Teamsters take huge dues hit from DHL

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Labor-state job loss means red ink for militant union

Package delivery giant DHL Express, squeezed by the contracting economy, will be shutting down operations in Needham, Stoneham, and Shrewsbury, potentially eliminating hundreds of jobs next year as part of a larger cutback of more than 300 shipping and receiving stations and 9,500 jobs across the nation.

DHL, which will stop making express deliveries domestically on Jan. 30, said it will keep open its South Boston distribution center to handle shipments of US international packages. It also will retain a pair of affiliates, DHL Global Forwarding in Charlestown, which handles heavyweight air and ocean freight, and DHL Exel, a supply chain logistics company with a half-dozen sites in Massachusetts.

But the company wouldn't say how many of the 793 jobs it currently has in the state will be preserved.

Michele Nadeem, DHL vice president of corporate communications in Plantation, Fla., said the size of the company's workforce in Massachusetts next year will depend on the volume of international business. "We don't know how many employees we'll end up with," she said. "The more shipments we have throughout the system, the more employees we'll need to service it."

Nadeem said DHL will be consolidating operations at its South Boston station, "and there'll be improvements made there." She said she couldn't specify the nature of the improvements.

Based on the percentage of union jobs DHL is shedding nationwide, Sean O'Brien, president of Local 25 of the International Brother hood of Teamsters in Charlestown, estimated 300 to 400 of his members working for DHL in Eastern Massachusetts could lose their jobs.

O'Brien said the company already has pared 75 to 100 jobs in the region since last spring, after it negotiated a five-year contract with the Teamsters union. O'Brien blamed the cuts on "mismanagement." Asked about DHL's promised improvements to the South Boston site, he said, "The only improvement they're making is in their profit margins."

Yesterday's news at DHL came as the pace of layoffs continued to accelerate nationally. Telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks, which employs 740 workers in Billerica and other Bay State sites, said it plans to cut 4 percent of its workforce worldwide, or 1,300 workers. Nortel spokesman Jay Barta declined to say how many employees would be affected in Massachusetts.

Electronics retailer Circuit City Stores Inc., meanwhile, said it would seek protection from its creditors in federal bankruptcy court as the holiday shopping season approaches. The company last week disclosed it will shut 155 stores, none in Massachusetts.

DHL's retrenchment was revealed in Bonn yesterday morning by its parent company, Deutsche Post World Net, which said it would seek to slash US operating costs by more than 80 percent. The company said it would close its US ground hubs and reduce the number of its stations here to 103 from 412.

The moves will eliminate 9,500 jobs in the United States, on top of about 5,400 cut since the beginning of 2008. When the rollback is complete, DHL will have 3,000 to 4,000 US employees working exclusively on international shipments.

DHL, which acquired Airborne Express of Seattle in 2003, has stumbled in integrating the two operations and lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the United States in recent years, said John Fontanella, vice president at AMR Research, a Boston consulting firm specializing in logistics and supply chains. Fontanella said the economic downturn was the final catalyst in forcing the company's hand.

"Right now freight is down really across the board," he said. "United Parcel Service and Federal Express have also been faltering for the last couple of quarters. But DHL has been the hardest hit."

Teamsters Local 25 president O'Brien said his members are bracing for the worst. "The hard reality is we could lose 300 or 400 members when it's said and done," O'Brien said. "These are good middle-class jobs that provide good healthcare, good retirement, and livable wages. But they're going to run it bare bones."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

dhl? money hungary liars. there is no way they are staing in U.S. do the math.

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