Labor News

The defiance of an 'untouchable' New York TWU 100 subway worker

Current News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 22:29

The defiance of an 'untouchable' New York TWU 100 subway worker
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-40702242?SThisFB

25 July 2017
From the section India

Gidla was the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on the New York City Subway
The memoir of an Indian woman who was born a so-called untouchable and now works as a conductor on the New York City Subway has been hailed by critics for its unflinching account of caste and family in India. Journalist Sudha G Tilak spoke to Sujatha Gidla about her life story and how it became Ants Among Elephants.
In Sanskrit, the main language used by scholars in ancient India and sometimes referred to as the language of gods, her first name means one of noble birth.
The irony is laid bare by Sujatha Gidla whose recent memoir speaks of her life and her family and the plight of 300 million Dalits ("oppressed" in Sanskrit), formerly known as untouchables in India.
An expressive personal examination of her life, her parents, especially her mother, grandparents and Satyamurthy, a Maoist uncle who hoped revolution would help improve the caste discrimination his people suffered, Ants Among Elephants has quickly become the toast of critics and readers in America.
What is India's caste system?
Why are Dalits in Narendra Modi's India angry?
India's Dalits still fighting untouchability
The New York Times said the "unsentimental, deeply poignant book" gives "readers an unsettling and visceral understanding of how discrimination, segregation and stereotypes have endured throughout the second half of the 20th Century and today".
Reviewer Michiko Kakutani wrote that Gidla's family stories reveal how "ancient prejudices persist in contemporary India, and how those prejudices are being challenged by the disenfranchised".
The Minneapolis Star Tribune described the book as the "boisterous life of an Indian family that fought the caste system".
"Gidla is our Virgil into the world of the untouchables and their acts of defiance; not just as an observer, but as a participant," wrote reviewer Peter Lewis.
"She is bitten by the revolutionary bug, and bitten hard: arrested by the Indian authorities, tortured, left to rot, released. She has been party to the heights and the depths of living a revolution."
<_97054386_sujathaandabraham.jpg>
Image caption
Sujatha Gidla with her brother, Abraham
Michael D Langan, a culture critic for NBC-2.com, wrote that Gidla breaks away her "indomitable soul" and tells her family stories, adding: "They are not stories of shame, but of grace."
Gidla's story is one of personal struggle and a certain freedom she has found in America today.
She writes that caste is an accursed state in India, especially for Dalits: "Your life is your caste, your caste is your life."
With her memoir, Gidla joins the ranks of India's many Dalit women who are telling stories to be heard and counted in a system that seeks to keep them down.
Gidla hails from the Dalit community of Kazipet, a small town in southern Telangana state.
Unflinching look
The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities.
Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers.
Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu."
The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India.
<_97054384_antsamongelephants.jpg>
Gidla lists how she and other Dalits are humiliated in India by other castes.
They are forced to eat from separate plates and glasses in eateries; barred from the community's main source of drinking water; allowed to ride a bicycle or wear footwear only in segregated areas; rejected in love and denied opportunities. She recalls her hurt when a junior school classmate refused to touch the sweet she offered. Things like this are constant reminders to Dalits of their status as social outcastes.
Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.
'Culture of protest'
Gidla admits that she has had it better than many Dalit students who are "driven to suicide" despite securing education under affirmative practices She was able to study physics in an engineering college in south India. She also joined India's top and most sought-after engineering school, the Indian Institute of technology (IIT), as a researcher in applied physics.
In Madras (now Chennai) she found most of her classmates clearing the tests to study further abroad.
"For me, what was appealing was the idea of America, especially Bob Dylan's music, the culture of protest, and the draw of joining a society where debates on rights and equality could be articulated," she told the BBC.
She moved to America when she was 26.

There are some 300 million Dalits in India
There, she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community.
Yet life was much more liberating. As she says: "If you are educated like me, if you don't seem like a typical untouchable, then you have a choice."
Her siblings, too, have left their life behind in India to find livelihoods and build families. Her sister is a physician in America and her brother is an engineer in Canada.
Writing the book has almost been a family affair as well, with her mother who was "involved in this book as it is her story too" and her young niece Anagha who wanted to design the book.
'Hindu conductor'
After she was laid off from her bank job in 2009, Gidla took up the job at the New York subway. She was the first Indian woman to be employed as a conductor on one of the busiest mass transit systems in the world.
In her job she is often identified as "that Hindu conductor", she says.
She is "a novelty", she says, to fellow Indian commuters. And if she hears an Indian language she is familiar with, especially the south Indian language Telugu, she calls out a greeting and watches them in glee "as they do a double take" and smile back.
In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status".
"One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."
Sudha G Tilak is a Delhi-based journalist

