Militant Journalism

DHL workers on strike for a living wage and healthcare in Pawtucket, R.I.

Sixty members of Teamsters Local 251 at Dalsey, Hillblom and Lynn in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, hit the picket lines this week in response to unfair labor practices by the company. On the morning of June 24, local community members, including members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, joined the workers on the picket line to show their support. 

DHL workers on strike in Pawtucket, Rhode Island force a scab truck to turn around. Liberation photo

The workers set up an inflatable “Capitalist Pig” across from the job site. They walked the picket line at both entrances of the facility to the sound of classic rock blaring from truck speakers. The Teamsters slowed the replacement workers, called “scabs,” who crossed the picket line.

The “Capitalist Pig” balloon. Liberation photo

DHL has been hiring scabs from out of state and contracting with outside couriers in an attempt to defeat the strike. Local police were on hand to protect the interests of the company owners, and prevented workers from blockading the facility, only allowing the picket line to block cars for a couple minutes at a time.

In an interview with Liberation News, business agent for Teamsters Local 251 Tom Salvatore explained what the workers are fighting for. “We started negotiations in March. At some point in May, we agreed to bring in a federal mediator. So we’ve been meeting with the company regularly, but they don’t think our demands are reasonable. And all we’re asking for is a living wage and affordable healthcare.”

This is not the first time workers have been forced to strike at DHL in Pawtucket. Workers went on strike for more than a month in 2018 over unfair labor practices, wage theft, and refusal by the employers to bargain in good faith. Now in 2022, the company continues to deny the workers healthcare and refuses to budge on paying workers a living wage during this period of massive inflation.

Striking DHL workers force another scab to turn around. Liberation photo

“They seem to not be hearing us at the bargaining table,” said Salvatore. “So we took to the streets and maybe they’ll hear us out here.”

Local community members and the Party for Socialism and Liberation brought food, water, and coffee for the picketing workers. The Teamsters are calling for the community to continue to support the strike for as long as it takes.

DHL workers grab coffee and cookies from PSL Rhode Islands’s strike support table. Liberation photo

Our readers can support this Teamsters struggle by walking the picket line with the strikers, donating food and water, or by calling DHL or the independent shipping contractor NorthEast Transportation Services at 1-800-225-5345 or 843-906-9655 to let them know that you are dissatisfied as a customer with the way the workers have been treated.

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