Jun 26, 2009 (The Paducah Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Attorneys general from Kentucky and seven other states want to bring FedEx Ground in line with state employee-classification laws.

The eight, including Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, wrote parent firm Fed Ex Corp. Thursday, asking the company to work with them to ensure proper classification of workers and compensate the states for past practices.

The letter expressed concern that the firm may be treating many of its drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.
"Misclassifying employees is a way for a company to shirk its obligations to its employees and the protections they've been guaranteed," Conway said in a press release. "It would also allow a company to skirt paying the taxes it owes."

He said treating workers as contractors could leave them without workers' compensation and unemployment insurance, wage-and-hour and civil-rights protections, and guaranteed minimum wage.

Attorneys general from Montana and Ohio are leading the effort. They signed the letter, along with counterparts from Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Last fall, FedEx Ground opened a $4 million satellite distribution center off Paducah's John Puryear Drive with plans to increase shipping capacity from 3 million to 5.5 million packages daily and add 100 workers, mostly drivers, within five years.

David Westrick, spokesman for FedEx Ground headquarters in Pittsburgh, did not immediately have a response to the letter.

Lawsuits nationwide claim FedEx Ground misclassified drivers as independent contractors, improperly deducted money from their wages and denied overtime pay. Many of the cases have been merged into federal court in South Bend, Ind.

FedEx Ground reported in April that it won a federal appeals case in Washington, D.C., saying its contractors were independent business owners and outside the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board.

The attorneys general letter said the group was interested in the outcome of various court cases and administrative actions in several states, but wished to work out the problems with FedEx Ground.