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Teachers union joins Staples boycott in support of postal workers

ANDREW BURTON/GETTY IMAGES

File photo of unionized Postal Service workers demonstrating outside a Staples store in New York earlier this year.

AFT Massachusetts, a teachers union with more than 25,000 members, said Monday that it is joining a boycott of Staples Inc. in support of the American Postal Workers Union.

Staples, the office supply giant based in Framingham, said last year that it was teaming up with the US Postal Service to offer some post office services in about 80 of its stores. For Staples, this was an effort to boost traffic to its stores at a time when it faces fierce competition.

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According to the American Postal Workers Union, though, those efforts amount to an attempt by the US Postal Service to privatize some of its operations and ramp up the number of post-office closings. The postal workers union also claims that Staples employees who perform post office services in Staples stores are paid far less than a postal worker.

Attempts to reach Staples were not immediately successful.

In a Globe story in May, a Staples executive said that the company did not want to get in the middle of the fight between the post office and its union, but acknowledged the issue could become a problem if more unions backed the postal workers. He said the retailer would continue to evaluate the situation to determine whether the negative backlash is worth the benefits of the partnership.

In its Monday press release, AFT Massachusetts noted that it is affiliated with the 1.5 million-member American Federation of Teachers, which is expected to pass a national boycott resolution at the union’s convention in Los Angeles. The convention is set to begin later this week.

A protest of AFT members and postal workers has been scheduled for July 12 in front of the Staples Center, a sports complex adjacent to the Los Angeles Convention Center, where AFT delegates are convening, the release said.

In a statement, AFT Massachusetts president Tom Gosnell said: “Public school teachers and our other members value public service. We know that postal workers are highly trained and care deeply about the security and sanctity of the mail. The decision to outsource neighborhood post offices across the country to a big-box retailer means potentially fewer good jobs and poorer service for our communities. Our members have choices on where to buy school supplies.  As long as Staples continues with this USPS program, we will encourage our members to shop elsewhere.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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