The U.S. Postal Service is offering $15,000 buyouts to nearly all full-time employes represented by the American Postal Workers Union. (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
The U.S. Postal Service is offering $15,000 buyouts to virtually all full-time clerks, mechanics, drivers and other career employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union.
The buyouts, which are coupled with an early retirement package for longer-serving workers, will be paid in two installments: $10,000 on May 24 of next year; and $5,000 on May 23, 2014, the union and Postal Service said in separate announcements Monday.
Full-time employees must decide by Dec. 3 whether to accept the offer and agree to leave by Jan. 31 unless they are scheduled to retire before then.
APWU, one of four postal unions, represents about 187,700 employees, according to the Postal Service. USPS spokesman Mark Saunders could not say how many of those are full-timers and thus eligible for the full $15,000 amount. Part-timers can receive a pro-rated share based on the number of hours worked in the preceding year; they have until Jan. 4 to make a decision, with a departure date of Feb. 28.
The offer is the latest in a series of early-out incentives from the Postal Service, which seeks to shrink its career workforce by 150,000 in the next three years. Nearly 3,000 mail handlers accepted $15,000 buyouts to retire or quit by the end of August, while more than 4,100 postmasters have left in the last few months with the encouragement of a $20,000 incentive. As of the end of June, the Postal Service’s workforce totaled about 530,000.
Buyouts for APWU-represented employees had been snarled by a dispute over whether the Postal Service was abiding by the terms of a contract ratified last year. In a Monday news release, APWU President Cliff Guffey did not explain what led to the breakthrough, but said it will benefit employees ready to end their careers and will open up positions closer to home for employees who have had to take transfers far from their homes to continue their careers.
More than 57,900 APWU-represented employees are eligible to retire now, while another 57,200 can take the early retirement package, which relaxes standard age and length-of-service requirements, according to the Postal Service.
The agreement was welcomed by Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, who called it a responsible and compassionate approach to reducing the postal work force “in line with declining mail volumes.”