No reaction yet from federal postal unions to the new retirement plan being drafted by the Office of Personnel Management. The plan, which must clear the White House and then be approved by Congress, would automatically cover all feds hired since January 1984. Employes covered by the current civil service retirement program could stay in it or buy into the new plan.

Under OPM's proposal, employes would be able to shelter up to $5,000 of their salary from taxes each year by putting the money into a version of the individual retirement account. The government would contribute an amount equal to 11 percent of each employe's salary, and would put that in a special interest-paying account that would form the basis of the employe's retirement income. The employes would contribute to Social Security. Workers would be vested in the new system after one year of service.

Congress has until the end of this year to come up with a supplemental retirement package to cover workers who are under both Social Security and civil service retirement. If it doesn't approve such a plan, those employes next year will have to pay 14 percent of their salaries into Social Security and the civil service retirement program.