Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Distractions, distractions

upsUPS has been gunning to unionize FedEx employees for a while now. But UPS will have its own problems to deal with soon enough–a possible distraction from their shameless rent-seeking scheme against FedEx.

Teamster’s UPS airline mechanics, spread out at 80 airports across the country, recently voted by a 90% margin to authorize a strike thanks to stalled contract negotiation that have been ongoing for 3 years. While this does not mean they will necessarily go on strike during the Christmas season, UPS’s busiest time of time of year, it makes the threat all the more real and all the more frightening for UPS.  Perhaps UPS’s infatuation with their union will wear off?

The irony could be thick this holiday season. Because of a struggling economy, President Obama is in a unique position.  He may choose to delay or mitigate the strike by labeling UPS an “essential transportation service,” and put UPS squarely in the same boat that keeps FedEx from being unionized under current law.

The classification (that UPS and Teamsters hate) this holiday season might be the very thing that keeps 1,200 airline mechanics from locking down a company with more than 250,000 employees and huge shipping partners like J.C. Penney– a company already planning Christmas contingencies just in case.  In 1997, the strike cost UPS a whopping $850 million in revenue and lasted 15 days.

I just can’t see why FedEx wouldn’t want to put themselves in UPS’s shoes. Merry Christmas in September.

Image courtesy of Ian Fuller.

Categories: Center for Union FactsEFACNewsPolitical MoneyTeamsters