Layoffs at USPS? No- at least not yet…

The US Postal Service is expected to provide details today of its previously announced reorganization of its administrative structure. That has led some to suggest that layoffs are imminent- the Washington Post reported this morning that “Thursday’s anticipated announcement is especially significant, because USPS is using layoffs for the first time since posting the historic financial losses of recent years.”

In fact, today’s announcement is not expected to include anything about layoffs- the USPS has already outlined its plans to reduce 7,500 positions, some of which are already vacant, using the same RIF (Reduction in Force) and RIF avoidance processes it has used in previous reorganizations. What is expected today are the details of which district offices and positions are to be eliminated.

Postmaster General Pat Donahoe announced in January that the USPS would be eliminating administrative positions, and up to ten district offices. As the Post reported at the time,

Donahoe’s plans include a reorganization of the executive ranks he unveiled last week, closing up to 10 district offices nationwide and cutting about 7,500 positions through attrition as eligible workers retire. (emphasis mine)

Yesterday the USPS provided details of a $20,000 retirement incentive it was offering to employees who may be affected by the reductions. Once the affected district employees are notified, later today, the USPS will initiate what it calls “RIF avoidance”, a process that seeks to find vacant positions for anyone whose job is going away, but who isn’t ready to retire. Once the deadline has passed for accepting early retirements on April 25, the USPS will determine which, if any of the affected units may still need to conduct a Reduction in Force (RIF).

On May 25, any employees still in affected positions will receive what’s called a “Specific RIF” notice: “The notice advises employees that they are either placed in a different position in the new organization of the competitive area…, OR that they did not receive a placement offer and will be separated from the Postal Service.”

Even that notice, however, is not a “pink slip”, since affected employees would still be eligible to apply for vacant positions in two additional rounds of job postings. Only those employees, if any, who have not retired or been placed by September 9 would actually be separated. And those employees would have the option of remaining on the rolls in a non-pay status for 30 days to continue trying to land a new position. Separated employees would also have the option of reinstatement if a job they’re qualified for becomes available within two years of separation.

It’s certainly possible that some employees will find themselves without a position- but it’s far from certain that anyone will actually be let go involuntarily. The bottom line is that big changes are coming, but we’re still a long way from layoffs.

2011 Organizational Redesign Information – At-A-Glance.

By the way- someone in the USPS web team needs spell check:

  • john

    it about time to do about management some do not do any thing in office and get paid for nothing that is wast money

  • You won’t be missed

    I don’t like the idea of paying employees that already have 30 or 40 years 20k to leave. I understand the principle behind it. It’s just that they are the ones sitting in positions with high salaries and not really contributing to the core functions. There are at least 20 that I know were just waiting for this for years but while waiting just locked themselves in their office with their small frig. You see them come in and go home that’s it.

  • CEP_Observer

    So when can people who accept early retirement be expected to retire

  • M. Jamison

    The Washington Post has done a consistently poor job reporting on the issues surrounding the Postal Service. The reporting has ranged from simply inept to downright wrong to severely biased.

    The restructuring offered by PMG Donahoe is troubling since it doesn’t seem to actually change the management structure. The same layers are still present only stretched thinner. For those of us used to blind mandates followed by demands for endless certifications – perfunctory management – nothing looks likely to change.
    In many districts and down to POOM groups there are several postmaster vacancies. Many if not most of these vacancies are being filled by craft employees. It looks like we’ll be treated to another round of Area and District employees who may not have set foot in actual post office for several years being slotted int postmaster and vacant supervisor positions.
    The last time this happened in numbers was during the 1993 reorganization and it led to greater hostility on the workroom floor, deteriorating customer service, and general malaise.
    One has to give Mr. Donahoe credit for his sales job but the end result of his efforts is likely to be a still weaker postal service, an oprganization that continues to cede any justification for its existence to those who would make privatization arguments.
    Death by a thousand cuts.

  • brian

    CEP: anyone who accepts the VER will retire effective May 31.

  • brian

    M Jamison- to be fair, the Post has made mistakes, but it has also made corrections. USPS procedures are often hard for outsiders to figure out- a RIF sure sounds like a layoff, even though we know it isn’t.

  • M. Jamison

    Brian – I’ll give you that. The issues confronting the postal service along with some of the procedures it must adhere to not to mention its regulatory environment are at best arcane. I suppose in today’s news environment it is perhaps unfair to ask a news outlet to do the kind of in depth reporting and sorting through of complicated detail that would be necessary to do this subject justice.
    I do think that the Post has taken an editorial position that at times either ignores or distorts actual facts and circumstances. I’ll concede that I find that especially frustrating since their positions seem to have been written at L’Enfant Plaza and are directly contrary to my own views.
    I think they could do much better but you are right, in today’s blog and short form journalism they have at least tried to correct their most egregious errors.

  • myk

    a rif is the same thing in the public sector that’s called a severance package. get rid of these slums, 20k is nothing compared to what the usps will save in wages and benefits having these no brain idiots sit around and do “nothing”

  • lah

    I work in a position that will be doing most of the work for downsizing the post office. There are 9 of us in the South Jersey district. We are the ones that handle all the data and the closing of post offices. They are cutting 4 of our jobs. At the meeting there was no information available. Only an idiot would cut jobs in the most overburdened work area. Thats the postal way. We were reminded to have a good weekend though.

  • AZdude1

    This is alway more complicated as most people think. The 20K$ to be used
    as a “severance package” is great and is getting close to an OK amount of
    money. The savings this would create long term is real! Using the severance
    as a “one time charge” is also a common private sector thing that would also
    work well for USPS books.
    I have been involved in the high tech industry and we have had to reduced
    the workforce by 50% since 2001 and now make record profits. Believe me
    most of us that survived would not believe that all the cuts were possible and
    it is also surprising how much you do during the standard work day is “not
    value added”. I also learned never to say “it can’t get worse”, cause yes
    it can.

    Those of you that will survive just be prepared to working much harder and faster. I am not saying you don’t work hard now but job losses must happen and I agree management must be reduced a proportional amount to the rank and file.

    I think USPS is lucky as they just need to break even. They don’t need to feed the wall street stock price monsters.

    True leadership at USPS and re-structuring and getting the “house in order” will result in a competitive kick ass company that you all can be proud of.