Seth Perlman/AP

Postal Service offers more buyout incentives

APWU-represented clerks, mechanics and others are eligible for up to $15,000.

The U.S. Postal Service will offer career employees who are members of the American Postal Workers Union up to $15,000 in incentives to voluntarily retire or leave the agency.

The full $15,000 buyout is available for APWU-represented employees who have worked more than 1,520 paid hours in the 26 pay periods prior to the date of their retirement or resignation. Part-time employees can receive a prorated portion of the $15,000 based on number of hours worked during that same time frame.

The American Postal Workers Union represents more than 187,000 USPS clerks, mechanics, vehicle drivers, custodians and some administrators: 69,709 employees are eligible for retirement now and 44,233 are eligible for voluntary early retirement. To qualify for early retirement, employees must have at least 20 years of service and be 50 years of age, or must have 25 years of service at any age, according to a statement from APWU.

The offer comes on the heels of several buyout incentives offered to other USPS employees last spring and summer. The agency has estimated that 7,400 total employees, including postmasters, would take separation incentives granted in May, and 3,800 postmasters had accepted those incentives by the end of July. USPS is aiming to reduce its workforce by 150,000 during the next three years.

Eligible full-time career employees who accepted incentives offered to APWU workers will be paid in two installments: $10,000 on May 24, 2013, and $5,000 on May 23, 2014.

Most eligible full-time employees, except employees with non-traditional full-time duty assignments of less than 40 hours per week, must notify USPS of their intent to accept a buyout offer by Dec. 3, 2012, and leave their jobs effective Jan. 31, 2013, unless they already are scheduled to retire at an earlier date. Part-time employees and employees with nontraditional full-time assignments of less than 40 hours per week have a Feb. 28, 2013, separation deadline.

A buyout package for APWU-represented employees had been tangled up by a dispute over whether USPS was abiding by the terms of a contract ratified in 2011. The union had criticized part-time retirement programs for early retirees in the past, claiming that reducing hours and switching career postmasters to noncareer, postmaster relief positions violated the terms of a collective bargaining agreement. But in a statement Monday, APWU President Cliff Guffey indicated the union was pleased with the current negotiation.

“Our goal was to achieve an incentive for members who are ready to end their postal careers to ensure that no groups of employees are excluded and to lessen the hardships of excessing for those who remain,” Guffey said. “This agreement accomplishes those objectives.”