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Boycott FedEx

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Posted on Feb 22, 2010
AP / Elise Amendola

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

“I think we have to honestly ask ourselves, why is Federal Express being given preferential treatment in this body now?” Sen. Simon said at the time. “I think the honest answer is Federal Express has been very generous in their campaign contributions.”

Following the Senate vote, a company spokesman was quoted as saying, “We played political hardball, and we won.”

What happened to our historical memory? How did we forget that those who built our democracy and protected American workers were not men like Smith, who use power and money to further the parochial and selfish interests of the elite, but the legions of embattled strikers in the coal fields, on factory floors and in steel mills that gave us unions, decent wages and the 40-hour workweek. How was it possible in 1947 to pass the Taft-Hartley Labor Act, which, in one deft move, emasculated the labor movement? How is it possible that it remains in force? Union workers, who at times paid with their lives, halted the country’s enslavement to the rich and the greedy. And now that unions have been broken, rapacious corporations like FedEx and toadies in Congress and the White House are turning workers into serfs.

UPS is unionized. It is the largest employer of the Teamsters. Labor costs, because of the union, account for almost two-thirds of its operating expenses. But Smith spends only a third of his costs on labor. There is something very wrong with a country that leaves a worker like Henderson sitting most of the day in a tiny apartment in excruciating pain and fighting off depression while his billionaire former boss is feted as a man of vision and invited to lunch at the White House. A country that stops taking care of its own, that loses the capacity for empathy and compassion, that crumples up human beings and throws them away when it is done with them, feeds dark ideological monsters that inevitably rise to devour the body politic.

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FedEx is busy making sure Congress keeps unions out of its shops. It has lavished $17 million, double its 2008 total, on Congress to fight off an effort by UPS and the Teamsters to revoke Smith’s tailor-made ban on unions. Smith, again thinking “long term,” plans to continue to hire thousands of full-time employees and list them as independent contractors. If his workers are listed as independent contractors he does not have to pay Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes. And when they get sick or injured or old he can push them onto the street. Henderson says FedEx treats its equipment as shabbily as its employees. There’s no difference between trucks and people to corporations that view everything as a commodity. Corporations exploit human beings and equipment and natural resources until exhaustion or collapse. They are cannibals. 

“The trucks are a liability,” Henderson said. “They are junk. The tires are bald. The engines cut out. There are a lot of mechanical problems. The roofs leak. They wobble and pull to one side or the other. The heating does not work. And the company pushes its employees in the same way. The first Christmas I was there I worked 13 hours without a break and without anything to eat. It is dangerous. I could have fallen asleep at the wheel and injured someone.”

If you have to send packages do not be a scab. Send it with UPS or the U.S. Postal Service. They have unions. Every step, however tiny, we take to thwart the corporate rape of the country and protect workers counts. We would have to do more, much more, but this would be a small start. Like Smith, our politicians have sold their souls. They will not help us. We must help ourselves. And the longer we stand by and permit the Democrats and the Republicans to strip American workers of their jobs and their dignity the less we will have to say when the day of angry retribution arrives.


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RAE's avatar

By RAE, February 23, 2010 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Well, rfidler, there are a few things to consider before jumping to conclusions…

“Best Company…” needs a lot of detail before it means much to me… best at what? Making payroll… longest lunch breaks… nicest gold watches upon retirement?

Perhaps it’s just Best of a bad bunch… like, of all the conniving, shoddy, sleaze-bucket corporations surveyed, FedEx scored “least conniving…etc..”

And for my final nit-pick - it would take some convincing for me to accept that an accurate “rating” could be achieved by survey/interview alone. And I doubt that everyone surveyed had experienced all the corporations thereby being able to offer an informed answer to the question.

Is it just me or is it for real that the vast majority of the issues brought to our attention for comment/discussion amount to little more than trivia designed expressly to keep us, the “chattering classes,” from ever posing a real threat to the identification of the invisible puppeteers pulling our strings?

I mean who really gives a S**T about FedEx? “Hands Up” all those who’d care if the entire corporation disappeared today.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 23, 2010 at 6:38 am Link to this comment

I just googled “Best companies to work for in 2009.” Guess who came out on top?

FEDEX! Imagine that. I want someone out there to explain to me how those poor benighted slave wage schlubs could be such saps as to actually enjoy working for FedEx.

And, no they didn’t poll the CEO or the stockholders, they asked the rank and file.

Maybe Hedges should have picked another victim besides Dean Henderson.

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By ardee, February 23, 2010 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

Ouroborus, February 23 at 3:13 am #


rollzone, February 23 at 12:02 am;
Funny; I can’t quite figure out what your post is about.

I chuckled upon reading this, but, when I read the cited comment by rollzone I spewed coffee all over the keyboard. Timing is , indeed, everything.

Report this

By plainsman, February 23, 2010 at 1:47 am Link to this comment

Right-wing rage is being fused with right-wing populism. And once this takes hold, a protofascism will sweep across our blighted landscape fueled by a mounting personal and economic despair.

What does that mean exactly? Seems that personal and economic despair is already mounting, the landscape is definitely blighted and the so-called Western world is already well on its way to becoming fascist.

