DEARBORN (WWJ) – They’re worried about their jobs and your mail. Detroit area postal workers will protest Thursday afternoon at the Staples stores in Dearborn and Clawson.
Their gripe is that Staples opened postal counters in more than 80 stores in October and November, with plans to expand the program to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide.
Members of the American Postal Workers Union complain that good, living-wage postal jobs are being replaced with low-wage, low-benefits, high-turnover jobs at Staples.
Roscoe Woods, President of the APWU 480 481 Area Local, says the deal will compromise service to customers and jeopardize the security of the mail.
“With all the concern about privacy and identity theft, that’s just not the right way to handle the U.S. mail. In fact, mail collected at a Staples store isn’t even considered mail until it’s collected by an official working for the USPS,” Woods said in a statement.
Added Regina Favors, legislative director of the APWU Detroit Area District Local, “Mail should be handled by highly trained, experienced postal employees, who swear an oath to protect your letters and packages and who are accountable to the American people.
“This program is compromising service to our customers and taking away good, stable jobs and replacing them with low-wage, high-turnover jobs. That’s bad for postal workers and it’s bad for our communities and our country.”
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.
APWU President Mark Dimondstein says there’s concern about such a tremendous public asset is being turned over to “a struggling private company.”
Staples recently announced that it would close 225 stores and cut as much as $500 million in costs by 2015.
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.”
Protests will be held Thursday at more than 50 Staples retail locations across 27 states. This follows dozens of protest by postal workers and community allies already held in Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco and other cities.