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Unionized DHL Express workers strike at critical Cincinnati air cargo hub

Associated Press - Fri Dec 8, 2023
DHL Strike

NEW YORK (AP) — More than 1,100 unionized DHL Express workers walked off the job at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), a critical logistics hub for the package delivery company, during the busiest time of the year.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents over 6,000 DHL workers across the country, said its DHL-CVG members went on strike Thursday to further demand a fair contract and protest unfair labor practices.

“For too long, DHL has walked all over our rights to collective action,” Gina Kemp, a DHL-CVG ramp and tug worker, said in a statement shared in the Teamsters' announcement. “This company’s repeated acts of disrespect — from the tarmac where we work to the bargaining table — leave me and my co-workers with no choice but to withhold our labor.”

Negotiations between DHL and the Teamsters for a first union contract at CVG began back in July — after ramp and tug workers, who load and unload airplane cargo, voted to organize with the Teamsters in April. In the months since, the union said, the Teamsters have also filed multiple unfair labor practices against DHL with the National Labor Relations Board.

In a statement sent to The Associated Press Friday, DHL expressed disappointment over the union's move to “influence these negotiations and pressure the company to agree to unreasonable contract terms by taking a job action in CVG Thursday morning" and said that the company was commited to negotiating in good faith.

DHL added the majority of its employees reported to work on Thursday and operations ran at full capacity.

The company also said that Teamsters' picket lines were expanded to other U.S. locations on Friday. DHL stated that it anticipated this and has enacted contingency plans — including moving flights and volume to other locations and bringing in replacement staff.

A Teamsters spokesperson confirmed to The Associated Press via email on Friday that Local 100 has extended its picket lines to unionized DHL workers in Chicago, the Miami airport gateway and a Covington pickup and delivery operation in Kentucky. These workers are not themselves on strike, the spokesperson said, but are honoring the picket line in solidarity.

DHL Express is a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Post AG. In 2022, Deutshe Post AG posted record revenue of over 94 billion euros (more than $101 billion) and operating profit of 8.4 billion euros ($9 billion).

DHL's CVG hub is hailed as one of the company's three “global superhubs," alongside operations in Hong Kong and Germany. Its CVG hub sees about 130 daily flights with a 60-aircraft fleet.

DHL's CVG workers load and unload roughly 360,000 pounds of cargo each day, the Teamsters said earlier this year.

The strike at DHL's CVG hub follows a chain of historic work stoppages and contract negotiations seen over the course of 2023 — from Hollywood and hospitality, to Big Three auto production lines. Hundreds of thousands of workers across the U.S. have participated in labor actions this year.

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