U.S. Postal Service to halt retail sales at Staples stores

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will discontinue retail services at Staples stores by the first week in March, according to the labor organization that led the fight against the program.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said it was informed by USPS that Staples will remove all postal signage at about 500 stores across the country. The union cast the decision as “a big win for the public as well as the 200,000 members of APWU and the union’s allies.” The union waged a national ‘Stop Staples’ campaign and said it is immediately ending its boycott of the company.

The Postal Service said the move resulted from a November order issued by a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge. The order “requires the Postal Service to discontinue its retail relationship with Staples,” said Darlene Casey, a USPS spokeswoman. “The Postal Service intends to comply with that order.”

The NLRB case resulted from an APWU complaint that USPS was improperly subcontracting work to Staples that could be done by postal employees.

“This privatization effort undermined the public’s right to good quality and secure postal services and represented a shift of good living wage positions to low-wage jobs, thereby hurting the well-being of the communities where the union’s members lived,” APWU said in a statement Thursday.

The program began in 2013 with mini-post offices in stores in a few cities. The next year, APWU held demonstrations outside Staples stores declaring that “the U.S. mail is not for sale.”

“This is a big win,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. “Staples is out of the mail business, which they should never have gotten into. Our members take great pride in their training and their responsibilities; they swear an oath; they perform a public service. The quality of service at a Staples store isn’t comparable. The public should have confidence in the mail. Important letters, packages and business correspondences shouldn’t be handled like a ream of blank paper.”

“This is also a win for those who care about the neighborhood post office,” he continued, “and for all those in our society who think that workers should earn a fair living wage with decent health care and a pension, rather than the Staples model of minimum wage, part-time hours and no benefits.”

Staples did not respond to a request for comment.

(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Joe Davidson