The Postal Service plans to shrink its workforce by 10,000 positions in fiscal 2015, according to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.
The reductions will be entirely through attrition — there will be no buy-outs or reductions in force— Donahoe said at a media roundtable at the annual National Postal Forum at the National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Md.
“We have been good planners and we use overtime and other things to work our way through that,” he said.
He said the Postal Service has been able to reduce its workforce by about 320,000 since fiscal 2000 and avoid reductions-in-force because its average employee age is 52 and through careful management.
He said the ultimate goal is for the Postal Service to reduce its career workforce from about 485,000 to around 400,000, with about 65,000 full-time non-career workers. But the Postal Service can do that only with the added flexibility provided by legislation pending in Congress.
That Senate bill would waive the requirement that the Postal Service pre-fund its retiree health benefits -- about $5.5 billion a year -- and would give it greater flexibility to reduce the size of its workforce and end Saturday delivery. The bill does not allow the Postal Service to break off from the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program as the Postal Service had suggested previously.
Donahoe said the concept of a separate health plan for postal employees is also a ‘dead issue’ and while he thinks it would have provided a better plan at a lower cost it was not worth it if it would get in the way of broader postal reform making its way through congress.
“I am fine walking away from it. I am more than happy to compromise and get that bill across the finish line,” Donahoe said.
While the Postal Service and postal employee unions disagree on issues such as the five-day delivery week he said they have been able to come together on issues such as increased automation and lower starting salaries for career jobs.
“I think the unions also understand that postal jobs are good jobs and that sometimes you have to make changes in order to maintain a certain standard of living in those jobs,” he said.