NLRB Issues Complaint Against DHL in PA

January 18, 2008

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The National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint on Jan. 10 against DHL Express in Allentown, PA, charging the company with committing unfair labor practices during an APWU organizing campaign last year.

The APWU has been engaged in a campaign to organize nearly 400 workers at the DHL package-distribution center, but lost a Sept 12, 2007, unionization vote, 217 to 135. Union supporters say DHL workers voted against representation in large part because of the company’s illegal tactics. A few months before the election, 150 DHL employees signed a petition demanding that the company cease its anti-union activities.

The NLRB complaint was the result of charges the APWU filed between May 29 and Sept. 19, 2007, alleging that the company engaged in unfair labor practices. The election results may be set aside if an administrative law judge concludes that DHL engaged in pre-election misconduct. A hearing is set for March 4, in Philadelphia.

The alleged unfair practices included threatening employees with loss of raises and with other penalties if the union were to be voted in; having security guards engage in intimidation and surveillance of employees distributing union literature outside the DHL plant; and general harassment of APWU organizers.

Other complaints allege that a Human Resources manager illegally detained an employee who was distributing pro-union flyers outside the plant; that a company labor consultant threatened to sue an employee for writing a newsletter article critical of the company and supportive of the union; and that the company discharged a union supporter, Emilia Rios, without cause.

Similar charges were lodged against DHL in January 2007 for its conduct at a site in southwest Ohio, where the APWU is working to organize approximately 3,000 workers. An administrative law judge found management guilty of unfair labor practices at the Ohio site, which is the main hub for the global delivery company’s network of regional sorting operations. The company has appealed the decision.

The APWU has vowed to press the fight for workers’ rights at DHL. “We are seeking free and fair elections in both Pennsylvania and Ohio,” said APWU President William Burrus. “We want the workers to decide for themselves whether they want a union to represent them. We believe they should have the freedom to choose without worrying about company-financed threats and intimidation.”

DHL workers have jobs similar to those of APWU members at processing and distribution plants but earn approximately $240 per week less than their Postal Service counterparts.

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