WELCOME TO THE TNRLCA

               

             MEMBERS CHANGING their ADDRESS

Please give the Secretary/Treasurer your new address when you move.  The Union does not necessarily know you have a new address just because you gave it to the USPS.  Please call or text 865-740-3162 with your new information.

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NEW POSTAL HOLIDAY - JUNE 19TH

President Biden signed into law the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021, making June 19 a federal holiday. This new holiday commemorates the final end to slavery in the United States and the Postal Service is fully supportive of annually observing and setting aside a day to recognize this historic event.

Because the Postal Service is part of the nation’s critical infrastructure and our customers are relying on us to deliver our essential services, the USPS was unable to cease operations to observe Juneteenth in 2021. Beginning in 2022, the Postal Service will recognize the Juneteenth National Independence Day as a holiday eligible to full-time and part-time career employees. The observance will be included in the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) 518, Holiday Leave and be subject to the corresponding provisions of the section.

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2021 OPEN SEASON ANNOUNCED

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has announced the upcoming Open Season for the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program. Open Season will begin on Monday, November 15 and run through Monday, December 13, 2021.

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   PARCEL PUSHES/AUXILIARY ASSISTANCE

The USPS has released a plan to bring in ARCs, HARCs, RCAs, and PTFs to deliver parcels beginning at 6:00 a.m. This amounts to providing auxiliary assistance to the regular carriers, something the NRLCA has been asking management to do for over a year. There is no violation in scheduling RCAs to report early for parcel assistance. However, if the RCA is scheduled to carry a route that day, they should finish the parcel assistance before beginning their regular workday. They should be notified in advance as much as possible. Normally, additional duties are done after the RCA completes their route assignment for the day, but that alternative is impractical if we are trying to get all carriers off the street as early as possible and still provide some parcel relief. Starting leave replacements at 6:00 a.m. will mean they cannot work past 6:00 p.m. without violating ELM 432) All incidents of leave replacements required to work more than 12 hours in a day should be grieved.  Remember, safety comes first.

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OSHA issues emergency temporary standard on COVID-19

vaccination and testing

 

On November 4, 2021, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the workplace. The ETS establishes binding requirements to protect unvaccinated employees of large employers (100 or more employees) from the risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace.  

The ETS, which applies to the Postal Service, has been filed in the Office of the Federal Register for public comment.  OSHA is seeking comment on all aspects of this ETS and on whether OSHA should adopt it as a final standard.  Legal challenges are expected.

The first major deadline in the ETS is December 5: employers with at least 100 employees must require unvaccinated employees to wear masks indoors. Employers will have until January 4, 2022 to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations or start weekly testing of their workers.

The NRLCA is currently reviewing the ETS. 

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  NRLCA COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO RRECS

The NRLCA has released a comprehensive guide to the Rural Route Evaluated Compensation System (RRECS) for our members. The guide includes an overview and history of RRECS, a mapping overview, an explanation of the drive speed matrix, a comparison of the new RRECS standards to the 4241-M worksheet, a comparison of the Evaluated Compensation System (ECS) to RRECS, a guide to determining rural route evaluations under RRECS, and more.

Members may go to the NRLCA.ORG website to read the full guide.

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USPS & NRLCA MOU Allowing Sunday and Other Route Work for Regular Carriers During 2021 Peak Season

The NRLCA and USPS have signed an MOU outlining the temporary modification to two contractual provisions which would allow regular rural carriers to volunteer to work on Sundays or provide auxiliary assistance to other rural routes during the week.  This MOU is in effect beginning Saturday, October 9, and continues through Friday, December 31, 2021.

No regular rural carriers will be required to serve on other routes or perform parcel delivery on Sunday. Regulars working on other routes or performing parcel delivery on Sunday is strictly voluntary!

Members please go to the NRLCA.ORG website to view the MOU.

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NRLCA AND USPS SIGN AGREEMENT ON EFFORTS TO HIRE RCAS

At the direction of the National Board, the NSS Stewards have filed over 1200 Class-Action grievances since September 10, 2021.  The grievances demanded that all RCA vacancies be immediately posted and reposted weekly until filled. 

The following is an excerpt from that MOU:

"This letter will serve to confirm our mutual understanding of the appropriate measures to be taken to fulfill the contractual obligation outlined in Article 30.2.A.2., “The Employer shall make every effort to expeditiously fill leave replacement vacancies when they occur.”

