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Stop Staples union busting against postal workers

By Richard Blake

Protest demands U.S. Postal Service (USPS) stop using non-union labor at Staples

Jacksonville, FL – Protesters from the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition stood outside of a local Staples retail store, Feb. 8, demanding that the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) stop using non-union labor at Staples. In order to cut costs, the Postal Service recently opened up mail centers at participating Staples stores around the nation as part of a test program. Instead of employing union postal workers with good pay and benefits, these new centers are staffed by underpaid, non-union retail workers.

“Union membership has been declining since the Reagan administration,” said Marina Djordjevic, lead organizer of the event. “If people do not voice immediate opposition, union busting will persist.”

Due to a 2006 decision by Congress, the U.S. Post Service was forced to make unprecedented yearly payments of almost $6 billion in healthcare costs for future retirees. That is, the U.S. Postal Service is prefunding retirement benefits and turning its surplus into a deficit.

U.S. Postal Service administration handled this artificial crisis predictably, by cutting over 200,000 postal jobs, closing down mail distribution centers and local post offices, and now contracting work out to non-union employers like Staples. The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is demanding that these new Staples mail centers be staffed with union postal workers and not minimum-wage retail workers.

“This is part of a move to shift work in this country to low paid part-time employees,” said Fernando Figueroa, member of the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition. “Either the mail centers employ postal workers or we have to organize all Staples employees into a union of their own. The unions need to build towards a strike or their jobs are going to be privatized.”

Protesters waved signs that read “Save our service” and “Stop Staples union busting.” Drivers passing by on Beach Boulevard, one of the busiest streets in Jacksonville, honked their horns and gave thumbs up to show their support for union jobs.

If the pilot program goes well, the non-union mail centers are threatening to spread to the thousands of other Staples stores around the country. This is a major step towards privatizing the U.S. Postal Service.

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