Does Staples deal jeopardize security of US mail?

Last Updated: Saturday, February 08, 2014, 10:31 AM EST
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Leaders from the U.S. Postal Service union are rallying today against the office supply store Staples because they don't feel Staples employees should be able to handle your mail.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe signed off on the deal in November 2013 to create postal counters in 80 Staples stores nationwide.

The Retail Partner Expansion Program provides limited USPS services at the same rates as the post office. However the pilot program is being staffed by Staples employees, and not unionized postal workers.

Several members of the American Postal Workers Union in Central Florida are protesting what they see as stripping jobs from postal workers and heading down a road to the privatization of the post office.

We reached out to Staples for comment. We were told the company won't provide details of this program or their agreement with the Postal Service.

"I can tell you that Staples continually tests new products and services to better meet the needs of our customers," said Carrie McElwee, a spokesperson for Staples, Inc. "We are currently operating a pilot program in select stores that is testing specific services and offering added convenience for our customers. As a matter of policy, we don’t provide details on our pilot programs or on our agreements with vendors."

The deal comes at a time when jobs at the postal service have been cut by 44 percent.

U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Enola Rice issued the following statement:

To meet the demands of today’s on-the-go consumer, 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.

The concept of this new retail partnership is a direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience. That is why service providers, such as banks, dry cleaning, doctors and major retail chains are partnering together to provide that one-stop shopping experience that many customers demand.

By expanding access to more of its products and services such as the revamped Priority Mail service, the Postal Service can provide greater convenience for its current and potential customers.  

The Postal Service has already established partnerships with more than 65,000 retail partners to provide alternative access to postal products and services. The Staples pilot program is the next step in the USPS retail partnership expansion to provide postal products and services where our customers live, work and shop.  

Today’s marketplace is constantly evolving and the Postal Service must continue to adapt to the demands of our customers to retain and grow our revenue base.  

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.

Steve Morris, the president of American Postal Workers Union in Central Florida, will be among the protestors today at the Staples store in Waterford Lakes. Members of the APWU and Central Florida Federation of Labor plan to deliver a letter to management as part of the National Day of Action.

“Outsourcing an essential public service to a for-profit corporation staffed with clerks making less than a livable wage and no accountability to the American public is completely irrational,” explained Morris. “Not only does it jeopardizes the safety and security of the U.S. mail system, but consumers are getting a bad deal too.  Postal workers support expansion of mail services but not at the expense of the public we serve or the security of the mail we protect.”

Fun facts about U.S. Postal Service

  • USPS.com receives 1 million visitors each day
  • The post office is provided for in the U.S. Constitution
  • The USA is 237 years old. The Postal Service is 239 years old ans was provided for by the Second Continental Congress in 1775.
  • The post office was included in the Articles of Confederation 1781
  • Millions of Americans still rely on the Postal Service for their correspondence and mailing needs.
  • 300,000 residential patrons and 310,000 businesses surveyed gave USPS a 85 percent satisfactory rate
  • The USPS has 127,404,699 delivery points.
  • 3.2 million customers are handled each day at post offices.
  • Despite the understaffing of window operations the average waiting period at Post Offices was 2.34 minutes in 2013.