According to a press release from the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the primary USPS labor union, the USPS will offer its eligible full-time career employees a $15,000 buyout incentive payment to be paid out in two installments; $10,000 in May 2013 and $5,000 in May 2014. Most employees who take the buyout will leave services at the end of January 2013. Eligible part-time employees will be offered a prorated payout.
The incentive will be offered to USPS employees who terminate their service through retirement, early retirement, or voluntary separation.
"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," APWU president Cliff Guffey said in the press release. "This agreement accomplishes those objectives."
The Washington Post reports that between 15,000 to 20,000 out of 115,155 eligible Postal Service employees, "including clerks, mechanics, drivers, custodians and some administrative personnel" are expected to take the buyout incentive.
News of the employee buyout comes less than three months after the USPS posted a $5.2 billion loss for the 3rd quarter of 2012, and for the first time ever was forced to default on its congressionally required $5.5 billion payment for pre-funding of its retiree health plan. On September 30, the USPS defaulted on its second scheduled health plan pre-funding payment of $5.6 billion.
The Postal Service's plan to cut its losses by closing 3,654 post offices was put on hold in January 2012, when the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) found that the post office closure list was based on questionable data and that the USPS had failed to adequately consider the convenience of postal customers.
In May 2012, the USPS announced it would go ahead with a modified facilities closure plan shutting down 229 of its 461 mail processing plants - rather than post offices -- by February 2014. The USPS estimates that the closures will result in a workforce reduction of about 13,000 employees and a savings of $1.2 billion annually.