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FedEx Ground cuts ties with militant driver contractor

Patton out of the network, effective immediately

Spencer Patton may be off the road, hut he remains very much in the game (Photos: Jim Allen/FreightWaves, Route Consultant)

FedEx Ground has played hardball, and in so doing has tossed its most militant delivery driver contractor from the game.

Late Friday, the ground-delivery unit of FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) announced it immediately ceased working with a group of delivery service providers controlled by Spencer Patton, a Nashville, Tennessee-based contractor engaged in an increasingly hostile fight with FedEx Ground over the financial condition of its 6,000-member contractor network.

In a statement late Friday, FedEx said it had “exercised its rights” under its contract with Patton to sever ties with his companies. In a separate email on Saturday, the company said the action was based on Patton’s businesses’ “continued failure” to meet the terms of their service agreements, despite the company providing them opportunities to do so.

Patton’s 10-state operation accounted for less than 0.5% of the approximately 60,000 total routes across the FedEx Ground network, the company said. “We have contingency plans in place and do not anticipate any impact to service based on these contract actions,” it said.

Patton oversaw a network, called Patton Logistics, with 275 trucks with 225 employees. Those employees are, for now, out of jobs.

Patton, like all other FedEx Ground contractors, operated across designated territories under contracts that run between 12 and 18 months. FedEx Ground uses a non-union contractor model to pick up and deliver packages and to provide linehaul service between the company’s hubs. Entities are required to purchase the right to operate the territories, and are free to sell those rights as well.

Patton declined comment beyond a statement issued late Friday afternoon disclosing the termination. He did not mention in the statement what his next steps would be. Patton said that FedEx Ground has long used “bullying tactics when interacting with their contractors to create an environment of intimidation.” 

The move to end the relationship is a “clear case of a $60 billion corporation silencing anyone with a voice,” he said.

The move came hours after FedEx Ground had sued Patton’s consulting firm, Route Consultant Inc., charging it with spreading false and misleading claims about the financial condition of the driver contractors. In the suit, the company said the company sought to influence contractors into using its services to renegotiate their contracts.

FedEx Ground negotiates contracts directly with individual contractors, and has said it has no interest in working with third parties seeking to negotiate on behalf of other contractors. The company said that Patton is looking to insert himself as a bargaining representative, actions that would constitute a breach of contract.

Patton, who has said it would make no sense to manufacture turmoil at the company it earns his living from, has repeatedly warned that as many as 35% of contractors are in financial distress due to the rapidly escalating costs of fuel, labor and equipment. In addition, residential delivery volumes have leveled off along with post-pandemic e-commerce activity. 

Without additional financial support from FedEx Ground, many contractors may not make it through the end of the year, Patton warned. FedEx Ground pays local pickup and delivery drivers a per-stop fee and its linehaul contractors a per-mile fee. 

FedEx Ground has acknowledged the challenges facing the contractor network. Contractors can submit proposals to renegotiate their existing contracts, the company said. In its suit, FedEx Ground said it consented to 40% of renegotiation requests since July 1. More than 90% of those negotiations have resulted in higher contractual payments, the company said.

Patton has argued that the company doesn’t even respond to requests to renegotiate contracts, and that it denies many of the requests it does respond to.

Patton had become a polarizing figure in the FedEx Ground ecosystem, and his efforts have drawn significant contractor support. A two-day conference he hosted last weekend in Las Vegas drew about 3,500 attendees and thousands more watching and listening virtually. 

At the same time, there are contractors who believe that Patton doesn’t speak for them, and that it is not his place to get between their businesses and FedEx Ground. One of those contractors said Friday night that “I’m saddened that it has come to this, but it is not unexpected. As [Patton] stated, he knew what he was getting into. Now I hope we can slow the rhetoric and get back to focusing on a successful peak [season].”

During his Saturday keynote, Patton said he would cease working with FedEx Ground on or about Nov. 25 – the big shopping day known as “Black Friday” – unless the company helps out his business. 

