USPS May Offer Early Retirement to Mail Handlers

The U.S. Postal Service might offer voluntary early retirement to members of the National Postal Mail Handlers, the union said last month.

A June 30 memo on the union's Web site said the USPS has asked the federal Office of Personnel Management for voluntary early retirement authority for eligible mail handlers. The union expects that request to be granted in a few weeks, the memo said.

About 8,400 mail handlers who have 25 years of federal/postal service regardless of age, or who have 20 years of service and are 50 or older will be eligible, the union said, adding that only “a very small percentage are expected to choose early retirement.” The union represents more than 50,000 mail handlers nationwide.

The union expects the process to take several months, with actual retirements occurring no earlier than October and possibly not until early 2004.

Workers will not be offered incentive payments to take early outs.

On June 16, OPM approved the postal service's request to offer voluntary early retirement to American Postal Workers Union employees. The USPS has said more than 16,000 positions held by APWU workers would not be needed by Sept. 30. Half of those positions would be eliminated through attrition, the postal service said, with early retirement needed to eliminate a portion of the rest.

The agency will not offer them an incentive to take early retirement. About 58,000 APWU members qualify, and the USPS expects 3,000 to opt for early retirement.

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