Big Cuts Coming at the USPS

Will $10,000 be enough of an enticement to pack in a career a few years early? The USPS hopes so, as it offers 3,000 postmasters a bonus to either retire early or face potential layoffs next year.

“Qualified postmasters — top supervisors at individual post offices — have until Aug. 18 to accept the offer, and must separate from USPS by the end of September,” writes Eric Kantz in Government Executive.

“Because the Postal Service is reducing service at post offices by two, four or six hours, the agency will be forced to lay off postmasters if a sufficient number do not accept the early retirement offer,” Kantz continues, adding that postmasters can decline the offer in favor of seeking a new job at a different post office.

If the voluntary retirement incentives don’t work, then the postal service will be handing out pink slips by mid-October, to take effect in January of next year.

“Any postmaster who does not accept early retirement, take another postal job or resign will be laid off,” according to a USPS spokeswoman quoted in Kantz’ article.

This latest round of downsizing comes after shedding more than 200,000 jobs over the past few years, which was done by primarily through attrition rather than layoffs. They’ve closed the staffing gap in large part by reducing service hours in “low activity” (i.e. rural) areas, part of the Post Plan that was instituted in 2013 in lieu of outright closures of post offices.

To give this some perspective, those 3,000 postmasters represent less than 10% of the total number of post offices, branches and units, which numbered around 35,000 in 2011 according to USPS figures.

It remains to be seen what impact, if any, this round of downsizing will have on direct mailers and businesses that rely on the postal service. Hopefully the additional $3.2 billion that the exigent rate hikes is expected to bring in is being put to good use. We’ll keep an eye on this, as always.