September 15, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Boston, Mass. – Opponents of a no-bid deal between Staples and the United States Postal Service have taken the fight to the Massachusetts-based company’s home turf. Postal workers, union members, teachers and customers are staging rallies against Staples in and around Boston.
Protesters regularly demonstrate outside the Staples store in the busy Boston City Hall Plaza. The American Postal Workers Union has reached out to workers and students at Harvard, whose president, Drew Faust, sits on Staples’ board of directors. The Harvard community is now supporting the Stop Staples movement.
Teachers in the Boston area have offered wholehearted support for the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign. They are an essential element in the boycott because school supplies account for approximately 30 percent of the company’s revenue.
“The Boston Teachers Union and its 11,000 members strongly support the postal workers who provide an excellent service to the American public,” said BTU President Richard Stutman. “Contracting that service out to a third party will diminish that service and weaken a great American institution. We stand behind our postal workers 100 percent and will urge our members to boycott Staples.”
Massachusetts is one of four test sites for the Staples-USPS deal, which established postal counters in 82 of the office-supply stores. The counters are staffed with low-wage Staples employees rather than USPS workers. The Postal Service and the retailer hope to expand the program to all of Staples’ 1,500 U.S. stores. The goal is the replacement of jobs held by postal employees with low-paying jobs at Staples.
“A failing private company doesn’t belong in the postal business,” said Bob Dempsey, Vice President of the Boston Metro Local. “Postal consumers want reliable service from highly-trained workers who have taken an oath to protect their letters and packages. Staples can’t offer that.”
Union members and customers have staged hundreds of rallies in front of Staples stores around the country in opposition to the deal, with rallies on an almost-daily basis beginning in California in January, then Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New York and now Massachusetts.
“But this isn’t just about postal jobs,” said John Dirzius, Northeast Region Coordinator. “It is about protecting the public Postal Service. Many people are outraged that a cherished public asset is being used to prop up a struggling private company.” Staples recently announced another quarter of declining sales, and confirmed plans to close 140 stores in 2014. “Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country,” Dirzius said.