American Federation of Teachers Michigan Votes to Join Boycott Staples Campaign over No-Bid Deal to Privatize Work of Local Post Offices
AFT Michigan Will Advocate for a Boycott Vote at American Federation of Teachers Convention in July
Detroit – Citing “a common battle against privatization” of public services, delegates to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan convention voted unanimously to boycott the office supply chain Staples.
AFT Michigan’s leaders presented a boycott resolution to members during its May 17th convention in Detroit at the request of the American Postal Workers Union. APWU members have been actively fighting a no-bid sweetheart deal between the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Staples to operate postal counters in Staples stores.
“Members of our union want safe, secure, high-quality service when we go to the post office – not a low-wage, high-turnover operation where employees have little or no training and no qualifications to handle sensitive letters and packages,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “And nobody understands better than teachers, staff and faculty how much we all have to lose when essential public services – like schools and post offices – are put in the hands of private companies with lower standards.”
AFT Michigan has long been opposed to the privatization of public services in schools, colleges and other public institutions.
Last fall, USPS reached a sweetheart deal, with no competitive bidding, for a “pilot” project to operate postal counters in 82 Staples stores in four states – California, Georgia, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. USPS also plans to expand to more than 1,500 Staples stores in Michigan and nationwide after the trial period is over at the end of the year. The APWU and outside analysts see moving of work into Staples stores as the first step in privatizing the USPS’ retail operations and eliminating local public post offices.
On April 24th, APWU members in 50 cities across 25 states, including Michigan, staged a “National Day of Action” to protest the outsourcing of postal jobs to Staples, drawing widespread media attention.
Saturday’s vote by AFT Michigan delegates follows a similar resolution passed in April by the Executive Council of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). Meeting this weekend in Los Angeles, more than 60 CFT local union presidents discussed plans to educate tens of thousands of California teachers and school employees about the boycott, including information about alternative sources of school supplies.
Both AFT Michigan and the CFT have pledged to support a “Boycott Staples” resolution at the upcoming national convention of the American Federation of Teachers, which will take place in Los Angeles in July.
Educators are a key market for Staples; the chain aggressively markets to teachers and school employees with “Teacher Rewards,” “Reward-a-Classroom” and other programs. It is estimated that roughly a third of Staples’ revenues comes from the sale of school supplies.