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Activism Made Easy: Choosing UPS

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Hand in hand with the endless stream of global inequities, issues and problems that assault us often comes frustration, despair, helplessness and guilt over the insurmountable odds of being able to make a difference. Marching, signing petitions, writing letters to the editor, joining a campaign, and sending donations to organizations just don't seem to bring about change -- even though I continue to fight the good fight. However, when I read the New York Times' front page story in the Sunday Business section titled "Working Life (High and Low)" on 4/19/08, I felt a sudden surge of relief at how easy it was going to be for me to take a stand in a meaningful way. Hitting a greedy company in the pocket always makes a difference, and it always hurts. The company I'm talking about is Federal Express, which shall henceforth be referred to as the Evil Empire.

According to the article, which was adapted from a book called The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker by Steven Greenhouse, the Evil Empire is apparently trying to outdo Wal-Mart in the despicable corporate practices arena. In order to work for the EE, all drivers must 1) buy their own trucks at high monthly installments, with an $8,000 final payment, 2) pay for insurance, 3) pay for gas, maintenance and tires, 4) take orders on what to do, when to do it, and where to do it, including when they can take time off, 5) load an average of 100-140 packages onto the truck every day, and 6) wear their uniform. But, they are not considered employees. No, no, no! They're independent contractors! So, the anti-union EE gets away with not paying payroll taxes or social security. On top of that, they seem to be duking it out with Dick Cheney for Top Dog in the humane department. When one of their drivers asked for time off for chemotherapy treatments (she had a resurgence of stage 4 cancer), they fired her, even though she had worked there ten years.

These policies give the EE an advantage over UPS, which treats their drivers as regular employees, with all the benefits that come with full-time employment. My small business has been using the Evil Empire for years because their rates are lower. But, they don't play fair. So, effective immediately, I'll pay a little more, and switch to UPS. It's going to be so easy! Forward this to ten people...

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