18,000 employees accept Postal Service buyout

As another deadline looms, approximately 18,000 U.S. Postal Service employees so far have accepted a $15,000 buyout offer, officials have reported.

The final tally of buyout acceptances from each job category isn't available yet, said Yvonne Yoerger, a Postal Service spokeswoman. It's also too soon to determine the agency's savings as a result of the buyout, she added.

Employees were required to express interest in the offer by Sept. 25, while those close to retirement have until Saturday to make a decision. Remaining workers must decide by Nov. 30. According to union representatives, the final acceptance tally is likely to be lower than the number of employees who initially filed paperwork.

The Postal Service announced the buyout program in August. Up to 30,000 employees could take advantage of the offer on a first-come, first-serve basis, though only those represented by the American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union were eligible. The agency projected a $500 million savings if the buyouts reached capacity.

Workers who accept the offer will receive $10,000 by the end of 2009 and an additional $5,000 in October 2010. There are no plans to extend the offer longer or to other employee groups, Yoerger said.

NPMHU declined to comment on next steps for its members.

In another move designed to increase revenue, the Postal Service this month launched a yearlong partnership with Hallmark and will sell greeting cards in 1,500 locations after Jan. 1, 2010.

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