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Postal unions send message with protest of postal counters in Staples stores: 'the U.S. mail is not for sale'

Posted: April 24, 2014 - 8:00pm  |  Updated: April 24, 2014 - 9:05pm
Bob Hemming, president of the local letter carriers union, stands front and center along Beach Boulevard during Thursday's demonstration against postal counters in some Staples stores.
Bruce Lipsky/The Times-Union
Bob Hemming, president of the local letter carriers union, stands front and center along Beach Boulevard during Thursday's demonstration against postal counters in some Staples stores.
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Mike Stovall of the Florida AFL-CIO and the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition gives a thumbs-up to a passing motorist along Beach Boulevard during a demonstration in front of the Staples store.  Bruce Lipsky/The Times-Union
Bruce Lipsky/The Times-Union
Mike Stovall of the Florida AFL-CIO and the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition gives a thumbs-up to a passing motorist along Beach Boulevard during a demonstration in front of the Staples store.

Postal employees and retirees were out in force across the country Thursday afternoon.

In Jacksonville, they stood on Beach Boulevard in their union T-shirts, waved to the crowd and held their signs: “Stop Staples, the U.S. mail is not for sale.”

Late last year, the United States Postal Service announced a pilot program to operate postal counters in 82 Staples stores. There’s not one in the Staples the protesters stood in front of, but Doris Orr-Richardson, president of the local American Postal Workers Union, said union members are getting a head start.

“We’re trying to stop it before it takes place,” she said.

The problem, she said, is that Staples pays its workers low wages compared to the Postal Service.

“They’re trying to get rid of the middle class,” she said.

“Besides, every post office employee signs a sanctity-of-the-mail contract. They don’t have a single employee that signs it,” she said, pointing to the Staples store behind her.

“They haven’t been screened,” said Bob Henning, president of the local National Association of Letter Carriers, who was supporting the protest.

“If you drop a bill you’re mailing at Staples,” he said, “who knows how long it will sit there or who can walk by and pick it up.

“It’s just another way for the Postal Service to privatize the post office.”

But the agency released a statement Wednesday saying the program was about expanding business, not privatization.

“The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations,” the statement said. “This retail partnership program could be an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service.”

The 200,000-member APWU has opposed the Staples contract since it was announced.

“It’s a direct assault on our jobs and on public postal services,” Mark Dimondstein, president of the union, told the Associated Press in January.

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296

Comments (9)

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Mockingjay
1345
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Mockingjay 04/24/14 - 10:06 pm
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Premium Member

Nothing wrong with a little

Nothing wrong with a little competition and something like this should have happened a long time ago!

russellgrim2
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russellgrim2 04/25/14 - 06:54 am
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The union president is only

The union president is only interested in the union. The US Postal Service has been losing money for years, so who is paying to keep it open: the taxpayers (not just revenue from postal products). Privatization would make the Postal Service more economically viable, so postal jobs can be saved. As far as the sanctity of the mail, another US Postal Service employee took mail home, so he could get off work early. Are the people and companies going to get their money back for the service they paid for but did not receive? Besides the president of the United States of America swears to protect the Constitution, how well is that working out?

Richard_2448
101
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Richard_2448 04/25/14 - 07:06 am
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Premium Member

"Sanctity of the mail"? From

"Sanctity of the mail"? From the same people that can't put the mail in the correct box or are caught throwing away junk mail, because they don't want to deliver it? Way to go Postal Service, the union president is pi*sed because he might lose some of his luxurious benefits!!

avatar
1819
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avatar 04/25/14 - 07:30 am
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Premium Member

According to the Bureau of

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for a Postal Clerk is $22.87/hour.

Regardless of the smokescreen about the "sanctity of mail" (what a joke), the issue is about one thing, and one thing only - money.

The BLS describes the duties of a Postal Clerk as: "Perform any combination of tasks in a post office, such as receive letters and parcels; sell postage and revenue stamps, postal cards, and stamped envelopes; fill out and sell money orders; place mail in pigeon holes of mail rack or in bags; and examine mail for correct postage."

Wow, what a tough, demanding, stressful job! And all for a paltry $23/hr to boot.

The postal service needs to be totally revamped.

sgljaxguy
2013
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sgljaxguy 04/25/14 - 08:06 am
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Premium Member

To Richard_2448: There are

To Richard_2448: There are criminals and sorry people in every line of work.
To avatar: You are just jealous of those with government jobs that pay a decent wage. Not all USPS jobs are cushy, however.

ratter
3172
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ratter 04/25/14 - 01:11 pm
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Why can't a taxpayer be

Why can't a taxpayer be "jealous" of a job they pay for? What's wrong with postal workers having competition like everyone else?

olgator
2116
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olgator 04/25/14 - 05:27 pm
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Premium Member

I'm pretty happy with the

I'm pretty happy with the postal service. Amazingly a letter almost always arrives next day for me no matter where its going or coming from. I'm also ok with postal people making enough money to support a family instead of having to go on welfare because the private company pays povery wages to a turnstile, uncaring workforce. You really want poverty level workforce representing US? I have more pride in america than that.

Post office wouldn't have money issues if republicans hadn't forced it to pay pensions way into the future. Guarantee you staples doesn't have to do that. They are trying to turn postal service into inferior for profit scam. Just like everything else.

Mockingjay
1345
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Mockingjay 04/25/14 - 05:58 pm
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Premium Member

THATS $23 AN HOUR PLUS

THATS $23 AN HOUR PLUS BENEFITS AND A SWEET RETIREMENT PACKAGE!!!

avatar
1819
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avatar 04/25/14 - 06:07 pm
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Premium Member

Sgljaxguy - sorry, i am in no

Sgljaxguy - sorry, i am in no way shape or form jealous of postal workers. I am happily and comfortably semi-retired (due to a lot of hard work over the years).

My comment simply reflects the opinion that $23/hr seems excessive, compared to other jobs with similar required talents.

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