WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The U.S. Postal Service illegally subcontracted work to Staples, according to a complaint issued June 26 by Region 5 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
The complaint is a major blow to the agency’s deal with the office-supply chain, which set up postal counters staffed by Staples employees in hundreds of Staples stores.
“This is a major step in the fight against privatization of our public postal service,” says Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.
APWU reacted immediately in the fall of 2013, when the Postal Service transferred work to low-wage, high-turnover Staples employees. Union members conducted informational picketing at Staples stores nationwide, and filed charges with the NLRB, alleging multiple violations of U.S. labor law by postal management.
“The legal case against the Postal Service is very strong, which is why the NLRB is moving forward with this very significant unfair labor practice complaint,” said Dimondstein. “But this accomplishment it is not simply the result of strong legal arguments. Every APWU member and supporter who passed out flyers outside Staples stores can claim a piece of this achievement. Every person who organized their friends and neighbors to boycott Staples and warned them about the dangers of allowing a private company to take over the mail helped us get to this point.”
The boycott against Staples and its online subsidiary, Quill.com, will continue until Staples gets out of the postal business. The AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and other labor and civil rights organizations joined the campaign against the transfer of good, living-wage jobs to low-wage work.
According to the complaint filed by the Labor Board, the Postal Service violated the law when management entered into the deal with Staples without first bargaining with the union. Management also engaged in “bad faith bargaining” by refusing to provide the APWU with information and violated the subcontracting provisions of the contract between APWU and the Postal Service.
A hearing on the complaint is scheduled for Aug. 17. If the complaint is upheld, remedies include the return of all work that was transferred.
“The Postal Service should settle this case and dump its failed privatization scheme,” Dimondstein said. “Americans went vital, growing, and public U.S. Postal Service―and we’re ready to work with postal management to deliver what consumers need in the 21st century.”