Local, state and retiree chapter presidents across the country are preparing to send delegations to Staples stores in their communities to protest the establishment of postal retail units staffed by low-wage, non-union, non-postal employees.
The delegations will present letters of protest to store managers by Jan. 18. “I urge APWU members to participate,” said President Mark Dimondstein. “The meetings with Staples store managers are intended to put Staples on notice that we are about to embark on a serious campaign to win these jobs for postal employees,” he wrote to local and state presidents on Dec. 26.
The USPS notified the union in October that it was launching a pilot program to put retail units in more than 80 Staples stores. If Staples management and postal brass consider the pilot a success, the program could be extended to Staples’ 1,600 other stores. Agreements between the USPS and other big retailers could follow.
“This is a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services,” Dimondstein said when he learned of the deal. “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. Postal workers deserve better, and our customers deserve better.”
About 40 percent of all APWU members work in retail operations, Dimondstein points out, so the threat to postal jobs and to the public Postal Service is real.
“But postal employees live and work in every city and town in the country,” the union president noted. “That is our strength. We must impress upon Staples that we intend to let their customers across the country know about our fight to protect living-wage, union jobs.”
After the visits with store managers, the APWU plans to organize a day of action at Staples stores around the country, followed by sustained actions at a number of stores where postal retail units have opened.