By Jamie Partridge for The Socialist Worker - "WE WON! The U.S. Postal Service and Staples deal is over!" proclaimed the headline on the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) website. A three-year battle against the outsourcing of living-wage, union postal jobs to the low-wage, nonunion Staples ended January 5 when USPS management informed the APWU that the "approved shipper" program in Staples Office Supply stores will be shut down by the end of February 2017. The union-initiated boycott of Staples was called off. "I never doubted that if we stayed the course, stuck together and kept the activist pressure on, we would win this fight," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein in a statement .
By Joe Davidson for The Washington Post - But now, that program has been sentenced to death and it is postal labor leaders who are rejoicing. They cheer the demise of a program that had been the target of a vigorous campaign by postal unions that don’t want the post office privatized. USPS will discontinue retail services at Staples stores by the first week in March, according to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which led the fight. The union cast the decision as “a big win for the public as well as the 200,000 members of APWU and the union’s allies.”
One day last fall, employees of Iron Mountain, a Boston-based records management company, were subjected to what union organizers like to call a captive audience meeting. Employers hold these anti-union meetings once they've gotten wind of an organizing campaign in their midst. Whether the meeting is led by in-house managers or outside consultants, the gist is usually the same: Joining a union is totally your call. But it's a really bad idea, and we're disappointed it's come to this. The spiel at an Iron Mountain facility near Atlanta, where the Teamsters were trying to organize truck drivers, wasn't unlike the anti-union speeches commonly delivered at other companies. What made this meeting different was that a pro-union worker in attendance was surreptitiously recording it. "We have the right to educate you," the Iron Mountain manager lectured his employees. "And we're going to exercise that right." Ben Speight, a Teamsters organizer in Atlanta, later posted the audio to SoundCloud, and it was picked up by Gawker, Salon, Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post, among other outlets. Since then, Speight has obtained a litany of similar recordings from meetings purportedly held at more recognizable companies, including Coca-Cola, Staples and FedEx.
American Postal Workers - The announcement by Staples yesterday, indicating it is terminating its no-bid deal with the U.S. Postal Service and replacing it with an “approved shipper” program, “is a ruse,” says American Postal Workers Union President Mark Dimondstein. Staples and the USPS are changing the name of the program, without addressing the fundamental concerns of postal workers and postal customers. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Dimondstein says the Staples announcement, along with a July 7 letter from the USPS, “makes it clear. They intend to continue to privatize postal retail operations, replace living-wage Postal Service jobs with low-wage Staples jobs and compromise the safety and security of the mail.” He adds: This attempt at trickery shows that the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is having an effect. We intend to keep up the pressure until Staples gets out of the mail business. The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale.
The protest at Staples took on new dimensions today at 5:00 PM in the shape of small, but Occupyable tents between the sidewalk and the Staples parking lot in Berkeley on Durant between Shattuck and Milvia. Peeps from Berkeley Post Office Defenders and Occupy San Francisco are among the participants. As one of the campers said, “We’re here until Staples’ Post Offices aren’t.” The United State Postal Service and Staples began a pilot program back in October of 2013 whereby full-service Post Office stations were installed in some Staples around the country. But instead of being staffed by Postal Workers at living wage salaries they are being staffed by subsistence wage Staples employees. The American Postal Workers Union began protests and a boycott back in January, 2014. The boycott has been adopted nationwide by a large number of unions in recent months and has put serious pressure on Staples. A 24/7 table was set up in front on the Berkeley Staples on Shattuck just about a month ago, handing out literature and Boycott Staples postcards.
The company said that it would discontinue the pilot programme – which was announced last November – in the coming weeks and instead would become an ‘approved shipper’ for the US Postal Service (USPS). The APWU called the Staples’ move a ‘ruse’ in a statement from its President Mark Dimondstein, stating “this attempt at trickery shows that the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is having an effect”. In an interview with the Boston Globe, a USPS spokesperson remarked that the postal service looked forward to continuing the partnership and postal services will continue at the 82 Staples locations used in the pilot scheme. The Union said it would keep up the pressure on the reseller until it gives up the mail business. “Staples and the USPS are changing the name of the programme, without addressing the fundamental concerns of postal workers and postal customers,” the union stated.