The National Office has just received notification from the Postal Service regarding the OPM Guidelines for Use of the COVID-19 Emergency Paid Leave also known as the Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL). On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (Public Law 117-2). The Act included provisions authorizing emergency paid leave (EPL) for covered Federal employees in specified qualifying circumstances through special funds. The EPL provision in section 4001 of the Act is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). You may review the memorandum and OPM guidlines at the link below.
It is with great regret and sorrow that we announce the passing of Brother Robert “Bob” Cusolito. Brother Cusolito was a Memeber of Branch 9, Boston and proudly served the members of Local 301 in various capacities over the years including assisting with the Amalgamation of Local 301 in the early 1970’s. As an elected officer beginning in 1977, he served to two terms as Recording Secretary and five terms as Vice President of Local 301, a position from which he retired in 1998. In 1992, Brother Cusolito further served as the Northeastern Region Vice President on the National Executive Board of the NPMHU. Bob was also a veteran of the US Navy having served on the USS Salem (CA-139). We ask that you please keep Brother Cusolito and his family in your thoughts and prayers.
Donations In Bob"s Memory May Be Made To the Alzheimer's Association of Massachusetts/New Hampshire.
Memorandum: The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (pdf)
When President Biden was sworn into office on January 20, 2021, he promised that one of his first actions would be to help push through the next COVID-19 relief package. On March 11, the American Rescue Plan Act (P.L. 117-2) was signed into law. While most attention has been paid to the provisions in the bill that give direct payments to 85% of Americans and to revenue grants for state and local government, there also are important provisions providing emergency leave and compensation to members of the postal workforce.
As many NPMHU members are aware, last year’s CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) offered postal employees leave due to COVID-19 related illness; these statutory guarantees expired at the end of 2020, however, leaving employees without this safety net.
The American Rescue Plan revives this protection for all Mail Handlers and other postal employees by providing postal and federal employees with up to 600 hours or 15 weeks of leave, known as the Emergency Federal Employee Leave or EFEL. This leave is available if a postal employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms, has to self-isolate due to COVID-19, seeks medical attention to address symptoms of COVID-19, or has to take care of children or elderly relatives due to lack of schooling or care. Payments are capped at $35.00 an hour. It should be noted that the U.S. Department of the Treasury has allocated only $570 million to fund this leave for the entirety of the postal and federal workforces. Once these funds have been exhausted, Congress will have to revisit the need to provide leave again. Also, any payments received under this program will not count toward any retirement annuity and cannot be used to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan.
Additionally, the American Rescue Plan also provides for workers’ compensation for those diagnosed with COVID-19 due to exposure at work. Because the Postal Service has been a vital necessity to customers during the pandemic, NPMHU members and their postal workforce brothers and sisters have routinely put their health at risk while at work. This compensation provision gives those in the USPS workforce the peace of mind that, if they contract the virus, they will be financially compensated through the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.
The language of the American Rescue Plan went into effect on March 12, 2021, and this leave and compensation should already be available to NPMHU members and the rest of the postal workforce. The EFEL will continue through September 30, 2021. Until final directives are issued, mail handlers seeking to use EFEL should submit a PS Form 3971 indicating for which of the eight qualifying reasons listed in the chart below they must take leave, and employees must affirmatively state that they are unable to work because of the qualifying reason. The eRMS Leave Code or Reason Code for the Emergency Federal Employee Leave (EFEL) is 086-21. If there are other questions or you need help getting access to these benefits, please contact your local union representatives or stewards or the NPMHU Contract Administration Department.
Did you recently convert to Fulltime Regular?
If yes, you have 60 days to make your decision and enroll in a FEHB plan.
Beginning on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, Mail Handler Benefit Plan representatives will host informational webinars to provide an overview and discuss the features of the union sponsored health plan (MHBP®). Each webinar will run about 30 minutes and will include time for live questions and answers. These webinars are intended for our new career mail handlers, nearly 5,300 of which converted to fulltime regular effective March 13, 2021.
Remember, newly converted mail handlers have 60 days from the effective date of your career appointment to enroll in a Federal Employee Health Benefit (FEHB). If you don't make an election by that time, you are considered to have declined coverage, and you must wait until the next Open Season to enroll. Qualifying Life Events may permit additional opportunities to make a change outside of Open Season.
- Register for an upcoming webinar
- View informational videos
- Download the MHBP 2021 Promotional Brochure (pdf)
Please find the webinar schedule below:
March 22, 2021 – 9:00 AM EST March 22 – 12:00 PM EST
March 24, 2021 – 5:00 PM EST
March 29, 2021 – 9:00 AM EST March 29 12:00 PM EST
March 31, 2021 – 5:00 PM EST
April 5, 2021 – 9:00 AM EST April 05 – 12:00 PM EST
April 7, 2021 – 5:00 PM EST
Recent economic studies have shown what all members of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and all of our union brother and sisters have known our entire careers: the right to unionize allows the working class greater personal economic growth; improves workplace safety; and, combats income inequality.
Despite these benefits to the fiscal health of our national economy, federal laws are not currently strong enough to ensure members of the private sector have access to unions and the right to organize.
To overcome these issues, the House introduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO), H.R. 842, at the beginning of the 117th congressional session. The PRO Act strengthens the National Labor Relations Act by protecting workers from anti-union intimidation and retaliation; prohibiting employers from misclassifying employees in order to prevent employees from organizing; and ensuring unions can hold free and fair elections.
The House passed identical legislation in the 116th Congress, and I’m pleased that it had the same level of bipartisan support in the current 117th session. With this continued support in the House, as well and the endorsement of President Biden, I urge the Senate to quickly take up this important legislation.
