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Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Current News - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?

Current News - Wed, 10/18/2017 - 06:39

Activists in Puerto Rico Want The Jones Act Eliminated-So Why Are Unions Defending It?
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/20615/puerto_rico_jones_act_unions...
BY KATE ARONOFFPRINT

After Hurricane Maria, many in Puerto Rico have renewed calls to eliminate the Jones Act. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico, an obscure law governing maritime commerce has grabbed national headlines: The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, known colloquially as the Jones Act. After facing political pressure and at the request of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, on September 28, President Trump issued a 10-day waiver of the Act to ease shipping regulations on the island. That waiver expired last week.

Many in Puerto Rico, along with members of the Puerto Rican diaspora living on the U.S. mainland, argue that the statue is stifling aid by presenting an unnecessary barrier to the procurement of basic relief supplies. Maritime unions, meanwhile, contend that the measure is essential for protecting seafaring workers.

So what is the Jones Act? What does it do? And what other factors might be getting in the way of supplies reaching Puerto Ricans?

What the Jones Act does and doesn’t do

The Jones Act stipulates that only U.S.-flagged ships can operate between U.S. ports, so any American goods coming into Puerto Rico via U.S.-governed ports have to arrive on U.S.-flagged, U.S.-made ships. This mandate prioritizes the use of American ships and workers, and inhibits foreign shipping companies’ access to inter-U.S. shipping routes.

Passed on the heels of World War I, the measure, named for its sponsor, Rep. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.), was intended to ensure that America would thrive in maritime commerce and be full of seafaring men in case they were needed for another war.

The law includes provisions protecting seafarers’ rights, requiring ships transporting goods between U.S. ports to abide by the maritime labor laws and environmental standards outlined in the Jones Act.

Foreign-flagged vessels from foreign ports are not prevented from docking in Puerto Rico, only from shuttling goods from the mainland to the island. The law also doesn’t mandate that imported goods bound for Puerto Rico pass through a mainland port first.

The Jones Act doesn’t apply to goods shipped between the mainland and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but does apply to goods shipped between the mainland and Puerto Rico. By comparison, U.S.-made goods on the Virgin Islands are about half as expensive as they are in Puerto Rico.

The case against the act

Well before Hurricane Maria, the Jones Act was blamed for driving up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, where groceries are as much as 21 percent more expensive than on the mainland. In 2011, the U.S. Transportation Department Maritime Administration found that day-to-day operating costs were 2.6 times higher on U.S. ships compared to international vessels, and that labor costs could be as much as 5 times higher.

On the island and off, a waiver of the Jones Act has been a mainstay of demands for relief and recovery packages, both to ease the flow of goods after the storm and for long-term reconstruction.

“If Maria is enough to get us out of that, that would be amazing,” says Sofía Gallisá Muriente, an artist and organizer from Puerto Rico who was also active in Occupy Sandy before moving back home to San Juan from New York City four years ago. “That’s the best thing that could come of this storm, but I don’t know if we could pull that off. The most I think we could get would be a waiver for a year.”

Among those calling for a permanent lifting of the Jones Act for Puerto Rico is the Climate Justice Alliance, a network of climate justice groups in the United States with ties to several labor unions, but not the National Maritime Union, whose members would be most affected by a permanent lifting of the law. The network held a Day of Action on Wednesday, October 11 to call attention to their list of demands, including full debt relief and a transparent decision-making process around the distribution of aid resources, among other things.

After the Day of Action event in New York, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of Uprose, a New York City-based group and member of the Climate Justice Alliance, told In These Times, “To have the waiver because they want to make the sipping industry happy at the expense of the lives of the Puerto Rican people is an international disgrace.”

Asked about maritime unions’ concerns over lifting the Jones Act, Yeampierre, herself Puerto Rican, says, “It can’t just be about their pay and their resources right now, because climate change is coming for all of us. Justice is not one of those things you can parse. When I have a labor dispute it’s not about getting justice for my people but no one else.”

