Starting next week, ramp workers at DHL-CVG in Erlanger, Kentucky, will begin voting on unionization.
Garrett Schwing, a ramp lead for DHL-CVG, told CityBeat higher pay is a conversation employees want to have, but that safer working conditions is the most pressing need for DHL-CVG’s 1,100 employees.
“We have to have absolutely better safety policies than just, ‘Oh, take care of yourself, be careful and don’t get hurt,’ that’s not good enough for an air hub,” he said.
Schwing said ramp associates are paid as low as $20 per hour to have life-threatening jobs loading and unloading nearly 400,000 pounds of cargo per day using old, dangerous equipment.
Injury recordsIn 2022, there were at least 22 workplace injuries that required transport to a hospital or emergency room, according to Kenton County Airport Board records. Injuries included broken, crushed and dislocated limbs. Records show one worker suffered a “degloving” of his arm, an injury where the skin and tissue get ripped away from the bone.
Schwing said understaffing and lack of training are also to blame for the workplace injuries.
“We’re solving problems for our company that aren’t even taught in on-the-job training. We figure it out just by conversations and off-hand on-the-job experience,” he said. “A company of our size cannot afford to do this anymore. They cannot afford to put people’s lives in danger and say, ‘you’ll figure it out.’”
Voluntary recognition at other DHL centersOrganizing DHL employees at CVG are fighting for recognition from the company under the Teamsters, one of the largest labor unions in the world. Numerous other DHL locations have unions represented by the Teamsters, some of which were recognized voluntarily by DHL without having to hold a union election, according to Schwing.
DHL recently opened up hub locations in Dallas, Atlanta, and Ontario where Schwing said new employees are automatically offered Teamsters union membership upon hiring without the need of an election process.
“Someone can walk in the door, get offered a job, accept, and choose whether or not they would like representation under the Teamsters,” Schwing said. “But the CVG location, as one of DHL’s super hubs, is not offered the same practice.”
DHL-CVG ramp employees are free to start voting for or against joining the Teamsters union starting April 26. The election will last for three days and results should be available by end of day on April 28.
Follow CityBeat's staff news writer Madeline Fening on Twitter and Instagram.
Coming soon: CityBeat Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting Cincinnati stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.
Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Reddit | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter