Back to school and Stop Staples

Pam Shearman |

My Staples reward card isn’t getting used lately.

Recently the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) protested a trial postal (USPS) program at Staples. The program benefits Staples, a large office supply chain store that has shown sales losses of more than 5 percent during the last year. However, it also means that work done by union postal workers is being done by non-union workers at Staples. The APWU has called a boycott of Staples to send a message of solidarity with the union workers.

The American Federation of Teachers, with 1.6 million members, approved a resolution to boycott Staples, according to the Wall Street Journal. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), representing another 1.6 million public-sector workers, also adopted the boycott.

Back in July, both the USPS and Staples confirmed for WSJ that the Staples trial program would be discontinued! This clearly shows the power of 3 million union consumers in solidarity with APWU members. But since then, the APWU has indicated that none of the fundamental concerns of the union have been addressed, and the program has been replaced by an almost identical one with a new name.

Money talks. When it comes to the teacher’s union, it’s a lot of money talking. A year ago, the National School Supply and Equipment Association (NSSEA) disclosed that during the previous year, public school teachers had spent $3.2 billion for class materials and $1.6 billion of that money came out of the teachers’ own pockets!

I am reminded that an author identified as “the Teacher” wrote about solidarity in the Hebrew Scriptures:

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastics 4:12)

In the boycott led by these three unions we continue to see this teaching proven true once again.

The APWU will boycott until they see evidence that the outsourcing of their members’ work to non-union employers, like Staples, has stopped. The U.S. Mail Is Not for Sale. That’s why I’m headed to the nearest Post Office to do my mailing. 

 Pam is a seminarian who joined Interfaith Worker Justice this summer for clinical pastoral education and reflecting each week on her experiences.