The Postal Service's buyout offer will be available to career non-bargaining employees in targeted groups at USPS headquarters, headquarters-related field units, area offices and customer service district offices. (Paul J. Richards / AFP)
The U.S. Postal Service is offering a $20,000 early retirement incentive to eligible employees in its bid to slash 7,500 positions, and it also is closing seven district offices, the agency announced Thursday.
The buyout offer will be available to career non-bargaining employees in targeted groups at USPS headquarters, headquarters-related field units, area offices and customer service district offices, the announcement states. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the offer must begin the optional retirement process or submit a voluntary resignation by April 25. The money will be paid out in two $10,000 installments, split between this November and November 2012.
The cuts are part of a reorganization that Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said will eliminate some 7,500 administrative, postmaster and front-line supervisory positions. On Thursday, he also announced plans to shutter seven of 74 USPS district offices. The seven are in: Columbus, Ohio; Troy, Mich.; Carol Stream, Ill.; Providence, R.I.; Macon, Ga.; Billings, Mont.; and Albuquerque, N.M.
"I am confident that we have developed a strong plan that takes a key step toward a leaner and less bureaucratic structure," Donahoe said in a news release. "One that is fair to our employees and one that will meet the future needs of our customers and the mailing industry."
Affected employees were notified Thursday, spokesman Mark Saunders said. While the Postal Service has not yet sought reduction-in-force authority, that remains an option, Saunders said.
Although the reorganization has been in the works at least since January, significant questions remained unanswered Thursday. Postal officials did not make Chief Human Resources Officer Anthony Vegliante available for an interview.
It's unclear, for example, how the cuts are being apportioned between USPS headquarters in Washington and offices elsewhere in the country or how many of the 7,500 positions are currently filled.
While the district office closings will affect a total of 419 employees, Saunders could not immediately say when the offices will shut down. He confirmed, however, that the staffs in those offices include union members who could be subject to "excessing," meaning that they will have to take jobs elsewhere if they want to stay with the Postal Service.
At the National Association of Postal Supervisors, President Louis Atkins said that about 1,750 supervisory jobs will be cut throughout the country, a figure that includes positions lost with the closing of the Southeast Area Office in Memphis earlier this year. Atkins said he had not heard from the Postal Service, however, how many are currently filled.
"There's a lot of anxiety," Atkins said when asked about the impact on his members. "It's a fear of the unknown."
The reorganization, which comes as the agency struggles with record losses, will eliminate almost $750 million in costs when fully implemented by next March, the announcement said.
"Over the past eight weeks, we have been taking a careful look at our internal structure — the way we position our people — and determining the best way to align the organization to succeed in a more competitive world," Donahoe said in a release to USPS employees. "The redesign will improve our financial situation, ensure that we are better able to compete for customers, and provide greater value and service to the American public."