in their homes so they could at least have bottled water and filters. What I did see was good people trying to help, perhaps restoring some kernels of hope for people who have been beaten down. More importantly, what I did see were poor people who, instead of being outraged at the indignity and destruction their government has created for them, have been so disenfranchised and are so impoverished that they have been conditioned to believe they are not worthy of even a basic human right such as clean water.

Not only does the infrastructure need to change, but so does an entire belief system on how we treat the poor.

In the words of Hubert Humphrey, “The moral test of a government is how it treats those who are at the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick and the needy, and the handicapped.”

In this city, in this state, our government has failed this test immeasurably.

View the original blog post.

Act today:

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Flint's Water Crisis

Hello Brothers and Sisters,

Our local has been receiving a lot of calls asking how people might assist the citizens of Flint in dealing with this current water crisis.

I have done some research and if you would like to contribute directly to the campaign to help please point and click your way to:

http://www.unitedwaygenesee.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=5

The United Way of Genesee County has set up this fund for the purchase of filters, bottled water, emergency support services and prevention efforts.

100% of the fund is used for these projects and no Administrative Fee is assessed.

The UWGC has sourced more than 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement filters, ongoing sources of bottled water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan and also supports a dedicated driver for daily distribution.

This is by far the best way to donate cash.

If you wish to donate water feel free to bring water to our next scheduled general membership meeting and we will make arrangements to get it to the folks on the ground assisting the Flint’s people.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

We can make a difference.

In Solidarity,

Roscoe Woods

Roscoe Woods
President
480-481 Area Local

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E-Mail links are intended for questions of a general nature and are not for formal administration of the grievance procedure. Individuals with specific questions and or problems must contact their steward within 14 days in order to protect grievance time limits.

The 480-481 Area Local maintains offices at 810 Livernois in Ferndale, Michigan 48220 and represents all APWU members in the following USPS installations: Almont, Allen Park, Anchorville, Belleville, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Brighton, Carleton, Chelsea, Clarkston, Clawson, Davisburg, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Fair Haven, Flat Rock, Garden City, Grosse Ile, Hartland, Hazel Park, Highland, Keego Harbor, Lake Orion, Marine City, Marysville, Michigan Call Center, Michigan Metroplex, Milan, Milford, Mt. Clemens, New Baltimore, New Boston, New Haven, New Hudson, Novi, Oxford, Pickney, Plymouth, Pontiac, Port Huron, Richmond, Rochester, Rockwood, Romeo, Romulus, Royal Oak, South Lyon, South Rockwood, St. Clair, Sterling Heights, Trenton, Union Lake, Utica, Walled Lake, Warren, Washington, Waterford, Wayne, Westland, Willis, Wixom, Wyandotte and Yale.

The Union office is normally open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Monday through Friday and the telephone numbers are (248) 543-3262/3263/3264. The 24 hour number is (248) 543-3262. FAX: (248) 543-2750.

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