WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Postal Service, the nation's second-largest employer, offered buyouts on Tuesday to quickly slash up to 30,000 jobs as it grapples with declining mail volume and embraces more automation.
The incentive for voluntary resignations and early retirements among a pool of veteran workers by the end of September is part of a drive to cut costs by $6 billion this fiscal year, the Postal Service said.
"This decision reflects our desire to provide a fair and equitable opportunity for some of our longest-serving employees," said Anthony Vegliante, chief human resources officer and executive vice president.
"It is important to the Postal Service that we take appropriate measures to address our current financial situation."
The majority of those offered $15,000 to leave as part of an agreement with unions -- up to 30,000 people -- work in mail processing facilities, officials said. The Postal Service hopes to save up to $500 million from the move.
The job cut target is similar in scope to employment reductions by U.S. automakers and certain banks, and comes amid signs that the recession may have bottomed out.
The Postal Service, a quasi-government agency that relies on postage sales and revenue from other products and services to fund operations, reported a $2.4 billion loss in the quarter ended June 30.
Traditional mail volume has been fallen sharply as email has proliferated along with online services such as electronic bill payment, officials have said.
The Postal Service has 656,000 career employees, second behind Wal-Mart Stores Inc which has more than 1.4 million workers in the United States.
Other cost cuts this year have included decisions to close facilities, pare construction, a nationwide hiring freeze, and selling underutilized and unused facilities.
The Postal Service also competes with U.S. package delivery giants UPS Inc and FedEx Corp for some services as well as other companies.