The Postal Service announced the buyout offer in May as part of a plan to cut customer service window hours at about 13,000 post offices. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
More than 4,100 career postmasters — almost 20 percent of the total — have signed up for $20,000 buyout and early retirement offers, according to newly released U.S. Postal Service figures.
Almost 3,800 had left by the end of July; another 330 are set to go by the end of September, the numbers show.
About 2,400 were already eligible to retire, while another 1,600 qualified under the voluntary early retirement package, which reduces the standard age and service requirements for retirement eligibility.
Only 76 postmasters opted to take only the buyout and resign.
The Postal Service plans to pay the $20,000 in two equal installments — this December and in December 2013.
The Postal Service announced the offer in May as part of a plan to cut customer service window hours at about 13,000 post offices nationwide. In many cases, that will mean replacing full-time postmasters with cheaper part-timers.
Career postmasters opting to stay face the risk of pay cuts or layoffs after September 2014.
Officials at the National League of Postmasters and the National Association of Postmasters of the United States did not return phone calls seeking comment.
The Postal Service, which reported Thursday that it lost $11.6 billion in the first nine months of fiscal 2012, has in recent years repeatedly resorted to buyouts and early outs to cut costs. Last year, some 1,800 administrators and front-line supervisors left with the encouragement of a $20,000 incentive deal. The Postal Service expects between 2,800 and 3,200 full-time mail handlers to quit or retire by the end of this month under a $15,000 package that was also offered in May. The numbers are in flux because employees who were eligible to retire without the early retirement sweetener can change their minds up to their scheduled departure date, a Postal Service spokesman said.