Staples Inc. next month will end a pilot program that featured Postal Service counters staffed by Staples employees in 82 of the chain’s stores.
Instead, the office-supply retailer will be an approved shipper for the Postal Service. Under the new arrangement, the stores can also offer services for other mail providers, such as UPS and Fedex.
Framingham-based Staples and the Postal Service began their program in November. It allowed the chain to provide about 80 percent of the services offered by a post office but drew criticism from postal unions, which said it amounted to privatization of a basic government function.
“We think this is a win-win for our customers, for us, and for Staples,” Darleen Reid, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said of the new designation. “We look forward to continuing the partnership . . . We just want our customers to know they can continue to get postal services at these 82 locations.”
The American Postal Workers Union called the move a ruse. Staples and the Postal Service “are changing the name of the program without addressing the fundamental concerns,” it said.
The Postal Service currently has more than 6,000 approved shippers.