Why unions and shipping companies like it

Maritime unions have mounted their defense of the Jones Act on the basis that it protects seafaring workers and well-paid American jobs. “The Jones Act is one way to insure that vessels operating between U.S. ports respect fair labor standards and don’t exploit seafarers,” Craig Merrilees, Communications Director for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, told In These Times.

To get around strict labor standards in the United States and elsewhere, ship owners may adopt a practice known as “re-flagging,” or registering a vessel in a country—say Liberia or Panama—with lax worker protections. Flying under so-called “Flags of Convenience” is a way for maritime operators to exploit workers on their ships, who are especially vulnerable to mistreatment due to their dependence on employers during extended trips at sea.

By preventing this evasion, Merrilees says, “the Jones Act is an important protector of decent working conditions and good-paying jobs for seafarers in the shipping industry. Crews on U.S. flagged ships rarely experience anything like the terrible abuse and exploitation often found on vessels flying a flag of convenience.”

The Jones Act has created a somewhat counterintuitive set of political alliances: Shipping companies like it for the access it gives them to U.S. ports and make hay about its importance to national security, while maritime unions want to defend the workplace protections it provides. At the same time, opponents of the Jones Act make the case that the law unfairly drives up the cost of living in Puerto Rico, which is already higher than on the mainland by virtue of the island being largely dependent on imports. Then there are the politicians such as John McCain and free market think-tanks including the Heritage Foundation, that have lobbied against the bill on anti-regulatory, anti-labor grounds.

The scale of disaster

While the politics surrounding the Jones Act remain thorny, several other factors also impede the flow of aid to Puerto Rican residents—including the Trump Administration itself.

President Trump threatened on Twitter last week to disband federal relief efforts on the island entirely. An official statement later clarified that “successful recoveries do not last forever.” Reports in the weeks since the storm have told of shipping containers stranded at ports due to downed logistics networks and government mismanagement, and even goods being confiscated at the San Juan airport after being flown in on commercial planes.

Gallisá Muriente dealt with similar issues after Hurricane Sandy, struggling to procure aid for some of the hardest-hit parts of New York City, albeit on a different scale. “That was a big lesson for me from Sandy: That there’s no such thing as a natural disaster,” she says. “It’s really the human disasters that complicate things—social conditioning, priorities, bureaucracy. And it doesn’t work to go back to normal when that normal was also problematic.”

Already, Gallisá Muriente notes, she and others have put some of the lessons learned in Occupy Sandy to work on the ground, while recognizing that there are major differences between conducting grassroots relief efforts in the Big Apple and on a small, austerity-stricken island.

“There are certain general logistical things that we’ve borrowed from that experience: creating lists of suggested donations, Amazon registries where people can buy specific things that we need,” she says. “The governor keeps saying everything is fine and is talking about all the aid coming in, but no one sees it or feels like things are getting any better.”

Heriberto Martínez-Otero, who teaches economics at a high school in San Juan and at the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, told In These Times via Skype that there are still “5 or 6 municipalities that are incommunicado. Most of the municipalities with communications,” he adds, “don’t have ATMs or open banks. The schools are not open, and the hospitals are without power…except for some areas here in San Juan and some of the privileged suburbs, everything is a complete disaster.”

He also notes issues with the sparse relief efforts that are being administered, mainly by the U.S. government. “FEMA, I don’t know where they are. But the U.S. military are moving around most parts of the island with big guns,” says Martínez-Otero. “These guys think this is a war zone.”

What’s next for the island

Many Puerto Ricans—while recognizing the role the U.S. military plays in disaster relief—are weary of having troops on the ground for the long-term. Speaking to me from his classroom in San Juan, Martínez-Otero says, “On the streets here, in front of the school, this is a military state.”

“I am against the Jones Act,” Martínez-Otero continues, “but I don't know if waiving the Jones Act is the way to solve the current situation we’re in.” He also mentioned that it was hard to tell whether the 10-day waiver had improved conditions on the island, saying that a year-long waiver would likely be necessary in order to improve Puerto Rico’s distribution infrastructure.

