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Staples Execs Hear it From APWU
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From the Postal Employees Network, a report on the APWU picketing of Staples' annual shareolders' meeting in Palo Alto, CA. The office supply giant has come under ever-increasing fire from various organized labor groups within the postal service for their deal with USPS to place non-union staffed remote outlets in their stores nationwide. The full story here...

Staples Execs Get an Earful at Annual Shareholders’ Meeting

APWU – June 2, 2014 – Staples’ board of directors got an earful on June 2, when they attended the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in upscale Palo Alto, CA.

Fifty APWU members and supporters – including students from nearby Stanford University – chanted loud enough to be heard throughout the executives’ brief deliberations in the swanky Garden Court Hotel.

“The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale,” protesters shouted, and “Whose Post Office? The people’s post office!”stop-staples

Not Much Better

The situation inside the meeting wasn’t much better for Staples CEO Ron Sargent. Several union members held proxies, which allowed them to gain entry to the meeting and propose resolutions.

APWU National Business Agent Shirley Taylor challenged the re-election of Robert Sulentic to Staples’ board of directors, noting that he has an apparent conflict of interest. Sulentic is also CEO of CBRE, the giant real estate firm that holds an exclusive contract to sell post offices and other USPS facilities.

The agreement between Staples and the Postal Service is leading to post office closures and reductions in hours, Taylor pointed out.

“Mr. Sulentic’s involvement with Staples postal counters constitutes self-dealing and is a violation of SEC rules on self-dealing and Staples’ own ethics policies,” she said.

Sargent, the Staples CEO, dismissed Taylor’s remarks, saying the deal with the Postal Service was simply a merchandising decision that wasn’t brought before the board.

Western Region Coordinator Omar Gonzalez proposed a resolution seeking a report about the human rights impact of the deal between the USPS and Staples. The majority of shareholders voted against the non-binding resolution.

‘We Won’t Give Up!’

Staples executives refused to talk to the press about the company’s deal with the U.S. Postal Service or the protests.

The entire event lasted a little more than one-half hour, beginning at 8 a.m. and ending by 8:35 a.m.

“They know we were there,” said Rich Shelley, APWU’s lead organizer for the Stop Staples campaign. “And we won’t give up!”

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Postal Service Can Prosper Again
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A fantastic editorial by Harry Peck from the Arizona Daily Star...


Earlier this month, the Star reprinted an editorial from the Washington Post that proposed a solution to the financial problems of the U.S. Postal Service.

While it apparently supports legislation with some usable and seemingly reasonable suggestions, it is fatally flawed. Why? Because it tries to solve a problem without recognizing its cause. The USPS difficulties result not from its management or failure to adapt to modern advances like email, but from an unreasonable financial burden imposed upon it by certain radical members of Congress. The problem is not the Postal Service, but Congress.

In addition, legislation currently pending, which the Post must be supporting (“Ending Saturday mail can be a start to postal reform,” May 1), are a House bill sponsored by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a longtime proponent of privatization of the Postal Service, and a Senate bill proposed by Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Tom Carper, D-Del. None of these sponsors is a friend of the Postal Service, and both bills would cripple it competitively and economically.

Some background is helpful in understanding the situation. In 2006, at the urging of the Bush administration, by a voice vote, a Republican-controlled Congress passed the euphemistically and falsely titled “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” This iniquitous legislation made the USPS the only enterprise in America required legally to pre-fund, at a penal rate, employee retirement and health care benefits more than 50 years into the future, thus providing for employees not yet born.

At the time business was going well for the USPS, it had no debt and was making a profit annually. Its retirement and health benefit fund already contained $45 billion. The law placed an extraordinary financial burden on the post office. An immediate result was a new expense of $5.5 billion per year. The USPS $15 billion debt limit was reached almost immediately.

Without this onerous pre-funding mandate, the Postal Service would have made a profit of $623 million last year. Simply eliminating it would produce an estimated $1 billion in profits this year.

To fully understand this situation, it is helpful to look at the history of the USPS. A historic institution, it was the product of the brilliance and imagination of Benjamin Franklin, and it began operating before the United States became an independent country.

Contrary to much of public opinion, it is not a government agency. It operates and is funded independently. It offered the public the opportunity to send a letter from Florida to Alaska for less than 50 cents. It is required by government regulation to provide universal service.

