First, consider the California Republican's comments during a House Oversight Committee hearing about the Postal Service on Tuesday (starting at about the 2:31:30 mark):
"You already have 100,000 too many [employees] today. I've asked my staff to look at a lot of areas that we may legislate." (He seems to be getting soft on the Postal Service: Six months ago, he said USPS had "200,000 people who should be retiring.")
"What we probably need to do is bite the bullet one time and figure out how we’re going to retire people that are over 55 and have over 20 years of service to help get your number down," he said at Tuesday's hearing. "Voluntary departures aren't working." Citing an attrition rate of barely over 1%, he added, "Any private company would love to have the attrition you have. You still have two people that are 98 years old on the payroll."
Now consider this recent statement from Roseanne Jefferson, a former USPS human resources manager, in her monthly retirement column for PostalMag.com:
Afraid to retire
"I'm always surprised at the incredible misconceptions that our employees have about their retirement plan. Particularly in the last years of their employment, they are so sure of their retirement benefits, and are so surely wrong. It has always amazed me how our organization is OK with the understanding that employees are afraid to retire, because they don't trust the newly HRSSC to get their retirement correct."
"Many . . . have said the lack of information given during an on-the-phone seminar is lacking real substance as it relates to the individual employee. Many have stated it sounds scripted and is overly generic when you call and ask questions."
USPS employees have good reason to fear retirement, including inaccurate pension estimates, inconsistent answers to retirement-related questions, and months-long waits to receive full benefits after retirement.
Before politicians and postal executives consider new legislation that would push employees into retirement, shouldn't they first fix what's hindering voluntary departures? And if, as widely rumored, many employees will be offered early-retirement incentives in the next few months, wouldn't it make sense to provide retirement counseling without first making them commit to retiring?
Other articles related to barriers to retirement at USPS include:
- The Postal Service's Early-Retirement Snafu: Response to a USPS early-retirement incentive program in 2009 was low because benefits estimates were too low and because employees had to commit to retiring before the Postal Service would give them retirement counseling.
- USPS Getting Its Retirement Act Together? Nope: USPS automated the process of providing retirement information to employees, but left out some sources of retirement income.
- USPS Retirement Mess: A Major Barrier To Downsizing: Many newly retired Postal Service employees are receiving lower pension payments than they should while waiting months for the correct payments to be calculated.