It seems that just as everything is about to get back to normal, another setback occurs. Will we get back to living without masks again, or will we go through even another Covid variant once the Delta variant has been squelched?
Just last week our local had a membership BBQ at Cantrall Buckley Park just west of Jacksonville off Highway 238 with the Applegate River flowing nearby. It wasn't until right before the event began that the park attendant let us know that the charcoal BBQ pits could not be used because of the fire danger. Now that's a SETBACK! We weren't going to let that stop us though. So with quick thinking and perseverance, we overcame that obstacle, and soon a propane grill was acquired and set up to cook the burgers. The members and their families that showed up had a great time, and Jeremy Schilling prepared a terrific spread for everyone that came. The prizes for the drawings were fun to win and just about every member won something or went home with local t-shirts or water bottles. I surely hope that we have another one next year.
Another setback this year was the cancellation of the National APWU Convention in Las Vegas. However, the Craft Conferences are still scheduled to take place at the end of September. And although the Conferences are going to be a virtual event (meaning online on Zoom), the local will save money by not having to pay for travel, travel days, and hotel accommodations. At the BBQ, the local conducted the August general membership meeting, and we approved several members to be delegates to the Clerk Craft Conference. Jeremy was able to set up a group meeting facility through the Medford Cowork Collective in downtown Medford on East Main St. The delegates will be able to watch the Craft Conference from a large screen TV in the Cowork meeting room so that they can interact together while participating in the Conference discussions.
Also at the meeting Vice President Robert Rodriguez gave us an update on the constitution changes that the constitution committee were preparing for the membership to vote on. It is imperative for our members to show up and attend the upcoming general membership meeting on September 19th at Twin Creeks Park in Central Point. We will be discussing the constitutional changes, which will include changes to our local officer duties and titles, and we will be preparing for local elections this year. At our October meeting we will need to appoint an election committee, and open nominations for our local officers that will lead the Southern Oregon Area Local for the two years beginning in January of 2022. We have also discussed setting up our meetings so that we can have both online participation as well as members attending at the in-person locations at the same time. When we figure it out, we will have the link made available by email.
There have been several setbacks in working conditions both at the Medford installation as well as in the associate offices. Although some situations can be blamed on the realities of changes due to the Covid pandemic, many more issues have arisen because of poor management leadership, disillusioned work expectations and incompetence by management in properly staffing our offices, and they blame everything on Covid when most work related problems are not actually affected by Covid. Management's status quo nowadays is to use it as an excuse to set employees against one another, to single out employees they dislike, and to abuse the work hour limitations set out in Article 8 of our national agreement. If there were a time that more participation and unity were needed in our local union, NOW is the time! Management has essentially ignored the union in bargaining over bid jobs, they have ignored our requests to meet at labor and management committee meetings, they have ignored their responsibility to meet in joint safety and health committee meetings, they have ignored the union's insistence that they implement regional grievance settlements. I continually re-appeal grievances that management refuses to meet to implement. The members working on the workroom floor never get to see the results of your stewards efforts, however, I have not given up on these cases, and have requested more punitive remedies whenever management has thumbed their noses with impunity. My forecast is that these settlements will result in significant monetary awards for our members.
In a few weeks, our current national agreement will expire on September 20, 2021. The news offered from the national APWU states that the USPS and APWU National Negotiations Committee will be meeting daily beginning September 7th at the same hotel in order to attempt to hash out their various proposals. Although our last contract was a setback in that it took one and a half years (expiring on September 20, 2018) until an arbitration decision was awarded on March 10, 2020, our national union was able to secure several wins for the membership. With the success of that arbitration award, my prospects are that our negotiators will be able to convince their counterparts that our proposals are reasonable and expected to prevail should we need to proceed to arbitration once again. We handed out several union supporting buttons and bracelets at the BBQ. Talk to your stewards or officers and ask for the approved-at-work buttons showing your support for the union. Also, we still have several local t-shirts for our members, but the sizes that are available are limited.
If you want the setbacks at work to end, then don't let this depressing working climate stop us. We can persevere if you will make it a point to show up at our upcoming meetings. We need prospective members to become stewards and to step up and help lead our local as officers in order to fight our way out of the oppressive environment that management has determined to be their status quo going forward. I send out flyers to all of the stewards before our meetings, and some to other members I communicate with by email. There should be an APWU bulletin board to post those meeting notices on and all of our meetings are announced at our local website: apwu342.weebly.com
You can always access our local website from the national APWU website as well, by going to the APWU State and Local Links page on that website.
