On April 5, U.S. cargo pilots who fly for DHL will gather outside of the White House to protest the German company’s efforts to drive down standards in pay, working conditions and quality of life for pilots in America.
The pilots, represented by the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, are from five U.S. based airlines that are responsible for 70 percent of DHL’s global flying and are calling on President Trump to join them in standing up to the German shipping giant.
Despite posting billions in profits last year, DHL is using its size and market power to undermine American workers. The foreign company is pressuring the U.S.-based cargo airlines it contracts with for the majority of its flying – ABX Air, Atlas Air, Southern Air, Polar Air and Kalitta Air – to provide service at rock-bottom rates; the pressure trickles down to pilots and lowers industry standards in everything from wages and benefits to workplace policies. The company is also attempting to skirt U.S. laws designed to protect American airlines against foreign influence.
In an open letter they will deliver to the president on Wednesday, the pilots wrote:
“You have often said that our country needs leaders to stand up for American workers. We, as pilots at five cargo airlines, are writing to ask you to stand with us in calling on DHL, the German shipping company, to respect U.S. aviation law and stop lowering U.S. industry standards in pay and quality of life. We take tremendous pride in supplying our communities with the goods they need, but we cannot continue to work under the influence of a foreign company that is destabilizing the livelihoods of pilots and manipulating the law.”
According to the pilot’s union, many long-time pilots flying for DHL are leaving their carriers for better opportunities at other American airlines like FedEx and UPS, while their carriers struggle to recruit enough new pilots to get the job done. At DHL’s largest contractor, Atlas Air, pilot retention figures have sunk while the attrition rate hit an all-time high at the start of this year.
“At some DHL carriers, the pressure to meet the company’s growing demands is resulting in dangerous scheduling practices, with pilots being forced to fly much longer hours than those at UPS and FedEx. The FAA warns that these types of extended duty periods can induce fatigue and even result in a level of impairment equivalent to being drunk”, the union said.
Pilots from one of the carriers, ABX Air, went on a two-day strike last year during the busy holiday shipping season that grounded flights for DHL. Pilots from the four other carriers have all voted to strike if necessary.