Debates around the Jones Act aren’t likely to be resolved in the near future, and certainly not before the Senate moves to vote on the short-term, loan-based aid package for Puerto Rico that the House passed on Thursday. What does seem clear is that the overlapping crises on the island aren’t likely to end anytime soon—and U.S. policy is only helping deepen them.

KATE ARONOFF
Kate Aronoff is a writing fellow at In These Times covering the politics of climate change, the White House transition and the resistance to Trump’s agenda. Follow her on Twitter @katearonoff

Tags: Puerto RicoJones Actshipping
Categories: Labor News

IBU breaks ground on new apprenticeship training center in San Pedro

ILWU - Tue, 10/17/2017 - 10:41

The new training center is names after labor attorney Victor Kaplan in honor of longtime friendship and assistance to the IBU.

The Inlandboatmen’s Union, the marine division of the ILWU, held a groundbreaking ceremony for the training hall of their newly established apprenticeship program. The IBU apprenticeship is a two-year program that will provide mariners with the skills and knowledge to safely enter into a career in the marine industry. The training center will also provide classes for experienced mariners to renew their credentials in San Pedro. This will save them the added expense of having to travel to San Diego or to the Pacific Northwest. The program will consist of 3,000 hours of on the-job training and 420 hours of supplemental instruction and training.

It started on a napkin

Apprenticeship Director
Kenyata Whitworth

“It started on a paper napkin at a lunch meeting,” said IBU Southern California Regional Director John Skow. Kenyata Whitworth, who will serve as the programs first Apprenticeship Director first suggested the idea of an apprenticeship program. “At first I was hesitant because I thought apprenticeship programs were something for the Building Trades, but I eventually came around to the idea.”  Whitworth said he was inspired to start a local maritime apprenticeship program after talking with a friend who had recently joined the industry. “It’s very difficult to gain experience in the industry,” Whitworth said. “Employers are hesitant to hire people without sea time and sending people into the industry without training is not always the best thing for them.” Whitworth said his friend, who had three small children at the time, enrolled in the Tongue Point Seamanship Academy in Oregon in order to get the training and experience he needed. The Tongue Point Academy is a Job Corp program and requires that students be at the Academy for 20 months. “He had to sacrifice time away from his family to get the training he needed. I don’t want others to be forced to make that same choice.”  “This program will be great for the IBU,” said IBU Secretary-Treasurer Terri Mast. “There’s a great need because this is an industry that is growing.” Mast said that the Southern California program can serve as a model. “Once this program gets going, we can take it to other regions and hopefully more employers will see the value in supporting this type of training program.”

Important partnerships 

John Skow, SoCal Regional Director of the IBU

A key partner for the IBU in the process was the Division of Adult and Career Education (DACE) at the Los Angeles Unified School District. Skow said their assistance was instrumental. DACE helped the IBU apply for a grant from the State of California that provided the start-up funds for the program and DACE also helped to secure classroom space at Harbor Occupational Center and to develop the program’s curriculum.  Pacific Tugboat Services (PTS), an IBU signatory, has also been at crucial partner in setting up the program. Steve Frailey from PTS spoke at the ceremony. He said he was grateful to be a part of establishing the apprenticeship program, which he said would help bring qualified mariners into the industry.

Honoring Victor Kaplan

The training hall was named in honor of Victor Kaplan, a labor attorney and long-time friend of the IBU. Kaplan, who recently turned 103, is the oldest practicing member of the California State Bar. He began his law career in 1935. At one point, he even tried, unsuccessfully, to get a job with the ILWU. Kaplan said that he was inspired by the New Deal to “take up the cause of the working man.” His commitment to helping workers was solidified by his experience working on the frontlines of the Potash strikes in Trona, CA in 1941 where he provided free legal-aid for union members while also picketing in solidarity with the workers.  Throughout his eight-decade career, Kaplan has fought for agricultural workers, miners, atomic and chemical workers and the IBU. He can often still be found at the IBU hall in San Pedro on Fridays offering legal assistance.  “Victor has been coming here every Friday for the past 9 years or so, offering his knowledge without a price tag,” Skow said. “This is why we wanted to dedicate the training hall to him, because we want to take that same model and apply that here. We want to share our knowledge with our apprentices.”

