I got an unexpected gift in the mail this week…another check for $600 from Federal Express as part of their Contractor class action settlement…I guess there were some in the class who never claimed their portion of the money?…
After I signed the check and handed it over to my wife to deposit electronically, two things came to mind…the first you probably already guessed…why the hell did I waste my time signing something that just got deposited electronically?…and that this check officially ended any business relationship with Fred Smith and his management team of hired thugs, backstabbing thieves, and overpaid lawyers…I only say overpaid because even the lawyers couldn’t defend that ridiculous contractor model FedEx they had…and still have by the way, they just call it something different now…but who knows?…maybe I’m wrong and FedEx was elated to be paying hundreds of millions of dollars to We the Uneducated Rabble who chose to Rebel against their authoritarian rules…yeah, right!…because that’s what soulless dictators enjoy the most…a little rebellion…
Anyway, I took this opportunity to do something else I’ve held off from doing…getting rid of all that FedEx clothing I had to purchase through the years…the shorts and long pants I bagged and sent off to the nearest clothing collection bin…the shirts, which I obviously couldn’t give away or give back…although, I really would have enjoyed sending them back to Fred down there in Memphis, or to his minions in Pittsburgh…but no, these I took delight in ripping them in half making them of no use to anyone…and for me this really signaled that I’m out, for real, that part of my life is now in the past…almost…let me clarify…my days of driving a truck…of working 10+ hour days with no overtime…working 6 days a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas, with no overtime…working with no paid time off of any kind…ARE OVER!
I still have a connection to FredEx…a business arrangement with my former employer who is a FedEx contractor…and it still has a couple of years to go…but as of now…and I can’t say this negatively enough… “Fred Smith, you can kiss my Irish @$$, I’m through with you! I’m a grocer now. Never will I ever write about you and your independent contractor sham of a business model.”…on these pages…for the most part…(however I do reserve the right to re-post my holiday classic FedEx mutants post…)
And to my former employer…don’t sweat it…I didn’t cut up your shirts with your company logo…I’m saving them for you…you know, the ones without all of the salt stains from my sweat…
The time is right for The Teamsters to step up their efforts to represent drivers long underpaid and disrespected by FedEx Ground.
A great opportunity lays at the door of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. A chance for the Teamsters to possibly add thousands of drivers across the country to its rank and file. Drivers who are currently employed by small businesses who contract with FedEx Ground. That’s right, Federal Express. An opportunity to finally get a foothold in a business whose model you’ve argued against for years.
I have a long 15+ year relationship with FedEx Ground, both as a contractor in the now debunked Independent Contractor model, and currently as a driver for a company operating in what I believe is an eerie environment filled with just as much double talk and trickery; the Independent Service Provider model. This model, where these small companies negotiate their service contracts with FedEx Ground, which is to say FedEx sets a price in the sand and it will be up to the contractor to decide if he wants to service his area, is nothing more than the Independent Contractor model in different wrapping paper. In a recent meeting held for contractors in my area, it was explained simply that a contractor could hold out and possibly get more money for each delivered stop, but that FedEx might offset that by paying less for any number of other contract line items. I can’t see that being good for anyone other than FedEx, certainly not the contractors or we the drivers.
And who took the bullet from FedEx that made this model possible? The single route driver. The guys who were here from the beginning, the guys who did everything FedEx required. A truck? They bought it. Need a bigger truck? They bought it. Hire, train, and employ a second driver all at their expense if their route became too large? They did that too. And when FedEx introduced the ISP model, (now currently being rolled out in my home state of PA) it caused a wave of consolidations and pseudo-partnerships between drivers fearful of not having a chair when the music stopped. Future contractors in the ISP model would be required to own and service on average 500 stops per day; roughly 4-5 routes. Someone would have to go. And by creating that dynamic, FedEx Ground not only affected the price a distressed driver might receive on a fair and open market; why buy the cow at full price when you can eventually get the milk for free or at a huge discount?; but they also have now opened themselves up to the liability of drivers who are no longer contractually beholden to them; drivers who now can finally organize. Drivers who can stand side by side with our UPS brethren when needed? A seat at the table.
Mr. Hoffa, what I am asking is help from the Teamsters in creating a better working environment at FedEx Ground. As I stated previously, I am employed, as possibly many other drivers from the former IC model are, by one of the small businesses currently contracted with FedEx Ground. The owner, my boss if you will, is a former partner and a close personal friend who has treated me as best he can the past several years. But his ability to pay a more fair wage, including overtime and paid time off and a health benefit and retirement package similar to what FedEx Express employee drivers receive is hampered by the tight-fisted robber barons at FedEx Ground and FedEx Corp. I know he would do more for his employees if he weren’t hamstrung by the archaic system originally created in the Independent Contractor model which included only token pay for truck loading, pay by the stop, and possibly the biggest of all insults, one pay scale no matter the size of the delivery. That’s right. As a driver the rate is the same for an envelope as it is for 13 cases of wine or 8 oversized tires with rims and fully inflated (there’s more behind what you see in the pictures).
It’s up to you and the Teamsters Mr. Hoffa. You always wanted a crack at FedEx, here’s opportunity knocking. Will you and your brotherhood open the door and accept the challenge, or will you allow us to believe what many big businesses now say; the Teamsters no longer have the power they once did. Show us! Let’s all of us put on our big boy pants!