Labor News

Canada Winnipeg Airports Authority accuses striking Public Service Alliance of Canada workers of intimidation, obstructing traffic- Airports authority asks court for amendments to injunction that limits activities of striking employees

Current News - Fri, 09/08/2017 - 10:43

Canada Winnipeg Airports Authority accuses striking Public Service Alliance of Canada workers of intimidation, obstructing traffic-
Airports authority asks court for amendments to injunction that limits activities of striking employees

http://ht.ly/s5rB30eYDwj

By Dean Pritchard, CBC News Posted: Sep 06, 2017 6:01 PM CT Last Updated: Sep 06, 2017 6:01 PM CT

The Winnipeg Airports Authority was in court Wednesday seeking amendments to an injunction restricting the activities of striking employees. (CBC)

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As a strike by 150 airport employees entered its seventh week, the Winnipeg Airports Authority returned to court Wednesday and accused striking employees of intimidating staff and patrons, obstructing traffic to the airport and wielding cameras "like weapons."

The airports authority is asking Justice Herbert Rempel to beef up and amend an interim court injunction issued Aug. 4 that limits the activities of striking employees.

Duty managers, administrative workers, various tradespeople, IT workers, airfield maintenance personnel and labourers at the airport went on strike July 24 and set up a picket line at the airport.

Winnipeg Airports Authority wins court injunction against striking workers
"All of this conduct is new, it's egregious, it's threatening," Winnipeg Airports Authority lawyer Rod Roy told Rempel.

Roy alleged striking employees have obstructed traffic at Wellington Avenue and Route 90, a major route to the airport, putting motorists at risk. Police have been unresponsive, which leaves only the courts to resolve the issue, Roy argued.

"God forbid that something should happen at the intersection" and someone gets hurt, Roy said.

No evidence police haven't acted on complaints: PSAC lawyer

Rempel questioned whether he has authority to restrict activities on a public roadway well off the airport authority's property.

"If something bad is happening, isn't that on the police?" Rempel said. "As I see it, these would be offences under the Highway Traffic Act. The police don't have discretion when and when not to enforce the law."

Roy said it doesn't matter whether the traffic obstruction occurs "10 feet, 100 feet or 1,000 metres away" from airport property — the goal is the same, and is "to inconvenience and create a nuisance for the WAA."

The court has been provided no evidence motorists complained to police about the road obstruction and nothing was done, said John Harvie, lawyer for the Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing the striking workers.

"Where is that evidence?" Harvie said. "It's not here."

Airports authority seeks injunction against employees accused of picketing at private homes
Strike begins for 150 Winnipeg airport workers
Roy alleged striking workers have actively harassed employees who have chosen to return to work.

"They are being pilloried, vilified and, indeed, threatened implicitly or explicitly by having their personal information and images put on social media, they are being accosted in grocery stores," Roy said. "Who is going to protect them if not the airport and the court?"

Roy also accused striking workers of aggressively filming employees and others as they entered the airport.

"They are filming as a weapon … right in their face, within a few feet, circling them," Roy said. "It has nothing to do with monitoring the picket line."

Harvie said there is no need to "parse" what kind of filming is and isn't allowed, arguing that question can be adequately addressed by the existing injunction.

Rempel will deliver his decision on the amendment motion Thursday afternoon.

Transport Canada is "monitoring the strike situation" and working with the WAA "to verify that airport operations continue to meet aviation safety and security regulations," a spokesperson said in an email to CBC.

"Transport Canada has not taken enforcement action at the Winnipeg International Airport during the strike period," the spokesperson said.

