Dec. 19, 2003 Voluntary Early Retirement Memorandums
VER Disputes Resolved
(This article first appeared in the March/April 2004 issue of The American Postal Worker Magazine.)
Important agreements between the union and management in December and January reaffirmed the Postal Service's obligation to grant Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) to all eligible APWU-represented employees.
In late 2002, union members ratified an extension of the 2000-2003 Collective Bargaining Agreement that included provisions requiring the USPS to offer the "early outs." Last summer, however, management sought to limit the categories and number of employees who could retire early.
"The settlements put an end to a bitter dispute," said APWU President William Burrus. "I am pleased that the USPS has finally agreed to live up to its commitment to APWU members on this important issue."
Approximately 3,300 employees who were eligible for early retirement on Oct. 31, 2003, but were denied the opportunity will be offered early retirement in 2004 or 2005, under an agreement reached Dec. 19, 2003.
The agreement affects employees who were eligible as of Oct. 31, 2003, but did not receive a Statement of Interest letter from the Postal Service, and those who completed a Statement of Interest but were not permitted to retire early or received no response to their Statement of Interest from management.
It also affects employees in categories the Postal Service sought to exclude from the VER offering entirely - Maintenance and Motor Vehicle Craft employees in Level 6 positions and above; Material Distribution Center employees; and employees covered by the IT/ASC Collective Bargaining Agreement or the Operating Services Collective Bargaining Agreement. The Dec. 19 agreement required the Postal Service to petition the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for authority to offer VER to eligible employees in those groups, which it did on Jan. 23.
In addition, the Dec. 19 agreement requires management to identify employees who became eligible for early retirement during the period from Nov. 1, 2003, through Feb. 29, 2004, and offer them VER.
The Postal Service will offer VER to eligible, APWU-represented employees in 2004. However, if operational needs require, the retirement date for Retail Clerks, Maintenance and Motor Vehicle craft employees in Level 6 positions and above, and Material Distribution Center employees may be delayed, but not beyond July 1, 2005.
In a supplemental accord reached Jan. 12, the APWU and the USPS agreed that employees who were offered - but declined - early retirement on Oct. 31, 2003, will be given another opportunity.