National Postal Mail Handlers Union - Unity · Democracy · Strength - Division of LIUNA - AFL-CIO

National Postal Mail Handlers Union A Division of LIUNA (AFL-CIO)

Media Center / Mail Handler Update

USPS UNILATERALLY ANNOUNCES VERA

On January 4, 2018, the USPS, without advanced notification or discussions with the NPMHU or other impacted Unions, unilaterally exercised its statutory authority to offer a Voluntary Early Retirement to eligible postal employees. To secure approval for offering this VER from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, the Postal Service took the position that dire mail volume projections and the Service’s deteriorating financial condition require workforce reductions to match its current workload. Seventy-one thousand Postal employees are VERA eligible. Of that group, 5,579 are mail handlers and will receive VERA offers.

To be eligible, one must have at least 50 years of age with at least 20 years of service, or any age with at least 25 years of service. At least five (5) years of that service MUST be creditable civilian service, not military service. Employees may use military service to meet the balance of service required for eligibility.

The NPMHU does not believe that this “offer” will generate the actual retirements that are being projected. Of most importance, this VERA does not provide any substantive benefit or financial value. Mail handlers or other postal employees who accept this offer will simply be able to retire before they reach the standard requirements for age and years of service; that is the gist of the offer. The USPS offered this VERA without monetary incentives because they had no other option. By regulation, to include a monetary incentive, the USPS is required to bargain the value of that offer with the Union and the Postal Service has no desire to bargain on this matter unless and until it is demonstrated that a VERA without an added financial incentive will be of little impact.

By accepting this offer, if you are an employee covered by CSRS, you will have your annuity reduced by 2% for each year you are under age 55. If you are covered by FERS, you will only earn 1% of your salary as an annuity for each year worked (e.g. if you worked 20 years, your annuity will be 20% of your high-3 average salary). If you are under the Minimum Retirement Age (MRA), you will not receive the Social Security Supplement until you reach the MRA. You will not receive Cost of Living Allowances (COLAs) on your annuity until you reach MRA. And with an early retirement, you can’t make additional contributions to TSP or receive employer contributions as you would with continued employment.

If you are one of the five thousand mail handlers who receive a VER offer, the Union encourages you to analyze your annuity estimates carefully, to be certain about the effects an early retirement will have on your future. Mail Handlers are encouraged to take advantage of any counseling opportunities that are offered; don’t make a hasty decision. For eligible employees who decide not to accept the offer, no response is required.

OPM’s VERA planning guide cautions federal agencies about pulling the trigger on VERA offers prematurely, encouraging consideration of all alternative methods of obtaining adjustment to staffing. The USPS has issued hundreds of impact statements threatening involuntary reassignments, and facility closures or consolidations over the past few years. Despite this array of incomplete options, the USPS has now prematurely launched a VERA to those on the doorstep of retirement. The USPS has put the cart before the horse by failing to consider fully or fairly the impact of current and pending operational opportunities and the age of those employees affected.

Upon receipt of the VERA notification, the NPMHU immediately contacted the USPS to request a meeting to discuss potential impacts. In addition, we have requested copies of all relied upon information used to secure OPM’s approval. Additional details will be shared through Union publications when available.

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