ENOUGH SAID!

Newsletter of

AFGE LOCAL 2505

Representing SSA Field Office Employees in Oklahoma

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August, 2007 – Volume II, No. 2

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F ANNOUNCEMENT E

The Local will be holding elections at our September, 2007 Meeting for an Election Committee. (The meeting will be at noon on Saturday, September 22 at 3837 Highpoint Court, Norman, OK).

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN SERVING ON THE ELECTION COMMITTEE?

There must be an odd number of people. (There must be more than one). The Election Committee will take nominations for Local 2505 Officers at the Local’s fourth quarter meeting and, conduct a mail ballot election in December for all contested positions.

Comings and Goings

Michelle Schmidt has resigned from her position as Secretary - Treasurer of Local 2505. CONGRATULATIONS to Michelle and her husband who are expecting their second child soon!

Welcome aboard to Magda Mashburn! Magda was appointed as Secretary-Treasurer of the Local by Local President Ylita Edd at our June meeting. If you move, change your name, sex, address, phone number or e-mail address be sure to let Magda know so she can update the Local’s membership information. (The Local isn’t notified when you make such changes to your SSA records through your local office or through Employee Express).

CONGRATULATIONS

To the Ada, Enid and McAlester District Offices! They have the distinction of being the only offices in our Local in which every employee is a Union member.

What, you ask, is the benefit of 100% Union membership? Well, it usually means that management bends over backwards to get some additional employees into that office so that it will no longer be 100% Union membership!

Sadly for the Union, Enid is no longer 100% with the transfer of an additional CR. However, our loss of bragging rights has made the workload situation more tolerable for Enid employees as management transferred an additional CR into Enid!

The moral of this story?

If you are overworked, your office stands out from the crowd of other overworked offices when every employee is in the Union. That makes a statement that Regional management seems to notice and address when they have slots to be filled!

Congratulations to Local 2505’s 1st Vice President, Mitzi Brooks. Who says being a Union representative is bad for your career? After Labor Day, 1st VP Brooks is off to SSA Headquarter in Baltimore to receive her SECOND (count ‘em: one, TWO) Commissioner’s Citation! Way to go, Mitzi!

In addition to her SSA duties, as 1st VP, Mitzi will be the Local’s Technical Assistant in two upcoming arbitrations: the first is in Moore over SSA’s refusal to restore use or lose leave lost because of the unscheduled National Day of Mourning and, the second, in Chickasha over contract violations in the filling of the Chickasha TE vacancy.

Pending Litigation

Council 220 Regional Vice President Rich Kirchner is the Union’s representative on the National Technical Assistant Grievance. The thrust of the grievance is that every CR should be paid a GS 12. We will be watching that one with great interest!

The firm of Snider & Associates, LLC is representing a class of disabled employees in Jantz v. SSA, EEOC No. 531-2006-0027-6X / Agency No. HQ-06-2518-SSA. Many of our employees have been contacted by SSA regarding the class action. If you joined the class action, you will be kept up to date by Snider & Associates. If you didn’t, we’ll pass along any information we get. However, if you do not join the class action, you will not be covered by the terms of any settlement.

The Council 220 Arbitration over management having two members of management present during PACS discussions (while denying employees the right to have someone else present on their behalf – like their Union Rep) is scheduled for the week before Labor Day in Baltimore.

For Retirees

Bills in the House and Senate to repeal the Government Pension Offset (GPO) and Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) have

continued to pick up cosponsors.  Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and George Voinovich (R-OH) have introduced a Government Pension Offset reform bill, H.R. 1254.  Basically the Mikulski/Voinovich bill requires a means test, and it does that by aiming for a combined federal annuity and Social Security spousal benefit of $1,200 monthly.  Similar Mikulski bills in the past would also have operated that way.  This bill would be significantly less costly than outright repeal, and may pick up support on that account.
 
The Mikulski bill has no counterpart in the House.  Currently one House GPO reform bill does exist, introduced by Rep. Ron Lewis (R-KY).  That bill would simply cut the offset from two-thirds to one-third of a retiree survivor's annuity - no means-testing involved.  We'll wait to see if a House member steps up to introduce the Mikulski approach.

Awards

Some offices have announced the recipients of the Exemplary Contribution or Service Award. The deadline for processing those awards is August 31. Congratulations to the recipients!

If you don’t get one or if everyone gets a bigger award than you do, you might want to consider filing a grievance or EEO complaint. PLEASE remember, your time frame is 15 working days from when YOU found out, which may be by the grapevine, if your office doesn’t send out an e-mail announcement or doesn’t have a staff meeting to announce the award recipients.

