Why you may see postal employees going postal at your local Staples

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Staples shoppers could face a postal workers’ picket line today.

The American Postal Workers Union has organized protests at 50 of the office supplies stores in 27 states to oppose a deal where U.S. postal products and services are sold at Staples.

It’s not the first postal worker protest against Staples mini post offices, but it will be the largest so far this year, according to the union.

Members of other postal unions are also expected to join the protests.

Since November, 82 Staples stores have been selling traditional mail services as part of a short-term “pilot project” scheduled through September. According to the union, the postal service plans to expand the pilot project to 1,500 stores nationwide.

The unions’ beef is that the mini post offices are operated by lower-wage Staples staff instead of U.S. Postal Service employees.

They claim the move is a step toward privatization of the Postal Service, which will shutter standalone post offices and wipe out decent paying jobs.

U.S. Postal Service officials sent us this statement:

In direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience and a one-stop shopping experience, the Postal Service launched a pilot program with Staples to provide postal products and services within their retail stores in test markets across the country.

Staples is the first enterprise level chain store to participate in the U.S. Postal Services’ Retail Partner Expansion Program and the next logical step of providing expanded access to postal products and services.

Staples joins more than 65,000 retail partner locations around the country that currently offer a variety of postal products and services, in order to increase access and convenience to customers in locations where they already shop.

The Retail Partner Expansion Program is an opportunity “to grow the business” and has never been an earmark to pave a way to privatization.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. This retail partnership program could be an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service.

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