DHL Workers at CVG to Hold Union Vote Demanding Safer Working Conditions

Records show 22 workplace injuries at DHL-CVG that required transport to a hospital or emergency room.

Apr 19, 2023 at 1:16 pm
click to enlarge Workers organizing to join the Teamsters union at DHL-CVG rally outside of the DHL hub in Hebron, Kentucky on April 14, 2023. - Photo: DHL Workers United Facebook
Workers organizing to join the Teamsters union at DHL-CVG rally outside of the DHL hub in Hebron, Kentucky on April 14, 2023.

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 records

In 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 centers

Organizing 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.
“As we know, there’s two ways to form a union. One of them is voluntary recognition, and we extended that to our general manager. At that time he claimed he was in no position to acknowledge it, but the company acknowledges the other Teamsters locations,” he said.

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.

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