DHL Express Workers Strike at Cincinnati Air Cargo Hub

More Than 1,100 Employees Walk Off Over Contract, Labor Practices Talks
DHL workers strike
Jessica Taylor, right, and Nick Rutherford, third from right, protest at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport near the DHL Express Hub on Dec. 8 in Erlanger, Ky. (Carolyn Kaster/ Associated Press)

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NEW YORK — More than 1,100 unionized DHL Express workers walked off the job at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, 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 the DHL-CVG workers went on strike Dec. 7 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 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 airplanes, 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.

DHL Group ranks No. 4 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest global freight companies.

In a statement sent to the Associated Press on Dec. 8, 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 committed to negotiating in good faith.

DHL added the majority of its employees reported to work on Dec. 7 and operations ran at full capacity.

The company also said that Teamsters' picket lines were expanded to other U.S. locations on Friday, but didn't immediately specify where or how many. DHL stated that it anticipated this and has enacted contingency plans — including moving flights and volume to other locations and bringing in replacement staff.

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The Associated Press reached out to the Teamsters for comment about the Dec. 8 picketing.

DHL Express is a unit of Germany’s Deutsche Post AG. In 2022, Deutsche 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.