Craig Gordon - General President
Southern Oregon Area Local #342, APWU
Although I have experienced meeting colleagues online in the past, this was my first participation utilizing the ZOOM meeting application. I had a few hiccups at the beginning, but figured it out.
Friday's discussion encompassed issues related to advocating for employees requesting Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) included in the recent American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Concern was raised regarding issues of local management implementation by creating their own rules and conditions for approval of the leave, and a delay from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in issuing the regulations and guidelines on how the Postal Service will allocate the funds. Of importance was the Union's concern in challenging any local management arbitrary and capricious reasons to deny the leave. Management must apply their decision based upon headquarters instructions, not their own.
Of local membership interest, Omar Gonzalez announced that the Postal Service's transformation plan will lead to several cuts and actions which will bring about job losses in APWU represented crafts. He asserted there is an urgent need for our membership at the local level to become involved before it is too late. It is critical for the local members to come to local meetings and to discuss with other members what plans need to be put into effect to secure their current jobs as well as the future jobs they hope to one day bid on when a co-worker vacates that job. WE NEED OUR MEMBERS TO SHOW UP AT THE LOCAL MEMBERSHIP MEETINGS TO LET THE LOCAL LEADERS KNOW WHAT THEY WILL DO TO HELP ORGANIZE ACTIVITIES TO FIGHT THESE CHANGES. IT WAS EMPHASIZED THAT IT IS USELESS FOR THE MEMBERSHIP TO SHOW UP AFTER THE CUTS AND CHANGES TAKE PLACE TO FIND OUT WHAT TO DO. That will be too late. Action must occur now to save your local post office, your Postal Service, and your Postal Service job.
Our National Organizing Director, discussed the conditions that exist to share membership opportunities with non-members. These included not only when an employee first becomes employed with the Postal Service, but also when other career changes take place. Article 17 allows the APWU to provide orientation to employees when a non-career employee becomes eligible for health care benefits or when they are converted to career. The same applies to employees that transfer into APWU represented crafts from other bargaining unit crafts.
The APWU has set up a user friendly application process online, that an interested employee can access through their computer at home or even on a cell phone or mobile device. The online 1187 form also includes what dues amounts will be deducted once the non-member signs up.
Friday's session concluded with the APWU National Business Agents providing training in grievance preparation and presentation.
Saturday's conference began with presentations from the Oregon APWU Auxiliary. One of their appeals was for the increase in per capita dues which our local, the Southern Oregon Area Local, sponsored in a resolution approved by our member ship earlier this year. Later in our convention, the body of delegates voted in favor of the resolution that will now be advanced to the National APWU convention.
National APWU officers President Mark Dimondstein, Vice President Debby Szeredy, Secretary-Treasurer Liz Powell, Clerk Division Director Lamont Brooks, Industrial Relations Director Vance Zimmerman, Organization Director Anna Smith, and APWU Health Plan Director Sarah Rodriguez all attended and gave presentations and updates on recent accomplishments, upcoming events and impending actions to expect that will be affecting our members.
Our convention concluded with the business portion including budgeting for the upcoming years and discussions and voting on resolutions that Oregon members and Oregon state locals proposed for hopeful changes that our national leaders can negotiate for us in the next collective bargaining agreement.
I would like to thank our local members for entrusting me with your voice to advance our wants and needs in the Southern Oregon Area Local to our state and national bodies. I hope that more members will come forward to personally participate in future state and national conferences and conventions.
Craig Gordon - General President
Southern Oregon Area Local #342, APWU
Effective March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) 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 (EFEL) Fund for reimbursement is exhausted.
Scheduled Meetings for 2021:
August 29th (SOAL Membership & Family BBQ)
At Sunday's General Membership meeting held on November 15th, Local Union President Craig Gordon formally announced that previous President, Jeremy Schilling had stepped down as the Southern Oregon Area Local President. As Vice President of the Local, Craig succeeded the position for the remainder of the unexpired term, and at the same meeting, Robert Rodriguez was appointed and confirmed by the Executive Board members as the new Local Vice President.