Tags: Public Service Alliance of CanadaWinnipeg Airport Workersstrike actionrepression
Categories: Labor News

Long Island Local 813 Teamster with no criminal record deported to Guatemala days after immigration check-in — with no notice to his family

Current News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 20:34

Long Island IBT Local 813 Teamster with no criminal record deported to Guatemala days after immigration check-in — with no notice to his family
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/teamster-deported-notice-family-supp...
Eber Garcia Vasquez pictured with one of his grandchildren. Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.
Eber Garcia Vasquez pictured with one of his grandchildren. Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.(COURTESY OF EBER VASQUEZ)

GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2017, 4:52 PM
Thirteen days after he showed up for his annual check-in with immigration officials, Eber Garcia Vasquez — a 26-year Teamster living on Long Island with a clean criminal record — was deported with no notice to his family.

Garcia, 54, called his wife Wednesday from Guatemala to let her know he'd been sent back to the country of his birth, which he'd left nearly three decades ago in the middle of a violent civil war to seek asylum in the U.S.

His abrupt removal from the country came just one day after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents denied two appeals of his deportation order filed by Garcia's attorney.

An immigration Board of Appeal also denied a motion filed by Garcia's attorney to reconsider his deportation because the married father of three American-born children has a valid green card application pending.

Guatemalan mom seeks refuge from deportation at NYC church

He was detained by ICE officials Aug. 24 and sent to a federal holding facility in Bergen County, N.J.

When his appeals were denied Tuesday, an ICE official told Garcia's attorney his deportation was imminent.

By Wednesday, he was back in Guatemala and his family only learned of his removal when he called to tell them where he was, his union said.

An ICE official confirmed his deportation.

"Garcia Vasquez was removed to his native country yesterday without incident," the spokeswoman said.

Teamsters Local 813, which represents workers at the Long Island waste facility where Garcia worked since 1991, had mounted a determined effort to pressure ICE and Homeland Security officials into releasing him.

Backed by elected politicians, the Teamsters held a press conference in front of ICE offices in lower Manhattan — but their pleas to allow Garcia to remain in the U.S. while his green card was processed came to naught.

"I am saddened, and frankly shocked that Eber was deported so quickly. This is happening to thousands of immigrants across the country and the inhumanity is obvious in each story. Today a family was torn apart, and now is without a breadwinner," said George Miranda, head of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

Family devastated after L.I. father detained for deportation

Garcia at work for Teamsters Local 813, where he worked for 26 years.
Garcia at work for Teamsters Local 813, where he worked for 26 years. (COURTESY OF EBER VASQUEZ)
"Our union lost a valued member ... In the coming days we will be setting up a fund for the Garcia Vasquez family to help them cover their expenses. We will continue fighting for justice for all immigrants," Miranda said.

Garcia's wife Maria, who recently moved with their youngest daughter to Virginia to escape gang violence on Long Island, has been in a wheelchair for the past four months after a horrific car accident.

Without Garcia's earnings, the family could lose its Virginia home, their attorney said.

Garcia came to the U.S. in the 1980s and filed an asylum claim with the government. He was granted permission to work while his case wound its way through the courts.

Rally held in NYC to free Guatemalan set for deportation

Several of his family members in Guatemala, including his mother, have been killed.

Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children and three grandchildren.

His asylum case was finally resolved in 2013, and not in his favor. The courts denied Garcia asylum status but under President Obama's policies he was allowed to stay in the U.S. while his green card petition was sorted out.

Garcia, with his clean criminal background and solid work history, was given the okay to return to his life as long as he checked in annually with ICE.

Guatemalan immigrant denied motion for stay of deportation

When he went for his annual check-in Aug. 24, officials told his attorney his stay of deportation would not be renewed and he was marked for deportation.

His wife and his oldest son Melvin, 25, are U.S. citizens and both have filed green card applications for him — which could possibly get him back into the U.S. within one or two years, his attorney said.

But as the sole means of financial support for his family, the economic damage done to them by Garcia's absence will be hard to repair, the attorney noted.

