A 35-year postal veteran, Patrick Donahoe became postmaster general last month. (Colin Kelly / Staff)
The U.S. Postal Service will cut 7,500 jobs through early retirements and a reduction in force, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Friday. About 2,000 of those could be postmaster positions, with the remainder coming from line supervisors and administrators.
Donahoe announced the move shortly before being sworn into the job he has held since early last month.
Some of the targeted positions are currently vacant; the planned reductions are part of a restructuring that is supposed to save $700 million annually, a USPS spokeswoman said. While the affected jobs make up a small fraction of the Postal Service's total work force of some 676,000, they represent 10 to 20 percent of postmaster, line supervisor and administrative slots, Donahoe said.
The downsizing is supposed to begin by the end of March; Donahoe has already pruned the ranks of USPS top management mostly vice presidents, from 41 to 34, and announced the closing of an area office in Memphis.
"We are taking a very deliberate and thoughtful process to try to match up how we structure ourselves with what we want to do," Donahoe said Friday. As part of the same reorganization, the agency is also looking at closing 10 of its 74 district offices. Donahoe said some candidates have been identified, but he declined to name them and said no final decisions have been made.
The elimination of some 2,000 postmaster jobs could also affect a like number of post offices, he acknowledged. "Some will be closed, some will be consolidated." In some small communities, the work could be contracted out to a general store. The Postal Service will also increasingly stress customer access through its website and other "alternative channels," he said.
A 35-year postal veteran, Donahoe became postmaster general last month; the audience for Friday's ceremonial swearing-in at USPS headquarters included some 300 postal employees, union leaders and regulators.
"He has demonstrated the ability to drive large-scale change — the types of change that are necessary to ensure the long-term viability and the strength of the Postal Service far into the future," Louis Giuliano, chairman of the USPS Board of Governors, said before administering the oath of office.