In order to meet this obligation, the parties agree that any office with rural carrier associate (RCA) vacancies, not currently working with an active hiring list to appoint individuals to these positions, must immediately post these vacancies through eCareer.  Should these postings not result in any RCA appointments, the positions must be reposted in eCareer as soon as the office learns that the positions have not been filled.    

Further, any office with RCA vacancies must have an active hiring list in process or postings in eCareer for RCA positions." 

Simply put, an office that has any leave replacement vacancies must immediately post those RCA positions on eCareer.  If the office is in the process of hiring from an active hiring list, they need not post again until that list is exhausted.  However, if vacancies remain, those positions must be immediately re-posted.  If an office has vacancies, they must either be working on an active hiring list or have positions posted on eCareer, period.

Members may go to the NRLCA.ORG website to read the entire MOU.

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New EMA Rate - Effective October 9, 2021 (Pay Period 22-2021)

 

On September 14, 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the August 2021 Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W). Therefore, based on the August 2021 CPI-W release, the Equipment Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for rural carriers will increase 4.5¢ to 85.0¢ per mile. This EMA rate will be effective October 9, 2021 (Pay Period 22-2021).

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MAIL DELIVERY after 8:00 p.m.

Postal Service Headquarters Leadership has committed to the NRLCA that rural carriers should not be out on the street later than 8:00 PM.  Your National Board believes that delivering mail and packages past this time creates a very unsafe situation and is committed to stopping this practice whenever possible.  We ask that any rural carrier who is required to deliver mail after 8:00 PM immediately notify your District Representative so that we may bring this to the attention of higher level USPS Officials as soon as possible.  Please assist us by reporting infractions as requested.

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SOUTH ATLANTIC CONFERENCE (sac)

The 2022 South Atlantic Conference is still being held at this time. Please be aware this could change in the upcoming months. Please watch this website for any last minute cancellations before finalizing your travel plans.  The dates are January 22 - 24, 2022.

The hotel has changed its name to SONESTA (was Crowne Plaza). They are located at 1325 Virginia Ave., Atlanta, GA  (404) 768-6660   Room rates are $99 + tax, per night.

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raft incentivE PROGRAM 

As an incentive for recruiters and new members, the 2021 RAFT Program offers the following benefits:
1. Individual recruiters will receive the following monetary amount paid by the National Office of $15.00 for each RCA or ARC recruited and $50.00 for each Regular or PTF recruited. The recruited individual must sign an "1187 Dues Withholding Authorization Form" and stay on the USPS employment roles for a period of three months after the State Secretary or National Office processes the 1187 Form. The recruiter should legibly list on the upper right hand corner of the new member's 1187 Form the following to quailify for the incentive payment: their full name, EIN or CSA number, and their address.  Please submit all 1187 forms to the State Secretary/Treasurer immediately after receiving them from the recruited individuals. Please do not hold them.
2. The newly recruited member will receive three free months of membership before his/her Form 1187 is sent to the USPS for processing and the deduction of pay period organizational dues.  
3.  No incentives will be paid to the State Association.
                                                   LETS GET RECRUITING!!

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No Vaccine Mandate for Federal USPS Employees

The NRLCA wants to clarify to the membership that USPS employees are not subject to the Biden Administration’s vaccine mandate for federal employees. A vaccine requirement would be a condition of employment. This means it would have to be discussed, bargained for, and mutually agreed upon in contract negotiations with USPS. While the NRLCA leadership continues to encourage all members to get vaccinated and do their part to help end the pandemic, vaccines are currently not required as a condition of employment with USPS.

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          USPS implements recruitment                  recommendations from Joint

                USPS-NRLCA Task Force

As you may already know, last year the NRLCA and USPS formed a joint Leave Replacement Task Force as part of our contract agreement (MOU #24). The task force first met on March 11, 2020. They then held many subsequent meetings to formulate final hiring and retention recommendations which were submitted to the Postal Service on January 27, 2021.  In the months following that submission, the NRLCA has been encouraged to see USPS begin to act on a few of the “Advertisement and Recruitment” recommendations we made, including:

Recommendation: Advertising jobs on POS receipts by using a QR code that takes applicants directly the rural job application once scanned on mobile device. 
Action: The Postal Service has placed a hiring advertisement at the bottom of POS receipts. While the current QR code on the receipt directs customers to a satisfaction survey, NRLCA is hopeful that an additional QR code will be added in the future to fulfill the second part of this recommendation. 