Chris Hedges seemed to get it recently, that Western governments are serving corporate interests above all else. The corporation he singles out for special treatment in this piece would have spent its lobby budget on both sides of the political fence as do all the other corporate entities. To cite any politician or corporate head as being right- or left-wing is to miss the point. The right / left dichotomy is the best kept illusion in contemporary society. Jesse Ventura says they’re all acting according to a script; in public they appear to be opponents, in private they’re all good buddies.

To speak, as if it matters or somehow resonates with so-called progressives, that right-wing rage will serve to speed up the implementation of fascism seems aimed at keeping us fighting with each other. That works to benefit those in power. Divide and conquer. Gandhi knew it well when he started the Quit India Movement. He described the British as a jewel-headed snake. We have the same today. But this time the snake is not a foreign power.

The sooner everyone pricks the illusion and realizes that we are in a state of war, the sooner things will start to change. In the meantime, the best thing any of us can do is to stop supporting both the illusion and the system that has grown up around it.

And the only thing one can deduce from this attempt at perpetuating internecine proclivities by writers such as the author of yet another weakly substantiated but certainly inflammatory column is that he and the publishers of this website are in fact working for the system. They do not aim to purvey the truth; they intend to perpetuate the lie.

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By Gary D, February 23, 2010 at 1:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is really kind of amazing the trolls that come out when people start attacking a greedy corporation.
 
FedEx is currently paying a Republican PR firm to
conduct a campaign against UPS and Congress because Congress is trying to get the votes to reverse the no unionizing FedEx rider they put in place in 96. You can see this online and elsewhere as “No Brown Bailout.”

BusinessWeek article:
http://tinyurl.com/lo84kl

The FedEx driver in this piece looks like he is actually not a company/union driver but a contract driver who was paid per piece.

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By Old Dude, February 22, 2010 at 11:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If a worker who has been laid off or fired and who’s
benefits are about to run out, would he or she work
for $18.00 an hour even with no fringe benefits? 

If a delivery job was posted as HELP WANTED ad on the
InterNet or in a newspaper in the mid-west, how many
applicants would be clamoring for such a job?

People who are unemployed and have no income are
desperate to sustain themselves and their dependants
with any kind of a job.

Food, shelter, and some form of medical care are the
fundamental underpinnings of a civilized society.

People who cannot secure these basic necessities are
prime candidates to follow any leadership who
promises these things.

Hungry and desperate folks don’t give a fig about the
finer points of corporate strategy on Wall Street and
take umbrage when the leaders of industry and banking
reward themselves with undeserved bonuses
underwritten by bailouts from the US Government while
they go hungry and their family is broken up in order
to survive.

This is especially true when your job has been sent
overseas by the very people who reap the rewards of
corporate austerity to enhance the bottom line of
their profit and loss statement.

Without a payroll check you are laid off and are
facing foreclosure on your home that you have paid on
for many years. 

You sell your family belongings for little or nothing
and the rest are placed curbside for the trash
company to be picked up and disposed in some landfill
site.

If the $18.00 an hour job could help pay the mortgage
on the home and put some food on the table, who could
ask for anything more?

Years ago financial wizards were jumping out of the
windows on Wall Street rather than face the decline
of their wealth or subsequent jail terms when the big
Depression hit. Now they have the protection of the
concept of being “too large to fail” to protect their
wealth and status.

It now seems that crashing airplanes in to buildings
is another way for some of the middle class voicing
their displeasure with the system.

Jumping out of windows seems more refined than with a
lot less loss of lives and assets.  Better to get a
big bonus than take a dive out the window.  Most
windows are sealed shut in the modern office building
today.  Of course there is always the stairwells and
elevator shafts for the really “needy” that just have
to go.

That $18.00 hour job looks better all the time.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, February 22, 2010 at 11:13 pm Link to this comment

rollzone, February 23 at 12:02 am;
Funny; I can’t quite figure out what your post is about. wink

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By Greetings, February 22, 2010 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment

Well, our political two party division continues to grow between, We The People and Mr&Mrs;. Corporation.  But just wait until we, the consumer market, is bankrupt and then Corporations will be reduced to our low level, then we can make some changes to whatever is left, maybe?

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm Link to this comment

Ellis:
“What if everyone earned $20 an hour, no bonus or reward for extra effort and inventions and discoveries were owned by all?”

Hell, that’s easy. If someone told me I’d get $20/hour no matter what I did, I’d sit on my ass all day and get you to bake me my bread and bring me another beer.

What planet do you live on?

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By rollzone, February 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

hello. again into the blogosphere. it must be getting
crowded out there. every other comment i write goes
directly into eyes only folders. this subversive
article against another successful American corporation
bounced all over the place until it flew away. it is a
very peculiar style of innuendo and inflammatory
ejaculations that never states anything. here’s a guy
that writes about campaign spending, a driver earning
$18/hr whom chooses to not buy medical insurance, with
underlying tones of unionizing, and calls for a
boycott. the boycott thing flew right out my window.

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By rollzone, February 22, 2010 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

hello. again i have no idea what this article is about.
there are underlying tones of we must unionize. there
is a clandestine remark about a driver getting $18/hr,
not making enough money to buy his own insurance. there
is a spiel about campaign donations. and at the top of
my page is an advertisement for USPS. i am left
believing it is only a smear piece against another
successful American corporation by a subversive.

