FedEx Ground Cons:
- No benefits, no overtime pay, no sick time, no insurance
- Drivers pay for vehicle, gas, supplies, insurance, and everything else
- No company retirement, seemingly less stable environment
- No Teamsters contract or collective bargaining
- Drivers have only one client: FedEx
"To Understand Rising Inequality, Consider the Janitors at Two Top Companies, Then and Now"
Kodak is dead. In no small part because they lost their ability innovate.
In fact our economy is littered with the detritus of collapsed or dying technology giants. To name just a few there's SGI, Sun, Thinking Machines, DEC and Yahoo.
With the possible exception of DEC none of these companies had any appreciable union penetration. In fact, some failed giants (Zynga and Groupon come to mind) were notorious for being vicious to their employees.
All of these companies are flashes in the pan compared to Eastman, which stayed at the top of the innovation game for generations.
If the salient difference between those companies and Eastman was Eastman's unions, that makes the unions look pretty darn good.
In your examples, for instance, Zynga and Groupon are companies that - as far as I know - did absolutely zero technological innovation; they're known for their business model innovations.
Is it possible the employees could be treated reasonably well without the unions? Is it possible that unions have downsides that might affect a company's health?
If either of those are true, it doesn't seem fair to frame "the HN takeaway" like this.
Their problem was that they were fundamentally a chemicals company. They weren't as good as consumer electronics as the Japanese consumer electronics companies, and they weren't as good at the web as Silicon Valley web companies.
And, ultimately, they wanted to milk the chemical film business as long as they could and perpetually overestimated the popularity of film cameras versus digital.
That reminds me of a passage from Robert Caro's Master of the Senate:
"Vote-counting" -- predicting legislators' votes in advance -- is one of the most vital of the political arts, but it is an art that few can master, for it is peculiarly subject to the distortions of sentiment and romantic preconceptions. A person psychologically for intellectually convinced of the arguments on one side of a controversial issue feels that arguments so convincing to him must be equally convincing to others. And therefore, as Harry McPherson puts it, "Most people tend to be much more optimistic in their counts than the situation deserves... True believers were always inclined to attribute more votes to their side than actually existed."
That wasn't the argument in the article. The Kodak employee in the article was given benefits such as education and opportunities for advancement, and Kodak ended up with a CTO - that's a great investment by Kodak.
How much talent is languishing as janitors at Apple (and the rest of SV)? In a market where talent is at an extreme premium, I truly wonder why employers don't cast a much wider net.
For example, exceptional coding talent is rare, and opportunity to become a developer is also rare - it requires access to education, computers, time to learn and to hack (not working at the grocery store so your family can feed itself), and people to work with (to encourage you, to learn from, to mentor you, etc.). At first glance, at least, it seems obvious that there are many very talented developers who just haven't had the opportunities.
They did try to innovate in their space, which they thought was camera tech, but their only real competency was in making film, and their only real focus was in making film cameras (despite some early forays into digital photography).
I personally had more enjoyable experience with UPS than FedEx. It seems to be always on schedule and delivered as promised. FedEx is not terrible, but has some variation.
If it's not f*cked it's free!
I don't know whether this has anything to do with the contractor vs employee nature of these companies, but I do know that UPS is way better at actually doing their job.
He even collected the strewn around mail from our mailbox the other day and visited us to let us know that someone has likely been stealing our mail and that we should check our credit cards. I'll miss him when he retires soon.
Other time (more an issue for Amazon in that instance) they delivered item but never scanned it so an opportunist could claim that item was never delivered and there's no way to verify that.
As I said there are also good things. I really like that USPS doesn't artificially delay packages like UPS (if item could be delivered sooner, but was paid for 2 days delivery, they will hold it). I for example had a package delivered next day because it was shipped from a close place, even though the estimate was 3-5 days.
This happened to me during tax season no less. My only saving factor was that they put it into the mailbox of a relative who lived next door (and their last name is significantly different from mine) imagine a total stranger with my tax refund plus all that information. Thank you incompetent USPS employee. We definitely complained about them, not sure if they've sorted that out but I also bought a book not short after that, and you guessed it, my relative got my book instead.
The other delivery companies just drop my stuff off there or, if they aren't open, they'll drop it at the gas station/convenience store. UPS has gotten stuck on my lawn, twice. FedEx can never find the house. So, it is just easier this way and the post office has been very accommodating.
It is one of the great joys of living in a very rural area.
It took ten days (counting from the 1st delivery attempt), and as far as I can tell five separate delivery exceptions (with the same address that I've used for any other delivery service, including FedEx 2nd day air), for them to finally deliver it. And guess what happened when I finally opened the package? The phone that is supposed to be in the package is gone (this is a pixel XL phone ordered from Google Store; fortunately Google is very responsible with this and in fact when I explained the situation to them they immediately acknowledged it to be a problem they are aware of)
This is all hearsay from the UPS driver that worked the route while I was clerking in a warehouse. He also seemed much happier than the FedEx drivers, both of which were pretty grumpy. He was also a lot more helpful and we often asked him to delay our pickup for last minute orders, which was something the FedEx drivers would never do.
As a contractor style, at the start it seems fun there are potential rewards, etc.. but you need to manage yourself a lot more, and there is less of a safety net or any kind of belonging.
As an employee style you are more of a robot at the start and have to submit to the company as it were, but later on you are looked after much better and there are teams within the company that can focus on efficiency and making life better, etc.
As someone who has a fairly split career in doing both I can fully understand the merits of both but I worry about the long term trajectory of the majority of people becoming independent as it were.
What about the salaries and benefits in the offices, sorting facilities, etc?
Oh, make sure to properly pad your fragile packages because they may or may not be pushed, shoved, flipped, thrown, or dropped depending on how busy it is.
In theory, both are therefore one major legal decision away from a very bad set of financials. In practice, hoards of lawyers and lobbyists undoubtedly man the wall (and keep winter at bay).
I guess there is technically no collusion, but it doesn't seem like there is much competition either.
It makes it difficult for smaller companies to do well because only the biggest companies get reasonable shipping rates.
This is one space where I won't shed any tears if Amazon hands them their ass.
And I had to do that 3 times before they actually stopped.
-I feel like I used to see DHL trucks and ads much more often. Did they abandon some of the residential delivery market?
Uh... I've been at fucking home all day.
Or worse, see the truck drive by your house, followed by the tracking updated to "no one home".
That's a fake delivery attempt.