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3,000 mail handlers accept buyouts

Sep. 7, 2012 - 02:23PM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
Nearly 3,000 mail handlers accepted $15,000 buyouts and quit or retired by the end of August, the U.S. Postal Service said last week.
Nearly 3,000 mail handlers accepted $15,000 buyouts and quit or retired by the end of August, the U.S. Postal Service said last week. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

Nearly 3,000 mail handlers accepted $15,000 buyouts and quit or retired by the end of August, the U.S. Postal Service said last week.

The Postal Service expected between 2,800 and 3,200 to accept the deal, which was offered in May — 2,952 did so.

The incentives to leave are among three attempts by the agency this year to trim its career workforce — now at about 539,000 employees — without resorting to layoffs:

• More than 4,100 career postmasters — almost 20 percent of the total — signed up for $20,000 buyout and early retirement offers, the Postal Service said last month. Almost 3,800 had left by the end of July; another 330 are set to go by the end of September. 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.

• More than 3,300 managers have until Nov. 19 to decide whether to accept an early retirement offer announced last month. The offer is open to a small fraction of some 55,000 employees covered by the agency’s Executive and Administrative Schedule (EAS). Those who sign up must agree to retire by year’s end. The offer is not accompanied by a buyout.

Last year, some 1,800 administrators and front-line supervisors left with the encouragement of a $20,000 incentive deal.

John Hegarty, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, said the union fought the workforce cuts and the plans to consolidate mail-processing plants.

“They are really taking the word ‘service’ out of Postal Service,” Hegarty said. “I think cutting service is driving business away, and we will end up in a death spiral.”

The Postal Service in August reported $11.6 billion in losses in the first nine months of fiscal 2012.

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