A little over a year ago, I talked to my colleague Chris Brown, who covers the light- to medium-side of fleet for some of HDT’s sister brands, on HDT Talks Trucking about a FedEx Ground contractor who was very publicly challenging the company about alleged unfair treatment of its contractors.
Spencer Patton’s company, Patton Logistics, was one of the largest FedEx Ground contractors in the United States in August 2022, when he took the stage in Las Vegas at a contractor expo put on by his company Route Consultant.
With a digital backdrop of #PurpleFriday, in 2022, Patton challenged FedEx to come to the table and address challenges the company’s independent contractors were having involving rising costs and a slowdown in e-commerce volumes. He wanted to renegotiate contract terms in this new post-pandemic environment.
Without a good faith effort from FedEx, he said Patton Logistics would park its trucks on Black Friday and said other FedEx Ground contractors could join him in this planned “Purple Friday” walkout if they chose.
Patton had accused FedEx Ground of profiting from fuel surcharges not passed on to contractors, as well as not addressing Sunday deliveries and other issues putting a strain on its contractors.
Instead of coming to the table, FedEx filed suit against Route Consultant and canceled Patton Logistics’ contract.
As independent contractors, the FedEx ground contractors don't have the ability to organize and demand better contract terms, unlike the recent success seen by the Teamsters union against UPS.
What Happened to #PurpleFriday?
Chris recently wrote an update. In Las Vegas this summer, he writes, “Patton took the same stage at his Route Consultant Expo + Party, but this year he was more subdued. The public battle with FedEx Ground had taken a toll on him and the company.”
The crowd at Patton’s event was smaller this year. FedEx had scheduled its own contractor event in Orlando the day after Patton’s show.
“But the reason for the event has not changed,” Chris writes. “Patton is still the guru of FedEx Ground contractors, and their health — and the health of FedEx corporate — is good for everyone, including [Patton’s company] Route Consultant, which brokers sales of routes from one contractor to another.”
The event’s seminars addressed the evolving challenges contractors face around inflation, cost containment, and business diversification.
Some Good News
And there was good news, as well. Patton won the lawsuit FedEx had filed against his company.
“In March, all nine counts against Route Consultant were dismissed in a ruling that examined First Amendment free speech and “commercial speech” and was favorable to Patton’s public statements about the issues with FedEx Ground,” Chris reported.
“Patton also announced another win for contractors: FedEx Ground has reduced Sunday service by 50%. This issue, which he called ‘a failed and unprofitable model’ was one of last year’s #PurpleFriday demands.”
Read more of Chris’ coverage of the event, FedEx Ground Contractor’s Update: Inflation, Opportunity & Lawsuit Resolution, including:
- Inflation and macro trends affecting FedEx contractors
- FedEx electrification goals and contractors
- Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary on the economy, e-commerce and more.