Federal Eye: Postal Service Offers Employees Buyouts to Quit

The Postal Service is offering up to $450 million to employees if they will agree to quit their jobs, it announced Tuesday, the latest effort by the financially struggling agency to reduce its costs amid a sharp decline in mail volume.

Up to 30,000 employees can take the $15,000 bonus, which the Postal Service describes as a way to save up to $500 million during the next fiscal year, which begins in October.

The offer is available to Post Office retail clerks, distribution center mail handlers and clerks, and motor vehicle technicians. Letter carriers are not eligible, since the Postal Service is targeting only areas where it has an excess of workers, and the number of addresses grows on average by 1.5 million each year, according to the agency.

Eligible employees would receive $10,000 this October and $5,000 in October 2010. The offer extends to employees already eligible for retirement that have not chosen to do so, those already eligible for an early retirement program that began last year and any full-time, part-time regular or part-time flexible employees willing to voluntarily resign.

Employees have until Sept. 25 to make their decision. Departures will be staggered depending on need, with the first wave of employees leaving Oct. 31.

“The ongoing declining mail volume has left us with difficulties with keeping work resources in step with the declining mail volume,” spokesman Yvonne Yoerger said, since less mail means less of a need for workers. Mail volume has dropped 12.6 percent so far this year, meaning that it now delivers an average of 4.1 pieces of mail to each address, down from 5.9 pieces in 2000. Advances in automation technology have also reduced the need for employees, Yoerger said.

The Postal Service negotiated the deal with the American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union.

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