Labor News

Amid geopolitical turmoil, union cuts deal with Bay Area port operators

Current News - Fri, 08/18/2017 - 08:40

Amid geopolitical turmoil, union cuts deal with Bay Area port operators
" In effect, the union abandoned a strategy historically designed to give it maximum leverage over the ports and shippers."
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Amid-geopolitical-turmoil-un...
By Thomas LeeAugust 18, 2017

Photo: Leah Millis, The Chronicle
IMAGE 1 OF 2A forklift drives around shipping containers at the Port of Oakland, where workers have agreed to a three-year contract extension.

The two sides have engaged in perpetual conflict, traded accusations, and caused collateral damage across the country. But for the good of everyone, they put aside mutual acrimony and reached a compromise.

No, not Republicans and Democrats, but rather dock workers and West Coast port operators and shipping lines.

The longshoremen’s union and the Pacific Maritime Association recently agreed to a three-year extension of a contract that ensures labor peace at 29 ports, including Los Angeles and Oakland, through at least 2022. The first-of-its-kind agreement means the country won’t see a repeat of three years ago, when a work slowdown delayed shipments from Asia and cost U.S. retailers millions of dollars in lost holiday sales.

“We’re very happy,” Chris Lytle, executive director of the Port of Oakland, told me. “We see great benefits of the contract being extended in terms of reliability and stability (of port operations). That’s a very big thing. A lot of shippers were hurt” during the 2014-15 slowdown.

Since the turn of the century, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 port workers, and the maritime association have been locked in a perpetual cycle of brinkmanship in negotiating six-year contracts, often resulting in lockouts, slowdowns and outright strikes.

That’s why the recent deal is so notable: Instead of waiting until a contract ends to negotiate a new one, the union and the maritime association signed an extension a good two years before the current deal expires. In effect, the union abandoned a strategy historically designed to give it maximum leverage over the ports and shippers.

Union officials seemed to acknowledge that this shift would upset some workers.

“During the past year we saw a healthy debate and heard different points of view, with concerns raised by all sides,” union President Robert McEllrath said in a statement. “The democratic process allowed us to make a difficult decision and arrive at the best choice under the circumstances.”

The union, which said 67 percent of workers approved the extension, did not disclose contract details other than to say the deal increases wages and pension benefits.

So what changed?

Perhaps the union overplayed its hand during the last conflict. The Federal Reserve suggests the dispute was a big reason that the gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the first quarter of 2015. The central bank estimates that West Coast exports fell 20.5 percent in the quarter while imports dropped 9 percent.

But the dispute particularly hurt retailers. Companies such as Gap and Williams-Sonoma, both based in San Francisco, heavily depend on Asian factories to make merchandise. Retailers typically order holiday goods in February and March and receive them by early fall. The four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas can account for nearly a third of annual sales, so any delay can really hurt a retailer.

“It was a disaster,” said Brian Kilcourse, managing partner at RSR Research in Grass Valley (Nevada County). “You can’t sell products that are still on the water.”

Williams-Sonoma blamed the port slowdown for wiping out $30 million to $40 million in revenue for the first quarter of 2015.

The prolonged conflict embarrassed President Obama, whose efforts to expand the economy depended on boosting U.S. exports to Asia, including through major trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In February 2015, Obama sent Labor Secretary Tom Perez to San Francisco to pressure both sides into reaching an agreement.

But as the conflict wore on, there was growing talk in Washington of using the Taft-Hartley Act to force open the ports. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan invoked the law to order striking air traffic controllers back to work. He eventually fired more than 11,000 workers who refused to do so.

Kilcourse also noted that the labor conflict prompted retailers to bypass West Coast ports altogether by rerouting goods through the recently expanded Panama Canal or to ports in Canada and Mexico.

The union might have also considered the current political situation. President Trump has been a vocal opponent of trade agreements; he pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a pact that would have greatly benefited West Coast ports, and threatened to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Trump is also threatening China with trade sanctions, a move that will surely lead to Chinese retaliation. A trade war with China would be devastating for West Coast ports: China is the Port of Oakland’s top trading partner, accounting for 30 percent of total trade from January to June this year.

At a time of such geopolitical uncertainty, peace at home seems worth the price.

Thomas Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Email: tlee@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ByTomLee

Tags: ilwuPMAdealContractthe union abandoned a strategy historically designed to give it maximum leverage over the ports and shippers.
Categories: Labor News

Canada: When Hate Goes Public: Unionists Stand Up and Speak Out

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Our Times
Categories: Labor News

Spain: Barcelona and Cambrils attacks: ETUC solidarity and condolences

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ETUC
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Marikana Five Years Later: Thousands gather on the koppie to pay tribute to the 34 miners

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Daily Maverick
Categories: Labor News

Belarus: Global unions call to support independent union movement in Belarus

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Israel: High Court signals end of right to strike at state-owned enterprises

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Five years on, #Marikana wounds are still raw

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Independent
Categories: Labor News

USA: AFL-CIO's Trumka quits White House manufacturing initiative

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Politico
Categories: Labor News

