California leaders from a national postal workers' union are criticizing a Staples pilot program that has installed dozens of small post offices in the office-supply stores.
American Postal Workers Union leaders said that opening retail units staffed by Staples employees is a "disservice to postal workers and the nation's mail service."
Staples Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service announced late last year an arrangement to allow 82 small post offices to operate at Staples stores in California, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The beleaguered postal service, which has seen mail volume and revenue decline, said in November the program might expand to other Staples stores if the pilot is successful. Union leaders had no comment at that time, but on Friday a delegation of APWU leaders visited 13 Bay Area Staples stores and delivered copies of a letter criticizing the move to store managers.
"Only U.S. Postal Service postal employees are fully accountable to the public, and sworn to uphold the sanctity of the mail," the letter said, according to statement by the union.
An inquiry seeking comment from Staples was not immediately returned.
[Updated 3:35 p.m. PST Jan. 22: Richard Maher, a U.S. Postal Service spokesman, said the arrangement with Staples "is a direct response to the changing expectations of customers who demand greater convenience." In a statement, he said that the pilot program was a step toward generating revenue to ensure the long-term viability of the postal service and that the agency had similar arrangements in place with 65,000 retail partners.]