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Postal workers unions protest Staples program

NEW YORK (AP) - Postal workers around the country protested in front of Staples stores on Thursday, objecting to the U.S. Postal Service's pilot program to open counters in stores, staffed with retail employees.

Rallies were planned at 50 locations in 27 states. In New York, about 100 workers marched from the main office on 8th Avenue to a Staples store about five blocks away, carrying signs and chanting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, Staples deal has got to go."

In Washington, D.C., more than 200 people gathered at a Staples, drumming on buckets and holding signs that read: "Stop Staples. The US Mail is Not for Sale."

One of them, postal service maintenance mechanic Robert Black, called the pilot program "a back-door way of privatizing the post office" and taking away jobs from postal workers.

"It seems as though they are doing whatever they can to break down the union," he said.

Last year, Framingham, Mass.-based Staples Inc. began offering postal services under a pilot program that now includes some 80 stores. The American Postal Workers Union objects, because it says well-paid union workers have been replaced by low-wage nonunion workers. (A union spokesman said postal workers make $25 an hour on average, far more than retail clerks.) The union also worries it will lead to post office closures.

John Hegarty, president of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, which represents about 45,000 mail handlers, also said the outsourcing endangers the sanctity and security of the mail.

"We are highly trained, skilled postal employees and they want to give it to employees who really don't know anything about the mail," he said.

Staples customer Jon Lenzner in Washington agreed that security was a concern.

"While the majority of postal workers are honest, it enlarges the pool of people who can take private, personal information," said Lenzner, a prosecutor. "You have, in essence, doubled the pool of people who can steal your mail."

Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union representing 200,000 employees, called the Staples partnership "a dirty deal."

"It represents a shift of good, living-wage jobs to low-wage jobs," Dimondstein said.

Staples spokesman Mark Cautela would not address the workers' concerns, only saying the store is always testing new ways to serve its customers.

The dispute comes as the financially struggling Postal Service looks to cut costs and boost revenues.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has said the Staples program has nothing to do with privatization. Rather, it's a "direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience and a one-stop shopping experience." It's also an opportunity "to grow the business," the Postal Service said in a statement Thursday.

Aside from Staples, the Postal Service has roughly 65,000 other retail partner locations around the country - such as CVS pharmacies and Wal-Mart stores that sell postal products. The Staples program, however, allows customers to buy stamps, send packages and use Priority and certified mail.

The aim is to increase access "to customers in locations where they already shop," the agency says.

The service lost $5 billion in the 2013 fiscal year and has been trying to get Congress to pass legislation to help with its financial woes, including an end to Saturday mail delivery and reduced payments on retiree health benefits. It lost $15.9 billion in the 2012 budget year.

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Richard April 25 2014 at 7:47 AM

Good for Staples maybe it will put a fire under the PO lazy union asses. And see what it mess to work for a living not asking for more more more.

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sp600jx21a April 24 2014 at 4:55 PM

Well, you lazy ones at the post office screwed over the hard working ones. Their is a post office in the western burbs of Chicago that I never returned to. The counter clerks look like they are at a beauty parade with attitude. They are slower than honey at -50 degrees. Now I go to the Woodridge post office, they are friendly, fast, helpful and NO attitude.

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sdrmotorsports April 24 2014 at 6:11 PM

did you know that UPS says they can deliver a letter in 2 days or less for $.20 cents and make a profit. USPS is another government division that is on the take!

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stevecruiser03 April 25 2014 at 2:56 AM

Starting in 2006 Congress mandated that the Post Office pre pay in 10 years the health benefits of retirees that will take place in the next 75 years. This for employees that are not even employed yet but haven't been even BORN yet. NO other business in the world does this or is mandated by their government. Only in the USA !!! If it were not for this 5.5 billion dollars a year they are they are required to pay since 2006 they would actually be making money to the tune of approx. 1.5 billion a year. In 1970 when the Post Office became independent from Government control CONGRESS agreed but they CONGRESS wanted ONE thing and that was to be able to use the funds however they choose and still till this day can take and use the extra funds as they please. THIS HAS BEEN THE PROBLEM CONGRESS USING POSTAL PROFITS AND NOT HAVING TO REPLACE THEM!!!! The Post Office has been a cash cow for Government use since the 1940's, So stop blaming the workers the unions etc. PUT THE BLAME WHER IT BELONGS ON CONGRESS!!!!

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lshapiro66 April 24 2014 at 6:14 PM

interesting Donahoe speaks of adding Staples as a convenience after shutting down many PO locations and pulling many postal boxes off neighborhood street corners such as in my neighborhood and forcing people to travel greater distances just to mail a letter.

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1 reply
rjen164497 lshapiro66 April 24 2014 at 6:20 PM

Who mails letters?

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DPTazzz April 24 2014 at 6:16 PM

i have had many less than " Stellar" issues with postal workers. Branson, MO., for one, the post office personnel are generally rude, over zealous with idiotic rules such as- a woman was told she had to put more tape on her box- she didnt have any, and the postal employee refused to let her use a 4" piece of tape, instead, trying to force her to buy a $12 roll of priority mail tape. No,seriously, i watched and heard this kind of nonsense. These people act as if you are there to get checked for your Citzenship papers, and waiting to hear them say " Yor papers are Not in orrrrder"... the Post Office runs so far in the red, if this helps disway OUR Taxpayer costs, then fine, TRY it, if it works, you can broaden the base. Really $25 and hour ??? sorry, a tad over the top...

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Yvette Nolley April 24 2014 at 6:16 PM

PEOPLE are getting fed up with the US Postal service, and the bad apples that are employed in their service. And it's because of those bad apples and all the stories we don't hear about, is why the Postal Service had been losing money year after year and raising their prices. And puts a dark cloud over all the dedicated postal workers that they do have.

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daxcess2 April 24 2014 at 6:17 PM

Postal workers are upset because they may lose a cushy gig. And I know of which I speak.

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rjen164497 April 24 2014 at 6:19 PM

Highly tained shilled workers at the Post Office? Someone is smoking dope. Another industry the Unions lead down the path to extinction. Not all, but too many of the employees did little to make the TAX Payer money worth their jobs. 25 years from now no one will remember what a Postal Worker was.

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1 reply
richardg8 rjen164497 April 24 2014 at 6:22 PM

I agree. If they are all so highly skilled and honest, why does lost mail turn up in a closet somewhere every now and then?

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1 reply
eagle6922 richardg8 April 24 2014 at 7:02 PM

You think mail is lost now..........Wait! You ain't seen nothing yet after high school college kids handle your mail. LMAO

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NEUMANNADLER INC April 24 2014 at 4:52 PM

Who wrote this column? Try using better grammar and never end a sentence with "AT" This sort of writing continues to dumb down the public. "Where you at?"

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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