Teamsters win vote at Cincinnati Airport’s DHL
A worker speaks at a rally before the union vote. | Teamsters

CINCINNATI—By a two-to-one ratio among voters, Teamsters Local 100 won the union recognition vote among 1,100 DHL Express ramp and tug workers at the air cargo firm’s biggest hub, the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport.

The National Labor Relations Board has already certified the victory, Teamsters spokeswoman Kara Deniz reported. The company website was silent about whether DHL would contest the results or appeal the union win to the NLRB.

Key issues in the drive were Improvements in safety, better pay and benefits, said Deniz. The grass-roots organizers for unionization, calling themselves DHL Workers United For Change, also stressed what they’ve won for the 6,100 other DHL Express workers the union represents nationwide.

Those benefits include “significant wage increases, solid work rules that are in writing, a fair procedure to handle workplace disputes, affordable health insurance coverage and retirement security,” the organizers said. A video posted by A More Perfect Union added disregard for worker safety—and several horrifying injuries—to that list.

“This was a long time coming!” said Steve Fightmaster, a ramp lead and DHL Workers United committee member. He told the union the win “changed over 1,000 people’s lives for the better.”

Teamsters Express Division Director Bill Hamilton said the workers “overcame a tough anti-union campaign and fought hard against the retaliation and misinformation from management. Ultimately, they prevailed because they were determined to bring real change to their workplace.”

“There’s strength in numbers,” DHL Workers United added. “The Teamsters will give us the voice we need to demand our worth at DHL. When we vote to form our union with Local 100, we will negotiate as equals with DHL for things that matter to us and our families…We have the opportunity to make a decision that will impact our futures in a profound way.”

The year-long drive overcame more than usual company hostility, according to Ryan Doyen. That former DHL manager told The Guardian he resigned that position in disgust approximately two months ago, returned to being an hourly worker, and then became an advocate for the union.

Doyen’s reasons: Other managers’ denigration of the workers as “inmates” in a “prison” and themselves as the “wardens.”

After hearing numerous managerial putdowns of the workers, “One day I overheard a conversation between two managers that they needed to take back the hub, that they referred to [it] as a prison, and that they are the ‘wardens’ taking back the prison from the ‘inmates.’

“On that note, I did not want to be a part of management any more because I couldn’t idly sit by and allow managers to speak ill of the people I called my friends and colleagues. It didn’t sit right with me as a human.”

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.