© Cebas1

Two of the big three US integrated parcel carriers were facing work stoppages at their main hubs in North America during the Christmas shopping frenzy this week – but UPS averted the strike at its Louisville hub planned for Monday.

It was the second time this year UPS faced a work stoppage orchestrated by the Teamsters labour union.

At DHL’s North American hub, at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), some 1,100 employees who load and unload freighters and operate tugs on the tarmac have been on strike since Thursday.

In both integrator cases, the stand-off with the Teamsters involved employees who had only recently joined the union.

DHL employees at CVG went on strike over contract talks with management, which have been going on since July. The union expressed frustration with the lack of progress.

It is demanding higher wages and improved safety conditions. According to the union, there were at least 22 workplace injuries at CVG last year that required visits to hospitals or emergency rooms.

In addition, the Teamsters are accusing the company of anti-union activity. DHL’s ramp workers at CVG are relative newcomers to the union, having voted to join in April.

DHL runs 130 flights a day through CVG, and as much as 80% of its shipments from the Americas pass through the airport.

On Friday, DHL management expressed ‘disappointment’ over the stoppage and declared it was committed to negotiating in good faith. The company had responded to the strike warning by announcing measures to ensure that traffic would not be disrupted. DHL brought in extra staff, diverted flights to other airports and declared it was fully prepared for the escalation in the contract dispute.

Later on Friday, DHL reported that the union had extended picket lines to other US locations and the Teamsters confirmed picket lines had gone up in Chicago, Miami and a DHL station in Kentucky. The workers there are not on strike, but are honouring the picket line in solidarity with their colleagues, according to the union.

UPS was originally hit with a Teamsters’ strike warning late on Thursday, when the stoppage at CVG was already in progress. The union was responding to the termination of 35 specialist and administrative workers at UPS’s Louisville hub and demanded reinstatement.

“UPS has been given notice it has until Monday to rectify the situation,” said Teamsters president Sean O’Brien.

UPS initially said the layoffs were a matter of matching staffing with business needs, but the Teamsters blasted the company for dismissing employees who had recently earned the right to unionise.

The specialist and administrative workers had joined the union in October after a lengthy dispute with UPS, which had argued that they were not eligible to form their own bargaining unit, as they were classified as supervisors under the National Labor Relations Act. The dispute was settled through arbitration.

Coming just four months after UPS and the union had agreed a new five-year contract, after negotiations overshadowed by the spectre of a work stoppage, management was not in the mood for another confrontation. It reinstated the dismissed workers and announced it had reached agreement with the union, as reported yesterday by Loadstar DeskOne.

“Both sides immediately came together and we were able to resolve the situation. This is the outcome we were looking for,”  said Mr O’Brien.

Comment on this article

You must be logged in to post a comment.