Employees are always concerned about filing anything: Could it hurt my career? We can only reply: What career? SSA didn’t give you an award! If SSA thought you had a future or career here, if SSA appreciated the work you did, they’d have given you an award and it would have been as much as every one else’s! You are at a dead end and have nothing to lose! PLEASE contact a Union Officer!!

Injured on the Job? -- Read On!

Federal employees who are injured on their job have the right to choose who their treating physician. (Title 5 USC 8103)

Federal employees are rarely if ever informed of this fact. Instead, it is common for the federal employer to quickly send an injured employee off to the federal employer's own "hired" doctor. 


For federal employees injured on the job it is vital to understand and know that the choice of a treating doctor is their own. The federal employer cannot "force" the employee to go to one specific doctor of the employer's choice. The federal employer may send an injured employee to the employer's own selected doctor when the employee is first injured. If the employee goes to that doctor (for example, to obtain emergency treatment), that doctor is not necessarily the "chosen" treating physician of the employee based on that one visit. The employee still has, by law, his initial choice to make regarding who his /her treating physician will be.  However, if the employee then returns for a follow up visit to the employer's doctor, then the employer's doctor becomes the treating physician as the employee is considered to have "chosen" to return to that doctor. The employer's doctor then becomes the employee's chosen doctor for medical treatment. If that happens, the employee can only change to another doctor by filing a written request with the US Department of Labor who may or may not approve the change at its sole discretion.

 

Spotlight on Union Benefits

BUYING A CAR?

Our National Organizer recently moved from Washington, DC to Tulsa. He wanted a car for his daughter but didn’t want to shop. He called the AFGE Auto Buying Service and told them the make, model, color, accessories and that he wanted to pick the car up in Tulsa. He got his daughter a $24,000 Pontiac for $17,500.

At our current dues structure, $6,500 savings represents almost 39 years of Union dues!

Our own 2nd VP, Carol Lewis used this service after having shopped for six months. She purchased a 2007 Ford Escape for $700 less than the dealer’s best price! Carol also received a $100 US Savings Bond. Her total savings represents almost 5 years of Union dues.

Access: Call 1-866-824-1133 to speak with a personal auto advisor.  And be sure to have your Local and member number handy.

Buying a House?

Assistance for members if they become disabled.

Mortgage loans to purchase or refinance your home

Loan programs for borrowers with "less than perfect" credit

Down payments as low as 5% - and even lower for qualified buyers

$350 toward closing costs (for buyers who use both the real estate and mortgage portions of the program) Through a special agreement, AFGE members are entitled to money-saving real estate services which include:

A $350 closing cost credit when member uses the Real Estate and Mortgage Program together.

A free home warranty plan for the seller with a value of $350 to $450

To be eligible for these benefits, you must call Union Member Mortgage and Real Estate to register.

Access: Call 1-800-848-6466 (8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. E.T.) Monday through Friday. And be sure to have your Local and member number handy.

Can you afford a Federal Employees Group Life Insurance increase of more than 440% in your first year of retirement? If not check out the Union’s Life plan.

By Craig Schuff

Each year, Union Member Life saves AFGE members thousands of dollars in comparison to their Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance. Union Member Life is universal life insurance with a whole life guarantee until age 100 that offers AFGE members and their family permanent life insurance. Unlike your FEGLI which increases in cost as you age, until it costs more than you can afford. Union Member Life is available to all AFGE members from age 0 to 85. Prices are determined by your age, your coverage amount and your current health at the time you apply. You own the policy, so if you retire or leave Civil Service you can take the policy with you.

Premium Savings. When compared to the optional coverage in the Federal Employees Group Life Plan, (FEGLI), members can save 20% to 50% in premiums by age 65.

Level Premiums. Your planned premium is designed to stay level and not increase with age.

Level Death Benefit. Your life insurance death benefit stays level and will not decline after you retire. It is a "permanent" insurance policy that you can keep until age 100.

Tax Advantages. Union Member Life is appealing to many AFGE members because policy values accumulate income tax-deferred* and death benefits paid to a beneficiary are totally income tax-free.* Additionally, AFGE members accumulate a tax-deferred cash value inside the policy that can be cashed in if policy is no longer needed.

*Under current tax law

 

AFGE UNION MEMBER LIFE INSURANCE vs. Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance

 

(Example: A 40-year old Federal Employee making $40,000 per year with F.E.G.L.I. Option B at 5 times their annual salary.

This illustration compares total premium costs until retirement at age 65.)

UNION MEMBER LIFE (5x)

Cost until retirement: $30,000 – $40,000

Premiums stay the same

Earns Interest & Accumulates Cash Value

After retirement: You can continue paying premiums (premiums & death benefit remain level for the life of the policy) or cash it in

.

