In Los Angeles, AFT protested U.S. Postal Service’s privatization scheme centered on establishing “postal counters” at Staples stores staffed with low-wage, high-turnover Staples employees rather than postal employees. Delegates from AFT’s convention and members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and allies rallied Sunday in support of a boycott of Staples.
Earlier Sunday, the 3,500 convention attendees approved a resolution endorsing APWU’s boycott and urging “members of the AFT, along with friends, colleagues and family members, to no longer shop at Staples stores until further notice.”
With the back-to-school shopping season not too far away, AFT President Randi Weingarten said the AFT's 1.6 million members “buy a lot of school supplies….We have choices on where to buy school supplies." She added:
Who does Staples really want and need to come into its stores every single day? Teachers. The best way we can help is if we say to Staples: ‘You do this to the postal workers, and we aren’t buying supplies in your stores.’
APWU President Mark Dimondstein talked to attendees at the Los Angeles Convention Center about the importance of America’s middle class standing together against the effort to privatize and demonize U.S. postal workers. He said:
We too are in the public sector, we too are meeting the needs of people. We’re facing some of the same problems you are—I call it divert, defund, demoralize, demonize and dismantle.
The USPS began contracting out postal services to Staples in October. So far, 80 Staples stores are part of the pilot program. But the USPS plans to expand the scheme to 1,500 Staples locations nationwide at the same time the USPS is eliminating public post offices.
The union says that the no-bid sweetheart deal will compromise the quality, security and reliability that consumers expect and deserve in the handling of their mail. Dimondstein says that an internal USPS document “makes clear that the goal of the program is to replace the good, living-wage jobs held by USPS employees with low-wage jobs in the private sector.”
In May, the AFL-CIO endorsed APWU’s boycott of the office-supply giant.