Yorbalinda, CA: Debbie Johnson worked as a courier at FedEx for more than 20 years. She loved her job, but recently she has come to dread going to work. "FedEx was based on the PSP philosophy - people, service, profit," she said, "But now it's spelled backwards."
"The company started changing in the early 90s and most of us couriers were forced to do unrealistic tasks," says Debbie. "We were constantly given more work to do and if we didn't get all the work done by the end of the day, we had constant write-ups and disciplinary actions such as suspensions and even termination without any cause. These "new ways" crept up on us.
We hoped it was a phase, a sign of the times, so we stayed with FedEx, hoping this general attitude would change. But it just got worse. I started to dread going to work. Had it not been for my customers, I would have quit a long time ago. But then I thought, why should I quit? These guys can't force me out! I had put a lot of time and effort into this company and I was always a good employee. Everyone was happy with me but management made me feel that I wasn't doing my job well enough. Some customers that knew me well could tell I was stressed , especially when I couldn't give them the service they were used to - at times I couldn't even ask them, 'Hey, how are you doing today...'
It was obvious that we, as older couriers, were being targeted. I am 48 now and it started in my late 30s. So why are they trying to shove us out? It boils down to this: I make a lot more money than a new employee and this is why they want to get rid of us. It was blatantly obvious.
I still work at FedEx but many of my fellow workers have left. It is hard, when you have done the same job for 20 years and have no other skills to go somewhere else. I have my retirement planned, I am due a pension and medical insurance but if I leave the company early, I can kiss medical goodbye - a huge priority for me. I've always loved my job but the stress level got so great - constantly being nagged by management has just about ruined my self-esteem.
They would do the most asinine things to drag you down. For example, I got written up for taking they key to my FedEx delivery vehicle home. I asked numerous employees, all younger, if they had ever been written up for key-taking. They all thought I was joking - there was no way I could be disciplined for something so ridiculous - a key you put in your pocket 100 times a day.
With a slew of nit-picking incidents like this, I had a feeling of hopelessness about my job. I was very stressed and always carried a feeling of dread - what's going to happen today to make me feel worthless? But I knew better and that is why I am still here today - I am able to rise above them. Still, in the back of my mind I am always wondering if they are going to make something up and fire me.
I knew about a pending lawsuit from other employees - they told me about it a few years back. I didn't want to go down that road and tried everything possible to get through my time here but I started to get horribly harassed by one person in particular - my boss. I contacted the dept of labor and they suggested that I speak to an attorney. I sought legal advice from an outside attorney and he told me that he would accept my case and that it was indeed age discrimination - this happened about one year ago.
After speaking to the employees that are involved in this lawsuit, I decided to join with the class action - it is less stressful for me and this law firm has done a lot of work on plaintiffs' behalf.
As for the outcome, I want to see FedEx as the company it once was, one that cares about its employees. I feel like I have given them the best years of my life and we are being treated so unfairly. We have had hours taken away, our routes have been changed - my route was cut in half and given to a younger employee. I used to work 48-50 hours a week and it dropped down to about 33 hours. This was a huge cut in pay and I found it hard to make ends meet.
They tried to take away my self-esteem but I know I am one of the best couriers they've got.
As an aside: I know that FedEx just settled in another class action regarding time we weren't getting paid for. People had to sign a paper stating they wanted to be involved in the class action so they could be compensated. But many did not participate because they were afraid of the repercussions - maybe they would get fired. That is very unfortunate. I think that employees like me, that have been around a long time, have invested so much into this company. I know I went through the proper channels first before reverting to a lawsuit. I went to upper management with my concerns and I was laughed at. Couriers have no other recourse and I am going to sign and some already have.