FedEx CEO Fred Smith’s arrogant campaign of threats and intimidation continued this week when his top spokesman threatened to take down members of Congress who oppose FedEx’s position on a key piece of legislation.
When asked about FedEx’s multi-million dollar ad campaign against the legislation that is reported to launch on Tuesday, June 9, top FedEx flack Maury Lane told U.S. News and World Report in a story posted in The White House Bulletin, “I’m going to try to destroy them.”
This follows Smith’s repeated threats to cancel a $10 billion contract to purchase Boeing 777 planes if FedEx Express workers were moved under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
FedEx clearly threatened in a March 24, 2009 SEC filing, and Smith reiterated in testimony before Congress in May, that its contract to purchase additional aircraft from Boeing is contingent upon its labor relations for all of its employees being governed by the Railway Labor Act (RLA). Under this provision, if Congress dares to grant even a portion of its workers the rights enjoyed by most American private sector employees under the NRLA, FedEx has the right to cancel those purchase orders.
“Fred Smith and FedEx breed a culture of arrogance,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “First, they cut wages, increase medical insurance premiums and eliminate pension benefits for its employees. Then they try to blackmail Congress with threats to pull the Boeing contract. Now they threaten to destroy the political careers of those who oppose them.”
Currently, all workers at FedEx Express are covered by the RLA regardless of whether they have any direct relationship with the operation or maintenance of the air fleet. This includes package delivery drivers, workers at sorting facilities and truck mechanics.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on May 21 that is a part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization and would place those workers under the NLRA, the statute that protects virtually all other private sector workers. Under the NLRA, workers may organize by individual terminals while the RLA requires a more difficult path to unionization that requires a national vote by every worker at FedEx Express. The reauthorization bill is currently awaiting action in the Senate.
“It’s astonishing that Fred Smith and his flacks will go to any length to boost FedEx’s profits at the expense of American workers and the economy,” said Ken Hall, Director of the Teamsters Package Division. “By threatening to destroy members of Congress, FedEx’s efforts to manipulate the American system of government have crossed the line.”
About the Author: Richard Negri is the founder of UnionReview.com and is the Online Manager for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
This article originally appeared in Union Review on June 5, 2009. Reprinted with permission by the author.