NEW YORK — FedEx Corp. is set to launch a multimillion dollar marketing campaign on Tuesday against chief rival UPS Inc., arguing the world’s largest shipping carrier is the driving force behind a bill that would make it easier for FedEx workers to unionize.
The bill currently before Congress would switch FedEx to the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Act from the National Railway Labor Act. The Railway Labor Act allows workers to organize, if all workers vote on a union at the same time. That has been a roadblock to unions that could not afford nationwide organizing campaigns.
If FedEx Express workers were to be reclassified under the National Labor Relations Act, they could organize one terminal at a time.
FedEx’s nearly 5,000 pilots are the company’s only employees that currently have a union. The company has a total work force of 290,000. UPS has about 425,000 workers; more than half are union members. Most of UPS’ unionized workers are members of the Teamsters.
FedEx says that UPS will benefit from the legislation because it could potentially drive up costs for its closest competitor. FedEx also argues that more unions would mean a greater chance of work slowdowns or strikes.
UPS didn’t immediately comment on the FedEx campaign.
“It’s nothing but a back door attempt to make us less reliable,” FedEx’s Director of Corporate Communications said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. “It’s a legislative bailout for a profitable company.”
FedEx also warns that shipping rates for consumers will “skyrocket” if the change is made.
FedEx plans to launch a Web site on Tuesday called “brownbailout.com,” referring to UPS’ nickname, “Big Brown.” It will urge consumers to contact their legislators and speak out against the proposed change. The site is part of a multimedia effort, including videos and TV commercials, that will be launched over an unspecified period.
“America relies too much on the reliability and dependability of its overnight-delivery network, and we can’t allow this bailout to pass only because UPS can’t compete in today’s marketplace,” Lane wrote in marketing materials for the campaign.