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The Postal Service has informed the APWU of the date that Postal Support Employees (PSEs) who have been employed in 125 workyear or larger offices for more than 2.5 years (30 months) will be converted to career status. Over 2,500 current PSEs will be converted on May 9, 2020, the beginning of pay period 11.
These conversions are consistent with the Interest Arbitration panel’s award issued on March 10, 2020. Conversions of PSEs was one of the demands your negotiators made from the very start of negotiations.
“Being able to achieve career status for PSEs was an important goal for us,” President Mark Dimondstein said. “These newly converted employees will see an immediate pay increase, an increase in benefits paid for by the Postal Service, guaranteed work hours, and in most cases fixed schedules.”
As a reminder, as newly converted career employees, these PSEs will have sixty-days (60) from May 9, 2020 (July 8, 2020), to make benefit decisions. New career employees may choose new health insurance plans, enroll in the Federal Employee Group Life Insurance (FEGLI) plan, choose how much to contribute to the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), where to allocate TSP funds, and other benefits decisions. The Postal Service is supposed to send each newly converted employee a “benefits” book with all the necessary forms and instructions for making these extremely important decisions. The sixty-day limit is a hard limit and cannot be extended. Employees are encouraged to begin looking at their new benefits and not wait until the very end of the 60 days to decide.
“The importance of these conversions cannot be overstated,” Clerk Craft Director Lamont Brooks said. “This isn’t the end of our battle for more career employees. We are proud that the APWU did not see an increase in the allowable usage of non-career employees in our new contract and we will continue to fight for what is right — an all-career workforce.”
Under the new 2018 – 2021 National Agreement, employees will receive four retroactive pay raises. The current rates went into effect on February 29, 2020 and will be reflected for the first time in earnings for Pay Period 09-2020. Pay Period 09 begins Saturday, April 11. Pay checks will be dated for May 1, 2020. Retro pay covering the period from September 24, 2018 through April 10, 2020 will follow.
The Postal Service has yet to confirm a date that employees will receive retroactive pay. Recently passed laws regarding the COVID-19 pandemic providing new and additional benefits to employees require immediate and extensive programming and have delayed the Postal Service’s confirmation of the date.
WHAT IF I AM NO LONGER WORKING AT USPS OR IN AN APWU BARGAINING UNIT?
Employees who worked during the retroactive period will be paid the higher rates due for that work. Workers who transferred, separated, quit, retired, deceased, etc. will be compensated for any time worked when higher rates were due. The higher rates will be reflected in adjustments to TSP, Retirement, terminal leave payments, and life insurance. Retirees will eventually get any necessary adjustments to annuity payments – including retroactive annuity adjustments.
NEW SCHEDULE, NEW STEPS
Employees in the new pay schedule in Grades 5 through 7 could not progress beyond Step J in the last contract. With the new contract, employees in Grade 5 can progress to Step K and those in Grades 6 and 7 can move into steps K and L. Employees in Grade 8 stopped at Step K in the last contract; now they can progress into Steps L and M. The step wait time for all steps for Grades 5 though 7 is 36 weeks. For Grade 8 steps, the wait time is 30 weeks.
Most employees on the new schedule are well below the previous top steps, but about 200 employees are immediately eligible to move into the new steps. Eligible employees will be moved into the higher steps in Pay Period 11, effective May 9. They will move based on time waited in the previous top step. For example, a Grade 6 Step J employee who has been in Step J for 20 weeks would wait another 16 weeks before moving to Step K. Someone who has waited 40 weeks in Step J would move into Step K in PP 11-2020 with 4 weeks of wait time credit for advancement to Step L. An employee with 72 weeks of wait time in Step J would skip Step K and move into Step L in PP 11-2020.
Since the early days of the Postal Service, we postal workers have helped stitch the fabric of the country together. Even in times of crisis – whether natural disaster, conflict, or economic calamity – the Postal Service has always been there, steadily reaching every American home and business in their time of need.
Today is a time of crisis unlike any we’ve seen in generations. A global pandemic threatens the health of millions and is leading to an economic collapse that could dwarf the Great Recession.
Hundreds of millions of people are sheltered in their homes, avoiding the grocery, pharmacies and other stores as we attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Many workers will soon be without paychecks. Public health officials are desperate to effectively disseminate health-saving information, tests, and drugs.
The United States Postal Service is critical to the country’s public health and economic stability in this moment. Postal workers are up to the task. Our network of 157 million daily delivery points, 35,000 post offices and more than 500,000 dedicated public servants is uniquely positioned to serve the country in the weeks and months ahead.
The Postal Service is the only way for millions of people to receive their medications. Last year, we delivered over a billion prescriptions. It’s the only way to disseminate stimulus checks and critical public health information and supplies to every household. Vote-by-mail will be essential to holding elections in November. And, in this new era of “social distancing,” it’s still a time- tested way to connect families and friends no matter where they are.
But if the Postal Service is to meet the challenge of the times, two immediate issues need to be resolved:
First, postal workers must have safe workplaces. Our union is working feverishly to ensure the Postal Service provides for the health and safety of our members and the mailing public. We have already secured important changes to leave, staffing and post office policies. We remain concerned that the distribution of personal protective equipment and sanitizers has been uneven across the country.
Every member from the shop floor to the national office must continue our demand that we have safe workplaces, safe staffing and the necessary equipment and supplies to fulfil our mission.
Second, Congress must act immediately to ensure the financial viability of the Postal Service. We were deeply disappointed that stimulus legislation nearing passage Wednesday does not include vital relief for the Postal Service. The economic fallout of the pandemic calls for measures far beyond the prefunding repeal we’ve long sought.
House legislation initially sought in excess of $25 billion in direct relief for the USPS. If Congress does not act soon and on a similar scale, the Postal Service will run out of cash in the coming months. Every member must demand of their representatives that postal relief is included in the next stimulus.
Reports surfaced this week that the White House and Treasury Department oppose cash support for the Postal Service. Their resistance would condemn the country’s most trusted and highest- rated federal agency to its demise. It would destroy the one institution capable of reaching every person, hinder the country’s public health response, and cripple the $1.4 trillion mailing and shipping industry.
Our union had planned to spend much of this month commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Great Postal Strike. Those plans have obviously changed. But let us remember one important lesson the 1970 strike proved: the country relies on the hard work of dedicated postal workers, especially in the toughest of times. I believe our current crisis underscores the value of our work and the universal network we uphold.
Finally, let me conclude by recognizing the extraordinary role postal workers have already played in the throes of this crisis. These are unusual times and many of us are understandably anxious – for ourselves, our families, our jobs and our communities. I, like so many others, am heartened by the extraordinary courage of seemingly ordinary workers serving their neighbors in times of need. Together, let’s support each other, encourage each other, demand safe workplaces together and continue to serve each other in these extraordinary times.
We constantly update resources available to members at apwu.org/coronavirus