Members, if you have moved, please send your new address to the Secretary so that your address will be correct in the database. This is how you receive your newsletters, county meeting notices, and any other correspondence from this Association. We do not necessarily get the change of address just because you gave it to the post office. You may text or call your new address and/or phone number to 865-740-3162 or 865-859-0042. Also... keep yourself informed on upcoming events by clicking on the "Events" tab of this website.
RETIREMENT PARTY FOR PAST NRLCA
PRESIDENT, RONNIE STUTTS
Please join us for the retirement party for past NRLCA President, Ronnie Stutts. We will be celebrating his years of service at the Marriott Franklin Cool Springs Hotel, 700 Cool Springs Blvd., Franklin, TN. The celebration will be on Saturday, February 24, 2024 with an open bar at 5:00 p.m. and dinner being served at 6:00 p.m., and a DJ and dancing to follow dinner. Tickets are $75 each with a choice of chicken or pork medallions. You may purchase your tickets by sending a check to: TNRLCA, P.O. Box 7492, Knoxville, TN 37921. Please include your selection of chicken or pork, and an address where you would like the tickets sent back to you. Look for your copy of the National magazine for notice and a paper order form.
Should you need a guest room for the night, there are a limited number reserved for this event. The discounted room rate is $150 plus tax. You may make your reservations by clicking on the link below.
You may also call the hotel to make your reservation, the phone number is 1-800-228-9290. You must mention you are part the the Tennessee Rural Letter Carriers group for Ronnie Stutt's party to receive the discounted rate. Rooms must be reserved by February 2, 2024 to receive the discounted rate. We look forward to seeing you there!
2023 open season is almost here
Open Season for federal benefits is November 13 through December 11, 2023. Open Season is the time to ensure you have the right health insurance, vision and/or dental supplements, and to take advantage of the flexible spending accounts. It's the time to check out benefit and rate changes for the upcoming year. Now is a great time to look at the Rural Carrier Health Benefit plan through Aetna by clicking here. Some plans are dropping out of the program, so it is advisable to check out your plan and see if there are changes to it this year.
Flexible spending accounts offer lower tax withholding amounts from your paycheck as you fund these accounts through pre-tax contributions from your salary. You then use these accounts to cover out-of-the-pocket expenses for health care and dependent care. If you already have an FSAFED account, it does not automatically continue into 2024. You must re-enroll. Also, FSAFED accounts are free to you, and, on average save participants about 30% on eligible expenses.
Active carriers may add, change, or discontinue their health insurance benefits, vision and/or dental supplements, or flexible spending accounts. Retired carriers may add, change, or discontinue their health insurance benefits, or their vision and/or dental supplements. You cannot cancel, change, or enroll in any of these benefits outside of open season unless you have a qualifying life event.
2200 rural carriers with paycheck issues
There has been a payroll issue affecting approximately 2,200 rural craft employees. The NRLCA is working on getting this corrected and have all those carriers who have been affected made whole. Further updates to follow after verification of all facts.
2024 social security COLA increase
Retirees, and those collecting Social Security: The 2024 Social Security COLA has been set to increase 3.2% for CSRS, and 2.2% for FERS annuitants. This is much lower than 2023's massive 8.7% & 7.7% increase which was a 40-year high for Social Security COLA. Social Security announced this increase on October 12. Starting in January your monthly Social Security check will increase by these percentages (depending on CSRS or FERS) which will help to keep up with the rising prices. Gas and groceries tend to be the most noticeable increases. Inflation has calmed down some in the last 12 months which is why the COLA increase is lower for 2024.
Social Security benefits have been annually adjusted for inflation since 1975. The two largest increases that have occurred were in 2022 (5.9% & 4.9%) and 2023 (8.7% & 7.7%) since the early 1980s. The average increase for 2022 was $92 per month and $146 per month for 2023. This upcoming year's increase (2024) will increase monthly benefits an average of $59 per month for CSRS and $41 for FERS annuitants.
When FERS was originally set up in 1986 and became effective in January of 1987, a provision was included should COLA be more than 3%, then FERS recipients would receive 1% less than full COLA if it is over the 3% threshold. FERS annuitants could receive, over a period of time, thousands of dollars less because of the 3% threshold, especially in we have a lot of high inflation years. Representative Gerald Connolly from Virginia is the sponsor of "H.R. 866 Equal Cola Act". This bill addresses that issue. Contact your Representatives to encourage them so support this bill.
Unfortunately, Medicare Part B monthly premiums are set to increase also. This COLA will be offset in part by the premium increase. (Medicare Part B covers outpatient services such as doctor visits.) Most Medicare enrollees have their premiums deducted directly from their Social Security payments, so if you do, you will not see the full amount of the adjustment in your check but it will be offsetting the Medicare Part B premium increase.
