Members of the American Postal Workers Union staged a spirited protest Thursday at a Staples store located in Baltimore. This was one of more than 50 rallies held by union members, taking place at 80 Staples stores in 27 states across the country. A few local social justice activists also joined in support of the union.
The purpose of the demonstrations was to draw attention to a supposed “sweetheart deal” between the U.S. Postal Service and Staples, Inc., [an office supply company]. The union fears this deal will end up “privatizing USPS retail services and replacing good, living-wage postal jobs with low-wage, high-turnover jobs.”
A publicly owned and operated postal service pre-dates the founding of the American Republic. Thursday’s union activism was all part of a “National Day of Action.”
Ever since the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the idea of taking public assets, like schools and prisons, and turning them over to private corporations to run, has taken hold. Recently, the City of Chicago leased its parking meters to a private company for 75 years. Parking under the old system cost .25 cents an hour, now it costs a whopping $5.75 an hour!
The USPS insists the agreement is only a “pilot program,” under which it plans to operate 82 “postal counters” in Staples stores, staffed by their own employees. It’s no secret that Staples has been struggling lately. It has announced plans to close 225 of its stores by the year 2015.
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Bill Hughes is an attorney, author, actor and photographer. His latest book is “Byline Baltimore.” It can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/William-Hughes/e/B00N7MGPXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1