TENTATIVE WAGE INCREASES WIPED OUT BY WHITE HOUSE BUDGET
It seems that whenever letter carriers take a step forward, Capital Hill is right behind us attempting to hold us back and take more of our wages away from us. Last month the Trump administration released a budget proposal which will include several cuts to federal retirement benefits.
The proposed budget increases the required contributions toward FERS retirement starting with a 1 percent of salary increase with an additional 1 % increase added each year until the employer and employee shares are equal. This equates to about five or six percent increase for most FERS employees. As an example a grade O letter carrier currently pays about $18.41 per pay period toward retirement. Within 6 years that carrier will pay over $150.00 per pay period. Even though we will be paying much more into the system we will not be receiving higher pensions.
The proposed budget will end COLA’s for current and future FERS retirees and cut .05 percentage points off the COLA for CSRS retirees. Currently our pensions are based on your high three consecutive year’s average. Under the new budget, pensions would be reduced because they would be based on a 5 year consecutive year average. Another devastating impact of the budget is the elimination of the Social Security bridge. Currently an employee with 30 years may retire at 56 and collect approximately an additional $1300.00 per month until they reach the age of 62 when they can collect Social Security. If the budget is adopted all that money will be gone along with the hope of early retirement for many members.
On a more positive note the NALC has reached a tentative agreement covering the period May 21, 2016, to Sept. 20, 2019. The wage proposal for career carriers (including recent retirees) includes a 1.2% raise retro-active to November 26,2016, a 1.3% raise effective November 25,2017 and a 2.4% raise effective November 24, 2018. There are also a retro-active COLA’s from 9/3/16 and March 4,2017 which needs to be added to the wage increase. According to my calculations this proposal would equate to a $1.48 per hour raise for carriers at Step O. This calculation does not include the additional 5 COLA’s that are yet to come.
Since CCA’s do not receive COLA’s they will receive additional wage increases of 1 percent for a total of: 2.2 percent on Nov. 26, 2016 (paid retroactively); 2.3 percent on Nov. 25, 2017; and an additional 1 percent increase on Nov. 24, 2018. The agreement also includes two $.50 per hour step increases for CCA’s after 12 weeks and 40 weeks of service respectively. These step increases will be paid retro actively to 11/26/16. CCAs will have the following paid Holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. The agreement also requires the locals to attempt to negotiate leave provisions for CCA’s.
Those career employees who were formerly TE’s for at least 2 years will be eligible to receive up to 4 step increases depending on the number of years that they were TE’s. It is possible that these step increases could result in $3.00 per hour raises depending on your current scale.
Unfortunately we will be paying a higher percentage of our health insurance. We currently pay 24% of the total cost. We will be paying 26% in 2018 and 27% in 2019. I did a calculation based on the NALC health plan for family coverage. Assuming that the actual cost of health care does not increase the additional 3% would equate to $18.00 more per pay period that we would pay for that coverage.
The NALC will be holding a rap session in June to further clarify any questions regarding the contract. Some members of Branch 3 will be attending the rap session. Afterwards, ballots will be sent to all NALC members who will have the option of voting for or against the ratification of the tentative agreement.
As you can see, the modest tentative wage package that our National Officers negotiated may be wiped out on Capital Hill. The attack against federal workers has come up many times in the past. However, one party controls the House ,Senate and White House and they all have the same agenda. Luckily we do have some moderate Republican friends in Congress.
Last month about 18 members of Branch 3 made our annual trip to Washington D C to visit our local Congressman along with seeing Senators Schumer and Gillibrand. Historically New York has always had good support for letter carrier issues from both sides of the isle. We will need all the support we can get to oppose the President’s budget. Our only way of raisng moneys is to donate to the Letter Carrier Political Action Fund. If every carrier gave as little as $1.00 per pay period it would go a long way to save our benfits.
In closing I would like to thank our past Editor Jodey Kotowski for her dedicated Service in providing our members with a monthly newspaper that was informative and well worth reading.