Postal Service Bypasses Union Workers in Deal with Staples
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has angered the union representing its employees by opening more than 80 retail post offices in Staples stores that will be manned by the company’s workers, not USPS ones.
The deal with Staples, which was concluded last October, is a pilot project by the Postal Service to create a “one-stop shopping” experience for customers. Depending on how the Staples experiment goes, USPS officials may expand the program with other retailers.
But the effort has upset the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which is threatening to stage demonstrations later this month.
“This is a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services,” APWU’s President Mark Dimondstein said in a union newsletter in November. “The APWU supports the expansion of postal services. But we are adamantly opposed to USPS plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail. Postal workers deserve better, and our customers deserve better.”
The agreement between Staples and USPS allows the retailer to use its own employees. This decision didn’t come as a surprise to outsiders, considering that 78% of the Postal Service’s costs are employee-related (salaries and benefits).
Setting up small postal units in retail locations has become something of a trend for USPS, as use of mail has declined due to widespread use of email and social networking. Postal clerks are also finding themselves being phased out of their counter jobs in post offices as the agency replaces them with automated self-service machines.
The Postal Service responded to the union’s complaint by saying it respects the right of its employees to protest. But it did not offer any conciliation.
“The U.S. Postal Service recognizes and respects the right of its employees to exercise their First Amendment rights,” Darlene Reid-DeMeo, an agency spokeswoman, told Government Executive. “Postal Service employees who choose to participate in picketing activities must do so while off-duty and abide by all local laws regarding public gatherings.”
APWU says it will first meet with Staples store managers by January 18 to express its concerns. If a solution cannot be reached, union officials intend to proceed with the demonstrations.
To Learn More:
Union: Don’t Fill Staples Jobs with Non-Postal Employees (by Eric Katz, Government Executive)
Why Postal Workers are Planning to Picket Your Local Staples Store (by Devin Leonard, BloombergBusinessweek)
Congress Struggles to Deliver Solution to Postal Problem It Created (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
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