OIG says USPS violated its own contracting rules in Diebold deal

The USPS Inspector General has accused US Postal Service management of ignoring its own rules in contracting out the maintenance of USPS owned mail boxes. The OIG also found that the USPS failed to “assess price reasonableness or obtain higher level review and approval as required”, and that it didn’t bother to verify that the contract actually saved the agency any money. The USPS also used an inflated estimate of doing the work internally, overestimating those expenses by over $6 million: Continue reading

USPS disputes article that questioned value of Village Post Offices

Linns Stamp News recently published an article entitled “Village Post Offices — are they really worth it for the USPS?“, questioning the viability of the VPO program. Now the USPS has posted a response which claims that a few of the author’s statements were incorrect:

A recent contributor author article in Linn’s Stamp News questioning the value of Village Post Offices (VPO) contained incorrect statements.

In a reply, USPS set the record straight:

Regarding the article titled “Village Post Offices – are they really worth it for the USPS?” dated May 30, 2014, USPS would like to address some incorrect information by writer Stephen Bahnsen. The U.S. Postal Service announced the concept of the Village Post Office in July 2011 as a way to continue providing convenient access to postal products and services in more rural communities across the nation.

The VPO program has been very successful. We have opened more than 600 VPOs since the program was announced. Additional information about locations can be found at usps.com/villagepostoffice.

The VPOs sell postage stamps and Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes, two of the most requested products we offer.  There are pay differences due to the locations of the VPOs and whether or not they offer PO Box services. The Glenn, MI, VPO has several hundred PO Boxes on their premises, which is why we pay them $9,200.They are the only VPO paid at that rate. 

The Gratiot, WI, VPO was sold to a new owner this past March and may have run out of stamps, since this was their first month in operation. While this may happen occasionally, it certainly isn’t a trend. The Postal Service paid the 63 VPOs in Indiana a total of $79,880, as of April 30, and they sold more than $262,000 in stamps. 

Clearly, the VPO program is working. Village Post Offices are making revenue for the Postal Service and serving our customers at more than 600 locations.

via Misinformation on Village Post Offices corrected.

NLRB: USPS Must Give APWU Staples Info

StaplesShrews14In 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.


APWU Ramps Up ‘Stop Staples’ Campaign

APWU Web News Article #021-14, Feb. 3, 2014

The APWU is ramping up its campaign demanding that Staples and the USPS agree to place postal workers at postal units in Staples stores. Join the campaign at StopStaples.com or text POSTAL to 91990.

APWU President Mark Dimondstein has sent an email message to union members and supporters urging them to sign on to the campaign and the union has been sharing our message on Facebook and Twitter. The APWU has enlisted support from the AFL-CIO and others in the labor movement, and is expanding outreach to others groups that are likely to support the campaign’s goals: Staffing postal counters with highly-trained, uniformed postal employees who are accountable to the people; protecting good jobs, and defending a public Postal Service.

The deal between the office-supply chain and the Postal Service established postal counters at 82 Staples stores in four geographic areas, but staffed them with non-postal, low-wage employees. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told the Associated Press that he hopes to expand the program to Staples’ 1,600 other stores as soon as possible.

More than 200 APWU members and supporters participated in protests at Staples stores in San Francisco and San Jose on Jan. 28 and APWU locals and retiree chapters around the country have presented letters expressing opposition to the program to hundreds of Staples stores.

Read more: Sign On Now! APWU Ramps Up ‘Stop Staples’ Campaign.