2006 FLORIDA ALLIANCE FOR RETIRED AMERICANS CONVENTION IN ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL.!

FLARA ANNUAL CONVENTION TO BE HELD IN
ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL. ON JUNE 4-6, 2006!

It is a pleasure to invite all 3000 APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter union dues paying Retiree members, Retiree delegates, active APWU dues paying officers and members, and family members to the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans (FLARA) 2006 Annual Convention and Quarterly Board of Directors meeting to be held on Sunday, June 4 thru Tuesday, June 6, 2006 at the HILTON ORLANDO HOTEL, 350 S. North Lake Boulevard, Altamonte Springs, FL 32701. Your departure check-out date is on Wednesday, June 7, 2006. The Hilton Orlando Hotel room rate for FLARA members is $85.00 per night for single or double room, plus 10 % taxes. When making your reservations, please call toll-free 1-800-678-4380 and ask for the FLARA special group rate.

The registration fee for the Convention is $80.00 per person. Any registered delegate wishing to bring a guest to the prepaid meals should register their guest at $60.00 each. If you are interested, contact Yvonne Garrity, Executive Director, at the FLARA office in Wellington, Fl. by phone at 561-792-8799 to register and receive Convention materials and an updated agenda. Many well known political and union leaders are invited to attend this annual event. Resolutions will be offered to oppose the Privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, Retirement benefits, and the Social Security Program entitlements for all Americans. Go to
www.flara.org for more info about FLARA.

At this Convention, in addition to the election of Officers and Board Members, any proposed changes to the FLARA Constitution and By-Laws will be discussed and voted upon by the convention body. APWU is one of 22 unions affiliated with FLARA! If you have any questions, ask to speak with Tony Fransetta, President, FLARA, by phone at 561-792-8799. Contact APWU of Florida State Retiree Chapter President Jack Gose at 727-343-2998 or E-mail: jak.gose@excite.com for more information about this important annual event you are invited to attend!

TAMPA AREA LOCAL ORGANIZE APWU RETIREE CHAPTER

Dave Bernstein, Tampa Area Local APWU #259, was appointed President of the newly created Tampa Area Local Retiree Chapter at an organizational meeting of APWU Retirees living in Tampa, FL zip codes 335 and 336 on Wed., March 22, 2006 by President Richard Phillips. Douglas C. Holbrook, Natl. APWU Retiree Director, who heads up the Retirees Dept. in Washington, D.C. comprised of 40,000 + APWU Retiree members paying $24.00 year or $2.00 month union dues from their annuity check flew down to help get the Chapter started, answering many questions. He took back a list of interim Chapter officer’s names and a Constitution & By-Laws to get the ball rolling for the National APWU to grant a founding Charter to the Tampa Area Local Retiree Chapter.

Florida State now has four (4) APWU Retiree Chapters, Suncoast Area Local, Broward County Area Local, Miami Area Local, and Tampa Area Local. There are currently thirty-four (34) Local Chapters with Charters and four (4) State Chapters, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, and California.

USPS RETIREMENT COUNSELING HELP MOVED TO GREENSBORO

Effective January 30, 2006 USPS Benefits, Retirements, and Separations processes began moving from local Personnel Offices in Florida to the new Human Resources Shared Service Center (HRSSC) in Greensboro, N.C. at 1-877-477-3273, Option 5 to select an info packet. For personalized assistance, employees can speak to an experienced postal representative during normal business hours 7 am to 8:30 pm, Monday thru Friday. You must have your employee ID number on your earnings statement and your USPS PIN available when calling for benefits, retirements, and separations information.

If you are planning to retire in the near future, it is recommended that you request the paperwork that you need three (3) months in advance of the date you plan to retire. After you receive your retirement packet, you should review the paperwork before making any decisions. If you are married, I suggest you review it with your spouse. Write down or make notes on anything you have a question about. You should then call the above telephone number and speak with a Postal Service Human Resources Specialist to answer your questions. Make certain that you document who you spoke with, the date and time, and what advice you were given. When you call back again, you should ask for the same person to speak with, if possible. Also ask what are their work hours, and what is the best time to call them for follow-up queries.

If after you speak with the HR rep, you are satisfied, you may complete the forms and return them to HR Shared Service Center in Greensboro, N.C. I suggest you make copies of the forms you complete in the event the documents are lost. There will be no local assistance available to those matters that are processed by Shared Services. When you call up to ask questions on retirement, you should keep the same counselor until your forms are processed. You can start requesting information regarding your retirement at least 3 years prior to your eligibility. If after you retire, you have a problem you must contact the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). The Florida District Office or Shared Services Center will not be able to assist you.

Retirement counseling is only done by telephone. You cannot file an application via computer. Reasonable time will be granted on-the-clock upon request. If there are problems, Local Presidents should contact the District. I called the toll-free number twice and spoke with two different Counselors, and I found out they are USPS employees and if they don’t know the answer to your questions, the HR Counselor will get back to you within 24 hours. All of the USPS Personnel Offices Retirement Counseling services in the Nation are expected to be transferred to Greensboro, N.C. by the end of the Postal Fiscal Year, September 30, 2006.

If you have more questions, call the National APWU Retirees Dept. in Washington, D.C. 202-842-8584 and ask to speak with Retirees Director Douglas C. Holbrook 9am to 4 pm, Monday thru Friday, or call toll-free at 877-279-8669 (877-APWU-NOW) to get a recorded message 24/7, leave your name and phone number for a return call back.

METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS (MRSA)

MRSA (pronounced mer-sah) is a strain of bacterium that has developed antibiotic resistance to all penicillins, including methicillin and other antibiotics. It was first discovered in UK in 1961 and is now widespread all over the world, particularly in hospitals, nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living units where it is commonly termed a SUPERBUG. Staph. Aureus most commonly colonizes the nostrils, although the respiratory tract, open wounds, intravenous catheters, and urinary tract are also potential sites for infection. Vancomycin and teicoplanin are antibiotics used to treat MRSA infections. New strains of MRSA have been found showing resistance to even these last resort drugs. The infection may be transmitted by touching another person skin or clothes, breathing thru the air currents, and hand washing alone would save the lives of 30,000 patients yearly from nosocomial infections per the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, GA. EVERYONE SHOULD WASH UP!

I encountered the rapidly spreading problem when I visited an old friend in the Hospital and later in a skilled Nursing facility, when the patient was placed alone in a room under ISOLATION and no one, Doctor, Nurse, Family, or Visitor was allowed in to see the patient unless they wore a gown covering their whole body, plastic gloves over hands, and a mask covering nose and mouth to keep from spreading the infection. Infectious Disease Doctors have been assigned to all Hospitals to monitor the spread of MRSA from patient to staff member or another patient! Skin contacts in locker rooms, gyms, exercise spas have led to an outbreak of MRSA among healthy populations, and it is feared that there will be a spread of the MRSA Superbug to the Community at Large, even children in school and on playgrounds. Pneumonia is often a byproduct threatening the lives of young and older humans. Netherlands has reported the transmission of MRSA bacteria from pigs to humans during the summer of 2005! STAY ALERT!

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