Staples loses US Postal Service contract

The US Postal Service has terminated an agreement that allowed Staples employees to operate post office desks inside the retailer’s stores, union and postal officials said Thursday.

“The programme is over,” Augustine Ruiz, a Bay Area spokesman for the USPS, confirmed Thursday. Ruiz didn’t know how many Staples stores in the Bay Area provide postal services.

More than 500 Staples retail outlets around the country have been offering postal services.

“A National Labor Relations Board Administrative Law Judge issued an order on 8 November 2016, which requires the Postal Service to discontinue its retail relationship with Staples,” said Darlene Casey, a spokeswoman for the USPS.

“The Postal Service intends to comply with that order.”

Massachusetts-based Staples believes the program benefits its patrons.

“Through our contract with the US Postal Service, Staples’ customers enjoy the US Postal Service’s Approved Shipper Program with convenient locations and extended hours,” Staples says.

The programme will officially end by sometime in March, according to the American Postal Workers Union. The labor union has staged regular protests at selected Staples outlets since the effort began as a pilot programme in 2014.

“The Bay Area was one of the major markets for this, and particularly San Jose,” says Jamie Horwitz, a spokesman for the American Postal Workers Union.

For three years, the union has challenged the USPS efforts to privatize postal retail operations and shift some postal services from neighborhood post offices to Staples locations.

“The public Postal Service is a national treasure that was treated like a cheap trinket by the former postmaster general,” says Mark Dimondstein, president of the American Postal Workers Union.

The USPS-Staples venture began in the Bay Area, Boston, Pittsburgh and Alabama, Horwitz says.

Staples will retain a relationship with UPS to help customers with their shipping needs, Staples says.

“Our members take great pride in their training and their responsibilities,” Dimondstein says. “They swear an oath, they perform a public service. The quality of service at a Staples store isn’t comparable.”

By George Avalos for www.mercurynews.com

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