The Great Postal Giveaway
USPS Sends Jobs, Work to Staples
11/26/2013 - On Nov. 10, in a deal that has been in the works at least since March, the USPS announced it was launching a pilot program to put postal retail units in Staples stores across the country. Some sites opened quietly in October and others have opened in the last two weeks, including some where ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held.
Staples is the largest retailer of office supplies in the country, with almost 1,600 stores. The pilot will begin at 84 sites, and, if it is successful, may be extended to other Staples stores. Agreements between the USPS and other big retailers may follow.
“This is a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.
“The APWU supports the expansion of postal services. But we are adamantly opposed to USPS plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail,” he said. “Postal workers deserve better, and our customers deserve better.”
In a meeting with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on Nov. 20, the union president insisted that if the plan proceeds, the postal units at Staples must be staffed by career postal employees. The APWU has requested information about the specifics of the deal, and has instructed the union’s attorneys to explore legal avenues to challenge the program.
The APWU also has requested a meeting with Ron Sargent, the Chairman and CEO of Staples, to discuss our concerns, Dimondstein said. He also expects to have additional discussions with postal management.
“While these efforts proceed, we will begin preparations for protests at Staple stores across the country,” he said. The APWU Executive Board discussed the issue via telephone on Nov. 22 and endorsed the plan to fight back.
“Postal management will undoubtedly try to convince our members that this arrangement is beneficial because it creates revenue for the USPS,” Dimondstein said. “But revenue without good union jobs is not in the interest of our members. Postal services that are performed by anyone other than well-trained postal workers will not serve the American people well,” he said.
“This is a huge step toward privatizing retail services,” Dimondstein said. “If we don’t draw a line in the sand, mail processing and other operations will soon follow.”
The Staples units will offer most postal products and services: They will sell stamps; accept first-class letters, Priority, Priority Express, standard mail, and first-class packages, and accept certified mail. The units will be operational during Staples’ business hours — as late as 9 p.m. on weekdays, on Sundays and many holidays. And, in a unique arrangement, the office supply giant will offer 5% Staples Rewards for the postage on packages paid for and shipped at its locations.
“We can only stop these privatization plans if we work and fight together,” Dimondstein said. “We will keep APWU members informed of any progress at the national level. In the meantime, prepare for action!”