APWU report attacks Staples-Office Depot merger

The American Postal Workers Union is urging federal authorities to block the proposed merger of office supply retailers Staples and Office Depot.

The union laid out its arguments against the merger in a report it submitted to the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department. The report, released May 27, claims the merger would harm all office supply customers, from individual consumers to government agencies.

APWU said it also is making its legal and economic arguments known to state officials, investors, shareholders and other stakeholders.

“If you shrink the office-supply market to a single national chain, you create a monopoly that will harm everyone who uses office supplies," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "That’s exactly what the antitrust laws of this country are supposed to prevent.”

"We’re going to make sure federal regulators and other stakeholders have all the facts," he said. "When they do, we’re convinced they will reject the merger.”

While antitrust concerns may be the focus of the report, APWU and other postal unions and labor groups have been waging a battle against Staples on another issue—the placement in Staples stores of U.S. Postal Service retail counters manned by non-postal employees.

The Postal Service in 2013 began that venture with an initial 82-store trial, which APWU reacted to by launching a "Don’t Buy Staples" campaign in April 2014. The ongoing boycott has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO and a number of other labor groups. Later, however, USPS indicated it eventually would extend the retail counter program to all of the chain's 1,500 U.S. outlets. A merger with Office Depot could expand the program into an even greater number of locations.

According to the new “No Sale” report—which opposes the merger on antitrust grounds—about half of all Office Depot stores are located within five miles of Staples stores, which the study maintains could result in the merged company shuttering as many as 1,000 stores. The report argues that such closures would result in job losses and "economic dislocation," and leave consumers with only one major retailer to choose from, a situation the report called "a textbook environment for monopoly pricing and other anti-competitive practices."

APWU said it expects to file additional comments and analysis to the Federal Trade Commission as consideration of the merger moves forward.

Reader comments

Mon, Jun 1, 2015

“If you shrink the office-supply market to a single national chain, you create a monopoly that will harm everyone who uses office supplies," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. ________ This statement perfectly describes the post office, which has a monopoly over letter service. Plus why don't they mention that we can buy office supplies at numerous other stores like Walmart, Target, Office Max, Amazon, etc. Opposition of the merger has nothing to do with customer service; only fear of inevitable privatization.

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