A federal judge’s ruling this week scuttling the proposed merger between office products giants Staples and Office Depot probably won’t end Staples’ efforts to sell postal products in its store but it’s likely to put a crimp in it.
In his decision earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington D.C. upheld the Federal Trade Commission’s ruling that this merger would drive up prices so much so that they would violate antitrust laws, according to news reports https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/talking-points/2016/05/13/ruling-prompts-staples-office-depot-call-off-merger/zxQNBDq8M1VTQLFl18f4sJ/story.html
If the two mega-companies were allow to join forces, they would have had many more outlets through which they could try to sell postal products and services. This would effectively privatize and diminish the role of the U.S Postal Service by putting inexperienced lower-wage workers in place of experienced unionized employees.
Doing this would further eviscerate the traditional role of the USPS and its necessary functions.
The FTC had originally blocked this merger last year for the same reasonshttps://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2015/12/ftc-challenges-proposed-merger-staples-inc-office-depot-inc.
As of right now the companies said they will not appeal the judge’s ruling. This is probably because they don’t think they can win and spending more money here might further cut into their bottom lines and erode their stock prices.
What might help stop—or at least slow down–this movement toward migrating postal sales and services to private entities is a favorable outcome to the American Postal Worker Union’s unfair labor practices action before the National Labor Relations Board which it filed nearly a year ago.
The case began after the NLRB originally ruled that the USPS’s 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.
The labor group, 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.
The case is still pending before an NLRB judge.
This case could drag on for years. Even if the NLRB judge finds in favor of the union the postal service will likely take this decision to a federal appeals court and will probably seek to further litigate this case in a jurisdiction with a greater pro-business and less pro-labor temperament.
Some industry observers said the judge’s ruling will cause further harm to the two companies which have been gradually money and market share to online competitors, especially behemoth
This may well be true but these for-profit companies should not be allowed to destroy which is likely the country’s oldest and most trusted public agency even if doing so seems like an easy low-risk business decision.