Organize at Orientation

Anna Smith

November 12, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the November/December issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

With thousands of Postal Support Employees (PSE) entering the postal workforce, it is essential that we offer guidance to our newly-hired co-workers, so they have the ability and tools to become active participants in their union. This can begin during the union part of new hire orientations. Knowledge is a powerful tool to have on your side.

In areas around the country, the Postal Service has been conducting new hire orientations virtually. These virtual events tend to have more of an “online course” feeling than they do a “virtual training” due to limited or no ability to communicate with the presenter.

All newly hired PSEs should have an opportunity for an APWU representative to address them in person. The union portion of orientation is a crucial step for PSEs to be provided information on what being union is about and an overview of some of the rights and benefits that have been achieved for PSEs.

A PSE is a PSE is a PSE

Every employee should login into and review your PS Form 50, in your Official Personal File (eOPF). On your PS Form 50, line 52, it will state what your official position title is. You can find corresponding info on your position by visiting APWU BQNET at

What you will not find listed is a PSE position title that some managers can frequently be heard using. These include “Holiday PSE,” “Temporary PSE,” “Peak PSE” or “360-PSE.” PSEs are hired for a term not to exceed 360 calendar days per appointment. As far as the contract goes, a PSE is a PSE; it does not matter when you were hired, or for how long.

A PSE is also not a Holiday Clerk Assistant. Annuitant Holiday Clerk Assistant (HCA) is when retirees have the opportunity to be rehired temporarily and work during a specific period.

The PSE workforce is comprised of employees who do not yet have career appointments but who enjoy union representation and negotiated rights.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), our union contract, covers all aspects of PSE wages, benefits, hours and working conditions. Regardless of what time of year a PSE is hired, when PSEs are separated due to lack of work, reappointments must be made by PSE seniority. PSEs will be re-appointed ahead of applicants who have not served as PSEs, provided the need for hiring arises within one year of the break in service. Some additional provisions secured for PSEs include:

  • Overtime Pay at the rate of 1.5 times the basic hourly straight-time rate for work performed after 8 hours on duty in a service day, or 40 hours in a service week.
  • Penalty Overtime Pay at the rate of 2 times the basic hourly straight-time rate, excluding the month of December, for all work in excess of 10 hours in a service day, or 56 hours in a service week.
  • Night Differential Pay for hours worked between 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Higher-level pay for higher-level work where by the event a PSE is temporarily assigned to a higherlevel position, PSEs are to be paid at the higherlevel rate for the time spent performing higher-level duties.
  • PSEs also receive the following 6 paid holidays: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. PSEs who work on a holiday will have the option to have their annual leave balance credited with annual leave or receive holiday pay.

You can find a PSE Rights and Benefits Brochure by visiting or sending a request to

Thank you for all that you do each and every day. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday season!



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