Tags: IBT Teamster Deportedimmigrant deportedTeamsters Local 813
Categories: Labor News

Long Island Teamster with no criminal record deported to Guatemala days after immigration check-in — with no notice to his family

Current News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 20:34

Long Island Teamster with no criminal record deported to Guatemala days after immigration check-in — with no notice to his family
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/teamster-deported-notice-family-supp...
Eber Garcia Vasquez pictured with one of his grandchildren. Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.
Eber Garcia Vasquez pictured with one of his grandchildren. Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren.(COURTESY OF EBER VASQUEZ)

GINGER ADAMS OTIS
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Thursday, September 7, 2017, 4:52 PM
Thirteen days after he showed up for his annual check-in with immigration officials, Eber Garcia Vasquez — a 26-year Teamster living on Long Island with a clean criminal record — was deported with no notice to his family.

Garcia, 54, called his wife Wednesday from Guatemala to let her know he'd been sent back to the country of his birth, which he'd left nearly three decades ago in the middle of a violent civil war to seek asylum in the U.S.

His abrupt removal from the country came just one day after Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents denied two appeals of his deportation order filed by Garcia's attorney.

An immigration Board of Appeal also denied a motion filed by Garcia's attorney to reconsider his deportation because the married father of three American-born children has a valid green card application pending.

Guatemalan mom seeks refuge from deportation at NYC church

He was detained by ICE officials Aug. 24 and sent to a federal holding facility in Bergen County, N.J.

When his appeals were denied Tuesday, an ICE official told Garcia's attorney his deportation was imminent.

By Wednesday, he was back in Guatemala and his family only learned of his removal when he called to tell them where he was, his union said.

An ICE official confirmed his deportation.

"Garcia Vasquez was removed to his native country yesterday without incident," the spokeswoman said.

Teamsters Local 813, which represents workers at the Long Island waste facility where Garcia worked since 1991, had mounted a determined effort to pressure ICE and Homeland Security officials into releasing him.

Backed by elected politicians, the Teamsters held a press conference in front of ICE offices in lower Manhattan — but their pleas to allow Garcia to remain in the U.S. while his green card was processed came to naught.

"I am saddened, and frankly shocked that Eber was deported so quickly. This is happening to thousands of immigrants across the country and the inhumanity is obvious in each story. Today a family was torn apart, and now is without a breadwinner," said George Miranda, head of Teamsters Joint Council 16.

Family devastated after L.I. father detained for deportation

Garcia at work for Teamsters Local 813, where he worked for 26 years.
Garcia at work for Teamsters Local 813, where he worked for 26 years. (COURTESY OF EBER VASQUEZ)
"Our union lost a valued member ... In the coming days we will be setting up a fund for the Garcia Vasquez family to help them cover their expenses. We will continue fighting for justice for all immigrants," Miranda said.

Garcia's wife Maria, who recently moved with their youngest daughter to Virginia to escape gang violence on Long Island, has been in a wheelchair for the past four months after a horrific car accident.

Without Garcia's earnings, the family could lose its Virginia home, their attorney said.

Garcia came to the U.S. in the 1980s and filed an asylum claim with the government. He was granted permission to work while his case wound its way through the courts.

Rally held in NYC to free Guatemalan set for deportation

Several of his family members in Guatemala, including his mother, have been killed.

Garcia built a life here with his wife, four children and three grandchildren.

His asylum case was finally resolved in 2013, and not in his favor. The courts denied Garcia asylum status but under President Obama's policies he was allowed to stay in the U.S. while his green card petition was sorted out.

Garcia, with his clean criminal background and solid work history, was given the okay to return to his life as long as he checked in annually with ICE.

Guatemalan immigrant denied motion for stay of deportation

When he went for his annual check-in Aug. 24, officials told his attorney his stay of deportation would not be renewed and he was marked for deportation.

His wife and his oldest son Melvin, 25, are U.S. citizens and both have filed green card applications for him — which could possibly get him back into the U.S. within one or two years, his attorney said.

But as the sole means of financial support for his family, the economic damage done to them by Garcia's absence will be hard to repair, the attorney noted.

