What's not clear is how big the investment and payback will be. In other words, how many eligible employees will take the buyout? Dead Tree Edition is asking its readers to make their own prediction (the poll is near the top of the right-hand column) on the early-out incentives that could yield $1 billion or more in annual savings.
When it announced the program a month ago, USPS said it expected 15,000 to 20,000 employees to participate.
Former APWU President William Burrus soon countered with his a much higher estimate -- "in the range of 35,000" -- and advised postal workers not to hold out for something better. (See Take the Money and Run, Burrus Tells Postal Workers.) But the Postal Service's chief human resources officer indicated recently that his estimate had hardly changed; it's now 16,000 to 20,000.
Eliminating a position held by a full-time career postal worker probably saves USPS at least $60,000 annually. And a new employee is likely to cost USPS only half of what a veteran career worker does, according to Burrus.
That means that if half of the early retirees are replaced, a total of 15,000 buyouts would save USPS nearly $700 million annually. But if 35,000 take the package, the savings could be nearly $1.6 billion.
So here are the five choices in the poll, with a description of each one:
- "Fewer than 16,000": Who can afford to retire in this economy?
- "16,000-20,000": This is what USPS officials predict, so it must be true.
- "20,001-30,000": USPS has underestimated how badly some employees want out.
- "30,001-40,000": Bill Burrus nails it on the head.
- "More than 40,000": Katie bar the door!
- Confusion, Misinformation Could Hinder USPS's Early-Retirement Push
- USPS Planning Retirement Incentives To Help Downsizing, Donahoe Testifies
- Postal Service Can No Longer Afford Money-Saving Tactics, Study Says
- It's Official: Postal Service Has More Older Workers Than Any Fortune 500 Company
- How Does the Postal Service Discourage Early Retirement? Let Me Count the Ways