Recommendation: Advertising jobs on “Informed Delivery” to include a pop-up banner with a link that takes the user directly to the rural job application.
Action: Pop-up banners are now starting to appear for "Informed Delivery" customers. The link directs customers to a main Jobs landing page, https://usps.com/applytoday. On this page, the top delivery jobs listed are Rural Carrier Associate (RCA)—a position that comprises 44% of the rural carrier craft—and Assistant Rural Carrier (ARC).  

These are promising small steps down a long road towards addressing the serious hiring and retention issues that have plagued the rural carrier craft for decades, and that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured, these issues remain a critical priority for the union leadership in ongoing contract negotiations with the Postal Service.

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      Buyback Legislation Introduced

 

Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Congressman Tom Cole (R-OK) introduce partisan legislation to allow rural letter carriers the ability to buy back their time spent as an RCA. The legislation, H.R. 4268, is once again named the Federal Retirement Fairness Act. Visit the NRLCA.org website to follow this story.

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MOU BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE AND THE NATIONAL RURAL LETTER CARRIERS' ASSOCIATION

The parties agree that for leave year 2022, regular work force career employees covered by the USPS-NRLCA Agreement may carry over 520 hours of accumulated annual leave from leave year 2021 to leave year 2022.

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, 2022.

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   NEW EMERGENCY FEDERAL EMPLOYEE LEAVE (EFEL) AVAILABLE THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

 

Effective March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act provides employees with up to 600 hours of paid Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL). This leave is available to employees beginning on March 12, 2021 and continuing through September 30, 2021 - or until the funding established in the Emergency Federal Employee Leave Fund for reimbursement is exhausted. The leave is available to eligible employees who are unable to work due to one of eight qualifying reasons as summarized below:

 

An employee is entitled to take EFEL related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work because the employee:

1. is subject to a Federal, State or local quarantine or isolation order related to              COVID-19.

2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns          related to COVID-19.

3. is caring for an individual who is subject to such an order as in (1) or has been so      advised as in (2).

4. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.

5. is caring for the employee's son or daughter if the school or place of care of the     son or daughter has been closed, requires or makes optional a hybrid of in-               person and virtual learning instruction models, or if the child care provider of the     son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.

6. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition.

7. is caring for a family member with a mental or physical disability or who is 55            years of age or older and incapable of self-care, without regard to whether               another individual other than the employee is available to care for such family           member, if the place of care for such family member is closed or the direct care         provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.

8. is obtaining immunization (vaccination) related to COVID-19 or is recovering              from any injury, disability, illness or condition related to such immunization.

LEAVE ELIGIBILITY:

1. All career and non-career employees, regardless of tenure, are immediately eligible for EFEL.

2. Full-time Employees can receive up to 600 hours of paid EFEL, capped at $2800 per pay period.

3. Part-time Employees can receive up to the proportional equivalent of 600, capped at a proportional equivalent of $2800 per pay period.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

1. EFEL does not count as creditable service toward an employee's retirement benefits.

2. Employees cannot contribute to Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) while on EFEL.

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     RURAL CARRIERS WHO DEVELOP COVID 19             IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR DUTIES

         ARE ENTITLED TO OWCP COVERAGE                    

All federal employees who develop COVID-19 while in the performance of their federal duties are entitled to workers’ compensation coverage pursuant to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA). This includes Rural Letter Carriers.

The Department of Labor has created new procedures specifically to address COVID-19 claims. COVID-19 claims are filed using Form CA-1, Notice of Traumatic Injury. The CA-1 must be filed within 30 days and the employee is eligible to receive Continuation of Pay for up to 45 days. Proof of a positive COVID-19 test will be required, as well as a qualified physician’s statement.

Due to the number of claims filed for COVID-19, these claims are taking a longer than normal to be processed, but they are being accepted and processed.

For complete information regarding COVID-19 OWCP coverage and filing a claim go to the following website: 

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/owcp/dfec/InfoFECACoverageCoronavirus

*From NRLCA

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