Finishing touches

The program will train 50 new apprentices for the industry over two years once the program is up and running. The buildout on the Victor Kaplan training hall is underway. The facility will include Desktop Ship Simulators, computer-bases simulations to train students in marine radar. A date has not been set for the official start of classes but Skow said he is hopeful that instruction can begin by the end of the year.

 

Categories: Unions

Malta: Journalists unions condemn murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

China: Min. pay rises trumpeted prior to Party Congress; rates barely catch up with increased costs

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Global: Govts have tools: Now deliver an international agreement on modern slavery

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Pacific Coast Pensioners Celebrate 50th Anniversary

ILWU - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 16:05

The 50th Annual Convention of the ILWU’s Pacific Coast Pensioners Association (PCPA) was held September 18-20 in Long Beach.

The 50th Annual Convention of the ILWU’s Pacific Coast Pensioners Association (PCPA) was held September 18-20 in Long Beach, California where delegates marked their important organizational milestone. The convention was hosted by the Southern California Pensioners.

Golden Anniversary

“This year’s event is extra-special because it marks our ‘Golden Anniversary’ in honor of the 1967 founding of our group with help from ILWU President Harry Bridges, who encouraged us to come together, grow and become a vital part of the ILWU, which we continue to do,” said PCPA President Greg Mitre.

Record Attendance

The Southern California Pensioners Group rolled out the red carpet for all the delegates, officials and special guests who attended the event. Record-breaking attendance of over 250 people were packed into 4 days of events that began with a spirited PCPA Executive Board meeting on Sunday where issues were discussed and debated in front of a large group of observers.

Bags full of history

Sunday was also check-in day when delegates and guests first met the large team of volunteers composed of Convention Committee members who helped everyone register and receive their official 50th Anniversary Convention bag filled full of goodies. Included were boxes of See’s candy (union-made), a book of remarkable poems written by Jerry Brady, the Poet Laureate of the ILWU Pensioners. Also included was a beautiful hardcover book: “The Port of Los Angeles, An Illustrated History from 1850 to 1945,” which was provided courtesy of the Port of Los Angeles.

Delegates and members meet

A reception was sponsored by Local 13 members on Sunday evening to welcome delegates, allow them to mingle with old friends and meet with active members and officers, including Local President Mark Mendoza and Vice President Gary Hererra. The event was held on the beautiful grounds of the Maya Hotel in Long Beach, which served as convention headquarters for the next four days. Drinks were served along with countless appetizers and a popular taco bar. Members of the ILWU Auxiliary hosted a Hospitality Room that became “the place to be and be seen” during the welcome reception and it remained open during the following four days, providing delegates and guests with complimentary beverages, fresh fruit, snacks and a place to meet, relax, and catch-up with old friends.

Opening with three anthems

Monday marked the official opening of the Convention, beginning with the National Anthems of the U.S., Canada and Panama. Words for each anthem were displayed on large screens which encouraged everyone to join in and sing words that were previously unknown to many in the audience.

Honoring the departed

A somber moment of silence followed the anthems, in honor of Pensioners who had passed-on since the last convention. Included was a special tribute to George Cobbs Jr., well-known and much-loved pensioner from the S.F. Bay area who helped countless ILWU members win the struggles against drug and alcohol addiction during his lifetime. A complete list of the dozens more pensioners who were honored by delegates after passing during the previous year are contained in the Convention’s official minutes and record.

 Officials in attendance

An introduction of ILWU officials and special guests who attended the convention was the next order of business. ILWU International President Bob McEllrath, Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams, Vice President Ray Familathe were all introduced, along with Coast Committeemen Cam Williams and Frank Ponce De Leon. Also attending were a dozen local union presidents from up and down the coast, each of whom was introduced, welcomed and invited to deliver brief remarks during the proceedings.

