Union Threatens Sears Boycott; Demands End of ‘Sears Post Office’
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A union representing 365,000 postal workers says its members will slice up any Sears, Roebuck and Co. credit cards they hold and boycott the retail giant unless it removes mini post offices from 11 of its stores.
The American Postal Workers Union said Thursday it also was considering asking for a nationwide labor boycott of Sears if it ignored the demand.
″We view this as a menace to postal jobs and postal workers and the general public,″ union President Moe Biller said in a telephone interview. ″Sears today, K-Mart tomorrow, Wal-Mart the next day and JC Penney after that. Then the time would come when they say we don’t need any post office retail windows.″
The Sears pilot program began in October. Biller said he has complained privately to the Postal Service and Sears but was mounting a public campaign now because postal officials informed him last week as many as 100 more of the in-store counters are planned.
A Sears spokeswoman said the Chicago-based retailer planned to continue the pilot program at least through its one-year anniversary in October but said she knew of no expansion plans.
Postal Service spokesman Ralph Stewart said when the program began the agency said it would add more postal counters in Sears stores if the experiment proved successful. But he said he was not aware of any current plans to add more.
In a publication mailed APWU members this week, Biller urged the postal workers to sign and mail a form letter addressed to Sears Chairman Edward A. Brennan.
″Your company’s pilot postal venture with the USPS is nothing less than an attempt to replace us with a low-wage, nonunion work force,″ the letter said. ″It is a classic example of how union-busting managers use privatization to try to crush trade unions for the benefit of profiteers.″
The 11 postal counters in Sears stores now are confined to the Chicago area and Madison, Wis. The counters are run by nonunion Sears employees.
″We feel the issue is one between the union and Postal Service management,″ Sears spokeswoman Mary Jean Houde said. ″We do regret of course that the postal union feels it necessary to threaten this action.″
In a statement, the Postal Service said the units at Sears and 6,000 like them nationwide, largely in neighborhood drug and convenience stores, were designed to benefit consumers.
″They are helping us provide greater convenience to a very broad segment of the public, often during hours that post offices are not open,″ the statement said. ″We believe it represents the best interests of our employees and we want to assure them that nothing about these efforts is a threat to their job security.″