The National Education Association (NEA), which represents 3 million educators, has written to Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe [PDF] asking him to immediately reverse the decision to offer postal services through Staples.
“Your efforts to replace skilled U.S. Postal Service employees with untrained workers will jeopardize mail service, while putting the jobs of thousands of Postal Service employees at risk,” wrote Dennis Van Roekel, the organization’s president.
“NEA does not support – and never will – the outsourcing of essential public services to untrained workers in private companies with lower standards. If allowed to continue, these efforts would significantly undermine the security and integrity of the country’s entire mail collection and delivery process,” he wrote in a letter dated May 27.
The NEA’s support is especially important because roughly one-third of Staples’ revenue comes from the sale of school supplies.
“This is terrific news,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Teachers will play a crucial role in this struggle, and we greatly appreciate their support.”
The NEA letter follows votes by the California, Michigan and New Hampshire chapters of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) to support the Staples boycott. The AFT is expected to endorse a ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ resolution at its national convention in mid-July.
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
The Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) has also taken a stand in support of the Stop Staples movement.
Delegates to the organization’s 43rd national convention voted unanimously to join the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign and to spread the word to member unions and throughout the labor movement.
The CBTU also passed two other resolutions in support of postal workers: The group voted to embark on a campaign to educate the American people on the advantages of non-profit postal banking services and to become a signatory to the Grand Alliance to save the national public Postal Service.
“The CBTU’s support means a great deal,” Dimondstein said. “CBTU has activists all across the country and in many unions. They have done great work of linking the struggles of workers with the struggles in communities.”
NY, NH Join the Fight
The New York State and New Hampshire AFL-CIO are also urging their members, families, friends and allies to boycott the office-supply company.
“The Staples pilot is part of a larger problem in our economy – a myopic focus on the bottom line, even if it means degraded services and the replacement of family-sustaining careers with low-wage jobs,” said New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento. “New Yorkers must stand-up and send a message to Staples and the Postal Service that our mail is too important to entrust to anyone but USPS employees who are accountable to the public and have taken an oath of office.”
Jim Bertolone, president of the Rochester Area Local APWU and a vice president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said, “The Postmaster General has repeatedly denied that this program is part of an effort to privatize USPS retail operations, but documents management was forced to provide by the NLRB of the secret no-bid deal with Staples state, ‘The pilot will be used to determine if lower costs can be realized with retail partner labor instead of the labor traditionally associated with retail windows at Post Offices.’ This we know is outsourcing and privatization.”
The New Hampshire AFL-CIO has also joined in. “The New Hampshire AFL-CIO fully and enthusiastically supports our sisters and brothers working in real post offices across our state and nation, and we will be boycotting staples until this unfair program is ended,” said New Hampshire AFL-CIO President Mark MacKenzie.
“I applaud the activists in our locals and state organizations who undoubtedly played a key role in winning these endorsements,” Dimondstein said. “I urge all APWU members to help spread the word about the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign to labor organizations throughout the country – at the national, state and local level – to make sure union members get the message.”
“I’m convinced that working men and women will readily understand the threat to living-wage jobs posed by the Postal Service’s no-bid, sweetheart deal with Staples once they are made aware of the situation,” he said.