Medicare's Average 2024 Changes:
PART A: Usual Premium - $0 (No Change); Inpatient hospital deductible - $1632 (Up $32); Coinsurance for 61st to 90th day - $408 (Up $8)
PART B: Basic Monthly Premium - $174.70 (Up $9.80); Income threshold for higher payments, individual tax return - $103,000 (Up $6,000); Income threshold for higher payments, joint tax return - $206,000 (Up $$12,000)
PART C: Medicare Advantage, Average Premium - $18.50 (Up $.64)
PART D: Average Premium - $55.50 (Down $.99)
CHRISTMAS OVERTIME PERIOD
Christmas is fast approaching and Christmas overtime will start on Saturday, December 2 (Week 1 of Pay Period 26/23) and continue through Friday, December 22 (Week 1 of Pay Period 1/24). Regular Rural Carriers (DES 71) will be paid 1.5 times (150%) for hours worked over their weekly evaluation. Relief Carriers on an Auxiliary Route (DES 79) will be paid 1.5 times (150%) their rate of pay for actual hours worked during this period, not the auxiliary route's evaluation.
multifactor authentication on liteblue
The USPS has notified all employees that they need to set up Multifactor Authentication (MFA) on LiteBlue. You must have MFA set up to be able to bid on routes and access other functions on LiteBlue. Please do not delay any longer in setting up your MFA. Should you want to bid on an upcoming route that is posted, you will not be able to do so if you have not completed this task. You cannot get a new PIN number in time to bid if you wait until the last minute. Employees who have already set up MFA on LiteBlue can sign into their SSP using the same MFA. Please take a few minutes to get this set up now if you haven't done so!
Federal Retirement Fairness Act (FRFA)
"H.R. 5995: the Federal Retirement Fairness Act (FRFA), often referred to as the "buy back" legislation, has been again introduced. This bill would amend Title 5, United States Code, and would provide relief carriers' part-time employment to be counted as creditable service under the Federal Employees' Retirement System. If you served as a relief carrier after December 31, 1988, this act would provide you with the opportunity to buy back that time and credit it toward your retirement years. Please contact your Representative and ask him/her to support this bill. Members, you may obtain a form letter to send to your Congressman by visiting NRLCA.org.
RCA VISION/DENTAL INSURANCE
RCAs if you are interested in vision and dental insurance, please visit nrlca.benefithub.com. Scroll down to and click on "Enroll or Check Rates" and you are able to check your rates before you apply. Should you decide to apply for vision and dental insurance, you will need to register on that website first. You will also need to know the approximate date you joined the NRLCA. This insurance is underwritten by Greater Insurance Services. Their phone number is 800-747-4472.
MEMBER APPRECIATION PICNIC
Our fall board meeting was held on Saturday, October 7 at 10:00 a.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn, 216 Peregrine Way, Knoxville.
Our Member Appreciation Picnic was held Sunday, October 8 at Douglas Dam (Tailwaters), Douglas Overlook Way in Dandridge. We had good food and good fun, and now have good memories! The winners of our contests were: Best Dessert - Rebeka Ramsey, Best Chili - Judy Webb, and The Longest Distance Travelled - Susan Hitchcock.
For a listing of all future happenings, please visit the "Events" page of this website.
New EMA Rate Effective
OCTOBER 7, 2023 (Pay Period 22-23)
On September 13, 2023, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the August Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) which established the Private Transportation Index at 279.590, an increase from the May 2023 Index of 271.037. Therefore, based on the August 2023 CPI-W release, the Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for rural carriers will increase 3.0¢ to 98.0¢ per mile. This EMA rate will be effective October 7, 2023 (Pay Period 22-2023).
Your EMA includes the following components:
New/Used Motor Vehicles: 45%
Motor Fuel: 24%
Motor Vehicle Insurance: 17%
Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair: 8%
Motor Vehicle Parts & Equipment: 3%
Motor Vehicle Fees: 3%
In accordance with the provisions of Article 9, Section 2.J.3 of the USPS/NRLCA National Agreement, effective October 7, 2023 (Pay Period 22-2023), the Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) will increase to 98¢ per mile, or a minimum of $39.20 per day, whichever is greater.
Auxiliary Rural Carriers, Rural Carrier Reliefs, Rural Carrier Associates, Rural Carrier Part Time Flexibles, and Auxiliary Assistance:
Employees providing auxiliary assistance or serving auxiliary routes under the provisions of Article 9, Section 2.J.5, will receive EMA of 98¢ per mile or $10.40 per hour, whichever is greater. This EMA should not exceed the amount provided in the special EMA chart for route stops and miles.
