Postal employees protest in downtown LA

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USPS mailbox

USPS mailbox (AP photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Dozens of union postal workers took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles today to protest against a United States Postal Service deal to bring retail postal service to Staples stores.

The rally took place this morning outside the Staples at 835 Wilshire Blvd., with union members — who chanted “U.S. mail not for sale” — calling the Retail Partner Expansion program with Staples a path to privatization.

“They are using it as a pretext for finance, but the public is entitled to have their mail be secure,” said Roy Dumas, president of the American Postal Workers Union.

The Postal Service’s program already operates at 82 stores in California and three other states, according to the USPS.

The U.S. Postal Service does not receive tax dollars for operating expenses, and the program is aimed at generating revenue to ensure the long term viability of the service, according to USPS spokesman Richard Maher.

“The unions’ privatization issue is a ruse, we have no interest in privatizing the postal service,” Maher said. “By expanding access we can provide greater convenience for our current customers and attract new ones.”

The program, which launched in October and will run in a pilot stage through Sept. 30, could be expanded to Staples’ 1,500 stores nationwide, but that determination will be made by the USPS this fall, Maher said.

Dumas said workers have asked to be involved in the program.

“They are not trying to even accommodate us in that,” Dumas said. “Instead, they are trying to, under the covers, take the mail from us, take the mail out of the public eye.”

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, said he is concerned about security for mail handled by employees who are not trained by postal service employees.

“I know the postal workers for decades have been trained and have been doing this work to make sure our mail gets to where it needs to go safely and securely,” Becerra said.

 

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