Postal Service: More than 7,000 postmasters, mail handlers could take buyouts (but clerks are still waiting)


The early numbers are in and it appears that as many as 7,400 postmasters and full-time mail handlers could be headed for the exits under separate buyout/early retirement offers from the U.S. Postal Service.

For both groups, the sign-up deadline was Monday. Although applicants can still back out, the Postal Service anticipates that between 3,800 to 4,200 postmasters could resign or retire in response to the $20,000 buyout incentive, USPS spokesman Mark Saunders said today. The Postal Service is offering full-time mail handlers $15,000 to take the money and run; between 2,800 and 3,200 may go, Saunders said.

One thing is clear: Proportionately, the early-out option has been a much better sell among the nation’s 21,000 postmasters than its roughly full-time 43,000 mail handlers.

FedLine can only speculate on the reasons, but a couple of factors may be in play. This is the first buyout offer for postmasters since 1992, while mail handlers went through a similar drill just three years ago. The postmaster incentive package is obviously a better deal, besides which many postmasters risk losing their jobs by late 2014 under the Postal Service’s plan to cut customer service hours at thousands of post offices.

Officials at the National League of Postmasters and the National Association of Postmasters of the United States did not respond to requests for comment.

Keep in mind, too, that the potential takers represent less than two percent of the Postal Service’s career workforce, currently around 541,000 employees.

While any kind of buyout is better than what employees in many troubled industries receive, there’s nonetheless a human toll here.  Retirement is retirement, and that usually means a big drop in income. One postmaster opting not to take the buyout is Tony Sampson, who runs a P.O. in a struggling corner of southern Ohio.  As Sampson told Federal Times last month, good-paying jobs there are scarce and his pension–if he chose to retire at age 53–would barely cover his house payment.

“I’ve got to hang on,” Sampson said in a phone interview today. “I don’t have any choice but try to last two years and try to find a job somewhere.”

Still no word from either the the Postal Service or the American Postal Workers Union on when (or if) a buyout offer is coming for clerks. The APWU has confirmed informal talks on the subject, but the word is that a formal offer has become entangled in a dispute over whether the Postal Service is abiding by provisions in last year’s contract to bring some work now done by contractors back in house.


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  1. Where is this thousands ?, so if even 9,000 out of the total of PM’s and mail-handlers go, that is 9,000 out of what we were originally told, 25,000 and 45,000, so out of 70,000, we may have 10-14%, does not seem like flooding the exits, the reason to offer these the first VER was due to their being expendable it would seem, as clerks were to be offered but for the APWU Union President Guffey holding the VER and incentives for clerks and maintenance
    hostage for whatever he can get, at least the others worried about the impact on their members and did whatever for the early retirement to ease their members into retirement, too bad American Postal Workers is more worried about union dues and their jobs rather than the members, and 15k with a huge drop in income is not much, so many that now go were going anyway!

  2. Longtime PM on

    Come on, the biggest reason I know why Postmasters are taking the early out option, is the continued bad treatment the USPS has been doing, the fact that no cost of living or any other raise will be coming for 2-3 more years, as we have already had nothing for 2 years, and the self destructive decisions made above the field level. At least I will get a cola when I retire, and a new boss (spouse), it is worth leaving the organization I have loved for so many years.

  3. As other union members take the money and run, APWU continues to withhold any approval for an earlyout of their members. USPS will get the numbers they want to leave from other crafts and will offer those vacancies as landing spots for impacted APWU members who will be left holding the bag with any early out possibility withdrawn from the table.

  4. Help out the employees who do the hardest work in the USPS. That is the Letter Carriers. If it wasn’t for them there wouldn’t be a USPS. Let’s see some buy outs for them.

  5. Why would APWU agree to lose 1/4 of their members dues? They’ve already been in a downward spiral for the past 5 years. They have nothing to offer newer/younger employees who see what is going on at the workplace and sure as hell have pissed off the older ones that are dropping out. USPS doesn’t need for clerks to go out on a VERA…they’ll just replace exiting mailhandlers with excessed clerks.

  6. Only MH leaving are already retirement elgilbe. No one under FERS has 30 years in unless they brought back their military time. So 30 % or less of base pay is your annuity. WHERE IN THE USA CAN YOU LIVE OFF THAT AMOUNT!!!!
    30 % – health care – spousal deduction.

  7. postmasters know the ship is sinking and they are bailing. my ex and his current spouse are both p.m. and they are both jumping ship. how about that….40k
    where is the incentive for carriers???? between clerks and carriers …i guess we will be the only ones left to get the mail out. oh btw…retired p.m. can come back and work partime as p.m. and still get their retirement pay. double dipping?????????

  8. The APWU has absolutely no say so about early retirement. The PO may be keeping them in the loop to prevent the complete surprise when Burrus was President but they have no ability to approve or negoitate an early out. The only approval comes from OPM.

