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Union protests postal counters in Staples stores

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PHOENIX (KSAZ) -
Valley postal workers joined a nationwide movement Thursday -- a national day of action, protesting a deal between the United States Post Office and office supply giant Staples.

"U.S. Mail is not for sale."

Postal workers from across the valley -- members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) sent a message to their employer loud and clear.

"Stop Staples."

The group protested outside a Staples store on Broadway near 48th Street after the U.S. Postal Service struck what the union calls a sweetheart deal with the office supply superstore.

"It's going to be a full counter service, like post offices.  The difference is the Staples employees don't have the same training," said Mary Lou Pavoggi.

The union says in October, 2013 the USPS announced a no-bid deal to open postal counters in more than 80 Staples stores and now there's word of it will expand to 1,500 stores nationwide.

"This will hurt because we want to increase services at post office, not decrease," said Jeff Clark of the Arizona State Association of Letter Carriers.

The union worried about a decrease in services, a decline in jobs especially for U.S. veterans and also security.

"The mail that's going to be at the containers in Staples isn't protected until the postal service actually has it in their hands," said Pavoggi.

U.S. Postal Service Statement:

"In direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience and a one-stop shopping experience, the Postal Service launched a pilot program with Staples to provide postal products and services within their retail stores in test markets across the country.
Staples is the first enterprise level chain store to participate in the U.S. Postal Services’ Retail Partner Expansion Program and the next logical step of providing expanded access to postal products and services.

Staples joins more than 65,000 retail partner locations around the country that currently offer a variety of postal products and services, in order to increase access and convenience to customers in locations where they already shop.

The Retail Partner Expansion Program is an opportunity “to grow the business” and has never been an earmark to pave a way to 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. This retail partnership program could be an innovative step towards generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the Postal Service.
"

According to USPS, the deal would help generate revenue and help keep the post office in business.

None of the 80 stores involved in the pilot program are here in Arizona.
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