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By TAO Walker, February 22, 2010 at 7:36 pm Link to this comment

These things aren’t called corporate “entities” for no reason.  Those who refuse or are unable to recognize and acknowledge their very effective mimicry of “individual” structure and behavior (complete with hard-wired “neural nets,” sensory systems operating in ‘ranges’ far beyond ordinary Human abilities, memory, “voices,” their own ‘language’,  metabolic-like processes requiring ‘nutrients’ and producing ‘waste’ [much of it toxic to organic Native Lifeforms here; hell, much of it the digested carcasses of those Lifeforms, including Humans], increasingly formidable ‘self-defense’ capabilities for nearly every ‘threat-level’ found in their ‘environment’, and even “civil rights”), are either not paying attention or in deep denial….or most probably some soon-to-be-fatal combination of both.

Here’s the real kicker though.  Guys like the FedEx CEO, and even the really big ‘god’-fodders at the tip-top of the “global” gang-banging pyramid scheme, who even at this advanced phase of the ‘program’ remain CONvinced they’re running The-Show, are theirowndamnedselfs already, to-all-intents-and-purposes, ‘redundant’.  One of these fine days maybe it’ll be the FedEx ‘entity’ itsownself that delivers the “termination (with extreme prejudice?) ‘pink-slip’ notice” to its own no-longer cost-effective “boss.”

These retro-viral CONstructs can no more ‘respect’ the feelings or sense the needs of their two-legged wet-ware than a hell-fire missile can “feel-the-pain” of an Afghan wedding party, or that ‘turkey-blaster’ behind Sarah Palin could smell blood.  That’s all just late-stage propaganda intended to keep the ‘target-demographics’ in-range and in-the-sights….until it’s time to put the poor things out of their lonely misery. 

The ‘proof’, tame Sisters and Brothers, is in the super-sized WalMartian ‘footprint’ nearest you.  Read it and…........

HokaHey!

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, February 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm Link to this comment

The vote was made when the candidates are picked. By then they are more alike than ever. So our vote means next to nothing.

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Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, February 22, 2010 at 7:13 pm Link to this comment

Nobody, February 22 at 10:57 am #
(Unregistered commenter);

The blame game is an excuse to not look at oneself;
and I’m not talking about Henderson.
Ultimately we have only ourselves to blame for what
has become a failed government. Democracy doesn’t
take care of itself; it is a living thing only
insomuch as we are and WE are supposed to be the
stewards of this failed experiment. It’s not
democracies fault that it’s failing; it lies squarely
on us.
We’ve become lazy and are willing to pay proxies to
do our work for us; only we don’t take responsibility
for holding them to do our bidding, so they sneak
around and make deals and we’re not there to keep
them honest.
It’s the easiest thing in the world to get back
control, but we won’t do it.
Stop…everything! If we did that we would once again
have a government that was once again afraid of its
people.
The government must once again know that without the
support of it’s citizens it is nothing if not
helpless.

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By samosamo, February 22, 2010 at 6:43 pm Link to this comment

“”“By John Ellis, February 22 at 9:52 pm #
What if everyone earned $20 an hour, no bonus or reward for
extra effort and inventions and discoveries were owned by all?’‘’
***********************************

I think it would be almost no difference, because just as it has
and is happening, the connivingly clever people that know how
to separate people from their money will still do so to create the
same miserable ‘class based on money’ hierarchy that already
exists.

And for me, keeping a close touch with nature is what I find
most important instead of seeking the ‘outrageous’ or ‘fantastic’
manmade shit that is the facade of substance with no basis.

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By Hammond Eggs, February 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm Link to this comment

Our destitute working class is beginning to grasp that Barack Obama and other elected officials in Washington, who speak in a cloying feel-your-pain language, are liars.

Thank you for that.  But the proletariat (as they used to be called) will continue to go into the voting booths and cut their own throats.

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RenZo's avatar

By RenZo, February 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm Link to this comment

Wow. Hedges attracts the best bloggers. Back to reading everything.

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By elisalouisa, February 22, 2010 at 4:57 pm Link to this comment

I suspect Obama’s praise of Smith was not spontaneous. He said it for a reason.
Rickin SF is correct. USPS will be a thing of the past in less than ten years and
FedEx will be our mail service. I would never have predicted this scenario a short
time back.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

RAE:
Thanks for the reply. We all make trade-offs.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, February 22, 2010 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

To rfidler…

I live 45 minutes away from what passes for a major center (80,000) in these parts. I do have choices though: I can do without; I can wait until I go to town and buy what’s available from indifferent retailers; I can shop online and at least have a shot at getting what I need/want.

I buy online only what I need that is not available locally.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

DaveZx3:

You’re an island of sanity. What a great post.

You’ll get nowhere on truthdig.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

samosamo:

Company ownership of an employee’s idea/invention, etc has always puzzled me too. I guess they assume you used their resources to produce it and that’s their way of controlling them.

Sorry you got “downsized.”

As for you wishing you were a millionaire, I wish more truthdiggers felt that way instead of wishing there weren’t ANY millionaires!! I, on the other hand, am sorry your not, though I’m happy for your happiness.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

RAE:
Why then do you keep supporting the shippers by buying things that require shipping?

As for your comment, “FedEx, UPS, USPS… and, as far as I know, all the rest of the parcel delivery services, are in business to make money… as much as they can and pay as little as humanly possible to make it.”—That pretty much describes the capitalist model.

