DHL workers demonstrate for right to join union: ‘They have stomped on our rights’

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DHL ramp and tug workers gathered Tuesday to ask that DHL Express and its Germany-based parent company, Duetsche Post DHL Group, respect U.S. laws that govern workers’ rights to form unions.

In an attempt to gather at DHL-CVG Tuesday, workers from DHL, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Interfaith Workers Center and Wesley United Methodist Church were met with security blocking every entrance to the building.

DHL-CVG Workers United for Change was formed to fight for the employee’s right to join the Teamsters Union in hopes of improving their working conditions, members said.

“In meetings I’ve had upstairs, we discussed the union when they first caught wind of it back in June,” said Ryan Doyan, who was once a supervisor at DHL. “I’ve seen people who’ve supported this union for the past year be terminated unjustly. They have stomped on our rights, they have stomped on us personally. If you are not a yes man, you have no standing within this company.”

Doyan has since stepped down from his position as supervisor because of what he called the company’s harsh retaliation toward the idea of a union and to avoid management altogether. He is now within DHL’s second shift and took a two dollar hourly pay cut.

“I did not want to be a part of that culture anymore,” Doyan said. “Here I am, an employee of DHL. This has to end. We have to get a union to have better representation for all of us on the line.”

Northern Kentucky University assistant professor Cris Biazzin told LINK nky that while Northern Kentucky may be called “Supply Chain Hollywood” due to its optimal location for distribution in the United States, discussions about unions, the fair distribution of earnings, equity, and wealth have become increasingly prevalent, as with any rapidly growing industry.

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“One way that workers can advocate for their rights and negotiate with powerful employers is through unionization,” Biazzin said. “While unionization can lead to short-term benefits for workers, such as higher compensation and improved job security, it can have long-term effects on the regional economy. The domino effect of rising salaries in other industries, layoffs, decreased profitability, and price inflation can lead to economic recession at a fast pace.”

Workers at DHL called upon members from The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, who represent over a million working people in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, to support their case to form a union.

“IBT is a well-known and respected institution that uses tough and aggressive approaches, including strikes and mobilizations, to support its cause,” Biazzin added.

One representative from IBT shared his support of the workers from DHL and their case to be unionized.

“I’ve spent eight months on this campaign,” said Nick Prather of IBT. “I’ve gotten to know these workers, their families, their kids, their parents, their spouses. This is a reflection of this community today. I’ve been in every neighborhood in NKY, this is where these workers live, work and spend their money. The idea that DHL doesn’t care about that community, is atrocious. 90% of domestic freight goes through this facility. These people, ramp and tug workers, are the most underrepresented group for DHL. This is a union driven company and they have denied these rights in every way possible.”

A follow up meeting with DHL Express was requested by the community leaders present in support of the DHL Workers United for Change no later than April 1, 2023.

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