June 11, 2009: FedEx’s has launched a multi-million dollar PR campaign to stop federal legislation that would make it easier for drivers and package handlers to unionize. But experts say the campaign is misleading and may backfire.
FedEx is angry because the House of Representatives approved a bill that would bring the company under the National Labor Relations Act which would give employees there the same right to unionize as they have at UPS.
In response to the bill, FedEx launched a PR campaign accusing UPS of taking a government bailout.
FedEx’s campaign comes complete with a website called BrownBailout.com that accuses UPS of “quietly seeking a Congressional bailout designed to limit competition for overnight deliveries.”
But as the New York Times points out, “The real issue here is not government-supplied cash for UPS., but the labor laws under which UPS and FedEx are classified.”
The legislation, which now must pass the Senate and be signed by President Obama to become law, would simply put FedEx under the same federal labor law as UPS. Hardly a bailout!
One advertising exec told the New York Times, “You don’t have to surf very long to realize that this is clearly not a bailout…It’s a little bit of bait and switch.”
Another ad expert said the use of the term bailout is “the most questionably ethical thing on the site.”
As the Teamsters Union and UPS both have pointed out, it is FedEx that has enjoyed the “bailout.” For years the company has used its lobbying muscle to be classified as an airline. This puts FedEx under the Railway Labor Act, which makes it much harder for workers to organize a union.
The ad campaign has attracted some media attention because of how it stretches the truth. But the ad is apparently really aimed not so much at the public, but at U.S. Senators.
FedEx is signaling that they will spend millions to preserve their privileged legal status, and will go after any politician, presumably with their deep pockets, that votes for the legislation.
You can see the misleading ad for yourself at www.brownbailout.com
Click here to read The New York Times article “Campaign Against Rival Could Haunt FedEx.”