Tags: IBT Teamster Deportedimmigrant deportedTeamsters Local 813
Categories: Labor News

British Airways risks strike action by Unite and GMB over plans to curb pension benefits

Current News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 20:06

British Airways risks strike action by Unite and GMB over plans to curb pension benefits
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/07/british-airways-naps-pe...
Unite and GMB unions make veiled threat after airline proposes overhaul to limit payouts from defined benefits scheme
A BA plane
BA says it has put £3.5bn into the Naps scheme since 2003. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA
Rob Davies
@ByRobDavies
Thursday 7 September 2017 14.31 EDTFirst published on Thursday 7 September 2017 13.45 EDT
British Airways could face further industrial action, this time over plans to curb retirement benefits for 17,000 pension scheme members, a move unions say would have consequences for the carrier.

The airline is proposing an overhaul that would limit retirement payouts from its defined benefit scheme (Naps). It blamed low interest rates and rising life expectancy for an increase in the scheme’s deficit to £3.5bn from £2.8bn in 2015.

British Airways cabin crew extend strike for further two weeks
Read more
BA will close the scheme to future accruals, meaning that staff will not see their retirement payout increase in line with their salary and the length of their service. Instead the airline is understood to be considering opening a new scheme that will include the Naps members along with 20,000 members of its less-generous defined contribution scheme (Barp), under which payouts are tied to the performance of investments.

Despite claiming this would yield “improved terms for the majority of UK colleagues”, BA faced a veiled threat from the Unite and GMB trade unions of fresh strikes, adding to 85 days of industrial action so far this year.

“Unite and GMB within British Airways must express on behalf of our members and in the strongest possible terms, both our dismay and bitter disappointment,” the unions said a joint statement.

“Thousands of loyal and long-serving staff, who have helped build British Airways into a world-class flag carrier for this country and one of the most recognisable global brands, now face uncertainty in their retirement. Both unions jointly demand urgent talks to discuss both the impact of this announcement, if a solution can be found and, if not, the consequences the airline may face.”

Financial analysts employed by the unions are understood to have made proposals to whittle down the scheme’s deficit that would have seen members accept lower payouts in return for higher contributions from the airline.

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But BA said it had put £3.5bn into Naps since 2003, the year it was closed to new members, but had been unable to plug an

Tags: BA StrikeUniteGMBPensions
Categories: Labor News

British Airways risks strike action by Unite and GMB over plans to curb pension benefits

Current News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 20:06

British Airways risks strike action by Unite and GMB over plans to curb pension benefits
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/07/british-airways-naps-pe...
Unite and GMB unions make veiled threat after airline proposes overhaul to limit payouts from defined benefits scheme
A BA plane
BA says it has put £3.5bn into the Naps scheme since 2003. Photograph: Tim Ockenden/PA
Rob Davies
@ByRobDavies
Thursday 7 September 2017 14.31 EDTFirst published on Thursday 7 September 2017 13.45 EDT
British Airways could face further industrial action, this time over plans to curb retirement benefits for 17,000 pension scheme members, a move unions say would have consequences for the carrier.

The airline is proposing an overhaul that would limit retirement payouts from its defined benefit scheme (Naps). It blamed low interest rates and rising life expectancy for an increase in the scheme’s deficit to £3.5bn from £2.8bn in 2015.

British Airways cabin crew extend strike for further two weeks
Read more
BA will close the scheme to future accruals, meaning that staff will not see their retirement payout increase in line with their salary and the length of their service. Instead the airline is understood to be considering opening a new scheme that will include the Naps members along with 20,000 members of its less-generous defined contribution scheme (Barp), under which payouts are tied to the performance of investments.

Despite claiming this would yield “improved terms for the majority of UK colleagues”, BA faced a veiled threat from the Unite and GMB trade unions of fresh strikes, adding to 85 days of industrial action so far this year.

“Unite and GMB within British Airways must express on behalf of our members and in the strongest possible terms, both our dismay and bitter disappointment,” the unions said a joint statement.

