“We will never shop at Staples until they stop what they’re doing to the post office,” AFGE President J. David Cox Sr. told the cheering crowd of hundreds of postal workers, union activists and allies in front of a Staples store in downtown Chicago.
They gathered there to protest the shady, no-bid deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples to privatize the postal service. The rally took place last month and coincided with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)’s national convention.
“Every AFGE member, every member of the AFL-CIO, every union member in this country is standing with the American Postal Workers. We are not shopping at Staples. We are not selling the United States mail. We are going to stand together in solidarity brothers and sisters,” Cox shouted. He was joined by APWU National President Mark Dimondstein and Rev. Jesse Jackson at the rally. The AFGE president addressed the APWU convention earlier that day.
The USPS-Staples deal established postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores and replaced USPS workers with Staples workers who average only $8.50 an hour. They also have plans to expand the program to Staples' 1,500 stores, which doesn't make any sense because Staples is closing at least 225 stores by the end of 2015. The closing of postal offices and Staples stores will leave many Americans especially those in the rural areas without access to any nearby post office.
AFGE and other AFL-CIO unions are boycotting Staples. We have joined several rallies to stop the privatization and protect Saturday delivery. Just like their attempts to close Social Security field offices, these corporate-sponsored “austerity” hawks are trying to eliminate good government jobs and bankrupt workers to the benefit of private CEOs.
In an attempt to derail the boycott, USPS and Staples two weeks ago changed the name of the pilot program to an “approved shipper” program, but nothing else changed.
“We’re not falling for that ruse, and neither are the labor and community allies who have joined with us in this fight,” said APWU’s Dimondstein. “This campaign will continue so long as the USPS tries to replace experienced, uniformed postal workers who are accountable to the American people with low-wage, high-turnover employees who have little training and who are not qualified to handle the U.S. Mail.”