Reason.com has a new video on it, spoofing UPS’ white board ad campaign. And with an interesting spin on the issue at the end. (Hint: The real evil doer is neither UPS nor FedEx.)
This morning, before I even checked my Google alerts, I saw a Corner post referring to this story on Politico. It seems that FedEx has leaked letter from the American Conservative Union detailing the suggested terms for an expensive email campaign on FedEx’s behalf. (Politico has all the cut-and-pastes from the letter.)
Where to begin?
Before I lament the loss of integrity or rip the ACU for being so stupid as to detail a “pay for play” proposal in writing without a strict confidentiality clause, I don’t think David Keene would have sent such a letter without an invitation to do so. I bet someone at FedEx asked for a proposal, thinking the ACU could be a natural ally in their anti-union fight. Don’t have any facts to support that theory, but I’m guessing that’s what happened.
Obviously FedEx passed on the ACU’s offer to run a $2 to $3.4M (yes, million) email campaign and is now going after Keene and the ACU because he/they recently threw in their hat with UPS via a coalition letter on ACU letterhead and signed by various grassroots conservative groups. Whether or not the ACU took any money from UPS in exchange for public support is anybody’s guess. ACU reps are saying “no.”
A purist would say something like, ”Better to lose on issues and at the ballot booth than debase the conservative movement with questionable tactics.”
A strategist would say, “The other side does this kind of thing all the time, raising gazillions of dollars as they go, and we have to do it also in order to have a chance against them.”
E!! says: Smooth move, genuises. Now the reputation of one of the oldest, biggest conservative grassroots organizations in the country is tarnished, and it will be even harder for the ACU to raise money in this already anemic fundraising environment. Or to have any political clout when they take a stand on issues.
There have been some good comments on my previous post from people on both sides of the issue. I responded to the points I thought had some validity. Do go and read them, and please chime in if you have something to add to the debate. I am always open to opposing views, including admitting I’m wrong if proven so.
For the record, I think unions are in many ways obsolete and in all ways a hindrance to free markets and the U.S. economy and should probably be abolished entirely - so I don’t disagree with the commenters who protested the entire FedEx/UPS situation based on their desire to protect FedEx from the Teamsters. But: FedEx has resisted unionization even in the parts of the company that are subject to it, so I don’t fully buy into the contention that the Teamsters will necessarily come in and take over. Let’s not forget that unionization takes a majority vote of employees, and that there are ways of combatting it (a friend of mine does this for a living: flies in and assists organizations being targeted for unionization).
Either way, as long as unions and labor laws continue to exist, rules and categorizations should be applied fairly and equitably. UPS and FedEx may well have started out as different types of companies, but they have since evolved into remarkably similar organizations. If FedEx employees and/or independent contractors are to remain as-is (non-union), then yes, absolutely, let’s go ahead and allow UPS to operate the same way. But, as FedEx acknowledges, this was tried, and failed, even back when the Republicans were in charge.
As for all the nice stuff FedEx does, it’s beside the point. We can’t exempt orgs or people from fairness under the law just because they are, like, super nice.
Why We Buy
I do support one commenter’s stated free-market standard for consumer decision making: the cheapest price for the best service. But since the better FedEx rate exists due to an inherent unfairness by way of the mis-application of our laws, I am personally willing to pay a little more for UPS on principle. (Besides, UPS pricing is still quite reasonable and the truck is always early to deliver to my mother up in rural Idaho.)
I am NOT a Blogstitute
On a final note re: the comments, the ex-Nevada senator who insinuated that the only bloggers who would advocate for UPS must be getting paid to do should (1) refrain from directly or indirectly insulting my integrity and (2) offer evidence that UPS did, or is, paying me or other bloggers to push their agenda. I am not a blogstitute — that’s “prostitute” minus “pro” plus “blog” — and I don’t appreciate even the hint of an allegation like that. The bent of my blog posts is not for sale. I don’t march to the drum nor tow the line of any party, group, or organization.
I say what I want; I say what I mean; and I mean what I say. Exclamation point.
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.”)
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!