Web News Article #: 183
10/10/2014 – As the one-year anniversary of the Postal Service’s no-bid deal with Staples approaches, the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is continuing to grow.
The USPS and Staples are upping the ante as well: On Oct. 7 management notified the APWU that it plans to expand the program to all 1,500 Staples stores in the U.S.
“It’s no surprise that Staples and postal management are making a last-ditch effort to salvage this disastrous program,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.
“We forced them to back off somewhat from their original plan, and we will force them to back off from this expansion as well. The ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement will go forward until Staples gets out of the postal business,” he said.
“The decision to expand the program demonstrates the need for even greater activism by APWU members and our allies throughout the country,” he added.
“If management and Staples think this move will deter us, they underestimate the determination and fighting spirit of APWU members to defend the public Postal Service and our jobs.”
Out Front in Philadelphia
Plans were underway to expand protests to new locations long before management’s announcement.
The union launched a series of ongoing protests in Philadelphia, also on Oct. 7, with an event in front of the Staples store on Chestnut Street, a busy downtown thoroughfare. Approximately 50 protesters passed out flyers and urged shoppers to buy office supplies elsewhere.
“We cannot tolerate the Postal Service making a sweetheart deal, a compact, with the Staples organization, to give away good-paying, union jobs to, unfortunately, low-paying, non-union jobs,” Eastern Region Coordinator Mike Gallagher told protesters.
The Postal Service’s stated ambition in the Staples deal is to bring in more revenue for the Postal Service, he said. “But when we made requests for information, we found documents that clearly showed that their motivation is to take advantage of lower-paid employees and to shorten the hours or close post offices.”
Cynthia Heyward, recording secretary of Philadelphia Area Local, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that management is deliberately understaffing post offices to drive customers away. “They are not replacing [postal workers]. We don’t have enough employees to do the job,” she said.
The protest was organized by the Philadelphia Area Local and the local Retirees Chapter, with support from the Philly BMC Local, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, NALC, Mail Handlers Union, AFGE, CWA, SEIU and Fight for Philly. It received extensive media coverage.
Another ‘Smoking Gun’
The USPS vehemently denies its no-bid deal with Staples is designed to reduce hours at post offices or privatize operations.
But in a Nov. 8, 2011, letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a USPS vice president wrote, “Over the last five years, our current retail strategy has resulted in an increase in alternate access revenue from 24% to 35% of our total retail revenue. This is one of the contributing factors that enabled operations to reduce window work hours by 23.7% during the same period of time.”
Could it be any clearer?
Blue Shirt Thursday
At the Philadelphia BMC, workers wear blue Stop Staples T-shirts every Thursday. “It’s our way of saying ‘No!’ to PMG Donahoe’s plot to steal window clerk jobs and give them to Staples,” Local President Vince Tarducci wrote in a flyer co-authored by the local Mail Handlers Union president.
Wearing the T-shirts every week builds solidarity and lets management know we’re united, Tarducci said. Workers who don’t have Stop Staples shirts wear other blue T-shirts.