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Exclusive: Postal Service RIFs, early retirements coming soon

Jan. 10, 2011 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's memo offered no details on which or how many employees would be affected or on what the terms of those early retirements and reductions-in-force will be.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's memo offered no details on which or how many employees would be affected or on what the terms of those early retirements and reductions-in-force will be. (Thomas Brown / Staff)

The U.S. Postal Service plans a new wave of work-force cuts through reductions-in-force and early retirements, to begin sometime by March.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe announced the plan in a Friday memo to senior postal executives, but he offered no details on which or how many employees would be affected or on what the terms of those early retirements and reductions-in-force will be.

"As we continue our restructuring, we anticipate that Reduction in Force (RIF) and Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) processes will be initiated by the end of this fiscal quarter," Donahoe said in the memo, adding that the agency will be "as transparent as possible about goals and objectives during this time."

In the same memo, Donahoe added that the agency plans to close some district offices, but he did not specify which ones or when they would be closed. At this point, no decisions have been made on the number of offices or employees to be cut, USPS spokeswoman Joanne Veto said Monday.

The goal "is to make sure that the Postal Service has the right complement of people in the right positions in the right geography to be efficient and effective moving forward," Veto said.

The Postal Service, which lost $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010, currently has about 676,000 career and non-career employees.

After shuttering a half-dozen district offices, the Postal Service had 74 as of September, according to a USPS inspector general report that urged the agency to consider closing up to 32 more district offices and eliminating "duplicative staff positions" by relocating all area offices to headquarters.

"The Postal Service has significant opportunities to reduce costs by consolidating its field structure," the report said.

More than 20,000 clerks and mail handlers took advantage of a $15,000 early-retirement incentive offered in fiscal 2009. To date, that move has saved the Postal Service nearly $350 million, said another spokesman, Mark Saunders.

In a Friday news release, the Postal Service announced several other restructuring steps —such as thinning its senior executive ranks and closing an area office in Memphis — but the release made no mention of Donahoe's plans for reducing the USPS work force.

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