Patton also said that for the rest of the year he will refuse FedEx Ground’s offers to provide as-needed support at other company terminals. These arrangements, known as “contingencies,” are designed to fill short-term service voids at designated terminals until FedEx Ground can find contractors to serve the routes those terminals support. 


  1. John Gray

    It is certainly a David and Goliath story and I pray In this story David wins! Fed-x profits are up 30% as the contractors suffer! What once was a good business is turning go into a nightmare for many contractors! Fed-x needs to step up and do the right thing by the folks that deliver their packages! Their is plenty of room for everyone to make a good living and keep Fed-x and their contractors a viable business! Negotiating in good faith is essential to long term success for all parties involved!

  2. LCS

    My spouse is contracted by Fedex Ground and works 6 days a week 12-14 hours a day and is losing money every day this company takes advantage of people to run daily, earning what they can so we the public have our packages delivered. We all order online and expect our deliveries as soon as possible. But we all also want to make money from the companies we work for. And until you put yourself in the shoes worn everyday by these hard working people that deliver for Fedex Ground you will not understand the pressure they go through. And Fedex Ground sure has the legal capability to sue and take away a business that someone has put their life into. These contractors are sacrificing there business and families.

  3. Robert Lennon

    I was a contractor for 13 years. FedEx lied to me and every contractor every day. FedEx is a culture of “hate and personal destruction. Contractors are vendors and are supposed to be partners with FedEx in each others personal/mutual success. FedEx. Everything Mr. Patton states is true. There is no truth whatsoever in anything FedEx has to say. FedEx can, and will, do…. every single day what they have done to Mr. Patton. FedEx contractors are all roadkill on the highway to FedEx success. Swallow that shareholders!

  4. John Lummis

    Did FedEx raise their parcel rates based on fuel increases? A failure to have an adjustment relating to fuel surcharges would sink about anyone in this environment. Good luck replacing lost capacity!

    1. Mark Solomon

      Someone who repeatedly, very publicly and in a confrontational manner agitates for change can be considered a “militant.”

  5. [email protected]

    Luckily i got out. I give him credit for standing up. I lost over 200k over a 2 year time. Negotiation is a joke. They put what really translates into a clerk to sit in the middle of negotiations. You never talk to anyone. I was lucky to get out but took a beating. If you maintain your trucks as you should you can’t survive. Look at the trucks on the road. Many are a danger. I have a conscience. I wouldn’t put a driver behind the wheel of a truck that is not safe. The highe end for a driver being paid is 200 per day. The quality of the driver is terrible. You can’t compete with hiring quality drivers. Contractors are on the brink. They invested life savings and will walk away. Thank you Fedex. You should be ashamed. Contractors need to walk out. Let’s see how they get packages delivered with contingent Contractors. It costs fedex a lot more. Companies using fedex should boycott!!!!

  6. Bob

    The big guy rolls the little guy or they knew what they signed up for. They use subcontractors not be unionized. I believe Amazon is using a very similar business model.

  7. Tom Blume

    The headline caught my eye with the word “Militant”. Well you tricked me. There is nothing “militant’ about the actions of this trucking company.

Comments are closed.

Mark Solomon

Formerly the Executive Editor at DC Velocity, Mark Solomon joined FreightWaves as Managing Editor of Freight Markets. Solomon began his journalistic career in 1982 at Traffic World magazine, ran his own public relations firm (Media Based Solutions) from 1994 to 2008, and has been at DC Velocity since then. Over the course of his career, Solomon has covered nearly the whole gamut of the transportation and logistics industry, including trucking, railroads, maritime, 3PLs, and regulatory issues. Solomon witnessed and narrated the rise of Amazon and XPO Logistics and the shift of the U.S. Postal Service from a mail-focused service to parcel, as well as the exponential, e-commerce-driven growth of warehouse square footage and omnichannel fulfillment.