USPS begins $20,000 buyouts, early retirement processes

The U.S. Postal Service is offering $20,000 in retirement incentives to eligible employees as part of its plan to cut 7,500 administrative jobs.

USPS on Thursday announced its Voluntary Early Retirement plan and financial incentives to career nonbargaining employees at headquarters, headquarters-related field units, area offices and administrative personnel at customer service district offices.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe in January announced plans to restructure the postal workforce. USPS already has trimmed officer positions from 44 to 37 and now will cut 7,500 jobs, including 20 percent of the administrative workforce and 10 percent of the postmaster jobs. Thirty percent of employees in those positions already are eligible for retirement, he told reporters, adding the agency would begin district closures and reduction-in-force procedures, or layoffs, this spring.

"It's critical that we adjust our workforce to match America's changing communications trends as mail volumes continue to decline," Donahoe said on Thursday. "At every step and with every change, our focus remains on our customers and continuing to provide outstanding customer service."

In an interview with Government Executive, USPS Chief Human Resources Officer and Executive Vice President Anthony Vegliante said reduction-in-force procedures would still be needed to reach the 7,500 mark.

"We'll start the process, and a year from now we'll have that captured," Vegliante said. "We will have $750 million less in salaries and benefits."

Employees who choose to leave by May 31 through a VER, optional retirement, or voluntary resignation will be eligible for $20,000 in incentive payments, which will be distributed in two installments of $10,000. The first will be paid in November and the second in November 2012. Workers must begin the process by April 25 to qualify for the incentive.

"We're aligning our workforce with the workload and focusing on jobs and key strategies to work leaner, smarter and faster," said USPS spokesman Mark Saunders.

Saunders said the Postal Service doesn't yet have a specific number of eligible workers expected to take the offer. The agency in 2009 offered a $15,000 early-out incentive to certain employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union. Approximately 21,000 workers took the buyout, though USPS was hoping to reach as many as 30,000.

The Postal Service also will close district offices in Columbus, Ohio; Troy, Mich.; Carol Stream, Ill.; Providence, R.I.; Macon, Ga.; Big Sky, Mont.; and Albuquerque, N.M. District offices house only administrative functions and do not affect customer service, mail delivery, post office operations or ZIP codes.

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