In response to a groundswell of support for a longtime FedEx Ground delivery man in East Hampton whose contract was terminated last week, the corporation gave no signs of hope for a reconciliation on Monday.
FedEx received hundreds of comments, Facebook messages and calls in which customers pleaded for the reinstatement of Barry Gilliam, who they said delivered their packages for the past 11 years with a smile and attitude that is rare.
"We appreciate the feedback that we have received. Our business relationship with Barry Gilliam, Inc., has ended," Erin Truxal, a FedEx Ground public relations manager based in Moon Township, PA, told East Hampton Patch on Monday evening.
"We wish Mr. Gilliam the best in his future endeavors. FedEx Ground remains committed to providing the best possible service to our customers," Truxal continued.
FedEx Ground contracted with Gilliam's business, Barry Gilliam, Inc., to provide service in East Hampton, Springs, and Wainscott for the past 11 years. In an interview on Saturday, Gilliam said that he purchased the route from the previous contractor and that every year his contract was renewed with FedEx.
A problem with the way his corporation status is filed led to the termination, which took effect late last week. Within 24 hours, his customers noticed his absence and word began to circulate around the tight-knit business community that Gilliam had lost his job.
By Sunday morning, a Facebook group titled, "We want Barry Gilliam reinstated at FedEx Ground," was formed. As of Monday night, 1,149 people joined the group. Some have threatened to boycott FedEx.
Owners of the East Hampton Business Service in the village started a petition on Monday, which they plan to send to the president of FedEx on Thursday.
Asked if reinstatement was a possibility in response to the outpouring of support Gilliam received from FedEx Ground customers, Truxal said, "Our business relationship with Barry Gilliam, Inc., has ended. All contractors agree to meet the terms of their agreements. Prior to ending an agreement, FedEx Ground provides contractors with information about issues that need to be addressed and time for their resolution. We wish Mr. Gilliam the best in his future endeavors."
Contractors agree to the terms of the contract, "to comply with federal and state laws, including those related to incorporation, good standing and ensuring its personnel are treated as employees," Truxal said. "These contractual requirements have been in place for years and are clearly and regularly communicated to independent contractors."
"FedEx Ground places the highest value on maintaining strong relationships with these small businesses and their owners," she said.
She said she could not divulge further details about why the contract with Gilliam ended. FedEx Ground "follows a very fair process" in terminating someone's contract, which "includes providing reasonable opportunity for independent contractor owners to correct contractual compliance issues."
They are also given "sufficient time to facilitate the sale or transfer of their business," she said. Asked if Gilliam could still sell his route to another contractor, Truxal said, "Under the terms of his agreement, Mr. Gilliam had the opportunity to sell his business until the agreement ended."
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