Morocco: Left-Wing Coalition Calls for National March on August 27 to Demand Release of Rif Detainees

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 08/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Morocco World News
Categories: Labor News

Romania: Must viewing: Hidden camera shows British boss shouting abuse at workers

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/14/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Sun
Categories: Labor News

Barcelona airport crisis worsens as security staff plan 24-hour strike

Current News - Sun, 08/13/2017 - 19:04

Barcelona airport crisis worsens as security staff plan 24-hour strike
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/13/barcelona-airport-crisis-w...
After staging go-slows and one-hour strikes since July, private security workers voted to reject company pay deal and go ahead with walkout
Barcelona El Prat
Travellers walking through Barcelona El Prat airport as security guards strike. Photograph: Quique Garcia/EPA

85
Stephen Burgen in Barcelona
Sunday 13 August 2017 20.07 BST
After two weeks of chaos, Barcelona airport faces a worsening situation as security staff begin a continuous 24-hour strike.

The private security workers have been staging go-slows and rolling one-hour strikes since late July and on Sunday voted for a second time to reject the company’s offer, paving the way for 24-hour strike action. The workers voted by 150 to 36 to reject the offer and to go ahead with the planned industrial action.

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Barcelona airport strikes cause severe delays
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Spain’s minister for infrastructure, Íñigo de la Serna, said on Sunday that this was the strikers’ “last chance” and that he would send in Guardia Civil officers to ensure that the airport continued to function if they voted to walk out.

De la Serna said he had no option but to send in the police because the strike action “not only affects passengers and the country’s image, as well as being a problem for Catalonia and Barcelona, but also security and public order”.

After the vote to strike, De la Serna said that he had asked the court of arbitration to rule that the security staff have an obligation to work because they provide an essential service.

Leopoldo García Quinteiro, the lawyer representing the strike committee, said the minister’s threats were disproportionate. Puri Infante, a member of the committee, said: “This could have been settled sooner, but now De la Serna wants to break the strike, which is a constitutional right.”

Waits of up to three hours have led to more than 1,000 passengers missing their flights over the past two weeks. Travellers have been arriving several hours early for fear of missing their planes, compounding the problem.

On Thursday, security staff voted to reject the company’s offer and instead voted in favour of one that wasn’t on the table. They complain that in addition to being poorly paid (€800-€1,100 a month/£731-£1014), understaffing means they often have to work 16-hour days.

They are demanding an increase of 15 monthly payments of €250, paid over a 12-month period, while the company is offering 12 payments of €200, which workers have again rejected.

The regional Catalan government, which has been trying broker a deal, has now pulled out. “We tried to bring them together,” said Dolors Bassa, the local employment minister. “Now it’s up to the employers and the workers to negotiate.”

From next Sunday, strike action is expected to spread to airports in A Coruña and Santiago de Compostela in the north-west of the country.

Tags: Barcelona airport workerssecurity workers
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Marikana – a massive failure of justice

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: City Press
Categories: Labor News

Global: The International Domestic Workers Movement Is Growing

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 08/12/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Truth Out
Categories: Labor News

Lyft drivers fear censorship after internal email about speaking to press

Current News - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 23:04

Lyft drivers fear censorship after internal email about speaking to press

An internal email from Lyft sent in July urges drivers to inform the company whenever they are contacted by a reporter. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on August 10, 2017 1:00 am

From decrying false DUIs to violence in their vehicles — even critiques of a partnership with Taco Bell — Lyft drivers speak to the press in times of crisis, large and small.

Now, however, Lyft wants those drivers to check in with the company first.

In late July, the San Francisco-based company, Lyft, sent an email to its drivers that read: “Email press@lyft.com if you’re ever contacted by a reporter. Speaking of Lyft in the news: We’re here to help if you get approached for an interview. Shoot a note to our communications team and they’ll make sure you’re prepared for any questions.”

The move is drawing rebuke from drivers, who in internet forums and elsewhere expressed fear of crackdowns on freedom of speech and questioned the company’s labor fairness.

The warning comes as negative news surrounding Lyft’s competitor, Uber, led to the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick. Though Lyft is seen as the more friendly alternative to Uber, it isn’t immune to bad press.

And while the language in the email seems polite, some drivers saw the message as a thinly veiled threat.

“Scare tactics, to make some think they should contact Lyft first,” wrote Fort Lauderdale Lyft driver “DidIDoThat” on the ride-hail forum UberPeople.net.

“Lyft doesn’t want news like Uber got from some of it’s drivers,” the driver wrote, “and they know it can happen.”

Another driver from Minneapolis wrote that Lyft cannot restrict drivers’ comments as they would employees because Lyft classifies its drivers as independent contractors.

Christian Perea, a San Francisco driver for Lyft and Uber and a writer for the popular blog TheRideshareGuy.com, told the San Francisco Examiner that the company email likely reflects a desire to “get ahead of stories” written about Lyft and to tip them off to reporters’ scoops.

“However,” Perea added, “I think that a lot of drivers will get the impression that if they don’t reach out to Lyft after being contacted by a reporter, that they can be punished or deactivated.”

