"The drivers must wear FedEx uniforms, drive FedEx-approved vehicles, and groom themselves according to FedEx's appearance standards," Judge William Fletcher said in the 3-0 ruling. "FedEx tells its drivers what packages to deliver, on what days, and at what times."The decision is a win for these drivers, but FedEx is appealing. What's more, even if the drivers win that appeal and ultimately win their wage-theft suit, FedEx is determined to keep finding ways to exploit its drivers going forward:
Although the company does not dictate working hours, Fletcher said, it arranges workloads to make sure they work between 9 1/2 and 11 hours a day. He also noted that FedEx requires drivers to provide their own vans and specifies their dimensions, shelving and paint color.
FedEx Ground, in its prepared statement, said the particular contracting arrangement for these drivers “is no longer in use. Since 2011, FedEx Ground has only contracted with incorporated businesses, which treat their drivers as their employees.” In other words, the company has shifted from an independent contractor model to a subcontractor model.Forcing companies to take responsibility for the people who work for them is one of the key legal battles for workplace rights, as large companies routinely pass the buck for their terrible wages and working conditions (and labor law violations) to franchisees, contractors, and through bogus independent contractor arrangements. Workers have gotten some wins lately, with the National Labor Relations Board saying that McDonald's is a joint employer with its franchisees and is therefore responsible for working conditions in its restaurants. A California judge also ruled recently that Walmart would have to stand trial along with a contractor for wage theft in Walmart warehouses operated by the contractor; that case ended up being settled out of court for $21 million. But these arrangements are still common and, of course, we can't exactly trust this Supreme Court to crack down on them, however abusive they are.
“This is FedEx’s m.o.,” said Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel of the National Employment Law Project. Whenever a given arrangement with drivers comes under legal attack, Ruckelshaus explained, FedEx “makes minor adjustments … and says, ‘We’re fine now.’” Drivers must then decide whether to re-litigate the matter.
A fair day's wage
- Despite the Supreme Court's attack on union rights for home care workers, a union representation election for 27,000 Minnesota home care workers yielded a vote to join SEIU.
- How much do you know about the minimum wage, really? (Full disclosure: I got 10 out of 13.)
- Speaking of which, the AFL-CIO is asking people to tell how raising the minimum wage would affect them. Check out some of the answers at the link.
- This is a damned good hire by the Department of Labor.
- The Chicago Teachers Union is calling for full-day universal preschool.
- A teachers strike is ending in Galesburg, Illinois, after the board of education and the teachers' union reached a tentative deal.
- Charter schools don't need an ad campaign, they need regulation.
- The fourth Philadelphia charter school this year has gotten a union contract.
- Why charter schools have high teacher turnover.