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By samosamo, February 22, 2010 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

““Workers in our corporate state earn little when they work—
Henderson made $18 an hour—and they are abandoned when
they can no longer contribute to corporate profits.”“
***************************************************

Here is an extremely important point for me as MY 11 years in
a top 10 big bank, though starting out as a challenge and
interesting and a learning experience, in the last 2 years
before my severance due to a merger I had begun to get that
bad corporate feeling and taste that was my way of
understanding that I did not care to contribute to this ‘big
bank’ anymore and that I would rather spend my mental
efforts for myself to profit ME.

An aside point also, if one works for a business and a
corporation then invents a new way, a device or piece of work
that is a money maker on that business or corporation’s time,
it belongs to that business or corporation, and I would almost
say if it was developed at home on one’s own time that
business or corporation would have a bevy of lawyers trying to
claim otherwise.

Wish I could say I am a millionaire because of that, but I am
not though I am a lot happier.

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By DaveZx3, February 22, 2010 at 3:23 pm Link to this comment

What strikes me is how so many individuals can make judgements about a case in which they know almost nothing about the details.  You get a couple of paragraphs, and then everyone runs away blaming everyone under the sun.

The first sentence of this article states the driver who ran into Henderson was driving recklessly.  So Fed Ex is not at fault, but still has liability due to worker’s compensation law.  The employee (Henderson) gives up his rights to sue his company under workers compensation, but does not give up his right to sue a third party, which is the reckless driver.  What are the laws of RI regarding auto liability insurance?  Did the guy have any?  If so, how much? 

Doctors attempt to rehabilitate to the point of returning to work in a light duty job.  The employer benefits from this because it keeps their workers compensation experience factor lower.  The employer will often times pay the higher salary, even though the employee does a lower job. 

If after only three months, he was fired, it would be fairly easy to attach his poor performance to the injury.  Assuming it was based on performance.  All the questions regarding what caused the firing cannot be asked.  Did the doctors certify him ready to work too early?  Where was the breakdown?

Even in an “employment at will” situation, there are work comp penalties for firing an injured worker.  The problem often arises where doctors certify someone can work, but the employee disagrees.  This also, is not the employers fault.

There are so many parties involved in a work comp case, doctors, lawyers, work comp caseworkers, etc. 
Whether Fed Ex is a good employer or not, it is not right to go off on a tangent blaming the company when there is a breakdown in a work comp case. 

Hedges is scare-mongering on this one.  Using this case to fan the flames of his anti-capitalist mentality.  But unless he answers all the questions, he should not put the case forward, because prejudice is wrong whereever it is found. 

And Truthdiggers are showing their own prejudices as well.

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By Claudia, February 22, 2010 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hedges has a clear if dire view of our future.

“Whoever rides to power on the back of this rage will swiftly broker a deal with corporations and corporate overlords. But by then it will be too late. Dissent will become a form of treason. The security state will be quickly cemented in place. The bankrupt liberal class, which abandoned the working class and the fight for basic civil liberties, will be reviled, discredited and impotent. America will develop its own peculiar form of Christian fascism.”

We need to band together locally to do all we can to resist.

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RAE's avatar

By RAE, February 22, 2010 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

FedEx, UPS, USPS… and, as far as I know, all the rest of the parcel delivery services, are in business to make money… as much as they can and pay as little as humanly possible to make it.

There is NO loyalty from company>employee which, of course, answers the question why there is none vice versa. Anyone who still believes in the fairy tale of yesterday isn’t living in the present.

I buy on eBay and from other online sources. In many cases the ONLY participant to the transaction making any significant profit is the CARRIER SERVICE between seller and buyer. They make their money no matter what else goes wrong with the purchase. In fact, they often make it TWICE or even THREE TIMES when the fault goods are returned for replacement.

That’s the game to get into - these major couriers are making a KILLING.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 2:24 pm Link to this comment

prole:
The pilots of FedEx would be surprised to know that they aren’t organized. You might want to break the news to the Air Line Pilots’ Association.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 1:57 pm Link to this comment

Gaunt:
“Yes and they were tired of shelling out the money. Even though it was correct for them to pay. Fired why? What do you ;think? He was a liability an so by-by! You can bet he didn’t do anything to lose the job.”

Do you know that for a fact? I don’t, because the article doesn’t elaborate. Maybe he was a shitty employee.

Also-
“rfidler, Marx/Engles also talked about the workers owning their means of production so where is that?”

Exactly- Where has it ever been thus??? How many factories did Soviet workers “own”? How many cane fields do Cuban peasants “own”?

“Cafeteria picking of data isn’t the way for intelligent discourse.” True, but I have no data, only questions.

