The ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign got a significant boost on May 30, when the AFL-CIO notified the APWU [PDF] it would support the boycott of the office-supply chain. The labor federation is comprised of 56 unions representing 12.5 million members.
“Our brothers and sisters in the labor movement are key allies in this struggle and we greatly appreciate their support,” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein.
“The ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign is an essential component of the movement to stop the dirty deal between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples,” he added.
A Staples executive admitted the company would be sensitive to a well-organized boycott, according to a May 21, article in the Boston Globe. Staples Vice Chairman Joe Doody acknowledged the deal “could become a problem if more unions backed the postal workers,” the paper reported. “The retailer will continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether the negative backlash is worth the benefits of the partnership,” the article said.
Union leaders are optimistic about the boycott. “Working men and women will readily understand the threat to living-wage jobs posed by the Postal Service’s no-bid, sweetheart deal with Staples once they are made aware of the situation,” Dimondstein said.
The deal established postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores, staffed with Staples employees rather than highly-trained, uniformed U.S. Postal Service employees. The Postal Service and Staples hope to expand the program to all of Staples’ 1,500 U.S. stores.
Staples employees who work full time earn about $18,000 per year and receive minimal training on how to handle U.S. Mail.
“APWU members and our allies must spread the word about the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign to every labor organization in the country – at the national, state and local level – so that the rank-and-file union members get the message,” the Dimondstein said. “We are confident they won’t shop at Staples if they are made aware of the ‘Don’t Buy’ campaign.”
“We also must reach out to residents whose postal service will suffer if U.S. Post Offices are replaced by knock-off post offices in Staples stores, which will be dedicated to the company’s bottom line – not service to customers,” he added.
The AFL-CIO is the latest labor organization to formally endorse the ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ campaign. The National Postal Mail Handlers Union’s National Executive Board officially endorsed the boycott on May 27. The California Federation of Teachers was the first to sign on to the campaign on April 27, followed by the American Federation of Teachers-Michigan on May 17 and the AFT-New Hampshire on May 23.
“Teachers will play an especially important role in the boycott, because roughly one-third of Staples’ revenue comes from the sale of school supplies,” Dimondstein said. The American Federation of Teachers is expected to consider a ‘Don’t Buy Staples’ resolution at its national convention in July.