Overview of the Port

The Convention was held along the waterfront of America’s largest Port complex that encompasses both the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, which are administered under separate political jurisdictions. Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka delivered the convention’s first major address with opening remarks and a power point presentation that emphasized growing consolidation within the global shipping industry that now has fewer but more powerful multinational players.

Time to learn and enjoy

Monday afternoon was dedicated to some fun and an educational tour. A fleet of modern buses took delegates on an informative Labor History tour with guides on each bus who noted points of interest, emphasizing dates of important longshore and other labor struggles. The final stop included a tour of Local 13’s new dispatch hall that is expected to open soon.

Catalina King tour

The highlight on Monday was a memorable cruise, dinner, and dance aboard the historic Catalina King vessel that accommodated 300 guests who were wined and dined while enjoying a fascinating narrated tour of both the ports of Los Angeles & Long Beach. Providing facts and details about the Port of Long Beach was PCPA’s own President, Greg Mitre, who at one time used to work as a Captain of the Catalina King. Details about the Port of Los Angeles were provided by Port Director Gene Seroka, who was onboard to give an impressive account of the Port’s operations. Dinner served onboard during the tour featured a fabulous BBQ selection of ribs, chicken and brisket, provided by retired ILWU crane operator Marvin Hardley & his amazing family. Live music and dancing moved many onto the floor thanks to the popular local band, “Time Machine,” that performed hits until the Catalina King returned to her berth in Long Beach.

International guests

Panama Solidarity: Panama Canal Pilots President Londor Rankin gave a
detailed update on the ILWU’s Panama Canal Division.

Tuesday provided delegates a chance to hear from distinguished guests who travelled thousands of miles to attend, beginning with Londor Rankin, President of the Panama Canal Pilots Union. Rankin was responsible for initiating contact many years ago with Vice President Familathe that eventually led to the formation of the ILWU’s Panama Canal Division. Captain Rankin, gave a detailed report regarding the newly-expanded canal that recently opened – along with some important labor and safety struggles between workers and their employers in the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). Rankin delivered good news about growth in the Panama Canal Division, thanks to a new group of stevedores who are ready to affiliate. Another very interesting report was presented by Raul Feuillet, who is also a Panama Canal pilot and President of the Panama Canal Pilots Credit Union. He explained how important the credit union has become to provide retirement savings to retirees there who would otherwise receive only modest Social Security payments. Following the Panama reports, brothers and  sisters from Canada and Alaska were welcomed and presented reports. Canadian pensioners continue to have a strong program and good participation. The Alaska report was focused on the dramatic growth and organizing that has taken place during the past year, making them now the fastest growing region of ILWU pensioners.

Overview from “down under”

Following lunch, President Barney Sanders of the Australian pensioners delivered a rousing speech that had many listening closely to better appreciate his sharp wit, charming accent and unusual Aussie expressions. As President of the Maritime Union of Australia Veterans (the Australian term for “Pensioners”), Sanders also travelled thousands of miles from his home in Brisbane to deliver a blistering account of labor struggles in Australian ports involving automation, mass lay-offs and firings, along with employer demands to “casualize” the maritime workforce. He noted that workers down under are facing the same ordeals as workers elsewhere, because the same global employers are increasingly controlling operations in ports around the world. He pointed to the current effort by big employers in Australia to eliminate local workers from staffing coastal vessels, similar to efforts underway in the U.S. to eliminate the Jones Act, which requires U.S. vessels serving domestic ports to hire U.S. crews.

Awards Tuesday

Stranahan Award: Southern California
Pensioner Herman Moreno was the recipient of this year’s Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award, which is given to an individual who represents the values of the ILWU and goes beyond the call of duty.

Tuesday night featured a big awards banquet. After a delicious dinner, several awards were presented, beginning with Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who received the “friendly politician” award. Hahn has been a great friend of the ILWU for many decades, beginning with her service as a Los Angeles City Council member, then U.S. Congresswoman, and now County Supervisor. George Cobbs Jr., was honored posthumously with a special award for his many decades of service to the ILWU, particularly his leadership in the Drug & Alcohol Recovery Program. Next up was the Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award, which is given to an individual who represents the values of the ILWU and goes beyond the call of duty. Southern California Pensioner Herman Moreno received this year’s award from PCPA President Greg Mitre who fought back tears as he explained how Herman has been a lifelong mentor to him and many others.

