By Nina Lincoff – June 19, 2015
The American Postal Workers Union is taking a strong stance against the Office Depot and Staples acquisition, which was overwhelmingly approved by shareholders of the Boca Raton-based company early Friday.
The APWU held a briefing following the meeting of Office Depot’s shareholders, outlining why the union feels federal regulators should block the deal. When it comes to the joining of the two office-supply giants, the APWU is not happy, and is requesting that federal anti-trust regulators step in.
“When this merger was announced we took a close look at it and we feel that it would be detrimental to consumers,” said Richard Shelley, a postal worker and spokesperson for the APWU, in an interview with the Business Journal. “The 200,000 members of the postal workers union like myself feel that consumers will be adversely affected.”
The APWU opposes the merger for the simple reason that it would allegedly create an office supply monopoly. There used to be three main players in the office supply space – OfficeMax, Office Depot and Staples. Following the 2013 merger of OfficeMax and Office Depot, there are just two. “Now we’re down from three to two, and then to just one,” Shelley said.
Consumers will be adversely affected by a merger of Boca Raton-based Office Depot (Nasdaq: ODP) and Mass.-based Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) because it removes office supply stores from neighborhoods, according to the APWU. Customers won’t get a variety of options and have a place to go to get office supplies when they need them, Shelley said.
A counter-argument to the APWU’s position is that the Internet is competition enough. But a good portion of the population doesn’t have access to the web, Shelley said. “They can’t use the Internet in replacement of Office Depot…let’s say my printer runs out of ink and I go to get it. Maybe an Amazon drone can drop that thing 10 years from now, but it can’t today.”
The APWU previously had a dispute with Staples, and as a result, became students of the company. “We have found that they are not exactly model employers,” Shelley said.
Before the merger can close, Staples and Office Depot need approval from the Federal Trade Commission, plus Australia, Canada, Europe and the U.S. – all places where the companies would do business together. China and New Zealand have already approved the merger. The APWU met with the FTC last week to voice concerns.