July 23, 2010
By Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock)
All we ask is equal treatment under the law!
A single piece of equity legislation would improve two of Georgia’s crown jewels; Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and UPS. Unfortunately, this important measure is being held-up in a Congress more intent on destroying American business than helping it.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act would begin modernizing America’s antiquated air-traffic-control systems with a state-of the-art Next Generation Air Transportation System. This includes safety, security and airspace-congestion provisions that would significantly improve passenger air travel.
As frequent travelers know, congestion in almost any major domestic airport can negatively affect air traffic in Atlanta. If America’s air travel infrastructure is safer, more efficient, and less congested, that’s good for the entire air-travel business, including passengers at Hartsfield.
Unfortunately, the FAA Reauthorization Act has been stalled by a single company; FedEx.
For years, FedEx has been trying to win over customers of Georgia-based UPS. Not by offering better service at lower prices, but by exploiting a political favor granted them in Washington, DC. Basically, FedEx claims that thousands of its drivers, who never go near an airplane, are “airline workers”. Meanwhile UPS’s similarly situated drivers are classified as, well, drivers.
Since “airline workers'” labor contracts never expire, and several provisions are in place to prevent a work stoppage, FedEx tells UPS large customers that FedEx is “strike proof,” while Big Brown is unreliable by comparison.
The numbers illustrate the absurdity of this employee classification “arrangement”. FedEx claims it has 123,153 “airline workers” while UPS only claims 5,895. (FedEx has just over 4,000 pilots, and UPS has just under 3,000.) Despite having nearly 11,000 pilots and vastly larger flight crews, Delta/Northwest, currently the largest airline, claims only 76,200 airline employees – nearly 47,000 fewer than FedEx. Clearly, UPS is being forced to play by a set of rules that simply don’t apply to FedEx.
UPS and FedEx should compete head to head and let the best company win. The government should not create, or maintain, this scheme that favors one over the other.
The House of Representatives version of the FAA Reauthorization would correct this inequity, classifying all workers in all package delivery companies according to their job descriptions, rather than allowing FedEx to enjoy a government-granted benefit to which UPS is not entitled. That version should be passed into law and Fedex should stop lobbying against it.
Hartsfield’s employees and passengers deserve a good FAA bill, and Washington should stop treating UPS as a second-class corporate citizen.
Atlanta’s airport is the nation’s largest and employs about 55,000 Georgians. UPS is the nation’s largest package-delivery company employs nearly 14,000 Georgians. These are two of the most successful businesses in the nation, and they deserve respect, equal treatment and prompt action from Washington. Congress needs to do something good for business for a change. It should pass the FAA Reauthorization bill to improve conditions in Georgia, and throughout the nation.
Sen. Chip Rogers serves as Senate Majority Leader. He represents the 21st Senate District which includes portions of Cherokee and Cobb counties. He can be reached at his office at 404.463.1378 or by email at email@example.com.
For Immediate Release:
July 27, 2010
For Information Contact:
Raegan Weber, Director