By Jim Bleyer
While every company with a decent, moral corporate culture severs formal ties with the National Rifle Association in the wake of the horrific shooting that took the lives of 17 Florida high school students, FedEx stands alone.
Their executives are obstinate, insensitive, and deceitful. But consumers are more powerful than the 58th Fortune ranked company and now is the time to prove it. The biggest hurdles facing any successful boycott: it takes conviction and sacrifice by the participants. The numbers will tell the final story.
There are a myriad of tools available to those who sincerely want FedEx to feel the pain and alter its policy. In the final analysis it’s moral backbone and forbearance vs. avoiding inconvenience.
Trust this: FedEx will change its policy if collective action significantly hurts its bottom line.
Right now, however, FedEx has embarked on a campaign of deceit, falsely accusing UPS of having a similar relationship with the National Rifle Association. But UPS does not offer NRA members discounts. FedEx offers NRA discounts that can be as much as 26 percent. Huge difference.
Don’t be deluded by the simplistic, losing strategy of not directly using FedEx shipping or the company’s office centers. It will take much more than that because you are unknowingly utlizing FedEx services or investing in the company. You are patronizing companies that are some of FedEx’ biggest customers. The portfolios of many mutual funds comtain FedEx shares.
When shopping on Amazon, request that the delivery of any goods be given to UPS, not FedEx. If you cannot arrange for that, purchase the products elsewhere online or at a brick and mortar store. Or forego the purchase. That wouldn’t constitute making the ultimate sacrifice as we well know.
Amazon is planning to launch its own delivery service but until then, boycotters should adhere to the anti-FedEx playbook.
Much has been made of REI and L. L. Bean ceasing to use certain suppliers or not sell guns to anyone under 21. The fact is that both of those companies are two of FedEx’ biggest customers. So REI and Bean get no business or kudos from me and they shouldn’t from you either.
Other big volume FedEx users: Apple, Lands End, Newegg, and Walmart. QVC and Home Shopping Newwork, both mammoth shippers, use FedEx for certain types of deliveries. Ask if and when you order.
There are many others. Best advice: shop at brick and mortar until FedEx capitulates.
Other shipping companies besides UPS include USPS, DHL, as well as regional couriers like Lazer Ship and Ontrac.
Here is a Morningstar list of the 20 largest shareholders in FedEx. Seven are under the Vanguard umbrella and two are Fidelity funds.
Check the list of mutual funds and, if you invest with any of them, adjust your portfolios accordingly. This is the most effective collective action as it will have an almost immediate effect on the FedEd stock price.
FedEx is headquartered in Memphis so if you have plans to visit, scrap them. Four Fortune 1000 companies based there include Auto Zone, International Paper, Service Master (an outsourcing service), and Mueller Industries a multi-billion manufacturer and seller of copper, brass, aluminum, and plastic products.
Other companies that call Memphis home are Fred’s, a discount merchandiser; First Horizon National Corp., a bank holding company; MAA, a tral estate investment trust, and Wright Medical Group, a specialty orthopedics company.
And in passing, FedEx is not such a great corporate citizen aside from its pro-gun favoritism. This security breach was exposed two days after the shooting in Parkland. This Daily Beast article said drug dealers use FedEx as a distributor because of lax security measures with FedEx management having knowledge of the massive transfer of cocaine and heroin.
In other words, FedEx profits and gives tacit approval to harming our country’s children with drugs as well as guns.
By not enabling any entity associated with FedEx, you are bringing maximum pressure to bear. Call it collateral damage if you wish but every weapon in the boycott arsenal needs to be deployed to bring FedEx to its knees. The NRA uses both barrels to buy political clout.
Hand-wringing won’t cut it. You have the power.
The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students asserted that “adults let us down” in the wake of the shooting that killed their classmates. If those students had the financial wherewithal that you possess, they would punch FedEx in the gut.
(In addition to our thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers, this piece was disseminated to hundreds of media in North America and Europe as well as financial institutions, brokerage firms, progressive groups, gun safety proponents, and pro-consumer organizations.)