PSE Conversions Top 27,000!

March 1, 2016

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(This article first appeared in the March-April 2016 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine.) 

Ahmilla Thapa, Courtney Jenkins and Ashley Worthington are recently 
converted career clerks from the Baltimore Francis “Stu” Filbey Area Local.

More than 27,000 Postal Support Employees (PSEs) – some from every craft – were converted to career over the last two years.

Not all PSEs are young, but most are, so this win is a big deal for the APWU’s youthful members.

“This is a life-changing event for the workers who were converted and their families,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “It means more stability and greater financial security. It’s an outstanding example of the union at work.

“It’s also a great example of what we can accomplish when we work together,” he said. Local and state leaders, National Business Agents, Regional Coordinators and Craft Directors and Assistant Directors all persevered to win these conversions.

“Of course, PSEs – and former PSEs – played an important role,” Dimondstein added. “Many spoke out about the need for conversions and got active in the union to make sure they happened.”

The involvement of a new generation of workers in union affairs is a great benefit to the APWU, and will be for years to come, he said.

Members Cheer

Members shared their thoughts about the conversions on the APWU’s Facebook page.

“Amen! I was a PSE and thankful to be career,” said clerk Makisha Barr, a member of the North Carolina Council.

David Kurutz, a long-time member of the Erie [PA] Area Local added, “Nice job by APWU. Proud to be a member!”

Ashley Cargill, a Part-Time Flexible Clerk and member of the Oklahoma City Area Local, had advice for those part-timers waiting to be converted. “At least we have hope. Without the union we wouldn’t even have a chance,” she said.

“If you aren’t involved with your local union, I encourage you to look into it,” Cargill added. “I started attending meetings and have now become a steward for my office because I want to see change.”

‘A Big Difference’

After working as a PSE for nearly three years, Ashley Worthington was converted to career before Thanksgiving 2015.

She was interviewed by the Baltimore Sun and told the paper that the change makes a “big difference.” The mother of three and member of the Baltimore Francis “Stu” Filbey Area Local is now guaranteed a regular 40-hour shift, with benefits, overtime and holidays.Worthington explained that as a PSE, she could go from “not working any days in a week to working six days a week… You never knew what your day off would be.”

In order to make ends meet, Worthington turned to social services for help and took a full-time second job delivering and picking up medical equipment. She had to juggle her free time in-between shifts, picking up her kids from school and getting them dinner.

But that has all been changed since being converted to career. Worthington can focus on her job as an automation clerk at the Incoming Mail Facility. She hopes to buy her own home this year.

The majority of the conversions were the result of the Memorandum of Understanding on Filling of Residual Vacancies, which the APWU and the Postal Service signed in March 2014. A July 2014 Maintenance Craft settlement on custodial staffing, a September 2014 arbitration win on staffing “POStPlan” offices, and the “global settlement” that enforced limits on postmasters performing Clerk Craft work in small offices, were also essential to the PSE conversions.

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