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prole's avatar

By prole, February 22, 2010 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

“FedEx is busy making sure Congress keeps unions out of its shops. It has lavished $17 million, double its 2008 total, on Congress to fight off an effort by UPS and the Teamsters to revoke Smith’s tailor-made ban on unions”…in a bizarre reversal of UPS’s earlier confrontational stategy toward unionization. It’s not really that a “moral” UPS believes in unions, or is so opposed in principle to “those who make vast profits at the expense of workers”, it’s more of a competitive-advantage tactical dispute. Because most of FedEx deliveries are by air but most of UPS deliveries are by truck, they are each covered by different labor regulations. FedEx Express, the company’s air delivery service, operates under the Railway Labor Act (RLA), enacted in 1926 to arbitrate labor disputes in industries designated vital to interstate commerce; in which a union must receive a majority of votes from all of a company’s employees, and not just a majority of those who actually vote. This has proved far more difficult for labor organizing, and FedEx Express, and all of FedEx, have remained largely unorganized. But UPS is under the regulation of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA aka the Wagner Act) that permits unionization at each individual office of a national company, which helps facilitate union organizing. As with UPS, the much smaller FedEx Ground and FedEx Freight divisions of FedEx are also subject to the NLRA. During the 90’s, UPS itself sought to be re-classified under the more union- restricting RLA just like Fedex is. Only when UPS was ultimately unsuccessful in getting the same labor relations status as FedEx, did it resort to the new approach of a marriage of convenience with the Teamsters to get FedEx re-classified under the NLRA instead of the RLA, using the current ongoing FAA legislative re-authorization process. One way or another UPS wants to be level with FedEx for business reasons, not “moral” reasons. UPS’s partnership with the Teamster’s is even more dubious. It’s questionable, to say the least, just how “moral” the Teamsters are! There are a lot of conflicting moral ambiguities here, as always.
  The same might be said about the late Senators Simon and Kennedy. OK, so they were generally more amenable on Big Labor issues. But Simon, recall, was elected by The Lobby. Charles Percy, the Republican incumbent from Illinois, and then chairman of the Sen Foreign Relations Comm., had excited the ire of zionist interests by supporting a bill to sell advanced AWAC aircraft to Saudi Arabia and was generally thought to be ‘soft’ on Israel issues. And like congressman Paul Findley two years earlier, in his ’82 Senate contest with Richard Durbin, was targeted by AIPAC for political character ‘assassination’.  Simon, a downstate ‘liberal’ Democrat congressman was able to eke out a narrow victory over Percy in the ’84 election, with AIPAC’s help, (who urged him to run, in the first place). Help which included a couple of Chicago-area zionist activists who would be heard from even more in the future, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod. The Lobby never had any more problems with Illinois senators after that, as both Simon and Durbin obediently toed the AIPAC line. As has the slavish Obama throughout his sordid money-grubbing career. “Like Smith”, Simon and Kennedy and Obama and “our politicians have sold their souls.” And UPS doesn’t exist to help them get it back. So, “If you have to send packages do not be a scab”...but sending it by UPS is a step very “tiny, we take to thwart the corporate rape of the country and protect workers”; and even that may not last. “We would have to do more, much more”, for sure. “We must help ourselves”…until the day when the angry Resistance opposing Amerika’s – and The Lobby’s – corporate warfare state liberates us all.

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By FRTothus, February 22, 2010 at 1:36 pm Link to this comment

“No form of government, once in power, can be trusted to limit its own ambition, to extend freedom and to wither away. This means that it is up to the citizenry, those outside of power, to engage in permanent combat with the state, short of violent, escalatory revolution, but beyond the gentility of the ballot-box, to insure justice, freedom and well being.”
(Howard Zinn)

“This focus on money and power may do wonders in the marketplace, but it creates a tremendous crisis in our society. People who have spent all day learning how to sell themselves and to manipulate others are in no position to form lasting friendships or intimate relationships… Many Americans hunger for a different kind of society—one based on principles of caring, ethical and spiritual sensitivity, and communal solidarity. Their need for meaning is just as intense as their need for economic security.”
(Michael Lerner)

@C.Curtis.Dillon, February 22 at 7:59 am:
Respect.
I would suggest that there is no need for pessimism. Our “leadership” does not represent the goodness of our people. This is becoming clear to more everyday.  I am in agreement with your analysis, and think you get to the heart of the hurt that many of us feel when you talk of the betrayal of “...what we were promised”.  It strikes me as a betrayal of the Social Contract, and there are (always) corrective measures to restore it.  What happens with any Contract when one side reneges?  There are many that are non-violent and devastating.  You’ve presented, to my way of thinking, the primary one: the with-holding of the money.  When “...Americans of all stripes stop paying their taxes once it becomes obvious the [corporate (aka fascist)] government means to destroy them”, they will pick us off one by one. We could fill the jails, I suppose. Historically, we’d be in good company. One way or another, we will come together. Something I learned in college:  Q.When is Hell Week over?  A.When the Fra comes.


“The most formidable military machine depends ultimately on the obedience of its soldiers, ... the most powerful corporation becomes helpless when its workers stop working, when its customers refuse to buy its products.
The strike, the boycott, the refusal to serve, the ability to paralyze the functioning of a complex social structure - these remain potent weapons against the most fearsome state or corporate power.”
(Howard Zinn)

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By Night-Gaunt, February 22, 2010 at 1:18 pm Link to this comment

Yes and they were tired of shelling out the money. Even though it was correct for them to pay. Fired why? What do you ;think? He was a liability an so by-by! You can bet he didn’t do anything to lose the job. Like I said if it was in a Right to Fire state bogus reasons are often given. You have to fight to get a hearing. But then you fail to ask such questions to begin with.

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By Old Ed, February 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tough Luck Mr. Henderson.

Sorry, I don’t have much symphony for Dean Henderson
regarding his on the job injury , i.e., a mangled leg.
Mr. Henderson was in the wrong place at the wrong time. 
This is called tough luck.

