The agreement that veterans must accept appointment to all PSE vacancies to maintain their veteran status is a travesty that will remove postal employment as a reward for service in defense of our country. For years, postal regulations have afforded veterans preference for career positions without requiring that the veterans accept appointment to temporary positions but the decision to place them in the bargaining unit requires a commitment to jobs that pay as little as $12.00 per hour or the danger of forfeiting their veteran’s status. After serving our country, risking life and limb, if they seek employment within the APWU bargaining unit, veterans are exposed to a labor agreement requiring that they either forfeit their veteran status or accept employment that pays near the poverty level.
Let us assume that a veteran is married with two children and after serving a tour in Afghanistan returns to civilian life and is seeking career opportunities. His/her brother- in-law is a letter carrier and shares with the veteran the benefits and starting salary of $44,000 annually with the opportunity to transfer between crafts after employed. The veteran qualifies on the entrance examinations and awaits notification of hiring opportunity. The Postal Service notifies that vacancies are available as a custodian, Grade 3 PSE with no hourly guarantee and no guarantee or time frame for conversion to career status. The position will pay $12 per hour with no work hour guarantee and failure to accept the appointment will nullify veteran’s status for future career vacancies. What would you do?
Assuming the veteran accepts the appointment and adjusts his/her lifestyle to accommodate the meager income based on reduced hours, the antipathy of the coworkers and hostile supervision that is not restrained by contractual restrictions. At the end of each appointment, the PSE employee must run the gauntlet of reappointment for an additional term with the hope that there will be a distinct possibility of conversion to career status in the midst of massive reassignments of excessed career employees, plant consolidations, USPS financial Armageddon and Congressional inaction on legislative remedies, etc.
If the PSE employee can survive the newly negotiated initiation requirements, they then learn that the starting salary is not the $44,000 achieved by the relative who has purchased a home, a car and is living well. Even after qualifying for transfer as a mail processing clerk, the beginning salary is instead $35,000 for 40 hours but the schedule may be reduced to 30 hours at the discretion of management, no overtime after 8 hours or 40. So after serving our country with exposure to permanent disfigurement or death, the veteran is rewarded with a career opportunity that pays $26,000 per year. Yes, that’s it $26,000 a year and the union calls it a Watershed. You can’t make this stuff up!