Tony D. McKinnon Sr.
Welcome, Postal Support Employees
Mike Morris, Director
(This article appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.)
Since the beginning of postal collective bargaining in the early 1970s, the contract has included a category of employees called the Supplemental Work Force — but the “casuals” who comprised the supplemental workforce were denied the rights and benefits their unionized co-workers enjoyed.
Like all the contracts before it, the 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement said, “This Agreement does not apply to... employees in the supple- mental work force.” Casuals were essentially “at will” employees with little hope of ever getting a career job in the Postal Service.
For almost 40 years, through each round of bargaining, the American Postal Workers Union sought to eliminate the injustices suffered by “supplemental” workers, who performed the same work as career employees. At the same time, we negotiated limits on the type of work casual employees were permitted to perform. This was done to preserve as much work as possible for employees covered by the contract.
The 2006-2010 Collective Bargaining Agreement also continued to include Transitional Employees in the two remaining Remote Encoding Centers (Salt Lake City, UT and Wichita, KS). The Transitional Employees also were non-career employees without a defined path to permanent career employment, although they had more rights than casuals.
At Long Last
In the 2010 contract negotiations, the American Postal Workers Union was finally successful in eliminating both the casual employee workforce category and the Transitional Employee workforce category. They were replaced with a new category of worker, covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, called Postal Support Employees (PSEs).
PSEs will earn more in wages than the TEs and, in most parts of the country, considerably more than the casual employees they are replacing. They also are guaranteed raises totaling 7 percent over the life of the contract.
The new contract contains numerous benefits for PSEs that were not available to casuals or TEs. Unlike casual employees, PSEs will earn annual leave and have access to the grievance procedure. While PSEs may be terminated for lack of work, once they have passed their probationary period, discharge for any other reason must be for “just cause.”
Although PSEs are initially hired as non-career workers, the new contract contains a very important benefit for our new category of bargaining unit employee: A path to career employment. The contract states, “When the Postal Service determines in accordance with contractual provisions that it has needs to fill vacancies with new career employees, available and qualified PSE employees will be converted to fill such vacancies on a seniority basis.” [Emphasis added.]
This is a tremendous benefit to those PSE employees who would like to make a career with the United States Postal Service.
In order to clarify these new rights, on June 28, 2011, the APWU and the USPS jointly agreed to a list of 65 questions and answers about the new contract. Several items address the rights and protections afforded to PSE employees:
Question 20. How does management determine which PSE to terminate during their term when there is a lack of work?
ANSWER: Clerk and Maintenance craft PSEs will be terminated for lack of work based upon craft standing on the roll in the installation. MVS Craft PSEs will be terminated for lack of work based on inverse occupational group standing on the roll in the installation.
Question 21. When needed, how does management determine which PSE to bring back to work?
ANSWER: PSEs will be returned based upon their craft standing on the roll in the installation, or in the MVS Craft by their occupational group standing on the roll, for up to a one-year period from their break in service.
Click here to view the complete set of Questions and Answers [PDF]. If you are a PSE and have questions about your rights, contact your shop steward or a local or state union officer.
Health Insurance Available
The 2010-2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement also contains another tremendous benefit for PSEs that was never available to casuals or TEs: Health insurance, with the majority of costs paid by the Postal Service.
After an initial 360-day term of employment and upon reappointment to another term, when eligible PSEs elect to join the APWU Health Plan Consumer Driven Option, the Postal Service will contribute 75 percent of the premium price.
To all PSEs, I say, welcome to our union family. The rights and benefits discussed above were negotiated on your behalf — even before you were eligible to join our ranks.
You now have the right to join your union, the American Postal Workers Union, on the first day of your employment as a PSE.
Once you join, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of union membership, including the APWU Voluntary Benefits Plan and many outstanding locally-sponsored benefit plans.
Most important, you will have a voice at work. You also will have the right to participate in the APWU — to vote on issues that affect your future rights and benefits.
I urge you to get involved — to share your ideas, your talents, and energy with your brothers and sisters of the APWU.