MT. VERNON — Members of the Local 3390 American Postal Workers Union held a protest in Mt. Vernon Thursday afternoon, objecting to a new postal service program being offered at Staples stores.
The protest drew more than 30 union members and other supporters, who gathered outside the Mt. Vernon Staples to display signs and hand out literature.
At issue is a new agreement between Staples and the U.S. Postal Service to provide on-site postal products and services at Staples stores.
“This is just another attack on the middle class as far as I'm concerned,” said protester John Cooksey, president of Branch 1197 of the National Association of Letter Carriers, a sister union of the APWU. “I mean, they're outsourcing our jobs.”
Thursday's event was part of a “National Day of Action” organized by the APWU at more than 50 Staples locations across the U.S.
In the fall of 2013, a pilot program was launched establishing postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores.
Protesters say the Postal Service now plans to expand the program to include 1,500 Staples stores. USPS officials could not confirm whether this expansion has been formally approved.
The protesters claim the program will lead to the privatization of postal services and will replace “good, living-wage postal jobs with low-wage, high-turnover jobs at Staples,” states an APWU news release.
“It's just a start of privatization of the Postal Service itself,” said protester Brenda Kern, president of the Mt. Vernon APWU. “And if it goes through and this works for them, then that is exactly what's going to happen.”
In addition, Kern said Staples employees do not receive the same level of training as postal workers and should not be handling letters and packages.
“At the Postal Service, we have highly trained employees that have 80 hours of training on the window versus the four hours that these people are receiving to do the same job,” Kern said.