(Chuck Muth) – A gentleman by the name of Rick Manning inked an op/ed in The Hill last Thursday defending the FedEx Loophole and disgorging the usual anti-UPS propaganda with regard to a provision in the FAA reauthorization bill to put FedEx Express drivers under the same labor law as every other package delivery driver in the nation.
But before addressing and countering Mr. Manning’s arguments, first let’s consider the source.
The disclaimer at the end of The Hill op/ed states: “Rick Manning is the communications director for Americans for Limited Government, but his posts don’t necessarily reflect the views of that or any other organization.”
Well, that’s not exactly true. His post not only reflects the views of FedEx, he’s been a direct messenger (if not a paid lobbyist) for those views and is now hiding behind Americans for Limited Government to make his opinions on this issue *appear* objective and unbiased.
I suspect The Hill’s editors aren’t going to be too pleased when they find this out.
Mr. Manning first came across our radar screen in June 2009 when FedEx’s disingenuous “Brown Bailout” campaign was launched while he was employed as a lobbyist/public affairs director for Burson-Marsteller – whom some suspect is the brains and brawn behind the high-powered, multi-million dollar “Brown Bailout” campaign.
At the time, we were trying to track down exactly who was behind the anonymous “Brown Bailout” website and email operations, discovering that the developers and administrators were associated with some South Korean and Malaysian front corporations. Very shady. Very fishy.
Enter Rick Manning. Manning – again, working for Burson-Marsteller at the time – was making his way around DC’s conservative circles pushing the Brown Bailout PR campaign and emailing some bogus and extremely biased polling results from his Hotmail account. He was also caught that month using a fake internet name (“bob wolfe”) to post a comment on a column I’d written for GOPUSA on this this issue.
So Mr. Manning is anything but an honest and objective commentator and should be faulted for failing to disclose to The Hill and its readers the facts of his prior relationship with the “Brown Bailout” campaign. That out of the way, let’s consider his arguments for argument’s sake.
Manning writes that this issue is “not that complicated.” And that much is true. It isn’t complicated at all. FedEx Express enjoys a loophole in federal labor law which allows it to treat its door-to-door van delivery drivers as if they were jumbo jet airline pilots. Seriously, it’s no more complicated than that.
The provision in the FAA reauthorization bill would simply close this loophole and force FedEx Express to compete under the same rules as everyone else in the same industry. This isn’t a bailout for UPS; it’s cutting off a form of corporate welfare for FedEx.
Mr. Manning further writes that “Federal Express is an airline that uses vans to finish the job.”
Fine. But that’s like Delta Airlines operating its own in-house taxicab service and claiming its cab drivers are airline pilots because “Delta is an airline that uses taxis to finish the job.” Does anyone in Washington really buy that argument?
In a further bit of red herring misdirection, Manning writes that “the source of the un-level playing field is the fact that UPS is unionized, and FedEx isn’t,” rather than the fact that FedEx is getting unfair and unequal treatment under the law.
Not surprisingly, even his claim that FedEx isn’t unionized isn’t exactly true. FedEx Express pilots (the real ones who actually fly planes, not the ones who drive vans) belong to – get this – a union! So much for the argument that if FedEx is unionized “it would destroy Federal Express’s reliability promise.”
But to further disabuse Manning’s anti-union argument for retaining the FedEx Loophole for its express delivery drivers, consider this fact: Even if the loophole was closed there’s simply no evidence to suggest that such closure would result in the unionization of the company’s door-to-door delivery drivers. Here’s why…
FedEx Ground drivers are presently covered under the same labor law as FedEx Express delivery drivers would be covered under if the loophole is closed. And guess what? FedEx Ground’s drivers have not formed a union. So why should anyone believe the company’s express drivers would choose to unionize if the FedEx Loophole is closed? Answer: they shouldn’t.
The “Brown Bailout” campaign is nothing more than deception wrapped in disingenuousness in a multi-million dollar effort to retain a special corporate welfare benefit courtesy of Uncle Sam. As such, this claim in the op/ed is telling: If the FedEx Loophole is closed, Manning writes, “Federal Express will be forced to change its entire business model and may never recover.”
When a horse breaks a leg and can no longer walk without extraordinary assistance, the humane thing to do is put the animal down. Perhaps if FedEx isn’t able to compete on a level playing field without extraordinary assistance from Congress, a similar corporate remedy is called for?
Or maybe the Senate should just ignore the hyperbole in Mr. Manning’s column.
Much-needed upgrades to the air traffic system should not be held up any longer just to continue extending a unfair advantage to one company to the detriment of its competitors. The FAA bill should be passed during the lame duck session, including the provision closing the FedEx Loophole.