The United States Senate is considering a proposal, embedded within the FAA reauthorization bill, which would place FedEx Express’s package delivery drivers under the same labor law as every other package delivery driver in the country.
And as FedEx Express ramps up its efforts in the halls of Congress to oppose this change and retain its unequal treatment under the law at the marketing expense of its competitors, it’s time once again to weigh in on the issue.
To refresh everyone’s memory, here’s how FedEx describes itself and the legislation currently pending before the United States Senate:
“Since the company’s founding in 1971, FedEx Express has remained under the jurisdiction of the RLA. We firmly believe that is the proper classification for our company. Unlike our competition, we operate an integrated air/ground network and handle air shipments separately in that network.
“RLA jurisdiction gives us the best opportunity to deliver reliable, uninterrupted service to customers. It is that superior service that has allowed us to grow in spite of the best efforts of a larger, more profitable competitor — UPS. Their current lobbying campaign, working hand-in-hand with the Teamsters, is another attempt by UPS to gain a competitive advantage that they have been unable to gain through their service performance.”
First, the RLA stands for Railway Labor Act – even though FedEx Express is not, you know, a railroad. But we’re dealing with government here, so it’s not supposed to make any sense. That said, the RLA is a special set of labor laws designed to make it harder for labor unions to organize a company’s workforce.
Every other employer generally falls under the auspices of the NLRA, the National Labor Relations Act, a horrible mish-mash of government meddling in the private employment relationships of American companies which tilts far too far towards organized labor. But that’s another argument for another day.
The essence of this issue is that FedEx Express’s express package-delivery air/ground workforce is treated differently under the law than its competitors’ express package-delivery air/ground workforces. And this unequal treatment under the law gives FedEx Express a tremendous marketing advantage over its competitors.
Indeed, to this day FedEx Express is claiming its non-union status, protected by being covered under a different set of labor laws than its competitors, allows it to provide – as you can read for yourself in the statement above – “the best opportunity to deliver reliable, uninterrupted service to customers.”
FedEx Express uses its non-union status as a sales weapon the way a used car salesman uses low mileage.
But even that isn’t the point. This isn’t about FedEx Express’s air/ground package delivery rivalry with UPS. And it’s not about the Teamsters or organized labor, both of which should go the way of the dinosaur. It’s about….the law. And the uniquely American principle of equality under the law.
FedEx Express’s express package delivery drivers pick up packages and deliver them to and/or from an airport. UPS’s express package delivery drivers pick up packages and deliver them to and/or from an airport. As far as the law is concerned, both companies and their drivers should be governed under the same law. Period.
This isn’t an attempt, as FedEx Express falsely claims, by UPS “to gain a competitive advantage that they have been unable to gain through their service performance.”
This is simply an attempt by Congress to level the express package delivery playing field and make sure that competitors are all playing under the same rules; that one team doesn’t get four strikes, five outs and ten players.
FedEx Express is trying to sell Congress on the notion that unequal treatment under the law is a good thing. Congress may want to check the odometer on this clunker of an idea before they end up buying a lemon.