Grants Pass became a part of the Southern Oregon Area Local around September 7th of this year. There are a thirteen APWU members in Grants Pass that are now a part of the SOAL family.
There is a need for one or more initiative driven members to step up to represent the Clerks and Maintenance employees as their shop steward. Please get in touch with Local President Jeremy Schilling or Vice President Craig Gordon if you are interested. Our seasoned stewards are very supportive in providing help and suggestions as a new steward becomes more familiar with the grievance process.
Your pay location code indicates where you are assigned to work, sometimes the last two digits of your work location ZIP Code.
Finance number for the facility that you work in.
Your 8-digit employee ID number, instituted in pay period 14 of 2003, replaces the employee Social Security number previously used, to help strengthen privacy concerns.
This is the pay period and year in which you receive the payments (PP-YR or 01-00). Each calendar year is separated by twenty six (26) pay periods of two (2) weeks each.
This is either the serial number of the check issued to the employee or the sequence number of the "Form 1223" earnings issued when the employee's net pay has been directly deposited to the financial institution of their choice.
This is the general heading for all of the columns which identify the type and number of hours you are being compensated for, the week in which those hours occurred, the rate schedule and level, the designation/activity code, and the gross payment amount for the period.
RSC --This is the Rate Schedule Code for the hours stated. This code will be the same as on your time card.
LEV --This is the Grade Level for the hours stated.
RATE --This the Base rate (annual or hourly), including the cost-of-living allowance (COLA) for the hours stated.
CODE --This is the employee's Designation/Activity code. For clerks, the code would be 110.
TYP --This is the Type of Hours code. Codes include:
H -- Holiday work hours
L -- Leave hours (either paid leave or leave without pay)
N -- Night differential hours (for hours worked between 6:00 PM & 6:00 AM)
O -- Overtime hours
V -- Penalty overtime hours
P -- Out-of-Schedule Premium
S -- Sunday Premium
W -- Straight work hours
HOURS --This space will show the actual hours and hundredths worked for every hours type listed.
PAY --This space will show the total gross pay for each type of hours worked.
GROSS TO NET
This is the general heading for the two columns which show the total gross pay, all deductions, and the resulting net pay for the current pay period and the pay year-to-date.
FED TAX --This is the amount deducted for federal tax this period and year-to-date. Your claimed marital status and number of exemptions will appear next to FED TAX. M2 would mean married with two exemptions. S0 would mean single with no exemptions.
ST TAX --This is the amount deducted for state tax this period and year-to-date. Again, your claimed marital status and number of exemptions for the state will appear next to ST TAX. PAO1 would indicate the taxes were withheld to the State of Pennsylvania for a person married claiming one exemption.
RETIRE --This is the amount deducted toward your retirement account for the pay period and the year-to-date.
FICA/MED --This is the amount of FICA or Medicare deductions for this period and year-to date. If you were hired after 1984, your retirement contribution will be smaller and FICA/MED will be higher.
UN W --Union Dues.
IN --Indicates your life insurance choice.
ALOT --Indicates an authorized payroll deduction from your salary that is deducted each pay period for deposit to a financial institution-- for example, a set amount directed toward a savings account.
C SUP or CS/SS --This indicates child support or alimony payments.
GARN --This appears if you have a commercial garnishment levied against you.
HP --Followed by three (3) letters or numbers would show your health benefit plan enrollment code.
LEVY --Show a deduction has been made for some sort of outstanding taxes.
TSP --This indicates a withholding for the Thrift Savings Plan. If you participate in the plan, you will see either the percentage of withholdings or the dollar amount after the letter code.
NET PAY --This is what is left when all is said and done. Enjoy it!
This is the general heading identifying your usage and balance of Annual and Sick leave, and Leave Without Pay for the pay period and year.
EARNED-THIS YR --This is the number of hours earned to date this leave year.
EARNED-BAL --This is the number of hours carried over from last year plus the hours earned this year.
USED THIS YR --This is the total hours of annual leave used this year to date.
USED THIS PP --This is the total hours of annual leave used in this pay period (including adjustments).
BALANCE --This is the total annual leave available to you now.
EARNED THIS YR --This is the number of hours of sick leave accumulated this year.
USED THIS YR --This is the total sick leave used to date this year.
