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Teamsters Target FedEx Express's Union Status for Drivers in Web Campaign

The Teamsters Union is taking to the Internet in its campaign to require that drivers in FedEx Corp.’s Express unit be subject to the same labor laws as rival package delivery companies.

The Teamsters site fedexdriversarentpilots.com, introduced today, backs legislation to place the drivers under the National Labor Relations Act, which lets workers vote locally to join a union. The drivers are classified with airline employees under the Railway Labor Act, which requires national elections.

“This is about fairness, this is about leveling the playing field,” Ken Hall, a Teamsters vice president, said in an interview. He declined to reveal the cost of the campaign, which he said will include advertising on news media Web sites and a mobilization of the 1.4 million Teamsters.

The campaign intensifies a three-year battle in Congress over legislation that would make it easier for FedEx drivers to form unions. The Web site features a 35-second video of a truck driver pretending to be a pilot, yelling “mayday” about running low on fuel before pulling his rig into a gas station.

A proposal to reclassify the drivers passed the House last year in a $53.5 billion funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration. The Senate’s FAA measure passed in March without the driver proposal, and the Teamster campaign is urging consumers to contact senators. Differences must be resolved before the FAA legislation becomes law with President Barack Obama’s signature.

United Parcel Service Inc., the biggest employer of Teamsters with about 240,000 union members, also backs the legislation. UPS truck drivers organize under the law that permits local elections.

FedEx has said Express should be regulated under the railway law because the unit delivers most parcels by air and UPS ships mostly by truck. FedEx has said reclassifying its drivers could reduce reliability, leading to factory shutdowns or delayed medical shipments.

Pilots are the only major group represented by a union among FedEx’s 290,000 employees and contractors. The Teamsters have been seeking to organize FedEx ground workers for years.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Hughes in Washington at jhughes5@bloomberg.net

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