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Staples Execs Get an Earful at Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

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06/02/2014 - Staples’ board of directors got an earful on June 2, when they attended the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in upscale Palo Alto, CA.

Fifty APWU members and supporters – including students from nearby Stanford University – chanted loud enough to be heard throughout the executives’ brief deliberations in the swanky Garden Court Hotel.

“The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale,” protesters shouted, and “Whose Post Office? The people’s post office!”

Not Much Better

The situation inside the meeting wasn’t much better for Staples CEO Ron Sargent. Several union members held proxies, which allowed them to gain entry to the meeting and propose resolutions.

APWU National Business Agent Shirley Taylor challenged the re-election of Robert Sulentic to Staples’ board of directors, noting that he has an apparent conflict of interest. Sulentic is also CEO of CBRE, the giant real estate firm that holds an exclusive contract to sell post offices and other USPS facilities.

The agreement between Staples and the Postal Service is leading to post office closures and reductions in hours, Taylor pointed out.

“Mr. Sulentic's involvement with Staples postal counters constitutes self-dealing and is a violation of SEC rules on self-dealing and Staples' own ethics policies,” she said.

Sargent, the Staples CEO, dismissed Taylor’s remarks, saying the deal with the Postal Service was simply a merchandising decision that wasn’t brought before the board.

Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez proposed a resolution seeking a report about the human rights impact of the deal between the USPS and Staples. The majority of shareholders voted against the non-binding resolution.

‘We Won’t Give Up!’

Staples executives refused to talk to the press about the company’s deal with the U.S. Postal Service or the protests.

The entire event lasted a little more than one-half hour, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending by 8:35 a.m.

“They know we were there,” said Rich Shelley, APWU’s lead organizer for the Stop Staples campaign. “And we won’t give up!”

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