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by SixFigureStart | August 26, 2009


Facing its fourth fiscal-year loss in a row, the U.S. Postal Service is ready to fight. Unfortunately, that means many of its workers are gonna have to make an unpleasant choice: Take a dive now, or opt for a possible knockout blow later on.

The USPS is set to give up to 30,000 of its processing facility employees a buyout offer worth $15,000, payable in two pieces (one check will be sent before January 2010, the second no earlier than October 2010). Those workers face a tough dilemma: "Do I give up my position now and gain a (small) amount of financial breathing room, or hold on, with the distinct possibility of being cut later and getting nothing?" Granted, $15,000 isn't much of a carrot -- and there's still the uncertainty of "Now what?" afterward -- but there is at least some peace of mind to be had. Picking the alternative provides the comfort of a steady paycheck, but perhaps only temporarily. Those USPS workers that remain -- along with the carriers and administrators not eligible for the package -- will continue to suffer the measures that the organization has already put in place (pay and hiring freezes, shuttered offices, work-hour reductions).

And there's also the possibility that Saturday mail service will disappear like the three martini lunch, an idea which Congress is debating as we speak. It can't all be chalked up to the economy; the postal service is probably as much a victim of technology as of the recession. All those emails, blog posts and tweets have to factor into the huge reduction in the number of items mailed these past few years. The bean counters estimate that the amount for 2009 will be between 170 million and 180 million pieces, a far cry from the 213 million delivered during fiscal 2006.

So now that you have all the facts, if you had to make a choice, what would it be? And if you've got any sage advice, send it here. We'll make sure to send it along (electronically, of course) to the postmaster general.

--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault Staff Writer