Wal-Mart Union Foe 'Absolutely, Positively' Takes on FedEx

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:22 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - One of the labor unions deeply involved in the campaigns against the Wal-Mart retail chain has launched a new project, "standing with FedEx workers to demand dignity, respect and good pay." A representative for FedEx called the effort part of the union's "long history of using distortions and misinformation."

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, which has 1.4 million members and is one of the sponsors of Wal-Mart Watch, launched FedEx Watch in mid-December. The website declares its support for "workers who are among tens of thousands of nonunion parcel delivery employees who are exploited on a daily basis by their employers."

According to its own website, FedEx is "a worldwide network of companies" -- including FedEx Ground and FedEx Express -- providing customers and businesses with "the broadest array of supply chain, transportation, business and related information services." The corporation is also known for its copyrighted slogan, "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight."

Teamsters General President James Hoffa has lashed out at FedEx for allegedly building "much of its empire on low-cost business models and other unsavory practices."

The new website gives details of a class-action lawsuit alleging that the corporation relegates minorities to the lowest-paying posts with the least job security and denies them promotions through discriminatory tests, subjective evaluation standards and a culture of hostility.

"FedEx is also a major proponent of an alarming trend in today's job market: dishonestly classifying workers as 'independent contractors,'" the Teamsters president also charged. "This allows employers to maintain absolute control over operations and shift costs and risks onto workers while reaping all the benefits of their labor."

Hoffa claimed that "overtime pay and vacation days do not exist for these 'independent contractors.'

"Such is the price of FedEx's so-called entrepreneurial freedom," he added.

By comparison, the union boss stated, United Parcel Service (UPS) workers, who are organized by Teamsters, "have won medical care, pensions and 401(k)s." Driving costs are also covered by UPS, Hoffa stated, which is why, he said, that organization "remains so successful because it has a unionized workforce."

FedEx Corp. spokesperson Kristin Krause told Cybercast News Service that "FedEx has been consistently recognized as one of the best places to work around the world.

"In survey after survey, outside experts cite our innovative workplace programs, including exceptional benefits for part- and full-time employees, excellent compensation programs, a culture that promotes advancement from within and rewards both individual and group performance as examples of why we are consistently one of the country's most admired companies," Krause stated.

"For the ninth consecutive year, FedEx has been on Fortune's '100 Best Companies to Work For' list," she added. "It's important to note that employee responses to an anonymous survey conducted by the Great Place to Work Institute accounts for two-thirds of the judging criteria.

In an effort to inform FedEx Express employees of the class-action race discrimination suit against their company, Teamsters members from UPS spent a week passing out leaflets entitled "People Are More Important Than Packages" at FedEx facilities in Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington state, Nevada and Arizona.

But Krause denied that company discriminates. "This year, FedEx moved up 32 positions, garnered recognition as one of the most diverse companies with 41 percent of employees being a minority and ranked first out of 10 companies for job growth," Krause said. "FedEx is the largest company on the Fortune 100 Best Companies with more than 212,000 employees."

Regarding FedEx Watch, Krause said that "Mr. Hoffa's rhetoric is not terribly surprising to those who know the union's methods.

"The Teamsters have a long history of using distortions and misinformation to target additional sources of revenue when membership declines -- despite how well those companies may treat their employees," she added.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, retail giant Wal-Mart has been the ongoing target of two union-supported groups: Wal-Mart Watch, which is funded by the Teamsters, the Service Employees International Union and a number of other liberal organizations; and WakeUpWalMart.com, which is sponsored by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

See Earlier Stories:
Wal-Mart Must Meet 'Higher Expectations,' Campaign Says (Sept. 30, 2005)
Labor Pains: AFL-CIO Loses Largest Union, Teamsters (July 25, 2005)

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