Mr. Henderson even with one leg is much better off than
many American workers. He has the luxury of residing with
his stepsister presumably in a comfortable apartment
sponging off her.

What Mr. Henderson should do is find himself a well
traveled street corner in his community.  And with a tin
cup or hat full of pencils along with a sign around his
neck, he should be soliciting passers by for some spare
change and quit whining about how FedEx has treated him.

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By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 12:25 pm Link to this comment

Who paid for Dean Henderson’s “dozen” surgeries? I bet it was FedEx. Why was he fired?

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By Night-Gaunt, February 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

UPS or FedEx? The choice is obvious. Though I won’t leave out the US Postal Srv.

Now if we could just get our reich wing pseudo-populist president to have Mr. Henderson to have lunch with and see how it goes. [Don’t hold your breath.]

It isn’t necessarily the company you keep, but those you support and support you that matter. Obama wants to be a Ronald W. Reagan not a Dr. M.L.K. Jr. with help from the other ghost, Dr. Milton Friedman.

$18 an hour? The highest I ever made was $10.99 & that was just for one year before I was down sized from the best job I had ever had, 6 years. I would consider my self successful if I earned that much.

Mooneysmith what kind of Capitalism are you for? UPS or FedEx? I am for UPS. Perhaps Henderson complained too much about the pain and moaned in ways that others didn’t like. Ever thought of that? In a right to fire state they can do it for no specific, or true, reason. Or is it for you Capitalism is a generic designation or is only of a certain specific type like Smith‘s? Please elaborate.

FiftyGigs you might want to read much more of Hedges before dumping on him. Like Glenn Beck, how? Where is he making things up? Where have you been, the moon? Obama is a right winger and he proves it nearly every time he acts, or fails to.

rfidler, Marx/Engles also talked about the workers owning their means of production so where is that? Cafeteria picking of data isn’t the way for intelligent discourse, but it is for intelligent propagandizing. The rich elites already “know” how to spend our money. [57% for their wars and moves against our Bill of Rights here.] 

mrfreeze they aren’t “Darwinian values” but pseudo ones as part of the “Social darwinist” myth which is a variation of the elites theocratic look of being “Chosen by God” to be where they are. Just another distortion to self serve their cause of being exceptional from the rest of us.

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By Ives, February 22, 2010 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment

I’d note that in my neck of the woods (Maine), not only are the drivers considered independent contractors by Fedex. They also are responsible for buying their own truck, painting it with a Fedex logo, uniforms, etc.

Here’s a link to see opportunities as an ‘owner-operator’ at Fedex.

http://customcritical.fedex.com/us/owneroperator/default.shtml?link=4

Again, all the Fedex delivery guys up here seem to be owner/operators.

The drivers also have Fedex in court. See here:
http://www.fedexdriverslawsuit.com/

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By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Rickin SF:
“They already have their collection boxes inside Post Offices and I’d bet within a
decade they’ll have ownership of the USPS.”

Why do you think the USPS hired FedEx? Could it be because they were able to do a much better job at delivering the mail than the USPS? For my part, I hope they DO take ownership of the post office, the sooner the better.

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By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

SouthernGal:
“It does seem that the only power we the people have is how we spend our money and with whom we spend it.”

Don’t let the progressives know you have discretionary money to spend! They’ll tax it from you, because they know better how to spend your money than you do. When health care legislation, cap and trade, etc, become law, your comment will be a fond memory.

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By Michael Bennett, February 22, 2010 at 11:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We should also boycott USPS overnight and express since deliveries. In 2001, FedEx cemented a deal with the USPS to deliver all of the post office’s overnight packages and express deliveries.

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By Southern Gal, February 22, 2010 at 9:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It does seem that the only power we the people have is how we spend our money and with whom we spend it. I’ll happily boycott FedEX and would like to know about other companies that deserve boycotting.

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By mrfreeze, February 22, 2010 at 9:47 am Link to this comment

Hedges’ rant today is certainly therapeutic. Gosh, I can relate to his outrage. Here’s the BUT: it is simply unhealthy to believe that Americans, after decades of hearing the “greed is good” mantra, believe in anything more than getting rich (at any cost it seems).

American Capitalism, as some have pointed out on this thread, has encouraged us to sell each other out, vote against our own self interest in the name of “profit” and to embrace a set of Darwinian values that serve the wealthy.

I hold little hope that things are going to change, nor do I believe Americans will lift a finger to change the system.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 22, 2010 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

After the Internet drivel it is good to see Hedges writing about something based in reality. His conclusions about what the poor thinks and behaves is way off base. But how could he know? He is not poor, so his empathy takes on a bit of an anthropological bent, it seems to me.

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By Leefeller, February 22, 2010 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Finally Hedges offers something with advice on what can be done. F—k Fed EX! Now all we need to do is by American or made in USA.

Though Fed Ex is not alone in its glee of shafting for profits, unfortunately the shaft the people list has become enhanced by the Supreme Court.

After 2012 one need not worry.

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By richard.jay, February 22, 2010 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

@rfidler: “Progressive” doesn’t necessarily mean “Marxist,” “socialist,” or anything of the sort. I could just as easily say, “Oh, hey look, isn’t this the “compassionate conservatism” being touted since the ‘80s?
    Most critically-thinking liberals and conservatives would agree that neither Socialism nor our current type of capitalism works with anything that could be called democratic. We just disagree on what the mix should be.

