FedEx campaign targets UPS support of labor bill

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A multimillion-dollar ad campaign was launched today by FedEx to target UPS' support of legislation that would make it easier for FedEx employees to unionize. The campaign includes a Web site, brownbailout.com, which asks consumers, “Why is mega-corporation UPS trying to use its political clout to get a bailout from the US Congress, leaving you to pay the tab?”

The bill, which was approved by the House of Representatives last month and is awaiting Senate approval, would put FedEx Express drivers under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA) instead of the long-standing Railway Labor Act. The result would be that drivers would be able to organize in individual locations as opposed to being required to hold a national election. 

FedEx spokesperson Maury Lane called the UPS backing tantamount to a “legislative bailout” for FedEx's chief rival.

“I think the issue began when UPS' labor agreement required them to increase revenues to maintain some cost containments,” he said. “There was more pressure on them to find a way to be more competitive – so you can build yourself up or tear your competitors down and we think they picked the second choice.”

But the UPS insists the issue is a matter of basic fairness. “FedEx is attempting to raise the noise level but it's not going to change the facts,” said UPS spokesperson Norman Black. “Every transportation company in America except FedEx is covered by the NRLA. They would have you believe that their drivers and their package sorters who work inside their hubs at night are somehow directly flying the airplanes, and we just believe that is fundamentally wrong.”

Lane, however, insisted that the UPS' efforts to back the legislation is simply an effort to “create unreliability” at FedEx. “The UPS is openly supporting this legislation and working closely with their 240,000 members of the Teamsters to try to change the rules so it benefits them,” he said. “The legislation is directly aimed at FedEx.”

The brownbailout.com Web site, he adds, is meant to make sure consumers understand the pending legislation and its possible effects. “We're trying to have a conversation with consumers and taxpayers to talk about what effect this law would have – it would be devastating in a variety of ways like [the UPS] strike was in 1997.”

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