SAN FRANCISCO KGO — Bay Area postal workers are protesting in front of a San Francisco Staples store because they’re upset about a deal between the office supplies chain and the postal service.Postal employees are worried about losing their jobs because people can now mail packages and buy stamps at Staples.This is the first protest in the nation, but postal workers promise there will be more
APWU members and supporters in California are preparing for the first round of protests at Staples stores on Tuesday, Jan. 28. The first rally will take place at 10 a.m. in San Francisco, in front of the Staples store at 1700 Van Ness Ave, with a second set to begin at 4 p.m. in San Jose, in front of the Staples store at 121 Bernal Road.
The activities are designed to call attention to the deal between the Postal Service and Staples that jeopardizes the nation’s public post offices and threatens good-paying union jobs. Continue reading
OAKLAND, Calif. — An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division resulted in the restoration of $1,979,779 in 401(k) pension benefits to 515 drivers working on U.S. Postal Service contracts for Lange Trucking Inc. because of violations of the McNamara-O’Hara Service Contract Act. The company, along with its President, William A. Langenhuizen; Vice President, William H. Langenhuizen; Secretary Treasurer, Antoinette Langenhuizen; Vice President, Robert Langehuizen; and Vice President of Finance, Lisa Kulak, have been debarred from eligibility for further service contracts with any U.S. government agency for three years for their failure to pay drivers required fringe benefits.
"Contractors that do business with the federal government have an obligation to abide by the law and pay their employees the required contractual rates and benefits," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. "Restoring the pension benefits of these workers and debarring this employer illustrate the department’s commitment to vigorous enforcement of government contracting laws and helps level the playing field for law-abiding employers."
Wage and Hour investigators found that Lange Trucking failed to fully fund the drivers’ 401(k) plan, resulting in a violation of the SCA. Wage and Hour has investigated the company several times in the past. Lange Trucking paid $500,000 of the unpaid benefits while Hoovestol Inc., which is based in Eagan, Minn., acquired the company subsequent to the violations and voluntarily agreed to fund the remaining $1.48 million in benefits. Hoovestol, which cooperated fully with the Wage and Hour Division during its investigation, has also: corrected record-keeping procedures, overhauled the plan to ensure timely payments into the plan going forward, posted wage determinations at the work site and made information about the contracts accessible to employees.
The SCA applies to every contract entered into by the United States or the District of Columbia, the principal purpose of which is to furnish services in the United States through the use of service employees. The SCA requires that contractors and subcontractors performing services on covered federal contracts in excess of $2,500 must pay their service workers no less than the wages and fringe benefits prevailing in the locality.
The APWU’s New York Metro Area Local sent delegations to three Staples stores on Jan. 8 and 9 to deliver letters protesting the establishment of postal retail units staffed by low-wage, non-union, non-postal workers.
“It felt good to take action,” said Chuck Zlatkin, the local’s Legislative and Political Director. “You see the Staples sign and you want to do something. This was easy — it was fun,” he said.
“The Staples managers all had a similar reaction,” Zlatkin reported. “At first they gave us that ‘deer in the headlights’ look. But they said they would pass our letters of protest on to their headquarters.”
Six members of the local who work at the USPS New Jersey Network Distribution Center (NDC) visited a Staples store in Jersey City on Jan. 8; five members who work in Manhattan walked a few blocks to a Staples store near their worksite on Jan. 9, and four members who work in the Bronx visited a Staples store in the city’s northern borough, Zlatkin reported.
The Manhattan crew was trailed by reporters for the Chief, a New York newspaper geared toward government employees, and Labor Press, a local organization that reporters on workers’ issues.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein has asked local and state presidents and retiree chapter leaders to organize delegations to visit Staples stores by Jan. 18 to put Staples on notice that we are about to embark on a serious campaign to win these jobs for postal employees.
After the visits with store managers, the APWU will organize a day of action at Staples stores around the country as well as sustained actions at a number of stores where postal retail units have opened.
Has your local organized a delegation to visit a Staples store?
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.