In a complaint issued Feb. 25, Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board found merit in APWU charges that the Postal Service has improperly refused to provide the union with information about its agreement with Staples. [NLRB decision-PDF] The pilot program has placed postal counters in 82 Staples stores — staffed with Staples employees rather than postal workers. A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge has been set for March 31.
Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has also recommended that the board seek an injunction in federal court to compel the USPS to provide the requested information to the APWU.
The decision to recommend an injunction is extremely rare, according to the union’s attorneys. Violations carry heavy penalties for management officials who fail to comply, up to and including incarceration.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein applauded the ruling. “This is an important victory for the APWU and for postal customers. The Staples deal is a brazen attempt to privatize postal retail services and it has been shrouded in secrecy,” he said.
“Postal officials seem to forget that the Postal Service belongs to the people,” Dimondstein said. “We intend to keep reminding them.”
The union president said getting the complaint issued was a group effort. “Special thanks go to Clerk Craft Director Clint Burelson and Assistant Director Lamont Brooks for all their work toward that goal.”
The information in dispute includes:
- Measures to protect the sanctity of the mail;
- Training of Staples employees;
- Criteria for determining any Postal Service compensation to Staples;
- Discounts, if any, to be offered by Staples, and
- Cost analyses of the Staples project.
The APWU is demanding that postal employees staff the postal counters at Staples stores. If Staples refuses, the union plans to ask Staples customers to take their business elsewhere. Postal management, on the other hand, plans to expand the program to Staples’ 1,600 stores across the country.
The union submitted an extensive set of questions about the pilot program to postal management in November, shortly after the deal was announced. In January, management brushed off the request, claiming that the Staples project was a pilot that was not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The APWU has filed a national-level dispute over the Postal Service’s contract violations.