USPS agrees to buyout plan with postal workers union

Monday - 10/1/2012, 7:50pm EDT

The Postal Service and one of its largest unions reached an agreement Monday to offer a $15,000 retirement incentive to full-time career employees.

The American Postal Workers Union said in a release the payment to employees who decide to retire by either Jan. 31 or Feb. 28 will come in two stages: a $10,000 payment by May 24 and another $5,000 by May 23, 2014.

"Our goal was to achieve an incentive for members who are ready to end their postal careers; to ensure that no groups of employees are excluded, and to lessen the hardships of excessing for those who remain," said APWU president Cliff Guffey in the release. "This agreement accomplishes those objectives."

APWU said full-time employees must decide by Dec. 3 to accept the buyout offer, while part-time or nontraditional full-time employees have until Jan. 4.

To qualify for early retirement, APWU said employees must have at least 20 years of service and be 50 years old, or must have 25 years of service at any age.

For employees in the Civil Service Retirement System, the annuity is reduced 2 percent for each year workers are under age 55, the union said.

USPS said it's also offering the same $15,000 incentive to those employees who are not eligible to retire, but who decide to resign from the Postal Service.

No limit on number of employees who can accept offer

The union said there will be no limit on the number of employees who may accept the offer, except for employees working in accounting services positions in the Information Technology/Accounting Service Centers bargaining unit, where no more than 30 employees may accept the offer in the Eagan, Minn., office, no more than 10 employees may accept the offer in the San Mateo, Calif., office, and no more than 20 in the St. Louis, Mo., office.

The early-out incentives are open to the 187,697 employees represented by APWU. Of that, 69,709 APWU-represented employees are eligible for optional retirement and 44,233 are eligible for Voluntary Early Retirement.

"I applaud the efforts by the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union to responsibly and compassionately reduce their workforce in line with declining mail volumes," said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. "Although this is a positive step in the right direction, House Republicans failed to do their jobs by leaving town without passing comprehensive postal reform legislation and failing to give the Postal Service the tools it needs to avoid default."

Latest in series of efforts to trim workforce

USPS defaulted for a second time at the end of September on a $5.6 billion mandated payment to prefund its retiree health benefits. It also missed a $5.5 billion payment on Aug. 1.

USPS has been trimming its ranks for the better part of three years, reducing its workforce by more than 100,000 in an effort to stop losing money.

This latest agreement with the APWU is very similar to one the agency reached with the National Postal Mail Handlers Union in May. USPS offered about 45,000 mail handlers a $15,000 buyout that would be paid in two increments.

USPS also offered 21,000 postmasters buyouts in May. These employees would get $20,000 split in two $10,000 payments.

It also offered 3,300 employee buyouts in August as part of its continued move to reshape and reduce its workforce.

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TAG: Workforce USPS American Postal Workers Union Retirement incentives Jason Miller