Need it tomorrow?

Posted by on Jun 8th, 2010 and filed under Congress, Economy, Politics, Regulation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry from your site

By Jerry Stanton

Whether it’s hard-to-find replacement parts, legal documents, merchandise or a child’s favorite toy, next-day delivery is a service we Americans have grown to depend on.  Overnight or second-day delivery saves time, money and personal frustration, and strong competition in the express-delivery industry has created an amazingly reliable system.

The aggressive competition in the air express industry keeps shipping charges reasonable and stimulates better service.  With markets expanding around the world, express delivery has become critical for business success, and happily the U.S.A. is home to two of the industry leaders.

Those two very American and very similar companies United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx) compete every day to serve the same customers.  For many years, our company has used both carriers and has enjoyed excellent service from both.

Each company charges higher rates for overnight delivery, and lower rates for each successively slower delivery service.  Each company has created a vast, complicated, capital-intensive intermodal delivery system.  They both own and operate large trucking fleets and freight air line systems.  They rely on uniformed truck drivers who provide the final delivery of packages to our homes or businesses.

Since both UPS and FedEx are in the exact same business and provide the exact same services it would only seem reasonable and fair that the exact same laws would apply to both companies.  But that isn’t the case.

UPS began its life as a trucking company in the early 1900s, long before anyone envisioned airline based package delivery.  As a trucking company, UPS became subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) when it was enacted.  Nearly sixty years after UPS started as a trucking company, FedEx started in 1973 as an airline.  FedEx’s operations, like those of all other airlines, are regulated primarily by the Railway Labor Act (RLA), enacted to cover railway and airline workers.

Because of this regulatory framework, all pilots employed by both UPS and FedEx are covered by the RLA.  The NLRA applies to all UPS drivers and to all FedEx drivers employed in its Ground, Freight and Services Divisions.  But the RLA currently covers truck drivers in FedEx’s Express division because FedEx claims they are “airline workers” instead of truck drivers.

It is in applying different Federal regulations to people driving brown trucks delivering overnight packages, than to people driving purple and gray trucks delivering overnight packages that the unfairness enters in.

Applying different rules to two vigorous competitors simply isn’t equitable.  It creates an unfair situation with government-granted advantages for FedEx.  All delivery companies should be able to fairly and equally compete for our business on a level playing field, and their employees should be classified according to the job description, not an outdated rulebook.

The United States House of Representatives recently passed legislation included in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act which treats all delivery services equally.  The Senate needs to agree to this provision.  All Americans will benefit from fair competition in our express delivery industry.

Fairness is the American way.

G.J. Stanton Jr., of Grimes Iowa is president of Specialty Suppliers Ltd.

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