Postal Union Takes Staples Matter to National Labor Board

The U.S. Postal Service has received a setback to its not-so-secret privatization efforts this week when the National Labor Relations Board rule d that its contract to sell postal products through Staples office product stores is illegal

The agency, which charged with enforcing fair labor standards, filed a complaint in late June charging that the USPS illegally subcontracted work to the office-supply chain without first bargaining with the union. The labor board also ordered the postal service to resume offering services the way it did in July, 2013 before it began the test with Staples.

A hearing is scheduled before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge on Aug. 17.

The union, which has been fighting the postal service on its Staples venture for the past two years, hopes the NLRB action might put an end to the USPS’s bald-faced attempts to sidestep its contractual labor obligations.

During this time, the APWU has tried to fight Staples largely through boycotts and protests at stores around the country. It even enlisted the support of other unions including the more than 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers and others.

The union is keeping up with these efforts.

The outcome of this action before the NLRB could influence how much power labor may still have or not have in society today. But who knows what arguments the postal service will come up with to justify its position?

If the action before the NLRB is successful maybe it could help impede efforts to dilute postal labor organizations. But the process could be very slow and the outcome is far from certain.

A source very familiar with the workings of the NLRB said as much and noted that the USPS often has cases before the board. So do postal workers displeased with the practices of unions such as the APWU, the National Association of Letter Carriers and the National Mail Handlers Union.

In fact, the USPS even has lawyers dedicated to handling disputes with the NLRB. So it stands to reason the postal service is not exactly quaking in its boots over the action before the board.

Most likely this case will not be resolved at the August hearing. But maybe this litigation will help pave the way to keeping USPS service standards at their current levels.

The Staples venture represents another way in which the postal service is weakening itself and reducing services all in the name of saving money. One estimate said the USPS could cut its labor costs by 66 percent by using Staples employees.

Meantime, USPS delivery standards continue to decline—especially in rural and less populated areas, notes the Bangor, ME Daily News

Maybe the USPS is hoping that, over time, people and businesses will get used to laxer mail delivery standards and that they’ll stop caring and will accept these degraded conditions.

Or maybe they’ll use existing legal avenues like the NLRB and messier but still effective means such as protests to preserve our public postal service.

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One Response to Postal Union Takes Staples Matter to National Labor Board

  1. Lynn N. says:

    I’m glad the Union took a 2-prong approach to fighting to Postal Service’s bid to cut jobs via subcontracting the work of the bargaining unit. Hopefully the Judge will agree with the Labor Board that management’s actions violate the contract and force them to bargain over the decision. Let’s keep the post offices open!


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