About 20,000 U.S. Postal Service employees have so far signed up for the agency’s latest early-out offer, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Thursday.
The offer, announced early last month, combines a $15,000 buyout with an early retirement package for longer-serving workers. It is open to almost all of the 187,700 clerks, mechanics and other employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union. With two-and-a-half weeks remaining until the Dec. 3 deadline, more could decide to get on board to avoid a wave of mail processing plant closures and consolidations set to take place early next year, Donahoe told reporters in a conference call. Others who have already signed up could decide to drop out.
“It’s kind of a moving number at this point,” he said.
This round of buyouts is the third since May that the Postal Service has offered to select groups of employees as it strives to pare its workforce without layoffs. For those that accept, the Postal Service will pay the money in two installments: $10,000 on May 24, followed by $5,000 in May, 2014.
Earlier this year, almost 4,200 postmasters took advantage of a $20,000 buyout deal, while about 3,000 mail handlers accepted a $15,000 offer. From fiscal 2000 through the end of September, the size of the Postal Service’s career workforce has plummeted by almost one-third, from 787,000 to 528,000. This fiscal year, USPS executives expect it to fall to 496,000, according to numbers released Thursday.