May 27, 2014 – The New Hampshire chapter of the American Federation of Teachers has joined the movement to Stop Staples, with the Board of Directors voting on May 23 to endorse the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign. The AFT-New Hampshire represents 4,000 teachers, school staff and public employees.
AFT-New Hampshire leaders said they had taken the action “to support the American Postal Workers Union’s battle against a deal struck between the United States Postal Service and the giant office-supply chain for an 82-store pilot program in which postal counters providing most of the same services as local post offices would operate in Staples stores. “
“In recent weeks, the USPS/Staples partnership has drawn outrage across the country, and a May 21 Boston Globe story indicated that Staples may want to consider backing out of the arrangement if public and labor opposition persist,” an AFT-New Hampshire press release noted.
Similar resolutions have been passed by the California Federation of Teachers and the AFT-Michigan. The AFL-CIO is considering the APWU’s request to endorse the boycott.
“The decision to outsource neighbourhood post offices across the country to a big-box retailer means potentially fewer good jobs and poorer service for our communities,” said AFT-New Hampshire President Laura Hainey. “Staples workers will staff these new postal counters, rather than trained, uniformed postal employees who are background-checked and take an oath to protect our mail.”
Hainey pointed out that, while official data on Staples pay is not available, one source puts the average wage of a Staples sales associate at $8.53 an hour, just $1.28 above the federal minimum wage.
Analysts indicate that roughly one-third of Staples’ revenue come from the sale of school supplies. “Our members teach and serve New Hampshire’s working families,” Hainey said. “They don’t want to spend their money to transform decent-paying, living-wage jobs for New Hampshire families into low-wage jobs at Staples.”
Hainey cautioned that the USPS/Staples pilot program could be expanded across the country. “It could mean the death of your town’s post office,” she said. The Michigan and California affiliates of AFT have already moved to boycott Staples.
“Our local post offices belong to our towns and to the people of New Hampshire,” said Hainey. “Our members can decide where to buy school supplies, and we won’t shop at Staples until they reconsider this misguided program.”