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 “Thursdayâ€™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.
By the way- someone in the USPS web team needs spell check: