Unionized postal workers shout 'Stop!' to Staples ministations

Posted: April 28, 2014

WHEN STATE Rep. Brendan Boyle joined American Postal Workers Union protesters this week in front of the bulk-mail center in Northeast Philadelphia, it was the second time in two months that he fought to keep hundreds of good jobs on Byberry Road.

Looking down the street, Boyle could see the old Nabisco/Kraft snack-food bakery on Roosevelt Boulevard, where he spoke out last month against current owner Mondelez International's plan to close the plant next year, terminating 320 good-paying jobs.

Boyle said they will become low-wage jobs in Mexico.

On Thursday, Boyle returned to Byberry Road to march in front of the Philadelphia Network Distribution Center, with union workers loudly protesting the United States Postal Service's plan to open 1,500 nonunion ministations in Staples stores.

"This is the Postal Service's attempt at de facto privatization by outsourcing good-paying union jobs to Staples," Boyle said. "I'm strongly opposed to privatizing what is essentially a public service."

Ron Dever, of the Northeast's Sandyford Park section, has worked at the bulk-mail facility for 27 years. "We have to fight this on every front because if they are able to do it in Staples, they won't stop there," Dever said.

"Next, they'll be putting nonunion ministations in Walmart and Kmart," he said. "It's a way to bypass good-paying jobs."

Chuck Camp of Holmesburg, who has worked for 25 years at the bulk-mail center, said: "They're taking work away from unionized window clerks and giving it to untrained, minimum-wage Staples workers. We start at $15 an hour. I don't think Staples even tops out at that."

The protesting postal workers wore blue T-shirts emblazoned with red stop signs and the slogan, "Stop Staples. The U.S. Mail is NOT for sale!"

Union president Vincent Tarducci, of Bustleton, who has worked at the bulk-mail facility since 1980, said: "We are not opposed to post offices in Staples stores as long as they are staffed by postal workers in uniform who took the oath of office and believe in maintaining the sanctity of the U.S. Mail.

"We are officially boycotting Staples," he said. "We're now using Office Depot instead. Maybe tomorrow we'll use Office Max. This protest will continue for as long as it takes."

Boyle, who is running in the Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District, gazed down Byberry Road. "At the Mondelez plant, we are fighting back-door outsourcing to Mexico," he said. "Here, we are fighting backdoor privatization.

"This is a hardworking, middle-class area. Very stable," he said. "Both the Mondelez closing and the Staples postal stations would destroy middle-class jobs here."


On Twitter: @DanGeringer

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