F.E.G.L.I. (5x)

Cost until retirement: $45,000 – $70,000

Premiums increase every 5 yrs. until age 80

No Interest & No Cash Value

After retirement: You are forced to reduce coverage to the minimum (only 10,500 to 21,000) due to high cost to keep FEGLI ($300 to $600/mo. at age 65 and $1,100 to $2,300/mo. at age 80 depending on raises!)

 

I’m getting ready to retire. What is Union Survivor Benefit Alternative? Union Survivor Benefit Alternative is a universal life insurance alternative to the high cost and limited flexibility of providing full survivor’s benefits under CSRS or FERS (the federal government’s plan).

Flexibility. Unlike the full survivor benefit annuity offered by your agency, the Union’s alternative can be paid to your chosen beneficiary as a lump sum, income tax-free* death benefit. Instead of losing any proceeds from a possibly short lived annuity payment, the proceeds can be passed on to other generations, donated, etc.

Cash Accumulation. Members accumulate an income taxed deferred cash value that can be used in the event that the spouse pre-deceases you; the government’s plan has no cash value.

Permanent Coverage. Your life insurance death benefit is designed to stay level until age 100.

Affordable Premiums. Your planned premium is generally less than the cost for the full survivor annuity and the premiums are designed to stay level.

*Under current tax law

Members can apply for Union Member Life, Union Survivor Benefit Alternative plans by simply completing a short application. Please call me today at (817) 253-2696 to start taking advantage of all of AFGE’s money-saving benefits!

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Have a Pet?

by Eileen Solaz, Business Development

www.petassure.com

Pet Assure is a discount plan that will entitle you to a 25% discount on all vet services as long as you are visiting a participating vet.   There are no deductibles and no claim forms.  

The cost is $59 a year for a cat, $99 a year for a dog.  2-4 pets is $149 a year, and if you have more than 4 pets, $20 each additional per year.

You receive a membership card and upon visiting any one of our participating vets, your bill will be deducted by 25% at time of service.  There are no exclusions, no pre existing condition clauses and no age restrictions.  This discount applies to any service performed at a participating vet’s office including well visits, surgeries, dental, etc.   You also receive discounts at local merchants for boarding, grooming and supplies as well as a list of our participating national merchants where the discounts range from 5%-30% on prescriptions, toys and many other items.  Along with the discounts, you get tags for your pet with a unique ID number on them and an 800 number.  If someone finds your pet, they can call the 800 number, give the ID number and we will contact you and let you know where your pet is.

All pets are welcome at Pet Assure. 

 

To view all the vets and merchants in your area, please visit our website, www.petassure.com.  If your vet is not listed on our website, please let us know the name of the vet hospital, address and phone number and we will have one of our vet representatives contact them to inform of the benefit of being a Pet Assure provider.

Access: Pet Health Insurance: call:1-866-473-7387; for the Veterinarian Discount Program call 1-888-789-7387. And be sure to have your Local and member number handy.

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Meeting Notice

AFGE Local 2505

Saturday,

September 22, 2007

Location: (Magda Mashburn’s home)

3837 Highpoint Court, Norman, OK

Time: 12 Noon

Agenda

Call to Order

Secretary’s Report

Treasurer’s Report

Legislative Report

Litigation Report

New Business

Election of Election Committee

Creation of Local 2505 Web Site

Unfinished Business

Adjournment

 

AFGE Local 2505 General Officers and Contact Information

Ylita Edd – President

ylita.edd@ssa.gov or ronylita@aol.com

Work: 405-605-3001 ext. 3038

c/o Social Security Administration

2615 Villa Prom – Oklahoma City, OK 73107

Magda Mashburn, Secretary-Treasurer

magda.mashburn@ssa.gov

Work: (405) 605-3001 x 3981

c/o Social Security Administration

2615 Villa Prom - Oklahoma City, OK 73107

Mitzi Brooks – 1st Vice President

mitzi.brooks@ssa.gov

Work: 580-237-1664 ext. 202

c/o Social Security Administration

2202 North Van Buren - Enid, OK 73703

 

 

 

 

 

AFGE Local 2505 Newsletter: August ‘07

Ms Magda Mashburn, Secretary-Treasurer

3837 Highpoint Court

Norman, Oklahoma 73072-5023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ralph de Juliis

Executive Vice President

ralph.dejuliis@ssa.gov or Ralph.de.juliis@sbcglobal.net

Work: 918-641-2409 ext. 2923

Cell: 918-781-3096

Home: 918-749-2412

c/o Social Security Administration

4750 So Garnett Road - Tulsa, OK 74146

 

 

Carol A. Lewis - 2nd Vice President

carol.a.lewis@ssa.gov

Work: 918-423-1631 ext. 117

c/o Social Security Administration

902 South George Nigh - McAlester, OK 74501