“Thousands of loyal and long-serving staff, who have helped build British Airways into a world-class flag carrier for this country and one of the most recognisable global brands, now face uncertainty in their retirement. Both unions jointly demand urgent talks to discuss both the impact of this announcement, if a solution can be found and, if not, the consequences the airline may face.”

Financial analysts employed by the unions are understood to have made proposals to whittle down the scheme’s deficit that would have seen members accept lower payouts in return for higher contributions from the airline.

Advertisement

But BA said it had put £3.5bn into Naps since 2003, the year it was closed to new members, but had been unable to plug an

Tags: BA StrikeUniteGMBPensions
Categories: Labor News

Brazil: Brazilians Celebrate Independence Day, Protest Labor Reforms

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

France: Macron’s woes: French unions are gearing up for major strikes

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Conversation
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Construction sector deadly for Arab workers

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Al-Monitor
Categories: Labor News

Germany: Deutsche Bank boss says they will replace 'big number' of workers with robots

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Quartz
Categories: Labor News

Georgia: ITUC Condemns Government Interference in Trade Union Affairs

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Korea (South): The “Mad Bitches” of S. Korea’s Irregular Workforce Fight Back

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Korea Exposé
Categories: Labor News

China: Labour activist Meng Han released after 21 months in prison

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

MI Grand Rapids ATU 836 Members and Supporters disrupt planned Labor Day walk by Union Busting Mayor

Current News - Wed, 09/06/2017 - 08:53

MI Grand Rapids ATU 836 Members and Supporters disrupt planned Labor Day walk by Union Busting Mayor
"Members of the ATU have been without a contract for over two years and Mayor Bliss is a Rapids Transit board member. The board voted in favor of a merit increase for Rapid CEO Peter Varga during the August 30, 2017 board meeting where DeShane was arrested."
http://www.therapidian.org/placematters-protesters-disrupt-planed-labor-...

John Rothwell
9/05/17 03:58pm - Place Matters
During the Grand Rapids Labor Day Bridge Walk, on Monday, September 4, 2017, protestors disrupted Mayor Bliss' planned remarks.

/John Rothwell
ATU supporters protest at the start of Grand Rapids Labor-day walk

Protesters block Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss from addressing walker at the start of the local Labor Day Bridge Walk /John Rothwell

Michelle Covington (Left) Mayor Bliss and Lupe Ramos-Montigny (Red white and blue top) Walking in the Labor day walk. /John Rothwell

After a one-year hiatus, the Grand Rapids Labor Day Bridge Walk was back in full stride on Monday, September 4, 2017. As hundreds of participants lined up to start the five-mile walk, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss was disrupted from addressing the crowd when she was met by protesters supporting the local Amalgamated Transit Union. She stepped back and started the walk early as a result.

The ATU has been in a contract dispute with The Rapid for over two years. Social Alternative Grand Rapids members came out to work with, and support the ATU in shutting down Mayor Bliss from speaking to the walkers and to bring attention to the lack of contract.

“She is largely responsible for this union busting that is going on with The Rapid,” branch organizer of Social Alternative Grand Rapids Philip Snyder said. “Frankly, how dare she speak on Labor Day at Laborfest as a quote union supporter, when in actuality she is fighting unions every step of the way.”

As the protest was taking place, walking participants involved were booing and yelling at the protesters. Many could be overheard asking the protesters why they were disrupting a family event and what were they doing protesting on a holiday, with some going as far to call the protesters anti-American and Commies.

“It was certainly ironic, but somewhat expected, that people were booing. The protest and support being held in a conservative town such as Grand Rapids (is ironic),” Snyder said. “Labor Day has lost a lot of its meaning as a holiday for workers. It is now a long weekend to shop at sales, go to the beach, camp or a last time downtown. We are having a beer tent. People do not associate the day with labor anymore.”

