November 26th, 2013

Let’s Talk with Kalola: FedEx Express Workers Bullied by Manager


Dear Kalola,

We work for FedEx and we have a senior manager who has verbally humiliated us. We do not have a union, and we have poor representation by the personnel representative.

 

Because we are not an independent department,  the manager can kick out employees from meetings.  The manager talks bad about past administrations, and has said things like we are not working good enough for what we do.  Our concerns are not accepted by this manager and that what we have learned in the past with other managers was wrong, and more.   We have witnessed this and follow the proper steps but the problem is not solved.   This person has a record of  the same behavior with other shifts and management only fixed by removing and sending the manager to work in another area.   We have documentation and employee testimonies in the group......thanks for listening… We are desperate for solutions.   They talk too much about how FedEx is great company to work for, but the public does not know the reality.

Thanks.

Worker


Dear Worker,


Your work location is a large regional hub of FedEx Express.  FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company.  Please note that identifying information has been removed from your letter in order to give you and your co-workers anonymity.

You do not belong to a union of workers.  UPS workers are covered under the National Labor Relations Act while FedEx workers are covered under the Railway Labor Act.  FedEx workers do not have the same rights as other transportation delivery workers in similar jobs to unionize.  FedEx claims that if FedEx workers were unionized, it would add to Fed Ex's labor costs which could add a surcharge to the cost of shipping packages.

Why aren't FedEx Express workers covered by the National Labor Relations Act? See article below by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: 

Railroaded Out of Their Rights:  How a Labor Law Loophole Prevents FedEx Express Workers From Being Represented By a Union (June 2010)

Our country is still recovering from "The Great Recession" (December 2007 to September 2008).  FedEx Corporation was hit hard by the recession and has had to cut costs at FedEx Express and FedEx Services due to businesses or customers who are using cheaper means to transport their products.

Bloomberg: Business Week, November 12, 2013 article:  Loeb Says Third Point Has FedEx Stake, Met With CEO Smith

Excerpt of Bloomberg Business Week Article:

"FedEx is in the midst of a $1.7 billion restructuring program to lower costs and boost earnings (FDX:US) with steps such as cutting air capacity to Asia, retiring older planes and offering employee buyouts. Smith, who founded the company in 1971, is under pressure to reduce expenses as customers shift towards less-expensive delivery options from overnight air shipments." "The company’s FedEx Express unit, handling global air shipments, has borne the brunt of the customer shift to slower, cheaper methods of delivery. The business is FedEx’s largest division, accounting for about 60 percent of total revenue during the last quarter, and is the focus of FedEx (FDX:US)’s cost-reduction efforts."

Your issue/allegation(s):    The manager talks bad about the corporation's upper management.  She/he humiliates workers and puts down workers for not being good enough in the jobs that they do.  He/she excludes workers from meetings, and refuses to listen to worker concerns.

When reporting the actions of the manager, it is best to make a report based on direct observations and/or experience(s).  Do not include hearsay about what you have heard from other units.  Do you have documentation that backs up your allegation(s)?  Were there witnesses to back up your claims?  It sounds like your group has documentation to support your claims.

What immediately comes to mind is that the manager you describe has no respect or loyalty to the employer which is bad for business.  As a manager, he/she is not doing her/his job in an effective manner that supports workers or the employer.  An employer's best asset are their employees.

FedEx Corporation has a "Business Code of Conduct" in place which was designed to foster a safe workplace that values diversity, teamwork, and human dignity.

A pdf of the Business Code of Conduct can be downloaded at the above website.  To report issues, the Business Code of Conduct says that issues should be reported to the manager or company contact or Human Resources Department or Legal Department or the FedEx Alert Line.

 

Look for "Alert Line" posters.  FedEx states in various publications that workers can call the Alert Line and remain anonymous.  I looked for the telephone # online but was unable to find the telephone number.

 

FedEx says:

"The Code requires our employees and independent contractors to report immediately any suspected violation of those standards, and the Alert Line provides one mechanism for doing so. Using the Alert Line, employees and independent contractors are able to make anonymous, confidential reports, 24 hours a day, of suspected legal and ethical violations within FedEx by making a toll-free phone call. The Code prohibits retaliation for making such a report."

Page 38 of FedEx publication

From what you describe, it sounds like the employer may be rotating out bad managers from one work location to another rather than dealing with the problem.  This happens in different types of work settings.

 

For example:  Principals in a large school district are often rotated to different schools every few years.  Too many complaints and the principal is rotated out to another school.

Another example:  A group of doctors claimed that they were successful in having a bully removed.  How did the large hospital deal with the problem?  The hospital transferred the bully to another unit of the hospital.  Good news for one group of doctors in one department but bad news for the new unit where the bully was transferred to.  The problem can't be solved by merely transferring a bully to a new location.

Bullying is not about a personality conflict between two or more workers but about about an abusive individual who targets a worker or workers.  The bully isn't going to change his/her behavior just because their work location has been changed.  Instead, the abusive individual will in all likelihood wreak havoc in their new location.  Bullies bully because they can.  The bully puts his/her own agenda of controlling the target(s) above the needs of the employer.

 

CNN Money reported that Fortune Magazine listed the FedEx Corporation in their top 100 list of employers for 2013.  FedEx was #98 on the list

Suggestion:  To report misconduct, a worker can call in to the FedEx "Alert Line" and remain anonymous.  My feeling is that it would be better to anonymously report misconduct rather than risk repercussions for reporting misconduct.  Have other workers reported misconduct?  What happened as a result of reporting misconduct?   If workers have already reported the manager by calling the "Alert Line" and in one month's time there is no noticeable difference in the manager's treatment of workers then you might consider going en masse or as a group to the manager's direct supervisor and ask for a meeting.  Do not pressure other workers to join your group.  The decision to join your group is an individual decision that each worker must make for themselves.

 

Mistreatment of workers by a manager or supervisor can affect employee morale.  Continual mistreatment of workers will, in time, affect employee productivity, employee health, higher absenteeism, etc., which can be costly to the employer.  If you can make a business case that the manager or bully is too expensive to keep, the employer might listen.  Keep documenting.

 

It would be helpful if the employer had an anti-bullying workplace policy with procedures in place on how to deal with a worker who has proven to have violated policy.  Employers can educate their workers about workplace bullying via training sessions.   An investigation by a neutral third-party can prove or disprove whether a worker has willfully violated an anti-bullying workplace policy.   Bullies have been known to lie about the facts and have even been known to claim that it was the target who was the bully.  Be aware that bullies don't play fair.

"Employees are a company's greatest asset—they're your competitive advantage.  You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus, and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company's mission."  ... Anna Mulcahy, an American businesswoman

 

Sincerely,

Kalola

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 26th, 2013 at 5:00 am and is filed under Let's Talk with Kalola. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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