USED THIS PP --This is the total sick leave used this pay period (including adjustments).
BALANCE --This is the total sick leave available to you now.
LEAVE WITHOUT PAY
CUMULATIVE --This is the total LWOP hours accumulated this year. If you accumulate eighty (80) hours of LWOP within a year, your leave credits will be reduced by the amount of leave earned in one (1) pay period.
This is the total amount contributed to the retirement fund as of the close of the prior calendar year.
Other important codes are:
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a Federal Statute of general application that establishes requirements for child labor, minimum wages, equal pay, and overtime pay. FLSA work hours and FLSA overtime pay is printed on the Form 1223 whenever work hours for one or both weeks of the pay period exceeds forty (40) hours for nonexempt employees.
ADJ FOR PP-YR PROCESSED
Shows that an adjustment for a specific pay period and year was processed.
GARNISHMENT PAYMENTS COMPL
Shows the garnishment balance as zero (0).
GRIEVANCE OR EEO SETTLEMENT
INCLUDES BOND REFUND
MULTI PP ADJS PROCESSED
Shows that adjustments for multiple pay periods were processed.
PERIODIC STEP INCREASE
Shows this is a special check and Form 1223 for retroactive payment.
RETRO PAY IN YTD AMTS
Shows that retroactive payment amounts have been added to the year-to-date totals.
SCHEDULED COLA INCREASE
Shows that a cost-of-living increase has been added to the base salary effective with the pay period shown at the top of your stub.
SCHEDULED CONTRACTUAL INCREASE
Shows that it is now reflected in the base salary.
UPDT YTD BAL CANCEL CHK
An adjustment for a cancelled check was processed that updated the year-to-date earnings balance, affecting only the year-to-date fields.
UPDT YTD BK PAY AWD
An adjustment for a back pay award was processed, affecting only the year-to-date fields.
As the COVID-19 virus spreads throughout the world it has become a topic of conversation between the APWU and the Postal Service. The APWU is making sure the USPS is taking the risk seriously and not passively. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) documents can be found at:
In November of 2018, former Local President Jim Alexander met with the Medford Postmaster to sign off on the 2016 Local Memorandum Of Understanding or LMOU. The LMOU is negotiated between the local APWU designees and local Management designees for locally determined rules for implementing work schedules, annual leave, and other benefits listed under Article 30 of the National Agreement. After each new National Agreement has been negotiated, locally designated APWU representatives have the opportunity to negotiate each installation's LMOU. The current Medford 2016 LMOU was negotiated following the Arbitration Award issued July 8, 2016.
Since we are getting close to finalizing the annual leave sign-up process in Medford, many of you will want to be aware of this change....
In past LMOUs, following the annual leave sign-ups, employees would have to wait until "no sooner than 35 days" prior to the requested time off. The 2016 LMOU was negotiated stating:
After final signing of the Annual Leave Sheet has been completed, annual leave will be requested on Form 3971 and shall be submitted no sooner than 60 days prior to the requested hour or hours of leave.
Our members requested this change to 60 days so that employees would have better opportunities to plan earlier especially when attempting to purchase airline fares. The submitted requests will still be granted on a first come first serve basis as stated in the LMOU.
PSE Clerks also have the opportunity to sign up for annual leave. When PSE Clerks are granted leave, they are granted at least a seven day period from Saturday through Friday of the week they are granted. The 2016 LMOU was negotiated stating:
B. Postal Support Employees (PSEs), for the purpose of vacation planning, shall have a basic work week from Saturday through Friday.
C. Exceptions may be granted by agreement between the employee and Management.
Another issue that may arise for Medford Clerks that bid from the Mail Processing Center (MPC) to Customer Service facilities, and vice versa, is having your name placed onto the Overtime Desired List (OTDL) mid quarter. The 2016 LMOU states:
An employee may opt to bring his/her name forward from one overtime desired list to another when he/she is the successful bidder in another facility within the Medford, OR installation. The employee shall notify management at the new facility in writing within one pay period following the effective date of the new assignment.
So, if you bid from a mail processing duty assignment at the MPC, to say, a window position at the Main Post Office, if you were on the OTDL at the MPC and want to be on the OTDL at the Main Post Office, you will need to provide your immediate supervisor with a written letter requesting to be placed onto the OTDL within two weeks after you start working your new bid job.