Staples, one of the largest office supply chains in the US, announced on July 14 that it is ending a privatization pilot program to provide postal services at more than 80 of its stores across the US.
But the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said that the announcement was a ruse undertaken by the company to reduce the impact of a boycott against Staples organized by APWU.
Staples’ announcement came two days after the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) passed a resolution at its national convention supporting the boycott.
According to Mark Dimondstien, the deal between Staples and United States Postal Service (UPS) has changed names but not purposes. Staples will no longer provide postal services as part of the Approved Postal Services Provider pilot program, but instead will do so under the Approved Postal Shipper program.
“The Staples announcement and a letter from USPS dated July 7 make it clear: They intend to continue to privatize postal retail operations, replace living-wage Postal Service jobs with low-wage Staples jobs, and compromise the safety and security of the mail,” said Mark Dimondstein, APWU president. “This attempt at trickery shows that the “Don’t Buy Staples'” movement is having an effect. We intend to keep up the pressure until Staples gets out of the mail business. The US Mail is not for sale.”
The boycott support resolution passed at the AFT national convention held in Los Angeles criticizes the USPS’ privatization pilot with Staples as a “no-bid, sweetheart deal” that could jeopardize the security of the mail and lead to the replacement of good paying Postal Services jobs with low-wage, high turnover retail jobs.
The resolution also notes that teachers are facing their own fight against the privatization of public education and that “the AFT and postal employees are fighting a common battle against privatization.”
The resolution urges AFT members, their family, and friends “to no longer shop at Staples until further notice.”
According to the Chicago Teachers Union, an AFT affiliate, “teachers have an especially important role to play in this fight. Staples knows that teachers spend billions of dollars at office supply stores each fall and throughout the school year for the benefit of their students.”
During the convention, thousands of teachers attended a support rally for postal employees called by APWU.
The International Association of Fire Fighters has also joined the Staples boycott.
The IAFF announced on July 13 that the union’s executive board unanimously voted to support the boycott.
“The IAFF supports the APWU in its efforts to protect good-paying jobs and ensure the highest possible standards of customer service,” said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “IAFF affiliates, members and families have done a substantial amount of business at Staples. This no-bid contract between Staples and the USPS is an attack on postal workers and middle class jobs, and yet another attempt to shift good union jobs to part-time, low-wage non-union hourly workers.”