An Open Letter to Teamsters President James P. Hoffa

The time is right for The Teamsters to step up their efforts to represent drivers long underpaid and disrespected by FedEx Ground.

Mr. Hoffa,

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!
Eerie