Postal workers across the country are protesting a new pilot program putting mini-post offices inside Staples stores. Even though the pilot program isn’t in Idaho, organizers say they’re protesting in the state because every person in America will be affected.
People from five states took part in the protests in downtown and at the Staples store on Milwaukee Road. One of the workers is Omar Gonzales. He’s been working as a postal worker for years and is now Regional Coordinator for the Union. He’s upset over the pilot program, calling it "a path to the privatizing of the postal service."
"As they plan to open up these post offices in private enterprises, they plan to close post offices across the country,” Gonzales told On Your Side reporter Chris Oswalt.
The Union says the move to put stores in Staples is also an attempt to replace well-paid Union workers with low-wage employees.
"We have had these jobs a long long time and we have taken an oath. And they are just tearing the Postal Service apart,” said Debbie Szeedy, American Postal Workers Union Executive Vice President out of Washington, D.C.
Oswalt reached out to Staples for comment. In a written release, spokesperson Kristine Houston said, “I can’t speak to the concerns of any USPS union member, but would refer you to the USPS. I can tell you that Staples continually tests new products and services to better meet the needs of our customers. We are currently operating a pilot program in select stores that is testing specific services and offering added convenience for our customers. As a matter of policy, we don’t provide details on our pilot programs or on our agreements with vendors.”
The dispute comes as the Postal Service says it is struggling and is looking to cut costs. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has routinely said it is time to trim and in a statement to ABC News says the move is a chance for USPS to expand.
"If they want to improve services, bring back the vending machines so people don't have to wait to buy one stamp, extend the hours, open on Sunday and put the mailboxes back in the neighborhood," Gonzales commented about the Donahoe’s statement.
The mini-post offices are not something new. The Postal Service has about 65,000 other retail partner locations around the country. Most of them are in stores like Wal-Mart. The difference between them and the Staples store is the Staples program allows customers to buy stamps and packages.