Scott Coriell, a Lyft spokesperson, wrote that censorship “wasn’t the intent, and that’s not something we would ever do.”

In a statement Coriell forwarded from Lyft, the company said drivers are free to speak to the press, and “there are no restrictions or requirements.” Lyft’s press team said they wanted to remind drivers “we’re here as a resource.”

That said, Perea was still worried.

“Overall,” he said, “it’s just a creepy message.”

Categories: Labor News

Lyft drivers fear censorship after internal email about speaking to press

Current News - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 10:25

Lyft drivers fear censorship after internal email about speaking to press

http://www.sfexaminer.com/lyft-drivers-fear-censorship-internal-email-sp...
An internal email from Lyft sent in July urges drivers to inform the company whenever they are contacted by a reporter. (Jessica Christian/2016 S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on August 10, 2017 1:00 am

From decrying false DUIs to violence in their vehicles — even critiques of a partnership with Taco Bell — Lyft drivers speak to the press in times of crisis, large and small.

Now, however, Lyft wants those drivers to check in with the company first.

In late July, the San Francisco-based company, Lyft, sent an email to its drivers that read: “Email press@lyft.com if you’re ever contacted by a reporter. Speaking of Lyft in the news: We’re here to help if you get approached for an interview. Shoot a note to our communications team and they’ll make sure you’re prepared for any questions.”

The move is drawing rebuke from drivers, who in internet forums and elsewhere expressed fear of crackdowns on freedom of speech and questioned the company’s labor fairness.

The warning comes as negative news surrounding Lyft’s competitor, Uber, led to the ouster of CEO Travis Kalanick. Though Lyft is seen as the more friendly alternative to Uber, it isn’t immune to bad press.

And while the language in the email seems polite, some drivers saw the message as a thinly veiled threat.

“Scare tactics, to make some think they should contact Lyft first,” wrote Fort Lauderdale Lyft driver “DidIDoThat” on the ride-hail forum UberPeople.net.

“Lyft doesn’t want news like Uber got from some of it’s drivers,” the driver wrote, “and they know it can happen.”

Another driver from Minneapolis wrote that Lyft cannot restrict drivers’ comments as they would employees because Lyft classifies its drivers as independent contractors.

Christian Perea, a San Francisco driver for Lyft and Uber and a writer for the popular blog TheRideshareGuy.com, told the San Francisco Examiner that the company email likely reflects a desire to “get ahead of stories” written about Lyft and to tip them off to reporters’ scoops.

“However,” Perea added, “I think that a lot of drivers will get the impression that if they don’t reach out to Lyft after being contacted by a reporter, that they can be punished or deactivated.”

Scott Coriell, a Lyft spokesperson, wrote that censorship “wasn’t the intent, and that’s not something we would ever do.”

In a statement Coriell forwarded from Lyft, the company said drivers are free to speak to the press, and “there are no restrictions or requirements.” Lyft’s press team said they wanted to remind drivers “we’re here as a resource.”

That said, Perea was still worried.

“Overall,” he said, “it’s just a creepy message.”

Tags: Lyftcensorshipworkers rightscivil rights
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 13 Dock workers at Port of Long Beach injured in chemical spill

Current News - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 22:23

ILWU Local 13 Dock workers at Port of Long Beach injured in chemical spill
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-port-spill-20170806-story.html

Port of Long Beach
Firefighters responding to a hazmat incident board a ship at the Port of Long Beach on Sunday. (Brian Fisk / Long Beach Fire Department via AP)
Thomas Curwen Thomas CurwenContact Reporter
Twelve dock workers suffered minor injuries Sunday morning when a container of flammable liquid began to leak at the Port of Long Beach, officials said.

One worker exposed to the fumes, along with a firefighter who fell while responding to the spill, were transported to a hospital, according to the Long Beach Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard.. Both sustained minor injuries and were in stable condition Sunday afternoon. Workers who were exposed to the leaking chemical, identified as propyl acetate, experienced shortness of breath, said Davonte Marrow, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Long Beach Fire Department received the 911 call at approximately 9:30 a.m., said Brian Fisk, a spokesman for the agency. An engine company was dispatched to Pier G, a 29-acre container terminal south of the Queen Mary, where it found the hazardous material coming from a roughly 6,000-gallon chemical tank onboard a docked container ship.

A hazardous materials unit, a search-and-rescue unit and paramedics were dispatched to the scene. Two Long Beach fire boats and one of the city’s lifeguard rescue boats deployed a 1,000-foot boom in the water alongside the docked ship as a precautionary measure against environmental damage, Fisk said.

With the help of port workers and crane operators, the leaking container was removed from the ship.

A Coast Guard captain set up a safety zone 150 yards around the ship while crews removed the chemical from the water. It’s unclear how much spilled into the water, though authorities expected to finish cleaning up by Sunday evening, Marrow said.

Officials did not know what caused the leak.

Tags: ILWU Local 13health and safetytoxic spillinjured workers
Categories: Labor News

Israel: IFJ condemns Israel’s announcement to shut down Al Jazeera

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Global: ILO launches 2017 global media competition on labour migration

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/07/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ILO
Categories: Labor News

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