Effective February 27, 2021, (Pay Period 06-2021) all career Mail Handler craft employees are scheduled to receive a cost-of-living (COLA) adjustment as outlined in Article 9.3 of the 2019 National Agreement. This is the third of six possible COLA increases under the terms of the current agreement. This COLA increase is based on the upward change in the relevant Consumer Price Index (CPI) following release of the January 2021 Index, using the July 2019 CPI index as a base provides an annual increase of $416 for all Steps in Table 1 and for Step P of Table 2. The remaining Steps in Table 2 will receive the proportional COLA increase percentages as outlined in Article 9.3 of the National Agreement.
WAGE CHART (Effective PP06-2021)
For almost a year now, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union and the entirety of the postal workforce, have risked their own and their families’ health and safety just by going to work during the global coronavirus pandemic. Mail handlers have always served an essential roll. But now our work is more important than ever as we ensure the delivery of necessary government and personal correspondence, vital prescriptions, and needed home goods during this time of crisis. Despite social distancing when possible and the use of PPEs, over 3,500 mail handlers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning the of the pandemic. This along with quarantining and caring for our children and elders has not only impacted our lives, but also the Postal Service’s on-time delivery rates and service.
Understanding the value of our jobs and the inherent risk postal employees now find themselves in, the Centers for Disease Control recommended Postal Service personnel to be considered frontline essential workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 during the second part of phase one vaccination, or Phase 1b. The CDC recommended to states’ health departments to follow this guidance, however, several states’ plans do not include postal employees in their plans.
Our friends in the House of Representatives, however, recognized the necessity of our work and the risk we take on a daily basis during the pandemic and introduced H. Res. 108. This resolution, as introduced by Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA-08), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12), Gerry Connolly (D-VA-11) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI-14), emphasizes the importance of the work of Postal Service employees and calls upon states to prioritize them in vaccine distribution plans. NPMHU fully endorses this resolution, and I ask all members of the House to cosponsor it.
For fifteen years, the United States Postal Service has been obligated to prefund its retiree healthcare costs at 100%. This mandate resulted in the annual loss of $5 billion over a decade and has been the primary cause of financial deficits since 2013. Because of these losses, the Postal Service faced cuts in services and cannot focus on revenue growth.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic added to this financial instability. The USPS faced losses in revenue due to a drop in first class mail as well as increased costs associated with protecting the health and safety of the dedicated workforce during this global health crisis. But the pandemic also proved to Americans how it is necessary to support sustainable Postal Service.
Recognizing the problems of this undue burden and the financial limitations it creates, Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Tom Reed (R-NY-23), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-01), Colin Allred (D-TX-32), and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-12) and Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) introduced the USPS Fairness Act (H.R. 695/S. 145) to repeal the prefunding mandate. The House passed this important legislation in the 116th Congress with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 309-106.
These bills are the first step towards creating a sustainable Postal Service. NPMHU endorses this important legislation and will continue to work with Congress to develop postal reform legislation that addresses the USPS’ financial shortcoming and protects its workforce.
With the recent Memorandum of Understanding Re: Additional Mail Handling Staffing, the parties agreed to jointly develop and implement a Question and Answer document addressing and affirming the parties’ mutual understanding and interpretation of the provisions contained in that MOU.
While the Q&A document does not address every matter, the interpretations contained in the Q&A should be self-explanatory.
Please feel free to circulate the attached Questions and Answers as you deem appropriate, and please do not hesitate to contact the National CAD should you have any questions.
Washington, D.C. (January 7, 2021) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement today:
The 500,000 strong, proud, and united men and women of LIUNA are ecstatic and thrilled that President-elect Joe Biden has chosen a dues-paying, card-carrying, second-generation member of Laborers’ Local Union 223, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, to be the next U.S. Secretary of Labor. Marty Walsh is a living embodiment of the American dream: he worked his way up from the field to become a leader of his local union, the head of the Boston Metropolitan Building Trades Council, Mayor of Boston, and now, U.S. Secretary of Labor. He is a hard-charging, hard-fighting, tireless and tenacious working class warrior whose word is his bond, who says what he means and means what he says, and who can always be counted on to stand with working men and women. Marty never forgets where he came from; he values hard work and those that do it; and he has seen, first hand, the power of the Trade Union Movement to transform lives.
As a labor leader and community activist, Marty Walsh helped tens of thousands of workers build strong, middle-class lives for themselves and their families. As Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh has made his deep roots in the Trade Union Movement a central part of his political career, proudly wearing his union affiliation on his sleeve, and displaying his union card wherever he goes. He has fought for Boston’s working families, made city government more responsive to all those who live and work in Boston, and distinguished himself as one of the hardest-working, most innovative big-city leaders in our nation today.
I know that with his dedication and devotion to the cause, the purpose, and the mission of the Labor Movement, Marty Walsh will restore and re-energize the Department of Labor’s role as a powerful guardian of workers, and strong and effective enforcer of labor laws. He will fight for all working people, regardless of where they come from, what language they speak, or what kind of work they do. He will work to bring skills training and a stronger voice on the job to millions of American workers who too often have been disregarded. He is also a leader that has a history of working cooperatively with employers to create middle class family supporting jobs.
We are awed and inspired that the top labor post in our great country will be occupied by one of our own LIUNA brothers. The choice of Mayor Walsh shows that, when it comes to the agency responsible for enforcing our nation’s labor laws, President-elect Joe Biden not only talks the talk; he truly walks the walk. We congratulate Marty on this appointment, and look forward to working with him, and the Biden administration, in the months and years to come.