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Friday, June 12, 2009

UPS vs FedEx: Labor law as a corporate weapon

As government grows, business rivalries will increasingly be played out on Capitol Hill through regulation and legislation. As a preview, witness the UPS-vs-FedEx battle currently. My Examiner gives the story:

Both sides, of course, are engaging in Beltway knife-fighting, which requires campaign cash. On top of their five-figures-per-day lobbying budgets are the companies' PACs. FedEx PAC spent $3.4 million last cycle, and $231,000 so far this cycle. UPS's PAC shelled out $4.7 million last election, and an impressive $522,000 so far this time around.

UPS has a key ally: the Teamsters Union, which gave $2.4 million to Democrats in the last cycle. Teamsters want to unionize FedEx, and Oberstar's provision will make that much easier if it becomes law.

Is it fair for FedEx and UPS to play by different rules? Is it fair to change the rules on FedEx in the middle of the game? Is the NLRA even fair?

Sadly, "fair competition," doesn't really play a role in shipping--an industry that has been subsidized and regulated since its birth. Federal law nearly prohibits UPS and FedEx from competing on price. Other regulations--including labor laws--cramp their ingenuity.

Read the whole thing here.

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