USPS expects 15,000 to 20,000 buyouts

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WASHINGTON — In another attempt to put a dent in the huge financial loses suffered by the U.S. Postal Service, the agency has negotiated a buyout plan with its largest labor organization, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU).

The union said full-time career employees are eligible for a $15,000 payment in two installments; $10,000 in May of 2013 and $5,000 a year later. Most who take the offer will leave at the end of January.

“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,” union President Cliff Guffey said.

The Postal Service said 115,155 employees, including clerks, mechanics, drivers, custodians and some administrative personnel represented by the APWU, are eligible for the buyout, and 15,000 to 20,000 are expected to take it.

The buyout agreement was signed Sept. 28, two days before the Postal Service defaulted on a $5.6 billion Treasury payment to prefund retiree health benefits. It also missed a similar payment in August.

The Postal Service posted a third-quarter loss of $5.2 billion. It lost $3.1 billion loss for the same April-June period last year.

The agency announced in May that it was working with its unions on retirement incentives.

The buyouts are a small part of a larger strategy the Postal Service is pursuing.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has a five-pronged legislative wish list to allow five-day delivery; change the mandate to prefund retiree health benefits; refund to the USPS $11 billion in pension plan overpayments; remake the workers’ compensation program; and allow the Postal Service to offer a greater range of products.

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