Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Not Allow Phased Retirement For Postal Workers?

The U.S. Senate approved a concept this week that, if applied to the U.S. Postal Service, could be a big help both to the beleaguered agency and to many of its employees.

As written, the “phased retirement” amendment may not even apply to USPS and would not be particularly relevant to the financially strapped independent agency. But the concept of enabling retirement-eligible employees to switch to part-time status without messing up their benefits could offer the Postal Service a relatively employee-friendly method of reducing costs.

The Senate’s amendment to a major transportation bill (Why transportation? Don’t ask.) fleshes out a concept introduced in the Office of Personnel Management’s FY 2013 budget proposal – “to help ensure continuity of operations and facilitate knowledge management by allowing valued employees to transition into retirement.” OPM proposed that employees be able “to reduce their work schedules at the end of their careers and receive income from a combination of reduced salary and a partial retirement annuity.”

The Senate bill would enable a retirement-eligible employee to move into an open part-time position. Such “phased retirees” would work a fixed number of hours per week and would have to spend at least 20% of their time mentoring others.

The Senate’s approach would help the Postal Service counter the “brain drain” that has plagued its administrative ranks and often robbed it of key managers and experts. But omitting the mentoring requirement would make phased retirement even more valuable to USPS, enabling it to expand the pool of experienced part-time craft employees while reducing the number of full-timers.

Relying more on part-time labor is a major part of the Postal Service's plan to create a more flexible and efficient workforce.

Without the fixed-hours requirement, the concept could also help the Postal Service manage the usual seasonal fluctuations in mail volume more efficiently if, for example, phased retirees stepped up their hours during the busy holiday season.

A boon for older employees
Managed properly, phased retirement could also be a boon for USPS employees, whose median age is 50 and about half of whom are eligible for retirement. Many older employees in physically strenuous jobs would welcome the opportunity to work shorter hours without having to quit entirely.

But opportunities to switch to other assignments within USPS are rare. Changing employers would mean a big pay cut for workers whose knowledge and skills are not easily transferable to other organizations. And even retiring from the Postal Service can be an unattractive prospect.

As I wrote last year, “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.”

Lowering such barriers to retirement should be a key part of any plan to fix the Postal Service.

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Anonymous said...

bout time

Anonymous said...

Early retirement should NOT be considered as retirement as this article leads us to believe.

VooDo45 said...

"The Senate’s approach would help the Postal Service counter the “brain drain” that has plagued its administrative ranks and often robbed it of key managers and experts."

You use brain drain , and managers all in the same sentence. Most of those people that I have encountered in 26 years with the USPS have little brain to drain.
Still working for idiots..

Anonymous said...

2 good reasons: You can't make it on part time pay (10-15 hrs) and you can't draw retirement. If they would let me draw 75% of retirement and work part time I would give it a try.
Level 6 not EAS

Anonymous said...

"spend 20% of their time mentoring"?? In other words you're going to have them getting paid and standing around talking for 20% of their time... and stopping the person they're 'mentoring' from getting anything productive done. Unfortunately that sounds like what's going on right now anyway. :-(((

Anonymous said...

already have that "concept" with 30 hr NFTF jobs, no?

Anonymous said...

As a 34 year carrier, I have probably worked for 50 managers and supervisors,minimum. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 that should mentor anyone! I am not of age to retire, but I have recently wished for shorter hours or part time, that would be great!

Anonymous said...

If many hate where they work, then they want out, USPS is cooked, lousy place for a career, no brains needed, APWU will be destroyed if they go and try to agree to this, the contract as bad as is is signed,
if most of us hate the others why would we stay, to go "POSTAL" would be the answer.

Anonymous said...

so answer this for me the post office is closing the BROOKLYN/FLUSHING/STATEN ISLAND processing centers but this week they put up help wanted signs for TTO/MVO in thses facilitys and even though there are no benefits the starting pay $22.75an hr for TTOs $20 for MVOs

Anonymous said...

Most of the part time people we have are working 50 to 60 hrs a week. That doesn't sound like a easy transition to retirement.

Barry Painter said...

The most critical factor missed in the article is the "Retirements" are already "pre-funded". Meaning the money is already in the fund to pay retirement checks to those who retire. The Postal Service is only asking for the over payments charged into the fund being returned.
People retiring are placed on to OPM rolls and paid by the Fund. This means they are off the Postal Roles (no pay or benefits = savings) The Postal Service then can hire new employees with less benefits and reduced salaries, working part-time and can be laid off and further addressed when the AWPU contract expires in approx 2 years. The article writer would do well to avoid the trap of so many opinion makers and learn about the topic before he writes. :)

Anonymous said...

key words 'managed properly", postal management is not capable of doing that.

not retiring yet said...

As a 34 year carrier, I have probably worked for 50 managers and supervisors,minimum. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 that should mentor anyone! I am not of age to retire, but I have recently wished for shorter hours or part time, that would be great! Anonymous: You say 34years and counting, and not of age to retire?? If you are postal, and have that much, then you must be under 55. But, keep in mind, they are also, in some areas of legislation, considering adding time, as an enticement to retire. They might also be willing to forego those other years and give you credit for 35 years and let you retire. Early retirement? perhaps, but, to save the post office, they just might do that. Having the age, but, not the years I am in the opposite position, and the same consideration of adding time, might apply to me. You just have to keep your eyes and ears open, because, the next decision may affect you. And I keep them open. Would rather take $25 K for 2 years, rather than them just granting me 2 more years of service/non service. And I don't think this article, even mentioned early retirement. It does mention working part time and collecting a part time annuity. That is not early retirement. But, I won't argue/discuss with you what the article didn't mention.

Anonymous said...

I am a letter short of understanding this exactly for
a. the post office workers originally paid in to fers and csrs too much, when finding this out Congress not wanting to give the retirement money overpaid back due to the deficit may be made bigger ( on the Presidents budget apparently so only that one counts and not the budgets of the workers) b. the Paea was enacted which then took and made a 3rd retirement fund for workers not even hired or born yet for the next 75 years in a 10 year period from 2006, to 2016 along with that non replacement of workers happned, for people to retire, and thus some expired, which seems to be the main point, of taking money from postal workers first, then taking from the business model and making life miserable. now the sugestion is let them be allowed to phased out, why not let them stop being bashed for being workers who pay in from their checks and trying to earn a retirement meanwhile the poltical spin is they are owed that, when they earn and pay for it, and then get told now they must have a more damaged company since they need more money from workers not working or born yet, why not stop all this and give them their retirement when they are ready, and stop not replacing workers on the lower level where it takes people not machines to deliver the mail? and stop the big bonuses and big huge retirment like 5. 5 million for one person at the top , and the triple down retirment of increased pay and that to the next in lines, and leave the real postal workers alone. phased in, beam me up scotty, I think they all lost thier minds.