Walking participant Michelle Covington felt that the Mayor needed some security or a body guard, reporting her concern to the Grand Rapids Police. Shortly after, Mayor Bliss was met by Grand Rapids Police where she exited the walk on her own behalf as participants continued on.

Lupe Ramos-Montigny walked next to the Mayor in support of Labor Day and general labor in the area.

“I believe in open protest, that we have the freedom of speech, but what I do not agree with is harassment," Ramos-Montigny said.

Protesters were glad to see the mayor leave.

"It's Labor Day, she's a union buster. She (Bliss) does not belong here, so we came here and started chanting, go home Bliss, union busting is disgusting,” Local ATU member Louis DeShane said. “At Scribner and Bridge we finally blocked her at the corner there, and she finally left. So we were like na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey, hey, hey good-bye. Our goal was accomplished, we shut her down.”

Members of the ATU have been without a contract for over two years and Mayor Bliss is a Rapids Transit board member. The board voted in favor of a merit increase for Rapid CEO Peter Varga during the August 30, 2017 board meeting where DeShane was arrested.

The War On Grand Rapids ATU 836 Pensions & Union Rights With Local 836 Pres RiChard Jackson
https://youtu.be/MZdN76_uG8c
Union busters and politicians in Grand Rapids, Michigan have sought to break the ATU Local 836 transit workers union reported ATU 836 president RiChard Jackson. They have sought to ban the members from handing out flyers on off-work time and have ordered the police to visit students and workers who are supporting this fight to defend their defined pension benefits. This presentation and interview took place in Chicago on April 3, 2016 at the 2016 Labor Notes convention.
For more information media:
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww3-22-16-atu-hanley-on-sanders-tr...
Facebook ATUGR
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww2-15-16-chicago-fired-atu241-ex-...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5jaBcpHZGc
http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=6121
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: ATU 836union bustingGrand Rapids Mayor
Categories: Labor News

Global: Organizing, fighting and winning together: the IUF 27th Congress

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/05/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

USA: Is Trump Really Pro-Worker?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/04/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NYT
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Canada demands U.S. end ‘right to work’ laws as part of NAFTA talks

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Globe and Mail
Categories: Labor News

UK: McDonald's faces first UK industrial action

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BBC
Categories: Labor News

UK: Poverty, illness, homelessness – no wonder McDonald’s UK workers are going on strike

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Boston area transit privatization plan goes forward amid allegations of corruption/mismanagement

