About 25,500 front-office clerks, mail handlers, drivers and other employees have accepted an early-retirement offer from the U.S. Postal Service, among the money-losing agency’s largest efforts in recent years to shed employees.
Part-time employees have until Jan. 4 to make a decision to accept the offer and agree to leave by Jan. 31, postal officials said. The deadline for full-time employees was in December.
“A lot of these employees have been waiting for something like this to happen,” Mark Saunders, a postal service spokesman, said Monday. “They recognize that we are making adjustments to our workforce to adapt to Americans’ changing mail trends.”
Saunders declined to confirm the number of employees who have accepted the buyout offer, which was first reported by the Federal Times.
The deal offers employees a $15,000 cash buyout combined with an early-retirement package for long-serving workers. Almost all of the 188,000 clerks, mechanics and employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union are eligible, officials said.
Union officials said the postal service’s decision to close about 200 mail processing plants — a process that started this summer and will continue in January — was an added incentive for many employees who might have been relocated.
Buyouts have become a routine strategy for the postal service to reduce its workforce of 524,000 in recent years as it struggles to cover billions of dollars in losses. Postal service leaders have said they hope to trim the workforce to 402,000 by 2016.
About 60 percent of the eligible mail clerks and handlers are eligible for retirement or early retirement, allowing them to draw a pension at age 50 if they put in 20 years at the postal service. If they have 25 or more years on the job, they can retire at any age.
About 4,200 postmasters left in 2012 with a $20,000 incentive.
This post has been clarified to reflect that part-time employees have until Jan. 4 to make a decision to accept the offer and agree to leave by Jan. 31. The deadline for full-time employees was in December.