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USPS Tells Customers: Get Postal Discounts at Staples

Union Says ‘Return-to-Sender’

Web News Article #: 
239-2014

12/21/2014 - Postal management has launched a new offensive – one that clearly reveals the sinister goals of its no-bid deal with Staples.

The Postal Service has sent a mass mailing to “postal customers” advertising 20 percent discounts on USPS shipping services. But the coupon glued inside isn’t for use at your neighborhood Post Office.

It’s for USPS shipping services at Staples. “Mail & Ship at Staples 7 Days a Week,” the ad says. “Bring this coupon to a participating Staples store.”

A Slap in the Face

Calling the USPS-sponsored ad a “slap in the face to postal workers” Vince Tarducci, president of the Philly BMC Local, got busy. After discussing the ad with infuriated union members, the local decided to organize a response: “Mark your Staples mail, ‘Return to sender,’ and send it back where it came from,” the local wrote in a flyer for union members.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein praised the action. “I applaud the Philly BMC Local for taking the initiative to get this started. I urge every local to be on the lookout for the ads and to organize a similar response. I encourage every postal employee to ask their family and friends to do the same.”

“Every union member who receives the ad can take part,” he said. “Just cross out the bar code, write ‘Return to Sender,’ and drop it off on your way in to work,” he said. “It’s easy.”

It’s unclear how widespread the Postal Service’s ad campaign on behalf of Staples is. Besides Philadelphia, the union has received reports that the mailer was received in New York City, Connecticut and Utah.

 

In Philadelphia, ads were sent in bulk to public schools for distribution to teachers. Locals should remind teachers in their cities and towns of the boycott, Dimondstein said, noting that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA) have signed on the Stop Staples campaign.

No Doubt

“If there ever was any doubt about the goal of the Postal Service’s dirty deal with Staples, this settles it,” Dimondstein said.

“The USPS is using its resources – resources it got from postal customers – to advertise and subsidize a private retailer.

“The intent is clear: to incentivize customers to abandon their neighborhood post offices in favor of Staples,” he said.

“Next, management will conduct a study and discover that traffic is down in post offices. And they will say that justifies closing them,” Dimondstein added.

The union is pursuing the issue at the national level with the USPS Office of Inspector General. The union is also renewing its demands for information about the no-bid deal between the USPS and Staples, which has been cloaked in secrecy from the outset.

“The Postal Service has taken the Staples fight to another level,” Dimondstein said. “This ad underscores why we are fighting and why we must continue to fight.

“I ask every postal employee to encourage their family and friends to take their business elsewhere until Staples gets out of the postal business,” he said.

Why We’re Boycotting

In the fall of 2013, the Postal Service and Staples implemented a pilot program that established knock-off post offices in 82 Staples stores. The postal counters are staffed with low-wage Staples employees rather than highly-trained USPS employees.

After months of protests, the union launched a Don’t Buy Staples campaign, which was endorsed by the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association, AFSCME, SEIU, the International Association of Firefighters, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, our sister postal unions and many other labor organizations.

In July, the USPS and Staples discontinued the trial, but replaced it with a modified version of the program, which it plans to expand to all Staples stores.

The APWU objects to the Staples deal because it privatizes the retail operations of the public Postal Service; transfers living-wage, union jobs to low-wage jobs, and compromises the safety and security of the mail.