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A 'Brown Bailout' for UPS is more like a FedEx shackling

UpsWhat can brown do for you? Some think it should be: What can your government do for brown?

Opposition to an otherwise innocuous reauthorization bill from the Federal Aviation Administration is showing up around the web. The United Parcel Service of America is being accused of lobbying Congress to grant the international corporation a government bailout.

Of course, what's actually going on doesn't exactly fit the definition of a bailout as we know it. The government wouldn't simply hand over any money to UPS, as it did for the financial and auto industries.

Much of the backlash seems to have been scared up by FedEx, the largest competitor to UPS. FedEx launched the multi-million-dollar online campaign last month, backed by a website called -- "brought to you by FedEx Express," reads a statement on the site's footer.

It's easy to see why the company is staging a campaign in opposition. The bill sort of targets FedEx.

The legislation would enable FedEx workers to unionize locally rather than nationally by changing which federal act the company's employees are covered under. Such a move could benefit FedEx employees but hurt the company's bottom line. FedEx says the government is "playing favorites."

But is it a bailout, per se?

Merriam-Webster defines a bailout as: "a rescue from financial distress." The dictionary doesn't specify that it must be a monetary rescue; however, financially afflicted UPS is not. It's the No. 1 package delivery service, with a $63 billion market cap and a 4.5% profit margin in the first quarter of the year.

Still, a Wall Street Journal op-ed argues that the bill is anticompetitive:

This is political favoritism at its worst, benefiting only UPS and the Teamsters while raising transportation costs across the economy. FedEx has been able to break a decades-long UPS monopoly in parcel delivery, reducing costs for millions of customers.

-- Mark Milian

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Photo: A United Parcel Service driver delivers packages Thursday in Glendale, Calif. Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (9)

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If you read the proposal you would see that it makes the Fedex employees and UPS employees doing the same work covered under the same labor laws. It is only because Fedex is afraid of unions that they blame UPS for the law.
Maybe Fedex should treat and pay their employees the same as UPS so the union doesn't get in.

Perhaps a lot of things should or shouldn't be that are or are not. No matter how you look at it this is a fight between the Labor Unions and FedEx. UPS should not be involved at all. The outcome of this does not truly effect UPS, they won't be getting any direct monetary gain from it, yet here they are spending money on behalf of an organization that is hindering their profit margins becuase they want their competitor to he hindered as well. It would be a lie to say there is not profitibility in taking a side in the debate for them, but in reality it's none of their business. My favorite part of this is the part where the Labor Unions "care" about the employees of the company. If they cared, why would they be putting Boeing employees jobs at risk by pushing this issue? They wouldn't, they would wait out the contract between FedEx and Boeing then pursue this course of action. They aren't doing this because increasing dues paying member capacity is more profitible in the long term than taking care of the dues paying members you already have. If you don't believe ask the city of Detroit how the past couple years have been. In the end this is just a concerted effort by Labor Unions to gain profit and UPS is on board because what hurts its only major competitor can't hurt it....or so they believe. (off topic but related) Though in the end the real issue is that our politicians are beholden to companies and organizations which corrupts our government because the politicians (in general) are looking out for number one instead of the state that elected them. That's how all this began. Eliminate corporate and private funding of campaigns and individuals for elected office. Make campaigns state funded utilize local TV News and Radio to save costs and let them get their 2 cents in, you'll see things go back to our politicians caring about their constituants instead of companies and corporations. If they cared about a company or corporation it would be because that company was an integral part of their states economy and they wanted to protect it for the sake of the state.

Personally, I want to thank FedEx for taking on this battle, because it has made my choice for shipping much easier.

I've never been a fan of FedEx (I've had more issues with them than with UPS and the USPS combined), but now I know I will never use them again. The fact that they are spending so much money in a blatant push against unionization tells me where their priorities lie.

And shame on them for hiding behind UPS in this effort.

Can't really have this conversation without looking at UPS's response website,

With all the money they are throwing at capital hill right now, and the success of USPS's Flat Rate Campaign, I would be interested to see if there has been any shift in market share.

The time for unions has come and long gone. No longer are children forced to work inhumane hours and unsafe jobs. The Fed has enforced minimum wages, OSHA has maintained safety in the workplace. The only people who benefit from unions are the union organizers and leaders who line their pockets with union dues while workplace competition suffers. End all unions NOW!

Wow, I didn't know that. I think I'll use UPS as a last resort for my business
shipping now.

Why shouldn't FedEx be governed by the same rules as UPS? When was the last time a FedEx airplane delivered a package to your home or business?

I'm sorry but UPS had a monopoly for YEARS, and during that time they became lazy, and sloppy.
I think that the owners Fed Ex have every right to control how much power the union has because they are the ones who started the company. If the workers don't like the conditions then they should work for UPS.

FED EX is a being successful at competing with ups and ups doesn't like it; therefore, they are resulting to childish behavior to "bail themselves out." This proves ups isn't a successful company anymore if thay have to resort to CHEATING to beat the competition. It's shameful. ups is trying to become a monopoly and monopolies are not allowed in the US. It's not ups' fault that FED EX knows how to hire guine hard-working honest people who don't need babied by their employer. It seems to me that ups is more dedicated to their employees than their customers since they have hirer rates not to promote better service mind you but to cover all their large employee benefits. However, FED EX hires hard-working middle-class people, the backbone of our society, who are satisfied with a moderate wage and a few benefits; therefore, FED EX can deliver a better service to its customers. In business it's about the customer's experience not the employee's.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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