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By paulb, February 22, 2010 at 8:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

An article like this is another reason it is so important that the AFL/CIO have its own national cable station. (Corporations of course own hundreds of stations.)  Workers need to know what companies to boycott.

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By RickinSF, February 22, 2010 at 8:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We don’t say the “F-word” in my house, haven’t for years, entirely because of their
shitty labor practices.

They already have their collection boxes inside Post Offices and I’d bet within a
decade they’ll have ownership of the USPS.

Get ready for two, or three-tier mail delivery.

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By rico, suave, February 22, 2010 at 8:02 am Link to this comment

Hedges says, “...stripped of value in our commodity culture, he was tossed aside by the company.”

Wasn’t it Marx who claimed that all value was attributable to labor. Sounds like FedEx did the reasonable Marxist thing. How can progressives complain?

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By fwdpost, February 22, 2010 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

A great column. I disagree that the working class I came from is blaming the current lousy world on Blacks. The middle class and the poor are quickly realizing that all these so-called rifts in America are designed by elites to pitch race against race, young against old, men against women, and labor against unions. Unfortunately, liberals have adopted a whine about equality that annoys average people, who would rather be color, sex and religion blind. We are being schooled in division by the right and left wing at the same time for different goals.

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By leftyrite, February 22, 2010 at 7:39 am Link to this comment

This essay reminds me of a looming event in my native Rhode Island.

Later this week, an entire high school faculty is to be fired in Central Falls,
Rhode Island, due to the fact that the AFT affiliate there would not allow itself
to be steamrolled by demands that would definitely break their union.

Virtually all of the press on this issue has been one-sided and adamantly
against the teachers, who are portrayed as lazy slobs.

Central Falls is, by far, the poorest community in R.I.  It’s the place to which
immigrants come for its cheap housing and subsistence living, none of which
bodes well for the emotional stability necessary for learning. The school and its
mission have been redefined both by poverty and by the demands of rightwing
“leadership,” desperate to see it fail so they can usher in corporate charter schools.

The new commissioner of ed., Deborah Gist, has decided to make a test case of
CF, supported by the millionaire governor and a “ringer” superintendent
implanted in CF to do her bidding. Dr. Gist makes more than $300,000 a year,
all the while excoriating teachers for their “privileges” and their middle class
salaries.

Things do not look good for public education unions right now. Only a fool
would think that Central Falls, R.I. is not a test case—for Arnie Duncan and the
Obama administration’s commitment to NCLB as well as their respect for the
rights of working people to collective bargaining and a fair hearing in the
courts. In other words, the progressives—public school teachers—who supported Obama, and who made America a place where he could be elected, are on the verge of getting
screwed.

It’s all on the line in a tiny town in little old Rhode Island. Take an interest.
And wish us luck.

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By Nobody, February 22, 2010 at 6:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Citizens no longer have any exertable rights, no representation, and most are
too stupid and uneducated to understand even the most basic civic process. We
are all consumers now, so let’s start acting like it. Consumers have power.  Our
only hope is to function en masse as consumers. So columns like this are very
valuable.

In India and China there are literally hundreds of millions of people prepared to
do Dean Henderson’s job - and yours too Chris Hedges - for a fraction, a tiny
measly fraction, of $18 per hour. That is the harsh reality of the new world. $2
per hour in other parts of the world is a job worth fighting over. You need top
tier qualifications, a great attitude, and big smarts to get it.

My own theory is that this is the inevitable end game of the conspiracy of
globalization - 98 percent of Americans end up toiling in filth and horror along
with 98 percent of Chinese and Indians, all so that 2 percent can wreck the
planet with their greed.

It’s really not okay, but if representational democracy is bust, what to do? The
only thing is to exert your rights as a consumer.

Fuck FedEx. Now, who else? As consumers, if we work together, we have the
power. If we only support unionized companies that conduct themselves
ethically, they will be the only ones that succeed. A new political party will
come out of it.

Where is Ralph Nader when you need him?

Journalists need to get together to work en masse to reassert principles of the
fourth estate upon their employers. It’s the only way representational
democracy will survive - by an insidious, below the radar, insurgency run by
and for journalists. Because let’s face it, our jobs are gone and not coming
back. So why no recreate them on our own terms?

And is it just me, or has someone put Prozac - and who knows what else - in
the New York Times water cooler?

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By Mooneysmith, February 22, 2010 at 6:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is a hit job disguised as journalism.  Nowhere is the
reason for Dean Henderson’s firing explained.  It is implied
that it is because he couldn’t drive, when in reality he
might’ve badmouthed someone on the phone.  We don’t know.  It
wasn’t addressed.

It is clear that the writer has an anti-capitalist agenda. 
That’s what I found beneath this headline.

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By no mans land, February 22, 2010 at 6:23 am Link to this comment

Great Job Chris. I haven’t used FEDEX for years and don’t plan to start. I only use the post office. Besides, there is just something comforting about having a regular mail carrier anyway. I only hope Hedges will one day put Monsanto in his cross hairs as well.

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By balkas, February 22, 2010 at 6:09 am Link to this comment

Yet 98% of voters cast their votes for the one party system of governance.
How ab ‘12? Will the 90%+ still be w.o. repreasentation in congress-wh-judiciary and not to mention banking, cia-fbi-army echelons?

