WASHINGTON — It’s easy these days to find most everything you need to send a message at Staples, the office supply superstore. So easy, in fact, that hundreds of members of the American Postal Workers Union congregated at 50 Staples locations across 27 states last Thursday to print signs and purchase megaphones to be used in protest of a partnership between the company and the U.S. Postal Service.
The partnership, in which 82 Staples have opened mini post offices operated by Staples employees who are paid far less than their union counterparts at the Postal Service, began this past November as a pilot project and is currently slated to run through September.
Postal unions warn that the project “to determine if lower costs can be realized with retail partner labor” threatens the livelihoods of postal workers should the program expand, as they believe the Postal Service intends.
Protestors held up large LED countdown clocks, documenting the feared lifespan of their jobs and the wide range of office products on sale at Staples.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe tried to reassure his employees that “we have no interest in privatizing the Postal Service,” which lost $5 billion in the past fiscal year thanks to congressional hamstringing and dwindling first-class mail volume.
Donahoe believes that Staples is perfectly positioned to expand its offering of postal services, however. “They already sell postage meters and packing supplies,” he wrote in a press release. “The only things they’re missing are short shorts and Mitt Romney commemorative stamps.”
Mitt Romney, the failed Republican presidential candidate, sat on the company’s board for 15 years and was instrumental in the formulation of Staples’ business model.
Actor/director Kevin Costner rallied the crowd of protestors outside, asking, “Tell me something: how much can a dead or destitute postman deliver?”
The throng, many of whom were wearing handmade protest buttons created on a durable yet inexpensive button maker purchased inside for $299.99, could be heard shouting back, “Nothing!” and “You’re a godsend, a savior!”
Costner replied stoically, “No, I’m just the postman,” pointing them to the discount movie section of the store.