Special honors

Honoring the President: ILWU International President Robert McEllrath (right) was given a special award from the convention by PCPA President Greg Mitre (center). The award recognized McEllrath for his dedication and service to the ILWU. Southern California Pensioner and PCPA Poet Laureate, Jerry Brady, (left) composed an epic poem for McEllrath.

The last award of the evening was presented to International President Bob McEllrath, who was honored for his years of dedication and service to the ILWU. McEllrath was first presented with an epic poem composed by the ILWU Pensioner Poet Laureate, Jerry Brady, then thanked repeatedly for serving in so many different capacities over the years, including Coast Committeeman, International Vice President, and his current post as International President. At the previous ILWU Convention, McEllrath announced he would not seek another term and that he was looking forward to becoming a pensioner soon – reminding the Award Banquet audience that he will soon be joining their ranks. After receiving more thanks and praise from the pensioners for his  lifetimes of service and support,  McEllrath was presented with a special gift that he is expected to utilize during his upcoming retirement.

During his earlier speech, McEllrath said: “This is the last time I’ll be speaking to you as your International President – and the next time I’m here, it will be as Big Bob the pensioner.” McEllrath said the Pensioners remain a critical part of the union, and noted, “We’re all still in the struggle and when a union brother needs help, we’ll be there.” Conclusion, resolutions & Portland Wednesday marked the culmination of the Convention, including the election of PCPA officers. Elected to serve without objection by acclimation were President Greg Mitre, Vice President Lawrence Thibeaux, Recording Secretary Kenzie Mullen and Treasurer Christine Gordon.  Several resolutions were considered with all passing unanimously on Tuesday:

  • Support for new “Medicare for All” legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, California Senator Kamala Harris, and others;
  • Support for Alaska Pensioners including a visit by Vice President Lawrence Thibeaux to attend their upcoming convention on October 4;
  • A letter urging the Coast Committee to continue doing everything possible to implement improve-ments for pension benefits to surviving spouses;
  • Support for a documentary film effort to interview 50 waterfront families living and working in LA and Long Beach;
  • Opposition to President Trump’s racist remarks and hate groups he has encouraged;
  • Directing the PCPA to implement a 2009 resolution to create an Education Committee.

Prints of a group photo were distributed on Wednesday morning to each delegate, thanks to efforts on the previous day by Local 13 member Robin Doyno. President Mitre thanked all who attended the event and brought the entire committee of volunteers up on stage, and they received a rousing round of applause. After announcing the next ILWU-PCPA Convention will be held in Portland, Oregon in September of 2018, delegates adjourned and headed home.

Categories: Unions

fleet memo for October 14 2017

IBU - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 09:13
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Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for October 7 2017

IBU - Mon, 10/16/2017 - 09:11
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Categories: Unions

Indonesia: Dockworker demands pushed by unions in Indonesia and Madagascar

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Business Recorder
Categories: Labor News

USA: Becoming a Steelworker Liberated Her. Then Her Job Moved to Mexico.

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 10/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Times
Categories: Labor News

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Current News - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 12:36

Réforme du code du travail : la victoire des dockers
October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.
https://www.francebleu.fr/infos/politique/reforme-du-code-du-travail-la-... Amélie Bonté, France Bleu Normandie (Seine-Maritime - Eure) et France BleuVendredi 13 octobre 2017 à 17:02

Au Havre, près de 2 500 dockers travaillent sur le port © Radio France - Amélie Bonté
La Fédéréation Nationale des ports et docks CGT a obtenu après plusieurs réunions que son accord de branche prime toujours sur les accords d'entreprises, alors que les ordonnances signées mettant en place la réforme du code du travail permettent d'inverser cette hiérarchie des normes.

