The United States Postal Service wants to break its union contracts to cut 120,000 jobs, according to an internal document released to media today.
According to a USPS document on workforce optimization, the USPS needs to eliminate 30 percent (about 215,000) of its staff by 2015. Of that 30 percent, the post office says that 120,000 need to come from lay-offs without going through time-consuming collective bargaining talks with unions.
"In order to eliminate the remaining 120,000 career positions by 2015, to restore the Postal Service to financial viability, it is imperative that we have the ability to reduce our workforce rapidly," the USPS wrote.
In addition to laying off 120,000 people in the next four years, the USPS wants to cut health care and retirement benefits. Instead of getting federal employee benefits, the USPS will ask Congress for permission to give employees a new, cheaper plan.
The USPS blamed digital alternatives to what has become known as “snail mail” as reasons why they need to cut back.
“Hardcopy communication of all types continues to shift to digital alternatives,” the USPS document said.
“More people are paying bills and transacting business online. Advertisers are switching from print to internet and mobile channels. And, while online purchases have increased the volume of packages, this part of the Postal Service's revenue stream is not large enough to offset overall mail volume trends.”
Figures show that the USPS to be hemorrhaging money. In the past four years, the service lost $20 billion, including $8.5 billion in fiscal 2010. Over that period, mail volume dropped by 20 percent.
The USPS request comes just two weeks after its announcement that it will close nearly 3,700 post offices nationwide. And in the last 10 years, over 212,000 jobs have been cut.
“If the Postal Service was a private sector business, it would have filed for bankruptcy,” the document said. “Because this option is not available to the Postal Service, we believe that this extraordinary request is a key to securing our future and our continuing ability to provide universal service to our nation.”