DHL workers protest handling of layoffs

November 20, 2008 3:16:00 PM PST
Dozens of DHL workers rally in the Loop Thursday. They're angry with the package delivery company for the way thousands are being laid off.

Earlier this week, several DHL workers sued the company over the layoffs.

This took place as Illinois reported rising unemployment numbers. The jobless rate in the state now tops 7 percent, that's well above the national unemployment rate.

Earlier this month, DHL announced a big change in their business. Domestic deliveries will come to an end and DHL will only do international shipping. With 90 percent of the business domestic, employees knew this would hurt.

Some employees say the way d-h-l is handling the situation makes it worse.

A rally for workers rights by workers who are out of work. Many of those rallying at the Klusynski Federal Plaza have been laid off by DHL. They say DHL didn't give them 60 days notice required by law.

"They just said, we're going to quit, we're done. And that's unfair to me," said Dale Keller, laid off DHL driver.

They also say DHL hasn't offered any severance pay.

"I'm a single parent with three children. There are a lot of single parents, moms and dads, and we're left at the last minute, 'Sorry, we have no more work for you,'" said Jennifer Berndt, laid off DHL driver.

The workers are represented by Teamsters Local 705.

"Come to the table on December 3 and 4 and not only? bargain, but also to get them to agree to a severance package," said Neil Messino, Teamsters Local 705.

"These people delivered for them. Now it's time for DHL to deliver for these working families," said Ald. Gene Schulter, 47th Ward.

"if they're gonna cut them out of their jobs, they better not steal any of their money that they have in their pension funds. And they better make sure that they treat them fairly," said Ald. Tom Allen, 38th Ward.

"I'm out to support this wonderful union, and of course, when they win, society is a winner," said Jesse White, Illinois secretary of state.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of two DHL employees alleges the company violated the worker adjustment and restraining notification act...also known as the Warn Act. The complaint requests class action status. Rallying workers marched to the National Labor Relations Board office Thursday to deliver a complaint in person.

Their complaint alleges DHL bargained in bad faith by changing the terms and conditions of employment. As complaints are reviewed, DHL operations continue. DHL drivers still on the job, many who have been with the company for more ten years, get the packages to where they're supposed to go, knowing that at the end of January, they may be out of work, too.

A DHL spokesman says they followed the law regarding notification and will defend themselves.

As for the layoffs, at one time DHL employed close to 800 people in the Chicago area. A union spokesman says they've been told DHL will only need between 50 to 100 workers next year.


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