Reduce Inequality with Conversions to Career

November 2, 2018

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(This article first appeared in the November/December 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine) 

By Clerk Division Director Clint Burelson 

The single most effective bang for the buck method to significantly reduce inequality at the Postal Service is to convert a Postal Support Employee (PSE) to career. The increase in pay and benefits is estimated at $26,000 a year or about $2,000 a month.

With career status, the PSEs will earn retirement, see a boost in pay, be eligible for good health care, get set schedules with regular hours, receive better rights under the CBA, and start their six years for layoff protection. Accordingly, the significant improvements resulting from conversion to career are something that deserves greater attention.


In March of 2014, newly elected President Mark Dimondstein signed a breakthrough MOU that provided for a conversion process for PSEs to career. At the 2014 National Convention held later that year, the membership voted to make conversions of PSEs a priority for national negotiations.

In the 2015 national negotiations, the Clerk Craft negotiated two separate agreements that will convert PSEs to career. First, we negotiated a new MOU Re: Residual Vacancies – Clerk Craft that improved the 2014 MOU. Second, we negotiated permanent language in Article 37.5 that will convert PSEs to residual vacancies in a fast and clean manner similar to the conversion of PTFs.

The Postal Service would agree to the Article 37.5 language only with an understanding that the MOU Re: Residual Vacancies – Clerk Craft would apply until the end of the 2015 CBA. At that point, if the parties did not agree on a new MOU, the Article 37.5 language would go into effect.

The main difference between the two methods is that Article 37.5 considers transfers with the hiring of career employees per the MOU Re: Transfers while the MOU Re: Residual Vacancies considers transfers with the conversion of PSEs. PSEs would be converted to career much faster under Article 37.5 as the process would be similar to the process of converting PTFs to full-time regular residual vacancies. PSEs would convert to residual vacancies immediately after all PTFs in the installation have been converted.

Creating Duty Assignments

The language in Article 37.5 and the MOU Re: Residual Vacancies provide a mechanism for converting a PSE to a residual vacancy, which is an important first step. The important second step is to increase the amount of residual vacancies by applying Article 37.3.A.1, which states, “Every effort will be made to create desirable duty assignments from all available work hours for career employees to bid.” The APWU has been successful in utilizing the Maximum Duty Assignment Tool (MDAT) to show PSE available work hours and demonstrate the need for creating additional duty assignments.

When additional duty assignments are created and posted for bid, the career employees bid on the new duty assignments and employees move to more desired assignments. At the end of this process, because there are now more duty assignments than career employees, residual vacancies are created. That is when PTFs are converted to full-time and PSEs are converted to career.

The national has updated MDAT to provide more opportunities for conversions. Each area has a lead NBA who will assist locals and state organizations in converting PSEs to career. When we all work together, progress can be made. The conversion of PSEs to career is a significant life changing improvement that we can make happen.

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