FedEx Freight Mission Expands


Teamster leaders, members and retirees have successfully completed two rounds of nationwide leafleting outside FedEx Freight terminals, showing drivers and other employees at the company that the Teamsters stand with them in their fight for fairness and against their corporation’s greed.

The leafleting is the first time the union has conducted coordinated, nationwide outreach to workers at FedEx Freight, and more events are planned in the future.

“We are letting the FedEx Freight workers know that the Teamsters Union is already fighting for them and is ready to continue fighting for them as our organizing efforts move forward,” said Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division.

The Teamsters have won four organizing victories at FedEx Freight and three at Con-way Freight over the past 18 months, involving more than 600 workers. But rather than simply focusing solely on traditional terminal-by-terminal organizing campaigns, the union is now focused on building a national activist network at the companies along with local union and freight member training.

Strong Presence

A big part of this effort is the national leafleting events, which took place at Con-way in October 2015 and at FedEx Freight in November and in December 2015.

Scores of leaders and members participated from coast-to-coast, handing out the fliers to FedEx Freight workers. Some workers took the fliers and talked to Teamsters and some did not, but the Teamsters’ presence was strong.

“Our leafleting was a success,” said Eric Kime, a UPS driver who is a member and Trustee of Local 764 in Milton, Pa. “Getting a leaflet and interacting with us helps the FedEx Freight workers have a voice against a company that treats them poorly. The leafleting and outreach is also good for the Teamsters because it has the potential to increase our freight membership and our bargaining power.”

Kime said the ongoing campaign is important to the entire Teamsters Union.

“If we can organize FedEx Freight, it puts us in a position to organize other freight companies and moves us closer to the long-overdue return to power within the freight industry. We need to regain the strength we once had, which was lost due in large part to deregulation. We are also sending a message to the company that we’re serious and in this campaign for the long haul,” Kime said.

Barry Russell, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 445 in Rock Tavern, N.Y., said the campaign will help build Teamster power in the freight industry.

“More Teamster power means that more freight workers—including those at FedEx Freight—will eventually have the same benefits as current Teamsters, including affordable health insurance,” Russell said. “The FedEx Freight workers have been abused for a long time with the unfair treatment and substandard benefits and working conditions. They need to have a Teamster contract to improve their lives.”

Chris Smolinsky, an organizer with Local 25 in Boston, said 25 to 30 members and retirees took part in the leafleting at two locations.

“Our presence was important to the FedEx Freight workers to know they are not alone in this fight,” he said.

Some FedEx Freight workers refused to take fliers and sped by. “It’s not that they don’t support us, it’s that they are afraid management will retaliate,” Smolinsky said.

However, overall the FedEx Freight workers’ response has been positive and enthusiastic, with many workers interacting with the Teamsters and asking questions.

Volunteer Effort

Flip Statham, a road driver at USF Holland and 11-year member of Local 402 in Muscle Shoals, Ala., participated in both rounds of leafleting, volunteering his time to reach out to the FedEx Freight workers.

“We need to build strength in the freight industry to help our current freight members and future members,” Statham said. “This will help us raise the standards for everyone.”

Statham became a Teamster 11 years ago when he worked hauling chicken feed. He approached Local 402, seeking help, and Local 402 stood with Statham and his co-workers.

“Fourteen months after organizing we had our first contract, and the average pay went from $35,000 a year to $46,000 a year,” Statham said. “Our health care costs went from $85 a week and rising to a fixed rate of $40 a week that was set for three years. I know what the Teamsters have done for me and I want the FedEx Freight workers to have the same kind of power—Teamster power!”

Joe Gronek, Local 402’s Secretary-Treasurer, said he is in the fight for the long haul.

“The only way to level the playing field at FedEx Freight is for the workers to unionize with the Teamsters,” he said. “It’s important that we keep engaging with the FedEx Freight workers to give them accurate information instead of the spin the company is telling them.”

Freight Division Director Johnson said he is pleased with the local union and member participation.

“Now, thousands of Con-way and FedEx Freight workers have seen us out there,” Johnson said. “They are beginning to understand that we want to talk to them.”