By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Postal Service(USPS) said on Wednesday it is offering early retirement to non-union employees as it consolidates postal districts in an effort to stem billions in red ink.
The USPS will merge the existing 67 Postal Service Districts into 50 Districts and will also centralize district-level marketing and retail efforts, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said in a statement.
USPS said the voluntary early retirement offers are going to non-bargaining employees at headquarters and district offices, declining to say how many positions it was seeking to eliminate.
DeJoy plans to release a new 10-year strategic “break-even” plan this month.
Last month, DeJoy told lawmakers the U.S. mail system is losing $10 billion a year and urgently needs reform and legislative relief. “I would suggest that we are on a death spiral,” DeJoy said.
Separately, USPS said Wednesday it will conduct an environmental impact statement on its planed purchased over 10 years’ worth of 50,000 to 165,000 delivery vehicles.
DeJoy said last month USPS is committed to having electric vehicles make up 10% of its next-generation fleet.
USPS last month awarded a $482 million contact to Oshkosh Defense to finalize production for the next-generation postal vehicles. Workhorse Group Inc said this week it was meeting with USPS on Wednesday after the electric-vehicle maker lost a multibillion-dollar contract to Oshkosh. USPS declined to comment.
USPS will evaluate the environmental impacts of the purchases and operation “as well as a commercial off-the-shelf vehicle alternative and a ‘no action’ alternative,” it said in a notice.
The USPS faces shrinking volumes of first-class mail, increased costs of employee compensation and benefits, and higher unfunded liabilities.
Postal Board chairman Ron Bloom, who said that the USPS is currently projected to lose $160 billion over the next decade, told lawmakers last month “we can’t just throw money at the problem. We must address the systemic issues plaguing it outdated model.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Chris Reese and Aurora Ellis)