The case stems from work that Teamster Local 177 has been doing with FedEx workers for a number of years. In 2005 the local won an NLRB ruling that FedEx drivers were employees, not contractors. Similar decisions have been issued over the years, which have confirmed that FedEx “contractors” are actually workers who are eligible for unionization.
Drivers at the Barrington, New Jersey terminal became the first FedEx unit to unionize. The new NLRB complaint cites FedEx for threatening and firing workers involved in organizing at the Barrington and West Deptford terminals.
Earlier this year a California court ruled that FedEx Ground single-route drivers in that state were employees and that they should be reclassified as such by April 2006. More than 30 class action lawsuits from contractor drivers are also pending in more than 24 U.S. states. Those lawsuits argue that drivers are not given full autonomy, and demands expense reimbursement, overtime and benefits. If FedEx, which earned $1.4 billion in fiscal 2005, has to classify all 14,000 ground-unit drivers as employees, the pretax hit could be in the neighborhood of $1.4 billion.