WASHINGTON — Battered by the economic downturn, the U.S. Postal Service is offering early retirement to 150,000 workers, cutting management and closing offices, the agency said Friday.
The Postal Service lost $2.8 billion last year and is facing even larger losses this year despite rate increases -- including a 2-cent hike to 44 cents for a first-class stamp -- scheduled to take effect May 11.
Aside from offering early retirement to 150,000 of the agency's 646,000 workers, the Postal Service said it would reduce management staff by 15%, which would eliminate more than 1,400 processing, supervisor and management posts at nearly 400 facilities.
The Postal Service made early retirement offers last year, but unions discouraged their members from accepting them and they were not widely used. The post office did not say if the new proposal would include financial incentives.
The American Postal Workers Union issued a statement Friday saying: "Retirement is a personal matter, and the union defers to the decisions of employees who meet the qualifications."
However, the union said it would continue to challenge the Postal Service's authority to offer voluntary early retirement without including severance pay.
The Postal Service also said it would close six of its 80 district offices in Lake Mary, Fla.; North Reading, Mass.; Manchester, N.H.; Edison, N.J.; Erie, Pa.; and Spokane, Wash. Postal service officials said the closings should not affect local mail delivery; district offices handle only administrative functions.