The Great Postal Giveaway: USPS Sends Jobs, Work to Staples

APWU News Bulletin 22-2013, Nov. 26, 2013 | PDF

The postal unit at the Staples store in Westborough MA
The postal unit at the Staples store in Westborough MA.
(Photo courtesy of Evan Kalish, Going Postal)

On Nov. 10, in a deal that has been in the works at least since March, the USPS announced it was launching a pilot program to put postal retail units in Staples stores across the country. Some sites opened quietly in October and others have opened in the last two weeks, including some where ribbon-cutting ceremonies were held.

Staples is the largest retailer of office supplies in the country, with almost 1,600 stores. The pilot will begin at 84 sites, and, if it is successful, may be extended to other Staples stores. Agreements between the USPS and other big retailers may follow.

“This is a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.

“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,” he said. “Postal workers deserve better, and our customers deserve better.”

In a meeting with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe on Nov. 20, the union president insisted that if the plan proceeds, the postal units at Staples must be staffed by career postal employees. The APWU has requested information about the specifics of the deal, and has instructed the union’s attorneys to explore legal avenues to challenge the program.

‘Postal units at Staples must be staffed by career postal employees.’
– President
Mark Dimondstein

The APWU also has requested a meeting with Ron Sargent, the Chairman and CEO of Staples, to discuss our concerns, Dimondstein said. He also expects to have additional discussions with postal management.

“While these efforts proceed, we will begin preparations for protests at Staple stores across the country,” he said. The APWU Executive Board discussed the issue via telephone on Nov. 22 and endorsed the plan to fight back.

“Postal management will undoubtedly try to convince our members that this arrangement is beneficial because it creates revenue for the USPS,” Dimondstein said. “But revenue without good union jobs is not in the interest of our members. Postal services that are performed by anyone other than well-trained postal workers will not serve the American people well,” he said.

“This is a huge step toward privatizing retail services,” Dimondstein said. “If we don’t draw a line in the sand, mail processing and other operations will soon follow.”

The Staples units will offer most postal products and services: They will sell stamps; accept first-class letters, Priority, Priority Express, standard mail, and first-class packages, and accept certified mail. The units will be operational during Staples’ business hours — as late as 9 p.m. on weekdays, on Sundays and many holidays. And, in a unique arrangement, the office supply giant will offer 5% Staples Rewards for the postage on packages paid for and shipped at its locations.

“We can only stop these privatization plans if we work and fight together,” Dimondstein said. “We will keep APWU members informed of any progress at the national level. In the meantime, prepare for action!”

 

  • Chadpo

    From my experience at postal contract stations, they are very knowledgeable. The big difference, they are friendly, and therefore preferred by customers. Clerks in many offices are rude and standoffish towards customers. Just my opinion, and I understand I’ve only seen a small percentage of offices, but I doubt it’s that much different everywhere else.

    • Karen Zwolinkiewicz

      the clerks at my post office are tasked to do other jobs while tending to the front counter.When there are long lines,the mail doesn ‘t get done in the back,which leads to discipline because work did not get done.Any wonder why we get impatient with customers who can not make up their mind which service they want?Or the college age person who has never mailed anything in their life and needs info?Please!

      • LloydStreetMarty

        customer comes first. let the union deal with the discipline. If the box section isn’t up by 9 or 10 am then so be it. Most box customers know enough to ask if the mail is up and then you can always retrieve it from the tray for them. Breathe.

      • KaRi ThePrimeSpot

        I have also met young people who have never mailed anything. One asked me where the stamp goes… Another guy companied he never got his package or a note stuck onto his door to pick it up. No, his mailbox was full, he didn’t realize the notice would be IN HIS BOX. duh!
        Maybe they should teach “How to address and mail a letter” in grade school!

  • Retired postal

    Contract stations have been a part of the USPS for years. This APWU president will drive labor relations into the toilet. The organization will do everything possible to reduce clerk functions if he continues on this type of destructive path. Hope your members survive this guy.

    • Katherine Goode Denman

      is this any different that the contract stations at Hallmark stores, etc?