This was the fifth opportunity for an EMA adjustment under the terms of the 2021-2024 USPS/NRLCA National Agreement. The next quarterly adjustment will occur after the release of the November 2023 Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) and will be effective the second full pay period after release of that index.
What happens if the NRLCA is decertified?
The NRLCA would no longer be able to represent rural letter carriers.
The National Agreement will be nullified: Every right and term or condition of employment currently guaranteed by the Agreement must be re-negotiated without any assurance that it will be reinstated. Some of the things at serious risk are:
Current salary rates and guaranteed salary increases
Twice per year COLA adjustments
Grievance and arbitration provisions
Just cause protections for discipline and termination. (You will be an "At-Will" employee)
No layoff provisions
Protections from subcontracting (CDS)
Health insurance, life insurance and retirement benefits
You will lose your union stewards and representatives.
The Union has invested millions of dollars in an extensive and effective steward system. With decertification, your District Representatives, Assistant District Representatives, Area Stewards, and Local Stewards will be stripped of their legal authority to help resolve grievances and other workplace conflicts.
Management will have ALL the power.
The rights bargained for in collective bargaining with the Postal Service since 1970 will no longer be guaranteed, and without a collective bargaining agreement, Postal Management will have the unilateral right to set wages and working conditions.
There is no guarantee that you will be represented by another union.
Signing a decertification petition only guarantees an election as to whether the NRLCA will represent you. To replace the NRLCA, another union would have to agree to represent rural carriers, and a majority of rural carriers would have to vote (in a separate election) to establish the new union as the collective bargaining representative.
REGULAR RURAL CARRIERS MAY VOLUNTEER TO
WORK SUNDAYS AND ASSIST ON OTHER RURAL ROUTES
The USPS and the NRLCA have signed an MOU regarding regular rural carriers volunteering to work Sundays and/or provide assistance on other rural routes in the office. This MOU has been signed due to the staffing problems that exist at the USPS. Regular rural carriers will be compensated at the overtime rate of pay for the hours worked on Sundays and for the additional hours worked when providing service on routes other than their own. This MOU was signed by the NRLCA to help our overworked RCAs, and for the many regular carriers who have requested this temporary modification so they are able to assist and help the RCAs.
RADAR Report Must Be Pulled and Posted Daily
Reminder: Management must pull and post the RADAR Report daily. The requirement is daily, not just during the Mini Mail Survey but every day. If management doesn’t pull and post the report, notify one of our ADRs or our DR.
Cost-of-Living Raises Effective August 26, 2023
Pursuant to the release of the July 2023 Consumer Price Index - Urban Wage and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), and in accordance with Article 9.1.E , the fifth COLA adjustment of the 2021-2024 National Agreement will result in a $999.00 increase for eligible rural carriers. This COLA adjustment will be effective August 26, 2023, (PP 2023-19). All COLA adjustments are based on a 40-hour evaluation with proportional application to those route evaluations over 40 hours. The increase should appear in paychecks dated September 15, 2023.
Mapping is the MOST important thing you can do to ensure you are properly compensated
Do you have growth on your route? Have you done your updates to your edit book? Are you making sure the managers are complying with the AMS Edit Book Maintenance SWI? (posted on the RRECS Training tab) Are you requiring your managers to, in your presence, log into Delivery Point Manager (DPM), click “Download,” plot missing deliveries, view/clear issues, and submit? After allowing 10-15 minutes for DPM processing, is your supervisor/designee logging into Line of Travel Manager (LTM) in your presence, selecting “Partial Review,” verifying/plotting Traffic Control Points (TCPs), then submitting and certifying each month? Then once DPM and LTM are finalized, your supervisor/designee MUST initial the DPM and LTM portions of the AMS Edit Book Activity Log. Is that all happening?
Mapping is the most important thing you can do to ensure that you are being properly compensated. If your route isn’t mapped correctly, the breadcrumbs will not record. There may be errors in the DPM and LTM, your coverage factor could be affected. Are all the active boxes showing active or are they inactive? You could be losing money by not making sure everything is up to date and correct. This is not the old system where carriers sometime only updated the edit book when they were close to an hour change or at an old count period. Make sure you are staying on top of this and following through. If the edit book, the DMP and LTM are not being updated and your manager will not update the systems, contact your District Representative or Assistant District Representative. **********
Carriers Working Over the Evaluated Hours on Overburdened 48K Routes
If you are assigned to a 48K (57:00 to 57:36 hours), and your actual hours exceed 48 actual work hours, you may be entitled to auxiliary assistance. Temporary relief is covered in the EL-902-The USPS- NRLCA National Agreement, the M-38, and the F-21. USPS Operations is developing a plan to adjust overburdened routes, but in the meantime, you may be entitled to assistance. If you are exceeding the evaluation on an overburdened route and not receiving assistance, please contact your DR or ADR.