This story is not so complex as to defy full and accurate coverage by the media, but coverage has been so poor that few in this country are aware of its full details.

It is time for the public to demand a complete and effective solution to the financial problems the USPS — to begin we must repeal the falsely titled “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.”

Next we must eliminate the ban on flexibility mandated by the same congressional act and allow the Postal Service to provide new consumer services and products, and to move into the 21st century.

To accomplish this requires responsible media and public awareness that it is the Congress, not the Postal Service, that is the cause of the problem.

Package Delivery on the Chopping Block?
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From the Washington Times...

Door-to-door deliveries for packages could become a thing of the past as the U.S. Postal Service looks for ways to cut costs — even as officials concede they don’t know if the cost etimates they are using are reliable.

USPS estimated that it costs roughly $380 annually per delivery point to deliver a package to a door. Other options are cheaper: only $240 to deliver it to the curb and just $170 for delivery to some commonly used central location.

The problem, however, is that the nation's mail service is using cost data from 1994, and although officials have attempted to adjust for inflation, the USPS estimate is probably out of date, said the Government Accountability Office.

The Postal Service has been trying to get businesses to voluntarily turn away from the costly to-door deliveries, but so far has only been able to convince 0.8 percent of the 5.6 million places they deliver to.

And investigators said the agency doesn’t want to make the switch mandatory.

“Large-scale mandatory conversions have the potential to achieve large savings,” the GAO said. “However, USPS is reluctant to mandate conversions.”

The congressional watchdog group said that “there is some evidence that USPS would face resistance from customersUSPS employees, and mailing industry stakeholders if it were to implement mandatory conversion of delivery to less costly modes.”

The Postal Service is considering funding a new study to update the 1994 data on delivery expenses. But a new study could cost between $100,000 and $750,000 — money the agency may not have to spare.

Logistics and costs related to mail delivery are, unsurprisingly, the biggest expense that USPS bears, and reach about $30 billion annually, according to agency estimates.

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Unions Fight Staples' Taking of Union Jobs
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From, a report on some union members that voiced their opposition to Staples' partnership with the USPS to put non-postal worker staffed outlets in their stores, effectively destroying what would typically be union jobs.

Congress Punts on Postal Reform Bill (Again)
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From Government Executive, the Postal Reform Bill hits yet another snag...

Postal Reform Encounters Another Major Setback

Rich Pedroncelli/AP file photo

Legislation to overhaul the Postal Service has hit yet another roadblock, with the agency’s oversight committee once again delaying its markup of the reform bill.

The markup -- which gives Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee members an opportunity to offer and vote on amendments to the bill, and ultimately decide whether to move it to the full Senate -- was originally scheduled for Nov. 6, but was delayed indefinitely due to a lack of support from Democrats. Aides said the committee would vote on the bill -- the 2013 Postal Reform Act -- before Thanksgiving, and Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., rescheduled a markup for Wednesday. But Carper, who introduced the reform measure along with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., was forced once again to push back his timetable as he still failed to muster enough backing.

Carper and Coburn will now work on a new bill, which they will offer in the form of a substitute amendment to the original bill, according to a committee aide. The chairman and ranking member will reschedule a markup after the Senate returns from the Thanksgiving recess.

The aide said the amendment would address “concerns raised by members of the committee and stakeholder groups.”

One such member is Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who “does not support the bill in the current form and has several issues with it,” according to a spokesman. Baldwin has introduced an amendment to eliminate a provision of the Carper-Coburn bill that would give the Postal Service more freedom in setting its prices.

As currently written, the legislation would allow the existing inflation-based rate cap to expire in 2016 and eliminate the Postal Regulatory Commission’s role in issuing advisory opinions on major changes to service standards. Baldwin, echoing concerns previously raised by the mailing industry, said USPS should not be given authority to raise its rates to unsustainable levels that would ultimately reduce business and mailing-sector jobs.

Other Democrats on the committee, such as Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., have voiced concerns with bill, saying service cuts such as five-day delivery and the elimination of door-to-door delivery, unfairly target their rural states.

Postal Service officials last week redoubled their calls for Congress to take action. On Friday they announced the agency lost $5 billion in fiscal 2013, saying USPS would not be able to regain sound financial footing without legislative intervention.

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