July 17, 2014
By Neal Tepel
Staples has agreed to discontinue its trial program of offering postal services in its stores. The pilot had been tried at some locations in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The American Postal Workers Union opposed it from the start, fearing it would force downsizing and layoffs of postal workers. The American Postal Workers Union organized protests throughout the U.S. supported by the AFL-CIO and many unions including the AFT.
Both Staples, and the post office have been facing financial setbacks stemming from the rise of internet, smartphones, and other inexpensive mass-communication technologies. Staples' sales has been radically declining for years so the opportunity to extend postal services in their stores was enthusiastically received.
It was anticipated that the revenue from the sale of postal supplies would help offset the massive decline of sales in paper-based office supplies. This past year Staples had closed 225 stores and faced the possibility of bankruptcy.
APWU saw low-paid Staples employees as a serious threat to its members' jobs.
Postal clerks are paid an average of $25 per hour while a non-union Staples store employee earns less than $10 per hour.
The APWU promoted a boycott against Staples that was cutting into sales of their retail operation. This week, after the AFT encouraged its members to avoid buying school supplies at the stationary store, Staples announced it would abandon the USPS pilot program.
‘Don’t Buy Staples’ movement is having an effect,” said APWU president Mark Dimondstein. We intend to keep up the pressure until Staples gets totally out of the postal business. The discontinuation of the pilot program doesn’t go far enough, said the APWU President. The company should stop offering postal services altogether, continued Dimondstein.