FedEx strike threat postponed

Although the FedEx Pilots Association (FPA) promised not to strike during the ’98 holiday season, catalogers shouldn’t rest easy quite yet. As of early December, the FPA still reserved the right to call a strike next month.

In an exchange of concessions with Federal Express management, the FPA on Nov. 19 ordered members to immediately end their refusal to work overtime. At the same time, the union promised it wouldn’t strike until Feb. 1 at the earliest, provided that the carrier reopened contract negotiations by mid-January. The FPA represents more than 94% of Federal Express pilots.

By promising to suspend its strike threat, the pilots union not only persuaded management to return to the bargaining table, but it also succeeded in getting management to stop leasing aircraft from other companies in preparation for a strike.

In announcing the suspension to members, FPA vice president Byron Cobb acknowledged that “many of you are disappointed.” But while Cobb insisted that “our immediate goal is to negotiate in good faith to get a contract we deserve,” the union’s initiative may also have been spurred by a mid-November march outside FedEx’s main hub in Memphis, TN, in which 6,000 nonpilot employees supported Federal Express management while protesting the union’s actions.

FedEx’s pilots, who have never had a union contract, contend in their negotiations that they are paid considerably less than comparable United Parcel Service pilots, as well as other pilots.

Since its inception in the late 1980s, fresh flower and plant cataloger Calyx & Corolla has aggressively promoted itself. In its latest PR effort, the $25 million San Francisco-based company licensed four of its holiday wreaths for use by the U.S. Postal Service on a set of stamps.

Because the deal wasn’t finalized until late fall, Calyx & Corolla was unable to promote the wreaths in its catalogs. But the mailer still managed to get the venture written up in The Washington Post and The Miami Herald. Although Calyx & Corolla president Ruth Owades won’t reveal how much her company received from the USPS for the use of the wreaths, she says all proceeds went to the independent floral designers the cataloger used to create the products.

The wreath stamp deal had been in the works for four years, says USPS spokeswoman Sue Brennan. “We were scheduled to do it in 1997 but delayed it a year because of our sufficient stamp inventory levels at that time.” -PM

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