You Can’t Put Arbitrary Limits on the Future

Fedex is in the process of negotiating a new union contract. At the same time, Fedex is trying to deal with fundamental changes to their business. The increase in demand from the pandemic is waning and they now have a glut of pilots, around 700 from a total of 5,800.

The future of Fedex will likely mean fewer pilots, a combining of their Express and Ground units and moving to use more trucks than pilots (trucks are cheaper). In essence, the future will be different from the present. The challenge for Fedex is how its union contract may delay that future from arriving.

Unions will likely fight to keep all 5,800 pilots at higher wages and higher working hours, as that is the sole responsibility of unions. It underlies the role that unions can play in the demise of companies. I support companies paying higher wages but you can’t put arbitrary limits on the future.

Why should Fedex be forced to maintain the same number of pilots even as their business model is changing? Reducing the pilot headcount is likely the most sustainable long term solution to higher wages and higher working hours. 

There’s another organization that has been limited by arbitrary limits. Perhaps Fedex can learn some lessons from the United States Postal Service (USPS) and their required contributions to retirement health benefits. The forced contributions nearly bankrupted the USPS. It only took them 16 years to change that. 

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