Purposive Rambling

the journey is the reward.

I call shenanigans on the “brown bailout.”

with one comment

So on Saturday Jon and I are walking around downtown, and a guy with a clipboard calls us over. He’s wearing a shirt that says “Brown Bailout,” and he explains that he’s collecting signatures for a petition to send to Congress that will ask them not to give a bailout to UPS. He’s not giving us many details and is trying to sell us on the idea that the government has been going willy-nilly with their bailouts and we need to tell them that enough is enough.

While he’s talking I’m trying to read the little bit of information on the clipboard he’s holding, but it’s not very helpful. So I tell the guy that I haven’t heard of the “Brown Bailout” but I’ll look them up online and consider giving them my support. He gives me a little flyer to look over to help me in my decision.

My initial reaction was that the whole thing seemed vague and a little bit shady since he didn’t seem to want to disclose what group he was representing. I glance at the flyer as we’re walking away and it seems pretty obvious that this is a campaign by FedEx, trying to masquerade as “concerned citizens.” The flyer is just as vague as the guy on the street, and it focuses on the idea that Congress is trying to limit competition by bailing out UPS. It doesn’t tell me anything about the details of this supposed bailout, though. So I’m not exaclty on top of these things, but it seems to me that if UPS is really struggling and the government decides to throw some money its way to save the company, that would increase competition rather than limit it. Things are not adding up. My sketicism radar is overheating a bit.

So once we got home I looked up the “Brown Bailout.” Again, the website is vague as hell! Again, it seems that they’re trying to minimize the fact that it’s a FedEx-run campaign. And they in no way explain any details of this “bailout.” So I look up some news stories and finally find out why FedEx is being so shady.

The short story is that there is no bailout, at least in the traditional meaning of the word. Instead, UPS is attempting to level the playing field with FedEx by asking the government to make FedEx abide by the same regulations that UPS does. Apparently, they’ve been operating under different regulations because of the fact that FedEx started off as an airline. FedEx is trying to argue that, as an airline, they are not the same kind of company as UPS. But come on. They both rely on planes and trucks.

The real issue is that if this change occurs, FedEx will be much more likely to be unionized. Under their current regulations it is nearly impossible for a union to form because it would require a vote from every worker. It’s much easier under the regulations that UPS is governed by. And if FedEx is unionized, their costs will probably go up, and in turn, get passed on to consumers.

First of all, no way am I going to support your attempts to prevent a union from forming. Secondly, explain to me again how this is going to limit competition? Right now there isn’t true competition between UPS and FedEx because they’re not operating under the same rules. Wouldn’t putting them on the same level increase competition?

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Written by Lisa

July 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm

One Response

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to research this issue and share it with your readers. Your right to point out that FedEx has used words, like “bailout,” to confuse the public.

    The RLA amendment addresses the issue of fairness in competition. Out of the hundreds of (union and non-union) companies in the delivery industry, FedEx Express is the only one covered by a different labor law. FedEx and UPS have airlines, offer similar services and our employees perform the same jobs.

    Interestingly, FedEx already has more than 100,000 employees currently covered under the same labor law as UPS … and these employees are not unionized. Even if the law is changed, FedEx employs still will get to choose whether they want to have a union.

    If you’d like to learn more, please visit the UPS Pressroom RLA Facts page at http://bit.ly/kv2UX.

    Debbie Curtis-Magley
    UPS Public Relations

    Debbie Curtis-Magley

    July 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm


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