In a recent editorial (“Kneecapping FedEx” – June 9, 2009) the Washington Times maintains that an amendment being proposed by Rep. James Oberstar to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill would “hobble” FedEx Express by “completely changing the labor laws under which the company operates.” Which is true. However, what the Times failed to mention is that such a change is absolutely reasonable and appropriate.
At its core, here’s how this issue boils down:
Let’s say you want to ship a package overnight from New York to Los Angeles to your sister. If you call UPS, a UPS driver will come to your home, pick up your package, drive it to the airport, put it on a UPS plane and fly it to Los Angeles where it will be picked up by a UPS driver and delivered to your sister.
Now, if you call FedEx instead, a FedEx driver will come to your home, pick up your package, drive it to the airport, put it on a FedEx plane and fly it to Los Angeles where it will be picked up by a FedEx driver and delivered to your sister.
In other words, both companies provide the same service in the same manner. And yet FedEx Express is treated in a different manner with regard to labor laws from every other commercial package delivery company in the nation.
FedEx Express drivers are covered under the far more favorable Railway Labor Act (RLA) while all of its competitors fall under the far more burdensome National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Oberstar amendment would simply place FedEx Express drivers under the NLRA with everyone else, thus leveling the playing field. Frankly, I’d prefer placing everyone else under the RLA, but either way the point is that every company should be treated equally under the law.
The Times concluded its editorial stating that “UPS trying to squash FedEx Express is like Goliath sitting on David.” Not really. In this case, size doesn’t matter. This is more like a track-and-field race in which every runner but the FedEx Express runner has to carry a 20-lb. weight around his neck. All the Oberstar amendment says is that if everyone else has to run with a 20-lb. weight around his neck, then the FedEx Express driver has to as well.
But again, the far better solution would be to remove the 20-lb. weight altogether from everybody and see exactly how fast all of America’s companies can run without being dragged down by job-killing federal rules, laws and regulations. Get on your mark, get set….