Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Postal Unions Choose Status Quo over Customer-Friendly Reforms

CUFDinosaurThe United States Postal Service (USPS), like many unionized organizations, loses money hand-over-fist and is saddled with unsustainable labor costs. In an effort to increase usage of USPS services and lower labor costs, the Postal Service is placing self-service kiosks in Staples stores. It’s a win for customers and taxpayers: Who could have a problem with that? The American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which has loudly objected to USPS’s kiosk-based effort to save itself.

Though it’s a transparent effort to protect an indefensible status quo, the APWU has hilariously claimed that it has customers’ interests in mind. For instance, APWU says people shouldn’t trust Staples kiosks because Staples employees haven’t “taken an oath to protect the sanctity of the mail.” But this oath didn’t stop a Georgia postal employee from stealing $3.5 million in U.S. Treasury checks, a Colorado employee from nicking goods estimated at $283,913 in value, or a Baltimore postal worker from stealing $78,000 in USPS money orders, including by fraudulently issuing them to herself, relatives, and others.

In fact, some APWU officials can’t even protect the “sanctity” of their members’ money: Since January 1 of last year, five onetime officers of APWU locals have been charged, convicted, or sentenced for embezzlement or related crimes. One of them, a Long Island local president, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and was sentenced to one to three years in prison.

APWU has put out the call to other unions to join its ill-informed campaign in boycotting Staples until the retailer drops the kiosk deal, and local and state councils of Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers are hopping on APWU’s bandwagon. (The national union is expected to consider formally endorsing the boycott at its upcoming general convention.) Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that teachers unions—which for years have defended teacher work rules that disadvantage students—would back a scheme that favors unions and hurts customers.

Categories: AFL-CIOAFTAnti-Corporate CampaignsCenter for Union FactsCrime & CorruptionTeachers Unions