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Postal Service may RIF up to 2,000; buyouts, early outs also expected

Mar. 5, 2012 - 06:00AM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments
A Postal Service employee collects mail outside a processing center in Pembroke Pines, Fla. As many as 2,000 Postal Service employees could face a reduction-in-force under the mail carrier's plans to close more than 220 mail processing plants.
A Postal Service employee collects mail outside a processing center in Pembroke Pines, Fla. As many as 2,000 Postal Service employees could face a reduction-in-force under the mail carrier's plans to close more than 220 mail processing plants. (Getty Images)

As many as 2,000 U.S. Postal Service employees could face a reduction-in-force under the mail carrier's plans to close more than 220 mail processing plants, a spokesman said.

Those affected would generally be white-collar executives, supervisors and administrators who lack union representation. The jobs involved would be among 30,000 career positions the Postal Service plans to eliminate through the downsizing by late next year.

Postal spokesman Mark Saunders cautioned that the agency won't know the number of employees actually leaving until "much later in the process." In addition, the Postal Service is holding off on any plant and post office closings until mid-May, even as some lawmakers are pressing for a longer delay.

Postal spokesman Dave Partenheimer had no information Friday on when a RIF might begin.

Following a Postal Service reorganization last year that eliminated some 7,500 positions, only 31 employees were actually laid off, the agency said last fall. Many workers left through regular attrition or were moved into vacant jobs. The impact was also buffered by a $20,000 buyout offer that attracted 1,800 takers.

So far, USPS officials have acknowledged they are considering a voluntary early retirement program. But Louis Atkins, president of the National Association of Postal Supervisors, said Friday that he expected the agency to offer buyouts and early retirements within the next month to bargaining unit and white-collar employees.

In general, Atkins said, the offers will be restricted to employees working in processing plants, post offices or other positions. He had no details on the scope of the buyout package, but said that eligibility for early retirement would be limited to employees of any age with a minimum of 25 years service or are at least age 50 with 20 years service. In each category, employees would see a 2 percent reduction in their expected pensions for each year they are under age 55 or 30 years of experience, Atkins said.

As voting by mail grows in popularity, the Postal Service is eager to get the workforce reductions behind it before this fall's elections, Atkins said.

"They need at least to smooth out those rough edges that are going to be caused by the changes," he said.

In response, Partenheimer reiterated that the Postal Service is "looking into options," but said the agency had "nothing to announce at this time."

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