In canada, we od have a second party, the New Democratic Party and thus some representaion in parliament.
Not enough to prevent canadian wars but we do have a fair health care system, worker’s compesation.etc.

Chris hedges may be right in expecting that sit’n for working class in US may even worsen. tnx

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By Tim Kelly, February 22, 2010 at 6:02 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It puts me in a quandry, support FedEx or support UPS, well known for not being able to find their way out of the back of their truck without a map.  If I don’t care if my package arrives on time, undamaged, or at all, I send by UPS.  Otherwise I use FedEx.

And regarding Chris’ comment that we will start hearing “nigger” in the workplace, it would be good if the black people would stop calling each other that (spelled “niggaz”).

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By FiftyGigs, February 22, 2010 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

“The bankrupt liberal class, which abandoned the
working class and the fight for basic civil
liberties, will be reviled, discredited and impotent.
America will develop its own peculiar form of
Christian fascism.

“Obama, entranced with power and prestige, is more
interested in courting the elite than saving the
disenfranchised.”

Excuse me. Any, uh… you know.. proof for any of
this? Oh, President Obama—you don’t feel he
deserves the term “President”?—mentions a
businessman in another context, and that is proof of
future fascism??

Rarely have I read such utter garbage. This is simply
a liberal version of Glenn Beck. This article
represents the absolute worst of TruthDig.

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By SoTexGuy, February 22, 2010 at 5:38 am Link to this comment

Corporate planners and the super wealthy look longingly at the slums of Karachi and New Delhi and the booming (if massively polluted) manufacturing towns of the new China. Not as places for them to have to live, but as utopias for business and profits.. The new Frontier where anything goes.

Pesky laws limiting abuse of workers, environmental degradation and so much more block revenue paths.. The ultimate paradigm for this new working world is something akin to an open pit gold mine in Amazonia where thousands scrabble in the mud for something they can’t eat or use but that can be traded for a day’s food or a carton of cigarettes. Though in this new frontier exactly who will be left to buy manufactured goods seems an unsolvable conundrum.

Free Trade has only gotten the corporations so far. They’ll come back home to the good ‘ol USA when it pays to do so. The multi-faced attack on Social Security is just one small piece of the work being done.

But regarding those $18 an hour jobs.. Down here you would need a stadium to handle the applicants for that kind of pay.. and if it came with any job security and benefits.. riot control. I believe FedEx is up to most everything the excellent Mr. Hedges says.. but there exists large areas of our country where talk of pay that much over the official poverty level doesn’t sound like any kind of corporate scam.

Food for thought.

Adios.

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By marcus medler, February 22, 2010 at 4:21 am Link to this comment

I agree with Hedges about Smith, but like most
of corporate screamers for free enterprise (get
gov. off our back) he rakes it in from the
transfer of tax dollars. Please take note of the
new seven billion deal FEDEX has with the post
office-esp. when thinking of a boycott. It can
be found
here.http://www.usps.com/communications/ne
ws/press/2006/pr06_048.

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By marcus medler, February 22, 2010 at 4:03 am Link to this comment

Please, the working stiff was sold out by other
working stiffs not just college liberals and
progressives in hamster cages spinning round
and round. I asked a bitter canned non/union
shop worker why he left the union shop. He
stated; “they paid the same and I didn’t have to
pay dues”. How did Reagan get elected? I think
one needs to hold the mirror, not just to the
greedy, but the me me me-ers as well.
Collective power if it is to work must be
collective.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, February 22, 2010 at 3:59 am Link to this comment

I was flabbergasted when Obama listed Smith as a roll model.  But it is complete consistent with his infatuation to those who have power in this country.  And it is a telling reminder to all of us that our politicians are beholden to no one but those who feed their incessant need for money.

It is also sad that these disenfranchised people are being sucked into the right wing crazy machine which I am inclined to believe is just another part of the corporate state designed to provide an outlet for all their frustration and to do little to correct what is wrong.  I have heard no constructive suggestions from these clowns and don’t expect to anytime in the near future.  And the liberal left is a joke.  Mostly middle class and completely detached from real life as they suck their Starbuck’s latte and cluck about how bad things have become.

My own take on this is that the West is seeking to duplicate the Chinese experience where the government acts as the enforcer for the corporations.  Labor there has little to be proud of as the “party” strips them of any representation and forces most of them into low paying jobs with minimal benefits and no legal recourse against egregious treatment by the companies.  It amazes me to see the very fruitful relationship between capitalism and the supposedly labor friendly Communist party.  They are supposed to be deadly adversaries and yet in China they are bedfellows.  How strange!

But I feel there is hope as the government is rapidly borrowing itself into oblivion.  When we have to default on our debt ... that is when the wheels come off the wagon.  Of course, all our social safety net will collapse first as the government will not destroy the MIC or farm subsidies or any of the other corporate pies but those too will soon fail as Americans of all stripes stop paying their taxes once it becomes obvious the government means to destroy them.  Maybe when SS and Medicare are trashed the common folk will have had enough and will rise up against the leaches who are sucking our life away.

Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic about what comes next.  The people will allow all liberties to be destroyed in the vain hope that the system can be fixed.  We may then get the Chinese model or something even worse.  I do not see a way that we can restore the ideals of the founding fathers without a real revolution and that would be bloody and tragic.  But it may be the only way to restore what we were promised.

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