DEARBORN (WWJ) – Thousands of postal workers across the country, including many right here in metro Detroit, making a different kind of “delivery” on Thursday — holding an informational protest to voice their opposition to a plan to put postal counters in over 1,500 Staples stores nationwide.
They gathered in Clawson and Dearborn carrying signs that read, “Don’t Staple My Mail.”
Postal employees voiced their displeasure over what began as a pilot program last Fall with eight Staples stores in four states handling the mail. Regina Favors is the legislative director with the Detroit branch of the American Postal Workers Union and she says this issue is more than just about jobs.
“I believe that postal mail should be handled by postal employees. I truly do. So, yes, I do believe that there is safety and security issues,” says Favors.Members of the APWU complain that good, living-wage postal jobs are being replaced with low-wage, low-benefits, high-turnover jobs at Staples.
“It’s not just the bottom line, money issue; it’s jobs, it’s safety, it’s security. And the main thing is we want the mail to be secure. It’s been secure for years, we want to keep it that way,” says Favors.
According to postal workers, an internal USPS document makes clear that the goal of the program is to replace the jobs held by USPS employees with low-paying jobs in the private sector.
In its own statement out Wednesday, the U.S. Postal Service said the Staples counters are part of a program intended as an opportunity to grow the business, and not an earmark to pave a way to privatization.
“Staples is the first enterprise level chain store to participate in the U.S. Postal Services’ Retail Partner Expansion Program and the next logical step of providing expanded access to postal products and services,” the statement reads, in part.
“Staples joins more than 65,000 retail partner locations around the country that currently offer a variety of postal products and services, in order to increase access and convenience to customers in locations where they already shop … The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. This retail partnership program could be an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service.”
The self-described national day of action included protests in nearly 30 states across the country.