    • common sense

      So let me see if I have this right- the APWU shouldn’t try to keep the USPS from giving clerk jobs to the private sector because that will make the USPS give clerk jobs to the private sector. So I guess if he lets them do it without complaint they’ll change their mind? Ummm, yeah, that makes sense! And trying to protect the jobs of your dues paying members is a “destructive path”.

      Thanks for participating Pat! (Or is it Darrel?)

    • Sam Bliss

      oh yeah, just roll over and let the USPS treat you as badly as it would like…give all the jobs away to non-professionals making minimum wage….giving these jobs to Staples IS REDUCING CLERK FUNCTIONS

  • Michael Klein

    When the motto at most Postal retail counters is “Service with a snarl” encountering a smile would be a breath of fresh air.

  • Retired postal

    Iam I retired window clerk with 20 years of full time window service. I wonder if I could work in one of these positions or is it some kind of conflict? I already know the Post Offices products and regulations. Nice little part time job to augment my pension and I don’t need benefits. I always liked the work it was the “managers” who made it so difficult. I would likely enjoy doing the same work in a normal environment

  • Sam Bliss

    they tried to do this with Sears about 15 years ago and the idea was dropped before the first fake-USPS clerk/aka Sears employee sold the first stamp…just another way the Postal Service trying to violate the union agreement

    • JG4th

      Hmmm Office Depot right around the corner has been a contract station for years…

      • AFRet05

        The Shell station down the street from me also has a small PO in it (contract). That is were I do most of my mailing instead of running out to the closest PO substation.

  • Chris Overman

    Yet again the union fights any type of progress by the USPS. They should have no wonder why I along with many others have dropped out.

    • Karen Zwolinkiewicz

      without the unions folks everywhere would be working 7 days a week at the lowest wages.

  • Karen Zwolinkiewicz

    Are these units going to have a secret shoppers?Are they going to have to say the hazmat questions?Are they going to have to work other areas of the store and have the counter at the same time?This is such bullshit!I will never go into a staples store now and hope ALL postal employees will follow suit.

    • Sam Bliss

      great point about the questions…just tells you how much the USPS feels about its workers

    • KaRi ThePrimeSpot

      Hmmm, hazmat question is a good one!

  • Retired USPS

    This is what happens when you close Post Offices and reduce hours at many others.This is exactly what Donahoe wants.He claims to be compassionate about the employees,which is a crock of caca!!Why can’t USPS employees work at these so called CPU’s??? Donahoe is looking to save a buck where he can while he keeps his HUGE salary and all the perks,in the meantime APWU represented employees are having their hours cut and having to relocate to other offices.Yes,he has privatization on his Christmas list this year!!

  • Rick

    I like the contract units better than “Offical Post Offices” I have worked for the post office for 19 years and pay union dues.
    In my area, the postal clerks running the windows are beyond rude, down right hostile. Everytime I have gone to mail a package, feel like I am at the county jail waiting for processing.
    The non-union $10 an hour workers at the contract units are friendly, helpful and smile.
    Why are all the union higher official postal clerks in my area complete jerks? Customer Service… lol..

  • MtnPostmaster

    If you think having Staples will be a problem take a look at whats happening on the west coast. San Diego and Sacramento districts have mandated that ALL level 18 and above establish at least one Village Post Office in their community regardless of how close physically it is located to the current PO.

  • dedicated employee

    Too bad clerks don’t ask the questions. A true retail employee is courteous, friendly and wants their company to succeed by giving good customer service and generating revenue. I agree with Rick. Jobs are not being taken away – they weren’t there to begin with….we might not be in this spot if people did their jobs.

  • LoveMyJobNotMyEmployer

    The Union is going to destroy the Post Office just like the union destroyed GM. I am a newer non-career employee, love my job and the people I work with. But the union has a stranglehold on USPS profitability. Seems like there is a “job for life” clause. One person here worked until they were 94. There are many $55,000 a year people pushing brooms. If you can’t perform your current job you keep your current pay at a lower paying job. The worst part is the inability of management to control costs. Overtime goes to union employees who have the most seniority, ie. the highest paid employees. I make $15.00 which is a lot here, but am limited to less than 40 hours. Employees who have been there for a long time do not have a clue as to how the real world work.