8. Overburdened Routes
a. Definition A route is considered overburdened when:
(1) The standard hours for the route are outside of the Table of Evaluated Hours; or
(2) The regular rural carrier who is assigned to the route does not, or is not expected to,
meet the requirement to stay within the annual guarantee for the route.
b. Relief of Overburdened Routes Permanent relief will be arranged as soon as practicable for overburdened routes. Auxiliary assistance may be provided as a temporary means of providing relief for those routes as defined in 8.a.(1). Assistance is provided, equivalent to the lesser of the following:
(1) The regular rural carrier’s actual weekly work hours that are in excess of 48 hours (48K classification); or
(2) The standard hours for the route that are in excess of 57:36
576.3 Overburdened Route
An overburdened route is authorized temporary auxiliary assistance to provide relief.
830 TEMPORARY RELIEF (AUXILIARY ASSISTANCE)
On rural routes where the carrier frequently is making late deliveries, or failing to connect with dispatches, or is working excessive weekly hours, auxiliary assistance may be authorized temporarily until permanent relief can be provided. Exhibit 831.I is an example of a memorandum which may be used for authorizing auxiliary assistance and ordering the formulation of a plan for relief of overburdened routes. Note: Immediate relief by use of auxiliary assistance must be provided to a carrier when the evaluation or actual time (whichever is lower) exceeds 57:36. See Part 833.
832 DETERMINING TYPE OF ASSISTANCE.
Auxiliary casing and/ or route assistance may be granted the route. Preference should be given to office assistance.
833 DETERMINING NEED
When determining the need for auxiliary assistance for overburdened routes, both the actual and evaluated hours must be considered. The lesser of the two will be used to arrive at the amount of assistance to be authorized. Auxiliary assistance is provided for the difference between evaluated hours or actual hours (whichever is less) and 57:36.
Route 1 is evaluated at 62:45 but the actual hours are 62:36. The difference between 62:36 and 57:36 is five hours: auxiliary assistance may be authorized for that amount.
Route 2 is evaluated at 62:19 but the actual hours are 64:47. In this instance, the evaluated hours must be used in the computation, and the auxiliary assistance to be authorized is five hours (62:19 - 57:36 is 4:43).
833.2 Where either the actual or evaluated hours are below 57:36 per week, no auxiliary assistance is afforded.
Note: No EMA is deducted when auxiliary assistance is given the regular carrier.
Compensation for Additional Trips
On June 2, 2023, the USPS and NRLCA agreed to modify two pre-arbitration settlements, specifically case #C95R-4C-C 98023318, which involves compensation for rural carriers when required to perform an additional trip to the street due to mail that could not be accommodated on the first trip, either due to the volume of mail or the physical size of the parcels, or both; and case #Q95R-4Q-C 99245966, which involves compensation for rural carriers when required to make deliveries after returning from the standard street duties, such as delivering Priority Mail Express.
In both of these cases, the parties agreed that regular rural carriers and leave replacements (when a leave replacement is compensated based on the evaluation of a regular or auxiliary route served and when actual workhours do not exceed 40 hours per week) will be compensated at two minutes per mile for each mile involved in the additional trip(s) and for actual loading time at the carrier's straight time rate (Article 8.3.A.).
Effective May 6, with the implementation of the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS), the appropriate compensation for additional trips will be three minutes per mile for each mile involved in the additional trip(s). Loading time for an additional trip(s) will no longer be compensated in accordance with these settlements. Any loading time associated with the additional trip(s) must be recorded using the appropriate STARTLOADVEH and ENDLOADVEH activity scans on the Mobile Delivery Device (MDD).
A rural carrier using his/her personal vehicle will continue to receive Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for each mile over 40 miles per day that the carrier is required to drive to complete the assigned route including the additional trip(s).
NRLCA and USPS Sign MOU to Carryover
annual leave for Leave Year 2024
The NRLCA and USPS have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreeing that for leave year 2024, regular work force career employees covered by the USPS-NRLCA Agreement may carry over 520 hours (65 days) of accumulated annual leave from leave year 2023 to leave year 2024.
In all other respects, the ELM provisions for payment of accumulated leave are not changed because of this Memorandum. This MOU will expire December 31, 2024.