Voluntary Early Retirement:
VER Agreement Settles Bitter Dispute
Burrus Update #25-03, Dec. 23, 2003
The Voluntary Early Retirement settlements signed last week put an end to a bitter dispute between the APWU and postal management. In December 2002, union members ratified an extension of the 2000-2003 Collective Bargaining Agreement that included provisions for Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) for all eligible APWU-represented employees, but over the summer, management sought to limit the categories and number of employees who could retire early.
While early retirement was not the central issue of the contract extension, some employees who anticipated early retirement were disappointed. Approximately 4,000 APWU-represented employees retired in October, but almost 2,000 others were denied the opportunity to do so, for a variety of reasons.
All the issues regarding early retirements have now been resolved. The settlement extends early retirement opportunities to employees who were previously excluded from the early outs.
I should caution APWU members, however, that the new agreements do not guarantee retirement to eligible employees by a specific date; in fact, retirement options will be staggered throughout 2004, with the retirement of some Retail Clerks and Maintenance Craft employees delayed until July 1, 2005. Therefore, members are advised not to make important decisions based on assumptions about when your retirement will take place. I urge you not to sell your home prematurely, arrange for other employment, or make decisions about your spouse's employment until you have a commitment from the Postal Service regarding the effective date of your retirement.
I should also note that employees who were not permitted to retire in October 2003 but who were approved for early retirement in January or February 2004 will not be granted additional retirement opportunities in 2004 or 2005. The Postal Service has given these employees letters instructing them to decide whether or not they intend to retire, and giving them a deadline for deciding. If you have been provided a retirement date but you chose not to retire, you must forward your decision by the date in management's letter, or your retirement will be irrevocable.
The decision to retire is a highly personal one, based upon many factors. I trust the individual judgment of eligible employees to decide whether early retirement is in their best interest, financial or otherwise. I consider it highly arrogant for anyone to assume that they are more informed about the job-related decisions of individual employees than the employees themselves. The APWU is able to provide counseling to employees on the financial impact of retirement so that our members can make informed decisions, but we do not suggest that we know what is best for you.