In an effort to trim costs, the USPS is offering buyouts to some postmasters, planning a reduction in force in January, and preparing to cut hours at many post offices. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)
The Postal Service is offering buyouts and early retirement options to more than 3,000 postmasters before it proceeds with a reduction-in-force (RIF) in early 2015.
The agency has been working with employee groups for more than two years on its PostPlan, which would reduce the hours at many post offices by two, four or six hours a day and replace some postmasters with non-career employees or part-time career employees.
Postmasters will get up to $10,000 if they choose to resign or if they take an early or optional retirement option, according to documents emailed to employees by the Postal Service over the last few days. Those who take the incentives will leave the Postal Service Sept. 30, 2014.
The incentive payment will be paid out December 5, 2014.
Employees who do not take the incentives can apply for other jobs within the agency, but face a RIF date of January 9, 2015. The Postal Service will work to find postmasters other positions within the agency, according to the documents.
Employees have until August 18 to decide on early retirements. RIF notices will be sent out on October 15 and employees will receive retirement annuity estimates in the next few days.
A postmaster who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution said there are not enough jobs available to accommodate all of the postmasters who want one.
She said the changes to the post offices that will follow the loss of the postmasters, such as shorter hours, will not help make the Postal Service financially viable in the long run.
The Postal Service has already reduced its workforce by about 320,000 employees since fiscal 2000, but Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said postal reform legislation would allow the Postal Service to move from 485,000 career employees to 400,000 over the next few year, which is where he said the workforce needs to be.
Darlene Casey, Postal Service spokeswoman, said the agency implemented its PostPlan over a two-year period and has held meetings with affected communities, conducted surveys and worked to help mitigate any impacts the plan might have.
She said over the last two 9,166 post offices have had their retail hours shortened - 1,257 are now only open two hours.
But the Postal Service is also working on expanding its “village post office” program (VPO), where the agency teams up with a local retailer to offer some postal services.
“By being located inside established businesses and other places consumers already frequent, VPOs offer Postal Service customers time-saving convenience, and in most cases, longer hours than regular Post Offices,” Casey said.