FedEx Opposing Union Option in House Legislation

FedEx Corp. truck drivers would be able to join unions more easily under legislation that the U.S. House began debating May 21.

Drivers in FedEx’s Express unit could vote locally to join unions under the plan rather than having to hold a national election to gain representation. The House approved similar legislation in 2007 that wasn’t taken up by the Senate.

The planned vote sets up a clash in the Senate between FedEx and larger competitor United Parcel Service Inc., which says the legislation would even the playing field with UPS’ union work force. UPS workers organize under the National Labor Relations Act, which allows local organizing. FedEx operates under the national organizing standard used for airlines.

”We expect the House will do the right thing by closing this unfair loophole,” Teamsters President Jim Hoffa said in a statement. ”FedEx Express workers have been deprived their right to form unions like workers at other package-delivery companies.”

The labor provision was included by Representative James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat, in broader $70 billion legislation to finance the Federal Aviation Administration through fiscal 2012. The Senate hasn’t yet crafted its version of the bill.

”Americans shouldn’t tolerate more bailouts for companies that can’t compete,” FedEx spokesman Maury Lane said in an e-mail statement. ”Hopefully the Senate will understand the unintended consequences of these actions.”

The Teamsters have been trying to organize FedEx drivers for years. Atlanta-based UPS is the biggest employer of Teamsters, with about 240,000 workers. Pilots are the only major worker group represented by a union among FedEx’s 290,000 employees and contractors.

John Hughes
Bloomberg News