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Members of Manchester Area Local #230, who represent U.S. Postal Service workers, including Mike Lafayette, left, with his daughter, Maeve, Dana Coletti and Janice Kelble, gather at Staples in Manchester before delivering a letter to the store manager objecting the opening of plot postal units staffed by non-USPS employees. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Staples' program upsets Postal Workers' union

MANCHESTER — Members of a Postal Workers' union visited the Staples store in Manchester on Wednesday to deliver a letter protesting the opening of pilot U.S. Postal Service retail counters in 80 Staples locations nationwide.

The pilot program does not involve any New Hampshire locations, but six Staples stores in neighboring Massachusetts were slated to host the effort, according to Janice Kelble legislative director of the New Hampshire Postal Workers Union.

"We are adamantly opposed to any efforts to replace decent postal jobs with non-union, low-wage, non-postal workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail," the letter said.

Kelble said several union members delivered the letter to the store manager. No pickets took place, but the letter said that if Staples continues with the program, the union would encourage its members and their supporters to refrain from shopping at Staples.

In mid-November, the U.S. Postal Service and Staples announced that the office products company would pilot its Retail Partner Expansion Program. The Postal Service said Staples stores host a counter that resembles a "mini post office."

Stamps and mail services, including Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express and Global Express Guaranteed will be available at the counters.

Staples employees will be trained for these services, the Postal Service said.

"The concept of this new retail partnership is a direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience," Postal Service spokesman Melissa Lohnes said in an email.

Lohnes said the Postal Service already has "established partnerships" with more than 65,000 retailers.

The Staples program is the next step in the Postal Service's effort to provide products and services where customers live, work, and shop, she said.

Staples spokesman Carrie McElwee would not address concerns by the postal workers.

"Staples continually tests new products and services to better meet the needs of our customers," McElwee wrote in an email.

The Postal Workers' union said the move is a major step toward privatization and faulted the Massachusetts-based Staples for the way it treats its workers.

A 2012 study by the National Employment Law Project placed Staples among the 50 largest low-wage employers in the country. Most of its nearly 33,000 workers make less than $10 an hour, the union said.


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