Current News - Sun, 09/03/2017 - 14:40

Boston area transit privatization plan goes forward amid allegations of corruption/mismanagement
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/02/mbta-s02.html
By John Marion
2 September 2017
The privatization of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) serving greater Boston is moving forward, amidst allegations of mismanagement and corruption on the part of state officials. This has included the hiring of a General Executive to head the system with no previous transportation experience and conflicts of interest in the hiring of contractors.
After record snowfalls in February 2015 caused the near-collapse of Boston’s public transportation system, the administration of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker jumped at the opportunity to use the crisis as an excuse for the privatization of the system. The MBTA — including buses, subways, trolleys, and heavy commuter rail — had been a public agency for more than 50 years.
Baker created an unelected Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB), which has attacked workers’ benefits while privatizing cash handling, spare parts warehouses, customer service jobs, and now three of the system’s bus maintenance yards. In December 2016 the FMCB used the threat of privatization to force Boston Carmen’s Union Local 589, the largest MBTA union, into a deal which slashed raises in a contract that wasn’t set to expire for another two years.
A Human Resources Workforce & Strategy update, summarizing the first six months of this year and available on the FMCB’s web site, states that 746 workers have been “separated,” through being either fired or goaded into early retirement agreements. The average yearly salary of these workers is $76,000; the average salary of the 348 new hires during this period is $60,900. The report boasts that 65 workers were fired during the first six months of this year for attendance violations.
However, neither price nor quality is being considered in the hiring of executives, who are euphemistically referred to as “talent.” On August 15 the MBTA announced that Luis Manuel Ramírez, a former Siemens and General Electric executive with no public transportation experience, has been hired as the system’s General Manager.
The MBTA paid Lochlin Partners, a recruiting firm, $93,000 for the hire and will be paying Ramírez more than $300,000 per year plus bonuses.
After his GE career, Ramírez was President and CEO of Global Power Equipment Group from 2012 to 2015. Accounting and audit controls at the company were so bad that in March 2017 it submitted a filing to the SEC admitting that its financial statements from 2011-2015 could “‘not be relied on.’” Its stock value has dropped by nearly 75 percent since then, according to a report aired on radio station WBUR.
On May 6 2015, less than two months after Ramírez left the company, Global Power issued a press release admitting that it had understated the cost of sales in its 2014 financial statements, the effect of which was to inflate the profits shown on its income statement. One week later a class action lawsuit against Global Power was filed by stockholders stating that the company’s financial statements had been “materially false and misleading.” Ramírez had signed off on the 2014 financial statements.
Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, who made the decision without public input, told WBUR that she “‘selected Luis Ramírez based on his long and successful career of transforming and turning around complex organizations.” In other words, she hired a financial con man to accelerate the privatization of the MBTA and clamp down on workers.
After the February 2015 winter crisis, the Massachusetts legislature — both houses of which were controlled by Democrats — passed a measure sought by Governor Baker to exempt the MBTA from an existing law that limited the privatization of government services. The 2015 measure also gave the Transportation Secretary authority to hire a General Manager without the public input that was previously part of the process.
Pollack appointed a five-member “advisory committee” for the selection process, and it included two members of the FMCB. One of them, Monica Tibbits-Nutt, was interviewed by WBUR after the scandal broke.
Claiming that “‘our job was to give the potential candidates a really thorough understanding of what the MBTA needs,’” Tibbits-Nutt told the interviewer that she had only two meetings with Ramírez and the second was “‘just a handshake.’” She defended the hire with the excuse that “‘a lot of litigation happens in the corporate world,’” and admitted that she had been told nothing about the lawsuit, the SEC investigation, or the financial restatements.
This combination of corporate plunder and irrationality is not limited to the hiring of a public transportation General Manager with no public transportation experience. On Tuesday the Boston Globe reported that a contract to CH2M Hill Companies to manage the construction of a 4.7-mile Green Line trolley extension has been canceled because an engineering company it would have managed on the project has bought CH2M Hill.
The MBTA plans to hire another contractor and is claiming that the project schedule will not change, but this development adds to 27 years of delays. The construction, which would extend trolley service from Lechmere station in Cambridge to Somerville and Medford, was first approved by the state legislature in 1990.
The project was almost cancelled at the end of 2015 because cost estimates had increased by more than $1 billion. An Interim Project Management Team was appointed and released its final report in May 2016, stating that not enough MBTA staff were working on the project to handle “the dozens of consultants,” and “too much autonomy and authority was ceded to consultants who took full advantage by charging too much.”
Money also would have been siphoned off by bond investors after then-Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, signed a law authorizing the issuance of $1.3 billion worth of capital bonds.
A cheaper construction plan was then devised which would eliminate escalators and toilets and reduce shelter at stops to open-air roofs over the platforms. The Medford Street and School Street bridges in Somerville, which would have been replaced to provide a better right-of-way, will instead have tunnels dug under their abutments.
The Democratic Party has enabled these schemes while working with the unions to contain workers’ anger. US Senator Edward Markey spoke at an August 11 picket at the Lynn bus maintenance facility, one of the three facing privatization.
However, all sides agree that the maintenance jobs must be “saved” at the expense of the workers. Indeed, the mechanics union has offered some $29 million in concessions in ongoing contract talks. The unions main concern is not workers jobs and benefits, but their right to continue the collection of dues payments.

Tags: Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)privatizationcorruptiontransit workers
Categories: Labor News

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