January 10, 2013
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—Postal workers with the NY Metro Area Postal Union walked from their union offices to Staples on 35th and 8th Avenue to deliver protest letters to Staples management indicating they aren’t happy with the stationery store hiring what they say are low-wage, non-union workers to work in the stores’ postal units. Watch the letter hand-off
Chuck Zlatkin, legislative and political director for the union, said that the United States Postal Service, in an attempt to expand postal services in the retail market, launched a pilot program with Staples to provide those services in 80 stores around the country.
Zlatkin noted the union isn’t opposed to the USPS expanding its postal services but is strongly opposed to its plans to replace good-paying union jobs with low-wage jobs by expanding the pilot program to additional stores. He’s also concerned about what happens to postal workers should Staples go belly-up as has happened to plenty of other major retailers.
“Staples is a thriving business today. But it wasn’t that long ago that so was Circuit City. What if they made a deal with Circuit City and all of a sudden they go out of business, where would the people be served,” said Zlatkin.
The USPS’ pilot project with Staples is just one manifestation in a long history of privatization attempts pursued by both Democrats and Republicans in Congress. It was in 1996 when representatives from the Cato Institute, a right leaning think tank that promotes privatization of public assets, testified before a House Subcommittee on the need to privatize the “last bastion of monopoly.”
“Even in a bad economy and the [proliferation of electronic alternatives] the reality is that the postal service still does $65 billion worth of business every year and that’s what the privatizers want to get their hands on,” Zlatkin said.
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