Times Wire Reports

The U.S. Postal Service is offering $15,000 buyouts to employees in an effort to cut costs as the agency is being buffeted by the recession and the popularity of e-mail and electronic bill payment.

Up to 30,000 employees could take the offer at a cost of about $450 million, the agency said. The Postal Service said it could save up to $500 million in the next two years.

The agency said it reached agreement on the offer with the American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. Workers must decide by Sept. 25.

Letter carriers, who are in different unions, weren't offered the buyouts because the number of addresses the post office must serve keeps growing, Postal Service spokeswoman Yvonne Yoerger said.

"That's not an area where we need reduction," she said.

The Postal Service lost $2.4 billion from April through June, and $4.7 billion so far this year. It expects to be $7 billion in the red by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

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