Labor Relations headaches for the US Postal Service
I’m in Royal Oak Michigan this morning at a local coffee shop called the Bean & Leaf Cafe, drinking a cafe au lait prepared by a barista who tells me lived in Paris for several years. I’ve also had a conversation (and a fist bump) with Steve who seems to be some sort of local street politics guru. White flakes of snow are falling from the sky. It’s altogether different than my usual Florida Starbucks hangout, and I’m digging it. This area is where I grew up, and where in an alternate universe, I developed my union chops as a member of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
I ran across this article on labor notes this morning about the US Postal Service trying to open stores inside Staples. A good business move. They get to offer convenient services inside a place where people will be likely to consume those services. They don’t need to own or lease real estate, and maintain the building. It’s a win, a good move for a venerable organization trying to struggle its way out of a dire financial mess as their traditional market is shrinking.
But there are some people who don’t like it. The American Postal Workers Union is pissed and threatening to call a boycott if the employee inside the Staples stores aren’t postal service employees.
This is the kind of stuff that pisses employees off and makes them distrust management, even when they are already represented by a union. The Post Office has a long history of bad labor relations, so I’m not surprised at this turn of events.
Here’s more from the story on Labor Notes. A link to the full article is available at the bottom of the post.
Staples’ latest ad slogan is “What the L?” That sounds like what postal workers said when they found out the retail chain planned to steal their work.
The Long Island, New York, local of the American Postal Workers Union didn’t waste any time after the news broke in November. Members voted to boycott Staples and ask their friends and neighbors to do the same.
“The ball started rolling then,” said President Pete Furgiuele—and APWU soon launched a national campaign.
Across the country, local delegations visited Staples stores in January to threaten a boycott unless the retailer’s new “postal units” are staffed by actual postal employees.
The pilot program opened postal counters inside 82 Staples stores in California, Georgia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, staffed non-union by the big-box retailer. They offer many of the “most popular” (that is, most profitable) services APWU members provide at post office windows, including stamp sales, first-class domestic and international mail, and priority and express mail. Other services aren’t offered—money orders, media mail, and P.O. boxes, for instance.
The union doesn’t oppose making postal services available in more places and for longer hours. In fact, APWU and the other postal unions are in an ongoing battle to stop USPS from closing down post offices and cutting back hours at the ones that remain.
– See more at: http://www.labornotes.org/2014/01/staples-plucks-postal-jobs#sthash.1hxIxhKa.dpuf
. The US Postal Service in big