DHL Express hit by strike at Cincinnati hub

A strike has broken out at DHL Express’ North American hub at Cincinnati. The ramp staff and associated workers embarked on industrial action on 7th December. The issue appears to be related to pay negotiations which commenced earlier in the year.

Apparently, difficulties in reaching an agreement motivated some DHL workers at the facility to “organize with the Teamsters in April” according to a statement released by the Teamsters Union. This led to the Teamsters filing “numerous unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board during and since the organizing campaign, including for DHL’s retaliation against pro-union workers. The NLRB is prosecuting the company civilly for its illegal actions”.

The implication might be that the involvement of the Teamsters made some workers at the Cincinnati facility more inclined to strike. DHL Express has been briefing journalists that the impact of the strikes has not been that serious. Normally the period approaching Christmas would see the whole DHL Express network operate at a high level of utilisation. However, DHL Express is giving the impression that it is able to work around the strikes, not least by moving consignments away from the Cincinnati facility. This must be quite hard as the purpose of the large handling capability at Cincinnati is to deliver both capacity and efficiency for the whole North American airfreight network. At the very least there must be a penalty of higher costs for DHL Express.

These strikes are the latest in a continuing series of industrial disputes in various parts of the logistics sector in the US and elsewhere. UPS has only just avoided similar action to that seen at DHL in Cincinnati, with an agreement this week with the Teamsters over redundancies at UPS’ Louisville hub. There are also strikes affecting sectors such as rail freight in Germany and ports in Belgium.

The reason is not hard to understand. Unemployment levels may be rising from their very low levels earlier in the year, however the labour market is tight and the agreement that UPS made with its permanent drivers must have influenced other workers in the Express sector especially to demand higher wages. The implication is higher labour costs for the logistics sector worldwide.

Author: Thomas Cullen

Source: Ti Insights

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