Message to Staples: When it comes to mail – no sale USPS workers must staff postal counters

Members of the American Postal Workers Union, joined by community activists, held a protest on January 28 at the Staples in San Francisco against a deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples to move mail services into Staples stores. The protests continued at a Staples in San Jose in the afternoon.

In October, USPS announced a no-bid agreement to open postal counters with limited service in more than 80 Staples stores. The Staples-operated and staffed postal counters will open on a trial basis in four markets across the United States: Northern California, Atlanta, GA, Pittsburgh, PA and Central Massachusetts. After the trial period, the Postmaster General has said the plan is to expand to 1,500 stores.

“All Americans should have access to a full-service post office,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Although first-class mail is declining, package delivery is growing, largely due to e-commerce. This is when we should be expanding the post office to offer longer hours and more options, such as public notary and basic banking. Instead, we are giving customers fewer postal services as a result of this no-bid sweetheart deal with Staples. If we’re going to have mini-Post Offices located in Staples stores, they should still be operated by USPS workers.”

Staples has been struggling recently, shutting 40 stores in the last quarter. The publicly-traded company runs a low-wage operation, with high employee turnover, designed to deliver bulk commodities to customers.

Although the USPS handles 160 billion pieces of mail each year – 40 percent of the world’s total – mail is not a bulk commodity. Each package is individually addressed, and requires individual handling.

During this time of rampant identity theft, privacy and security are of concern to millions of postal customers. Uniformed USPS employees are required to take an oath and pass a background check before they can handle mail and make credit card transactions. Retailers, such as Staples, cannot offer the same assurances.

“Without public debate and despite claims to the contrary, the USPS is moving to shutter the reliable neighborhood post office and move work to Staples and other for-profit businesses,” said Dimondstein “Our union wants to shed a light on this bad deal. We’re confident that when the public learns what’s going on they will say, ‘Staples, when it comes to mail without USPS workers – no sale.”