Local postal workers are mulling whether to take $15,000 each to leave their jobs with the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service.
A total of 170 members of the local branch of the American Postal Workers Union are eligible for the retirement incentive, said David Van Allen, a USPS regional spokesman.
Nationally, about 114,000 members of the union are eligible. The incentive was offered as the postal service seeks to reduce its work force to help cut $20 billion in annual operating costs by 2015.
The local eligible workers represent about 40 percent of the 395 members of the American Postal Workers Union Akron Local 120. They work at the Akron mail processing and distribution center on Wolf Ledges Parkway and at post offices, stations and branches in the Akron area.
To be eligible, employees must have at least 20 years of service and be 50 years of age or must have 25 years of service at any age.
Van Allen said the postal service does not know how many workers will choose to take the offer: “Everybody’s situation is different. It just depends on your personal situation.”
Local union President Mary Sitko agreed, adding that “for some, even though they are eligible, there is a penalty for taking it ... it could cost them.” She explained that employees in the Civil Service Retirement System opting to take the incentive would see their annuity reduced 2 percent for each year they are under age 55. This system provides benefits for most workers hired before 1984.
“You have to figure out financially if this is worth your while,” Sitko said.
Sitko, union president for six years and a postal clerk, plans on taking the incentive. She is 57 and has more than 35 years of service. “I was fortunate enough to hire in when I was 21,” she noted.
Postal clerk Kathy Hoppe of Akron, is eligible for the incentive, but it’s not enough to offset the reduction she would see in her pension. That is because she was hired after 1984 and is a member of the Federal Employee Retirement System.
Hoppe, 58, is planning on working another two years.
Still, she counts herself as fortunate. She got her job in 1995, as part of a wave of local postal service hires.
“My major concern is for the people who are a lot younger,” Hoppe said. “Are they going to have a postal service to retire from?”
Part of the postal service’s plans involve closing processing centers nationwide.
The 400-employee Akron center on Wolf Ledges has been spared from the initial round of closings and is slated to remain open at least through 2013. Plans call for the 200-employee center in Canton to shut down in 2013.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.