  9. The clerks were offered 15,000 a couple of years ago and only about half of the employees expected took it. Obviously the ones hanging on want more. There are those in my office who would take that if they could find a decent part-time job to supplement the loss of income. Let’s face it, people can’t afford to retire with the economy the way it is today. Many didn’t really plan for retirement and can’t afford to now. If the Postal Service would allow people to semi-retire, work 30 hours a week ,with 20% of that time devoted to training someone to do their job, and give them a decent buy out offer at the end of say 2 to 3 years, then maybe it would be a good deal for some.
    Like I said, with the economy as bad as it is and no prospects for part-time employment people just can’t afford to go.

  10. Tim Manning on

    What everyone is forgetting is that jobs are not to be had outside of the PO, especially NOT making what the PO give you! If you are NOT MRA (55 OR 56) you will NOT be able to afford retitement! I already received my VER and it is POVERTY level, UNLESS you receive the social security supplement (and you must be at MRA to receive that) and have a lot saved in your TSP and roll it into an annuity, you will NOT be able to afford to retire. For CSRS you get 2% of your high-three for the years of service you have, with NO social security supplement. For FERS, you get 1% of your high-three for each year of service with NO supplemental annutiy UNLESS you have reach MRA. So, if you are waiting and you are not at MRA, you are waiting for nothing!

  11. if people planned for retirement they wouldn’t need a buyout. you don’t need a part time job after you retire. employees under fers get 30% of high three + special supplement + annuity from thrift savings. if you are a clerk and can get out do it! guffy has screwed you over as much as the postal service has, and he will continue to do so. RETIREMENT IS AWESOME!!!!!

  12. rick 0sborne on

    anybody that takes 15000 or 20000 to retire must be going out already if they really want people to leave they should pay them cash for unused sick and annual leave then they might get some takers

  13. rick 0sborne on

    anybody that takes 15000 or 20000 to retire must be going out already if they really want people to leave they should pay them cash for unused sick and annual leave then they might get some takers.

  14. 20K for clerks & carriers would get a lot of attention. If the PO truly wants to shed 100,000 or so, I believe that would do it. Chris (#16 post) also hit on a good topic. Semi/part time work (20 hours is plenty) after retirement is an excellent idea and that offer should be expanded to include ALL postal workers, not just PMs. Other federal workers are or soon will be able to take advantage of that plan.


    the PO wont offer APWU a buyout because of the shortage of drivers with the summer vacations here and people working 7 day weeks they would be really screwed if they lost any more TTOs i wpold love to see the VER because i wouldprobaly move up about 3-5 spots in senority

  16. I am 58 next year 60, started in 1984 no one tells us how much the socual security supplement is in real dollars and cents. Social Security doesnt max out to age 70 and I am nowheres near that. The way we are going there will be no Postal Service as we know it by the time I am 62.5 years of age nevermind 70! How can I retire now on less than I am making if my bills equal 80% of my income I cannot do deficit spending

  17. I am 58 next year 60, started in 1984 no one tells us how much the socual security supplement is in real dollars and cents. Social Security doesnt max out to age 70 and I am nowheres near that. The way we are going there will be no Postal Service as we know it by the time I am 62.5 years of age nevermind 70! How can I retire now on less than I am making if my bills equal 80% of my income I cannot do deficit spending like our government. I need 50,000 buyout plus I need a new job so I can work until 70 or die trying as many of my coworkers my age have already become deceased.

  18. I started out as a City Carrier the became a clerk, did a few week stint as a mail handler, then back to a clerk under APWU. WE ARE STILL WAITING for a buyout. I need 50,000 per year or $35,000 lump sum which is highly improbable & therefore will not be able to retire until the end of the Postal Service or age 70 or die trying.

  19. That Chinese guy Cantonese, how about Mandarin?, is wrong, they need to downsize, people do not read, the bills that passed or did not yet pass all refer to 100 thousand down from last year to now!, Bipartisan wanted to downsize now !, and we have a measly 4 thousand mail handlers, the PM are a waste anyway , overpaid window clerks, but craft and 4 thousand?, that shows that Federal Times has an inflammatory headline, and is incorrect, thousands ?, right !
    If USPS and APWU had a collective brain they would offer the clerks due to ongoing excessing an early out , no if , and, or buts.

  20. Rumors that a demonstration maybe some other things at APWU headquarters and the LA Party / convention, did Guffey really use union dues to pay that security firm in DC for protection daily and at any function?, sure he needs it but maybe if he was honest he would not, would not want to Guffey union President.

  21. cb196, (Post #7) I think you have that backwards… if it weren’t for the clerks and mail handlers, you wouldn’t have mail to deliver.

  22. I am not an employee of the USPS, but I willl tell you this. You do not want to be in the job market that awaits. Because there isn’t one.

    Thousands of 20 something year olds are graduating from college every semester, they cannot find jobs, Oh sure, there are 8.00-9.00 an hour no benefit part time jobs waiting for you.

    I hate to see the USPS go through this, but the world changed–and there are no jobs waiting. It doesn’t matter if they re-train you or not in this job market. You would be better off tripping down the stairs and going out on workers comp. and negituating a settlement that way.

  23. Some of you care only about yourselves are of no concern to me. For your information we pay President Guffey to protect those who will be there when you are gone not to get you a cushy bonus to help the USPS shrink and destroy the Service. President Guffey won ‘t agree to an incentive unless our bosses give back all of our stolen work and he is 100% right. I am eligible already but as many have said it is ugly out there and you just have to be ready to go. I hope you are working as hard lobbying for our position in Congress as you are criticizing Pres. Guffey.

  24. You post as though you are under the impression that the APWU hierarchy cares about you and that we are only caring about ourselves? Really? What are you smoking? Did you know that APWU negotiated a protection clause for their junior stewards that allows them to bump senior employees who are to be excessed including senior military veterans? They call it Superseniority and you don’t have it unless you are a steward. They were looking out for you when they negotiated that. Oh…and lest we forget that APWU officers can retire with their APWU Officer Retirement Plan that your dues paid for but that you can’t use. You enjoy paying for something you can’t use? They cared so much about you!Oh…and while USPS and other companies are downsizing, your caring APWU staffing has remained at it’s levels despite loss of volume and work at the company “protects” you. Give me a break Bruce Clark.

  25. Guffey got his VERA, he now boldly proclaims “Hey, those senior APWU members can go ahead and retire now if they want to.” Holding our most senior Union members hostage (Because he can’t get what he needs) is making this guy a one term (Lame duck) President.

  26. What is president goofey waiting on . I can go at anytime .
    No accountability,no work and just hanging out making money.

  27. Got my papers all filled out,just need to sign and date it.Even have a “FOR EVER” stamp on it( this could take a long time)At my station 5-7 carries out of 50 routes will take it.That about 10%.I don’t know how many carries there are nation-wde but 10% would be a nice chunk.

  28. I have wondered for years why the Postal Service does not simply raise rates by the nickel instead of pennies at a time. If it did not cost that entire amount to operate the business, they could invest the remainder to as a hedge against difficult times. The US Postal Service is a wonderful benefit to us. I am grateful to all who work there for their hard work and dedication. Without the US Postal Service, there are some instances whereby I would not have received mail from other providers such as UPS or FedEx as we live in a rural area. The costs are very reasonable, imo, and could afford to be increased somewhat, remain competitive, and viable, and still provide the services we utilize. No, I do not send many cards, letters, or bills by mail any longer, but still a few. Nonetheless, I still have packages that I ship or receive via the USPS. For all on here who work for the USPS, thank you for your service.

  29. APWU…an organization in flux. Confusion and discord reigns supreme at 1300 L Street NW. This year’s National All Expense Paid Pin Trading Convention will serve up much rhetoric, fist pounding whereas this and whereas that speeches followed by rousing -feel good- standing ovations topped off by hospitality room schmoozing and boozing, culminating in the ever popular Parade of States. A quarter of the delegates will be nowhere to be found, perhaps getting some afternoon delight in their rooms (paid for by dues money) or perhaps at the beaches. Ah…unionism at it’s best!

  30. If the PO is closing 48 mail processing centers by the end of the summer, what’s the plan for those employees? I have seen nothing so far about VER or tranfers other than a voluntary tranfer to being a letter carrier. I’m in the Dayton, OH plant and will be in a simular position in January when it’s scheduled to close.

  31. Karnack says open carrier jobs are being held open for clerks who will accept them or unemployment once Congress allows The Ripping Up Of Contracts once 5 day delivery is approved.Folks its in your best interests to accually read the Contracts for yourself prior to being put up for removal. I have heard that Clerks don’t even get copies from The APWU. Worst Union ever. It took USPS 20 years to divide and conquer but they have done it. Any clerks anywhere working 4 days 10 hours? But we sure got PSE since day one of that cruddy so called Contract. peace out bro zon.

  32. I’m sure the postmaster general will take this buyout and retire before he is fired for being such a failure. Or he will write up his own multi million dollar retirement like postmaster Potter did. They should both be in jail.

  33. Nancy in Nashville on

    Message to enufisenuf, why are you hating on the APWU so much? Shouldn’t the Shop Steward have “super” seniority, to keep from being excessed out of the section? And are you jealous of our National Officers and their Retirement packages? You are free to run for office, if you are a dues paying member. PUT UP OR SHUT UP!

  34. I have 35 years 56 old thankfully a CSR employee didnt take the bait.
    Didnt play peyton place so still married same years, didnt over buy a house, same house 35 years later

    kept expenses low and my savings 6 years ago was less than 10k now 6 years later 235k. I have lived on just under 1800 a month most of the time. Good steady investments!!

    if the USPS was as thrifty honest and intelligent about how they conduct business and who and how they promote people they would not be in the shape they are.

    I am nearly ready to retire but since joining the KMA club work is tolerable, and I am developing a national reputation at what I do. One of the few clerks that a lot of mnagers listen to … go SOX. These PM retirements many are because of SOX and the failures they repreent if they stay. SOX is being felt everywhere and if they would have followed regulations etc for the past 30 years instead of stealing or giving the ship away the USPS would be in better shpe.

    Go SOX and dont let the door hit you on he way out..maybe next they can concentrate on the BSN/ sales and account reps. Another phony group that needs a comeuppance!!! They pad their books with things customers would have done anyway!!!

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