Wednesday, March 28, 2007

International Solidarity!

International Solidarity!

with...

Antiguan FedEx Workers
International Outlaw Behavior Earns FedEx
the "Ugly American" Reputation!

"people company"

labeled

"a plantation
with
air conditioning"

A "Wicked Set of People":
South of the Border Union Busting & Massive Tax Evasion?!!

When a spoiled and bratty child doesn't get his way, he pouts and kicks the dirt, picks up his bat and glove from the playground, and cries to Mommy. This is sometimes humorous.

But when a $17 billion worldwide conglomerate throws a temper tantrum, picks up its toys, and runs home to Daddy, it's not the least bit funny. And that is what Federal Express has done on the Caribbean island country of Antigua, where people's jobs have been stolen and a nation's dignity insulted. This conduct by FedEx cannot be ignored, tolerated, or condoned.

Snubbing the country's law governing sick pay, and refusing to abide by the democratic wishes of its unionized employees, Federal Express closed down its Antiguan operation in the middle of the night on August 24. FedEx is attempting to continue business through an "authorized agent," or more accurately, a scab subcontractor.

All hourly employees were given a termination notice dated August 25. This August 25 firing letter, also posted here on UNION PRIDE 2 for the entire world to see, was issued to Antiguan workers by the law firm of Commodore & Associates on behalf of Federal Express. In the letter, management's sarcastic and demeaning attitude is summed up in its rub-it-in "gratitude" to the fired Antiguan workforce: "Our client [FedEx] wishes us to thank each and every one of their employees for the years of service that they have rendered to the company." Seniority among the Antiguan Sisters and Brothers ranged as high as 12 years.

In late 1998 the FedEx workers voted by a margin of 4 to 3 in favor of affiliation with the Antigua Workers Union. Organizing occurred in response to issues such as management's denial of legally mandated sick pay, and favoritism. Federal Express proceeded to utilize the same predictable union-busting ploy it threw in the pilots' faces for years in the United States: continuous delaying tactics! This infamous anti-union tactic is meant to make a well-meaning union look ineffective and useless to members and prospective members, so that their faith in the Union ideal dwindles, essential unity erodes, and bargaining strength further weakens.

Fed up with management's refusal to recognize the Union and engage in good faith bargaining, and angered at the corporation's continued violation of Antiguan sick pay law, FedEx members of the Antigua Workers Union walked out and launched a strike on Friday, August 20. Picketing took place on Monday the 23rd and Tuesday the 24th. It was under the cover of darkness late that night of August 24 that Federal Express removed equipment, prepared to ship vehicles and property out of the country, and hung "closed" signs that referred customers to a company called Parcel Plus. In an obvious see-through shell game, the former station manager and several non-union FedEx'ers now work at Parcel Plus!

Daynor Dow, employee #169503, a 27 year-old customer service agent with seven years' seniority, told UNION PRIDE over the phone: "We [the workers] built up Federal Express... The managers do not care about those that work below them." Daynor continued with a familiar phrase heard often among United States FedEx employees, "There is no such thing as guaranteed fair treatment." With a defiant laugh, she then very emphatically added: "Federal Express is just a plantation with air conditioning... It's all about power." Proud of her co-workers' stand against the huge corporation, Daynor expressed pride and no regrets about the quick outcome. "We feel free, very free. We felt we were off the plantation and free." Dow is the union's chief shop steward, and her assistant steward is Natasha Adams, #234373.

The first battle of "FedEx vs. Union" in Antigua may have ended, but the war is far from over. And sometimes even the "winner" of a war can be made to pay so big a price in respect and goodwill that it ends up being the loser. If its reputation south of the border wasn't already bad enough after its anti-people conduct in Antigua, Argentine government officials announced on September 8 that FedEx is being investigated for possible tax evasion upwards of $100 million! Just what kind of "people company" do we work for?


Solidarity In Progress: Far More Than FedEx Bargained For

Federal Express may have become too brazenly overconfident in their ability to walk all over its workers on Antigua. Or perhaps management arrogantly underestimated the intelligence of the people it was dealing with. Either way doesn't say much for managerial "smarts," because they apparently, and very stupidly, expected the very same striking union to merrily handle FedEx's capital flight out of the country! Not about to be fooled, Antigua Workers Union dockworkers at Deepwater Harbour refused to handle the cargo, and demanded that the FedEx vehicles, equipment, and even paperwork be removed from the port. And it all was!

Meanwhile, the Union and its supporters began a political counterattack. Chester Hughes, AWU Industrial Relations Officer, stated, "As far as we are concerned, this behavior is not in line with our industrial relations practice." Hughes continued, "The employees have been wrongfully dismissed and the union is going all out, including suing for damages." He added, "FedEx has an obligation to the employees and to this country and we will bring their practices to the attention of the Labour Attache of the US Embassy." George De Peana, the general secretary of the Caribbean Congress of Labor, also issued a statement in support of the AWU, saying, ".... if considered necessary [we] will draw it to the attention of our American and other international colleagues."

3 comments:

Crispen Alvidrez said...

First of all let me salute you guys, You remind me of me back in 1954 when I stated organizing for the Carpenters, it was tough then! Trying to convince,making a coworker to agree or believe and sometimes arguing or showing them facts and evidence about our union,Some were stubborn did,nt want nothing to do with the union,But later on they would join us.They seen favoritism,no respect for the seniority,no medical insurance,and no future retirement.But the worst of all was those nasty bosses who did,nt give a crap about us,we had a lousy handbook that was,nt follow at all.So we voted the union in 1955 by 82% yes out of 18% no,What a landslide an overwhelming victory!!After we created a contract with the help of the coworkers,our union leaders,and me,and gradually our medical insurance was created,and our retirement funds also which the companys dont have their hands on.Now I retired in 1985,I was 62 yrs old,receiving a sum of 2500 $ a month and kaiser medical which out of my retirement I paid 40$ a month and the union paids the rest of my medical.I,ve gotten every dollar I put in the union back and still my retirement keeps coming till the day I die,I,m 84 now.Also those young kids who voted no for the union back then in 1955 have contacted me back,just to say thank you crispen for bringing the union in I made a big mistake back then.My name is crispen Alvidrez and I am very proud of my son-in-law Joe Nuno and his committee GODBLESS YOU ALL!!

Anonymous said...

You guys are doing an awesome job! (FEDERAL EXPRESS TAMPA FLORIDA)

BUGSY said...

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