A guest blog by VOCAL RCA
The National Rural Letter Carrier Association’s (NRLCA) national convention in St. Louis, Missouri, from August 13th through the 16th, achieved only five constitution changes, exemplifying the union increasingly ignoring its’ members.
The National Rural Letter Carriers Association missed an opportunity to save the union $1.8 million dollars, the reported amount spent on holding the convention. A constitutional change to have the convention every other year, failed by 87 votes on Wednesday, August 14th. Needing a 2/3 margin to warrant a change, the vote received 615 yes votes and 437 no votes.
With the first day attributed to numerous speakers, the association had just two days to go through twelve constitutional changes and 127 resolutions. The five constitutional changes that were made consisted of, developing an educational program for local, area and state stewards; the second and third were cosmetic changes that consisted of language regarding voting before/during the convention and a change removing the term State Stewards and replacing it with District Representatives (since State Stewart position no longer exists); the fourth change dealt with sending special issues of the National magazine to members in good standing only, which could potentially bring about savings of twenty thousand dollars. The fifth constitutional change, which failed at first, is a dues increase that will be based on a percentage every year. For a regular carrier the increase is calculated at a 1.2% annual salary, 40 hour step 1 basis, and a RCA‘s increase would be calculated at .425% of a 40 hour step 1. Retirees would pay $54 dollars per year from $42, and for a regular carrier the percentage basis equates to new dues totaling $428 from $408, and RCA’s will pay $151 dollars from $143 dollars per year.
The NRLCA passed 127 non-binding resolutions as well; unfortunately the NRLCA has no legal authority to see that the resolutions are enacted upon. Ultimately the resolutions must be presented to and agreed upon by the United States Post Office (USPS) to become part of the rural contract. Some of the highlights of the non-binding resolutions are: any time spent as RCA included in retirement, RCA’s being able to transfer without losing seniority, RCA’s given PTF status after two continuous years of service, a 72 hour turn-around time for leave slips, all route vacancies posted district wide and unions given the ability to hire private investigators to obtain evidence of manipulation during mail counts.
Basically during the convention, union dues were increased, a $1.8 million dollar solution, to avoid wasted conventions, was dismissed and a wish list for rural carriers and rural carrier associates will probably never see the light of day.
The NRLCA has lost touch with its’ members. The unions’ reasoning for the dues increase is because of membership decline and to keep pace with inflation. As a mail carrier, our salaries are quite good because of union support. Nevertheless, the attack on rural carriers has stepped up dramatically. Rural routes are being destroyed, because of new imaginative numbers introduced by the USPS in the latest contract. Rural routes have double or tripled in size and so has street time, due in part to FSS.
Rural carriers are being made to deliver to more houses while having their wages lowered every year; and now face the threat of benefits being stripped away. Meanwhile RCA’s are facing longer wait time to become regular and almost no support from the union at all. Membership is on the decline and will continue to decline if our union keeps doing nothing.
The union has increasingly sided with management on many of the recent decisions on route consolidations, mail count data retrieval and day to day operations. Every dues paying member should consider discontinuing their payment into the union because the money is being wasted, just like the time spent during these conventions.
Meanwhile Congress still has not addressed the real reason the Postal Service is losing money and the ones who are paying for it- hard working rural and letter carriers, clerks, janitors, you and me!
Vocal RCA is a Rural Carrier Associate
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Response to National Convention guest Blog by Vocal RCA
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