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July 26, 2005

Republicans have declared war on middle America

-- by Gary Boatwright

With the union break up and Cox's appointment to the SEC in the headlines, we need to remember that anti-unionism is not the only method corporate America has of ripping off consumers and workers. Michael Hiltzik, who is guest blogging at Poltical Animal while Kevin Drum is on vacation, had a terrific column in the L.A. Times yesterday highlighting the war chest Big Pharma has accumulated to defeat Prop 79 in California. Another article in the business section featured how Fed Ex cheats "independent" truckers.

First, Drug Firms' $50-Million California Prescription The pharmaceutical industry, the business of which is ostensibly to make us healthy while making healthier profits for itself, is prepared to spend well more than $50 million to teach Californians what's good for us.

That's right. The robber barons at Big Pharma will be spending at least $50 million dollars to make sure they can continue to gouge American consumers billions of dollars to keep CEO bonuses from declining. Bush and the Republican party were their partners in crime when they passed Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug plan last year.

A separate article, FedEx Unit Faces Labor Lawsuits Contract drivers for the firm's trucking division contend they should be hired as employees, proves there is more than one way to skin an employee and details why drivers don't feel all that independent:

The drivers say FedEx controls just about everything they do — the hours they work, where and when they pick up or deliver packages, how they maintain their trucks, even how they dress. FedEx also prohibits drivers from using their trucks to carry non-FedEx shipments.

"They're calling these drivers independent contractors, but they're really employees," said Christopher Gilreath, a lawyer for a group of Memphis drivers who filed suit against FedEx in federal court last month.

Gilreath said more than a dozen similar suits were planned or had been filed around the country. The lawsuits directly affect small groups of current or former drivers, and some plaintiffs have already sought class-action status that could expand the reach of court rulings.

A state court in Los Angeles decided last year that one category of contract drivers for FedEx Ground should be treated as company employees. FedEx has said it will appeal.

McDonald's employees may fit Fed Ex's definition of independent contractors. And it sounds like they will even have snazzier uniforms.

With a little help from their Repubican friends and outsourcing, corporate America is turning us all into minimum wage service workers.

Posted by Gary Boatwright at July 26, 2005 7:07 AM

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Comments

There is no legal requirment that a contract worker be paid minimum wage.

I see advertisements for contract couriers all the time. I also have done income taxes for some. They barely get enough to cover the cost of the vehicle they are required to supply.

America is becoming a land of lower than minimum wage workers - and the companies are cutting benefits at the same time.

Posted by: Rick B at July 26, 2005 12:13 PM

If memory serves, Microsoft got dinged a few years ago for treating temporary workers like permanent ones, but without compensating them like permanent workers. The FedEx thing sounds broadly similar.

Posted by: ArC at July 26, 2005 12:33 PM

Don't you people know that if you worked harder for less money everything would be just fine?

I'm personally waiting for the chance to underbid the people who work for sixty cents a day.

Posted by: grannyinsanity at July 26, 2005 1:38 PM

Do they WANT a violent revolution?

Posted by: richard at July 26, 2005 2:24 PM

The Barna poll this spring revealed that Dems and Reps both rank large corporate execs as the least trustworthy of all Americans...an average of 88% of both Dems and REps distrust corporate execs...the only value they agreed on. This lack of trust is independent of religion .... evangelicals and athiests poll the same. This looks like a wedge issue for Dems to spearate the unholy alliance of corporations and evangelicals the Reps use to win. Dem -sponsored legislation requiring mandatory serious jail time for corporate execs whose companies were convicted for pollution, labor violations, deceptive ads, etc. would split the Rep coaltion and bring evangelicals back to Dems....and help workers like the Fed Ex drivers.

Posted by: patrick at July 27, 2005 8:56 AM

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