H.R. 915: UPS Pleads for an End to FedEx’s Special Status

So have you heard about the FedEx v. UPS cagefight over a new bill that would put FedEx drivers in the same category as every other package delivery driver in the country, including those at UPS? (Hint: UPS is wearing the “Yes” shorts; FedEx the “No.”)

versus

The outcome of the bill, if passed, is that the U.S. government would start treating the two biggest package delivery companies in the land – both of which use air and ground transportation to provide their worthy services – equally by placing their operations under the same federal labor laws.

On its anti-UPS, anti-HR 915 website, FedEx says the change would “force the world’s most efficient airline to operate under trucking rules that have never applied to airlines.”

Um… Let’s pause for a quick poll by show of hands: How many think of FedEx primarily as an airline? And how many think of FedEx as a package delivery company? Yeah, me too.

However, when FedEx was originally founded, it was deemed an airline because it flew important documents between cities. So, in a stroke of typical government-level genius, its employees were placed under the Railway Labor Act (RLA). (A serious re-write of those labor laws was overdue even then, but…) FedEx remained under this classification even as the company shifted into the package delivery business. Which happened after the invention of the fax machine.

So along comes a bill (H.R. 915) which would keep FedEx Express’s airline employees under the Railway Labor Act – like the employees of other airlines – while moving its truck drivers (and ONLY its truck drivers!) over to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) with all the other unionized, non-airborn truck drivers in the industry. Like the UPS drivers. And FedEx is having a hissy fit over it.

We’ll get back to FedEx’s specific objections in a sec, but first you should know this:

According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics for 2007, American Airlines has zero “Transport Related” employees (truck drivers). And United, Delta, Southwest, USAirways and Continental have zero truck drivers. Northwest has 165 truck drivers. And Mesa has 4. But Express Jet, Sky West, American Eagle, Jet Blue, Comair, Airtran and Alaska also have zero truck drivers. Heck, even UPS, which owns a lot of planes, has zero truck drivers – in its airline operations.

And how many drivers does the “world’s most efficient airline” (FedEx) have? 86,979.

And WHY does FedEx – which is digging its claws into its airline status like a crazed cat clinging to the nearest leg – have 86,000-ish more truck drivers in its “airline” operation than the top 20 U.S. airlines combined? Because, FedEx says, its drivers are “integrated” into its air operations and, therefore, employees who drive packages around town after they arrive at the airport should be considered airline employees.

Sort of like you are “integrated” into airport operations when you take a cab to your hotel, a limo to your party, or your car to your house. Right? No? Well, what about the handful of airline trucks that carry stuff from the planes to the hangar or a nearby airport warehouse? Oh – you say those ARE an “integrated part” of an airline because they are driving around IN OR NEAR the airport? Yes, that does make sense.

So, what about the FedEx driver, who, just like the UPS driver, fills his truck with a bunch of packages at the aiport and then drives all over the state delivering them? Isn’t he about as “integrated” with airline ops as the UPS driver who does the same damn thing off the back of a UPS plane? And doesn’t it seem unfair that he still has “special” status because of an archaic law and outdated labor categorization?

This prizefight is expected to go 5 rounds. I’m with the guy in the “Yes” shorts.

You can check out this site for more on this and related issues. I’m sure Comments would be appreciated.

And for the FedEx propaganda, go here and give your three cents as well. Personally, I’ve always loved UPS’ guy-with-the-brown-marker on the whiteboard TV ads. And FedEx has irritated me by ripping it off in an attempt to smear UPS. So, guess what FedEx?! I will be sure to use UPS – and only UPS – from now on no matter WHAT happens with H.R. 915. And I’ll tell anyone who will listen why they ought to do the same.

Put that in your 86,979 truck tailpipes and smoke it!