As most of you already know, The Teamsters union has reached a tentative agreement with DHL Express employees. As this month’s issue of Air Cargo World points out, it’s no secret that The Teamsters big future target is FedEx:
Obtaining a national agreement with the Express division would give an enormous boost to the Teamsters, which has been losing members of late.
According to Welker, there are roughly between 30,000 and 40,000 FedEx Express drivers; 10,000 linehaul drivers and 6,000 to 7,000 aircraft mechanics. FedEx said those numbers were inaccurate, but declined to release their own.
Bringing together various employee groups under one master agreement seems tailor made for FedEx, which is largely non-union, said industry observers. The Air Line Pilots Association represents the pilots.
FedEx seemed unconcerned about the possibility of a large organizing drive for a national agreement by the Teamsters. “It is no great surprise that with declining revenues and membership numbers that the Teamsters would target FedEx,” said company spokesman Maury Lane. “So far, we have seen that the Teamsters will say and do anything to organize, despite FedEx’s record of winning multiple awards for being one of the best places to work around the globe.”
Still, the Teamsters could be targeting FedEx at the right time. The union has repeatedly challenged in court FedEx Ground’s practice of classifying its drivers as independent contractors. The California Supreme Court in late November refused to hear an appeal by the FedEx parcel division of state trial and appeals court rulings that the company should reimburse driver expenses because they are effectively company workers.
I don’t know what FedEx pays their drivers but I’ve always admired them as a company and the few people I know who work there seem to be very happy with the company. If that’s true on a global basis, as the spokesperson for FedEx claims to be, then even if The Teamsters succeed in convincing the courts that FedEx’s drivers are workers and not independent contractors they will still have an uphill battle convincing employees to unionize. All I can say is that The Teamsters seem to suddenly have their fingers in a lot of pies, so to speak. They are working with environmental groups targeting the clean air proposals at California ports that would force all drivers that call on the ports to be company drivers instead of owner operators, they have a tentative agreement with DHL Express, and they have been and will continue to target FedEx both in and out of court.