LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Southland postal workers staged protests Thursday over what union members called a “sweetheart deal” that they fear will privatize U.S. mail services and compromise security.
KNX 1070’s Pete Demetriou reports the agreement reached last October between the U.S. Postal Service and 80 Staples stores could soon expand to over 1,500 stores nationwide.
Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), The National Assn. of Letter Carriers, The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and representatives of other organizations gathered at a Staples store on Wilshire Blvd. in downtown LA as part of protests scheduled in more than 50 locations in 27 states.
Southern California APWU members say the agreement (PDF) will replace stable jobs with low-wage, high-turnover positions manned by largely untrained workers.
“Staples employees receive minimal training, and the company’s low pay results in high employee turnover,” said Mike Evans, APWU California State President. “With all the concern about privacy and identity theft, that’s just not the right way to handle the U.S. mail.”
Union officials also cited a December 2012 internal USPS document (PDF) that seeks to transfer “USPS product and service transactions to retail partner locations” in order to “cut costs associated with window labor time and credit card transaction fees.”
The pilot program follows recent announcements from Staples that it will close 225 stores nationwide by 2015 – an economic reality that APWU President Mark Dimondstein says has raised even more concerns.
“Many people are outraged that a tremendous public asset is being turned over to a struggling private company,” Dimondstein said.
In a statement, a USPS spokesperson denied that the program is intended to “pave a way to privatization” and called it “an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service.”
The 120,000-member California Federation of Teachers is scheduled to vote Monday on a proposal to boycott Staples, which receives an estimated 30 percent of its revenue from the sale of school supplies, according to officials.