Thread: UPS lobbyists
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Old 10-05-2008, 11:00 AM   #1  
FR8K9
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Default UPS lobbyists

Good article here about what UPS lobbyists are doing down in Washington, DC. Also some info on the progress of the DHL vendor agreement.

Looks like the deal is still on, indeed.


Critics track UPS' lobbyists, contributions
Lawmakers who oppose air deal with DHL find most colleagues reluctant

By Marilyn Geewax
Cox News Service

Published on Sunday, Oct 05, 2008

WASHINGTON: Powerful political leaders are trying to block United Parcel Service from providing air cargo services for its rival DHL.

These opponents, who fear the loss of jobs and competition, have spurred two congressional hearings and secured the support of both presidential candidates.

Still, the UPS-DHL agreement, announced in May, remains on track to close this year. Atlanta-based UPS' giant's deftness at deflecting criticism highlights its clout on Capitol Hill, where it has long-standing relationships.

When lawmakers ask questions about the DHL deal, UPS lobbyists ''immediately respond,'' UPS spokesman Norman Black said. ''That's their job.''

And they do that job with the help of heavy spending. According to records compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit Washington research group that tracks money in politics, UPS contributed $22.5 million to federal candidates in the 1989-2008 period. That gave the company a ranking of No. 21 on the center's ''top all-time donors'' list.

About two-thirds of its spending went to Republican candidates. On the list of contributors to Republicans' political action committees, UPS ranked No. 7 for the 2007-2008 election cycle, with $948,208 donated, according to data released by the Federal Elections Commission on Sept. 17.

UPS does not reveal how many lobbyists it employs, but the Center for Responsive Politics says UPS has spent at least $17.3 million on lobbying since 2002, with more than $2.5 million being spent just in the first half of this year.

The key issues for the company's lobbyists are free trade, transportation infrastructure and aviation policy.

Lawmakers who have opposed UPS on legislation have found themselves facing a tough foe. Among them is Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who introduced the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act to impose new shipping and record-keeping requirements on those who sell cigarettes by mail, phone or Internet.

The bill passed the House 379-12 last month, ''but stalled in the Senate — again,'' said Rohit Mahajan, Kohl's press secretary. UPS mounted ''one of several lobbying efforts that have successfully blocked Sen. Kohl's PACT Act,'' he said.

Black, the UPS spokesman, said that although the company does lobby on many matters, ''We are not lobbying on the DHL issue because we don't need to. Congress has no role — this is a straight vendor contract.''

Under the proposal, UPS would get an infusion of $1 billion in annual revenue from DHL, the U.S.-based express shipping unit of German postal service Deutsche Post AG. In exchange, UPS would transport DHL packages among airports in North America.

UPS would not pick up or deliver DHL packages to customers, leaving the companies to continue to operate as rivals, UPS says. The arrangement would be similar to an existing contract with the U.S. Postal Service, it argues.

But the deal would mean the loss of thousands of jobs at DHL's air cargo facility in Wilmington, Ohio. That has drawn criticism from both presidential candidates, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz, and Barack Obama, D-Ill., and from other Congress members who have called for a Justice Department antitrust review.

Ohio lawmakers say the deal would limit competition.

Because the transaction has not yet been finalized, antitrust regulators have not commented. Black said UPS would provide Justice with a copy of the agreement, but does not expect an antitrust review because ''this is not a merger, not a partnership and not a joint venture.''

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group, said that while only the Justice Department can block deals on antitrust grounds, Congress can have influence.

For example, if Congress is unhappy with Justice, it can retaliate by holding ''unpleasant hearings, reducing appropriations or threatening legislative changes,'' she said. ''The fewer lawmakers you have writing nasty letters about you to Justice, the happier a company is,'' she said,

To discourage lawmakers from pressuring Justice, UPS has been explaining its position to them. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., describes the UPS lobbyists as ''very well respected and professional.''

With the DHL controversy raging, the UPS lobbyists ''met with us and told us their story,'' he said. ''I realize this (transaction) will cost some jobs in Ohio. But UPS has made a compelling case'' that in a slowing economy with sky-high jet fuel prices, this is a sensible deal, Isakson said
.

Pat Walsh, a pilot who transports DHL cargo for ASTAR Air Cargo, agrees that in the package delivery business ''there is a lot of excess capacity.'' But if UPS and DHL were to complete this deal, 500 pilots in his chapter alone of the Air Line Pilots Association will lose their jobs, he said.

''We're fighting this on a lot of different fronts,'' including sending pilots door to door on Capitol Hill to make personal appeals.

''The Ohio delegation has been fighting this deal,'' Walsh said.

But the pilots are in a tough position. ''UPS is a big company to go up against,'' he said. Not to mention, with 358,000 employees, UPS has a presence in virtually every congressional district.

Trying to outlobby UPS ''has been a real lesson in how government works,'' he said.

Ohio.com - Critics track UPS' lobbyists, contributions
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