La réforme du code du travail ne s'appliquera pas aux dockers. En tout cas, une partie de cette réforme, celle qui met en place l'inversion de la hiérarchie des normes dont on a beaucoup parlé et qui a fait bondir les syndicats. La fédération Nationale des ports et docks vient d'obtenir une victoire face au gouvernement : que sa convention collective prime sur les accords d'entreprises.

2.500 dockers concernés au Havre

Les dockers sont en général de toute les manifestations au Havre. Souvent redoutés d'ailleurs par les autorités locales et les acteurs du Port car ils peuvent à eux seuls bloquer facilement la ville et le premier port Français qu'est Le Havre pour le trafic de conteneurs. Ce fût d'ailleurs le cas l'année dernière, régulièrement, durant 4 mois avec la loi El Khomri. C'est donc une victoire pour cette profession, qui annonce par communiqué que sa convention collective primera sur des accords d'entreprises. Pourtant la réforme du code du travail c'est bien l'inverse et le gouvernement a accepté de faire cette exception, au terme de plusieurs réunions entre ministères des transports, du travail et des organisations patronales. Pour justifier cette exception, CGT et gouvernement avancent la spécificité du "monde portuaire" déjà acté via deux textes de lois, en 2008 et en 2015.

Impossible d'avoir une réaction notamment du secrétaire général de la CGT dockers du Havre, à part le communiqué de presse envoyé, ils ont décidé de ne pas répondre aux questions. La réforme du code du travail, en tout cas cette partie là, ce n'est donc pas pour les dockers, en revanche, ils disent vouloir continuer, par solidarité à s'opposer aux ordonnances de la loi travail qu'ils qualifient de "régression sociale". Les dockers devraient donc faire partie des cortèges le 19 octobre, jour de la prochaine manifestation à l'appel de la CGT.

The National Federation of Ports and Docks CGT has obtained after several meetings that its branch agreement always takes precedence over company agreements, whereas the signed ordinances putting in place the reform of the labor code make it possible to reverse this hierarchy of standards.

The reform of the labor code will not apply to dockworkers. In any case, part of this reform, the one that puts in place the reversal of the hierarchy of norms that has been much talked about and that has made the unions jump. The national federation of ports and docks has just won a victory against the government: that its collective agreement takes precedence over company agreements.

2,500 dockers involved in Le Havre

The dockers are generally from all the demonstrations in Le Havre. Often feared by the local authorities and the players of the Port because they can easily block easily the city and the first French port that is Le Havre for the traffic of containers. This was the case last year, regularly, for 4 months with the El Khomri law. It is therefore a victory for this profession, which announces by press release that its collective agreement will take precedence over company agreements. Yet the reform of the labor code is the reverse and the government has agreed to make this exception after several meetings between ministries of transport, labor and employers' organizations. To justify this exception, CGT and government put forward the specificity of the "port world" already registered through two texts of laws, in 2008 and 2015.

Unable to have a reaction from the general secretary of the CGT Dockers of Le Havre, apart from the press release sent, they decided not to answer the questions. The reform of the labor code, in any case this part, is not for the dockers, on the other hand, they say they want to continue, by solidarity to oppose the ordinances of the labor law which they call " regression ". The dockers should therefore be part of the processions on October 19, the day of the next demonstration at the call of the CGT.

Tags: CGTFrench dockers
Categories: Labor News

Bay Area ILWU locals help North Bay fire victims

ILWU - Fri, 10/13/2017 - 10:02

In order to provide support and relief to the many fire victims in the North Bay, all ILWU Bay Area locals are collecting donations at the ILWU Dispatch hall at 400 North Point St in San Francisco. SSA Matson has generously donated a 40 ft. container for use in this relief project. It will be delivered the week of Oct 16th.

Please give what you can to help provide support and comfort to those who have lost so much. Essential supplies include clothes, blankets, new pillows, new underwear, packaged prepared foods, diapers, baby food and water.

Categories: Unions

Georgia: Georgian workers beaten by security guard

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 10/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

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