USPS offers early retirement to 26,000 mail handlers, clerks

The U.S. Postal Service will make early retirement offers to 26,000 mail handlers and postal clerks this week, in an effort to reduce the workforce due to declining mail volume.

All eligible postal employees who accept the early retirement offer must separate from the Postal Service by the end of March, but workers also have the option of choosing Jan. 31 or Feb. 28 as their retirement dates under the early-out deal. Postal workers who meet the criteria for early retirement first received their notices on Monday.

In order to qualify for the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority (VERA), employees must have at least 20 years of service and be at least age 50, or have 25 years of service at any age. USPS has obtained permission from the Office of Personnel Management to make the early retirement offers, but does not expect to offer buyouts for workers who take the early out.

“There will be no separation incentives associated with the [voluntary early retirement] officers,”  Alan Moore, USPS’ manager of labor relations policies and programs, wrote in a Jan. 4 notice to  National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union President Paul Hogrogian.

The National Postal Mail Handlers’ Union, which represents 47,000 mail handlers and clerks, has provided its members with a list of deadlines for submitting their retirement documentation.

The Postal Service ended fiscal 2017 with a $2.7 billion net loss, and marked its 11th consecutive year of losses. The agency also reported a higher decline in mail volume in FY 2017 than it had anticipated.

The Postal Service cut its workforce by 6,500 non-seasonal workers between December 2016 and December 2017, according to figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. USPS has more than 500,000 career employees, and a total workforce of more than 600,000 employees.

Carl Walton, a Postal Service spokesman, confirmed details of the early retirement deal in a statement to Federal News Radio.

“This VERA action is part of ongoing efforts to right-size our workforce through attrition to match current and projected workload, and in response to the recent acceleration of the declines in mail volume,” Walton said.

Other federal agencies have trimmed the size of their workforces over the past year, following the Trump administration’s ongoing government reorganization strategy.

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency offered buyouts of up to $25,000 to more than 1,200 employees. The EPA also offered early retirement to more than 3,600 employees, but less than 200 employees accepted the offer by the September 2017 deadline.

Government Executive first reported this story on Monday.

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