Postal Service wants to cut 120,000 jobs

Facing mounting losses, the United States Postal Service wants to cut its workforce by 20 percent and pull its remaining employees out of federal benefits plans. To do so, the Postal Service would need to break existing labor agreements — and approval from Congress.

Documents obtained by media outlets and reported on Friday detail the proposals.

“The Postal Service is facing dire economic challenges that threaten its very existence,” one Postal Service document reads, according to The Washington Post. “If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy and utilized the reorganization process to restructure its labor agreements to reflect the new financial reality.”

The Postal Service said it needs to reduce its workforce by 120,000 career positions by 2015, in addition to the 100,000 it expects by attrition. Some of the 120,000 figure could come from buyouts and other measures, the Post reports, but laying off others would require Congress to allow the service to break collective bargaining agreements.

“Unfortunately, the collective bargaining agreements between the Postal Service and our unionized employees contain layoff restrictions that make it impossible to reduce the size of our workforce by the amount required by 2015,” a document titled “Workforce Optimization” reads. “Therefore, a legislative change is needed to eliminate the layoff protections in our collective bargaining agreements.”

In addition to the layoffs, the Postal Service wants Congressional permission to replace the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System. From the Post:

For health insurance plans, the paper said, the Postal Service wanted to withdraw its 480,000 pensioners and 600,000 active employees from the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program “and place them in a new, Postal Service administered” program.

Almost identical language is used for the Civil Service Retirement System and the Federal Employees Retirement System.

CNN reports that the Postal Service has lost $20 billion over the last four years. In fiscal year 2010 alone, it had a $8.5 billion net loss. In addition to the financial losses, mail volume itself declined 20 percent during the four-year period.

In July, the Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe released a report evaluating the effect of potentially closing 3,700 facilities.

Postal union leaders sharply rejected the proposals, according to the Post.

“The APWU will vehemently oppose any attempt to destroy the collective bargaining rights of postal employees or tamper with our recently negotiated contract — whether by postal management or members of Congress,” American Postal Workers Union President Cliff Guffey told the paper.

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