Tags: TWU 100discrimination'untouchable'
Categories: Labor News

Iran: 1,600 Teachers Demand That Judiciary Free Imprisoned Rights Activist

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ICHRI
Categories: Labor News

Kazakhstan: Leader Of Defunct Kazakh Union Sentenced On Embezzlement Charges

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: RFE/Radio Liberty
Categories: Labor News

Sri Lanka: Government deploys troops amid oil workers strike

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Daily Mail
Categories: Labor News

Algeria: 5,000 police used to stop energy workers’ march

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Technology, Automation, Internationalism, Longshore Workers And The Future Of Work: A Presentation by Professor Raquel Varela

Current News - Tue, 07/25/2017 - 11:48

Technology, Automation, Internationalism, Longshore Workers And The Future Of Work: A Presentation by Professor Raquel Varela
https://youtu.be/J2YmVVs9hPM
Technology, Internationalism, Longshore Workers And The Future Of Work was the focus of a presentation by labor professor Raquel Varela who lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. Her research is centered on dockers and shipyard workers including technology and automation.
The presentation was made at an educational conference at ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco on July 15, 2017 titled Longshore Work , Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives.
It was part of LaborFest.net and sponsored by ILWU Local 10, LaborTech.net, laborfest.net and the TWSC.
For more media:
https://youtu.be/SNcU37rL2Ng
https://youtu.be/FNbvWfS1HYs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTcJXCDjq0
https://youtu.be/FNbvWfS1HYs
https://youtu.be/WHjq-MNnr5s
https://raquelcardeiravarela.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/studyautomation...
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: TechnologicalAutomationdockers jobslongshore workshorter workweek
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Toronto's Ethiopian and Eritrean communities fight for rights at work

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 07/24/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Inside
Categories: Labor News

Barbados: Unions to March for Workers' Rights

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/23/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Despite criticisms, new study finds DC Metro Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 workers’ pay and benefits are typical for industry.

Current News - Sat, 07/22/2017 - 21:54

Despite criticisms, new study finds DC Metro Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 workers’ pay and benefits are typical for industry.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/despite-criticisms-new-study-finds-...

A new study shows Metro workers’ pay and benefits are in line with those of other major transit systems, blunting long-standing criticism of the agency’s labor costs.A plane lands at Dulles airport as workers build the second phase of Metro's Silver Line to Dulles. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
By Robert McCartney July 20
But Northern Virginia Republican lawmakers said it would still be necessary for Metro to restrain costs and weaken union powers to persuade the GOP-led General Assembly in Richmond to back increased funding for the transit system.

The report by a consulting firm hired by the state of Virginia undermined complaints that Metro’s labor costs are excessive — an allegation aired frequently by critics including GOP political leaders.

The study by the firm WSP USA said total employee compensation at Metro was $56 for every hour worked by a Metro employee, compared with an average of $58 at four other transit systems that, like Metro, do not allow workers to strike.

The average was $61 for four systems that do permit strikes.

[Virginia Gov. McAuliffe taps Ray LaHood to head panel to study Metro.]

The study is the first significant report released publicly to guide the work of a politically important commission that is studying Metro and is chaired by former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood.

LaHood plans to issue a report in September recommending changes in Metro’s funding and governance aimed at winning broad support across the Washington region.

The new study, on which LaHood will rely, weakens the case for seeking a major rollback of labor costs and union power, as some GOP lawmakers in Virginia and Congress have advocated.

“Basically what we’re finding is both wages and benefits [at Metro] are average for the transit industry,” said WSP consultant Roy Kienitz, who conducted the study for the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation.

Kienitz presented the results Wednesday evening at a public committee meeting of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission in Arlington.

[Lawmakers suggest Metro unions derailing efforts for internal cost-cutting.]

The WSP study found Metro was more generous than other transit systems in a few respects. Unlike most systems, Metro credits overtime pay in calculating pension benefits. Also, the average Metro union employee contributes just 3.1 percent of salary to their pension, compared with an average of 7.1 percent for U.S. public employees.

But Metro was squarely in the mainstream by numerous other measures:

●The average Metro employee earns 106 percent of the amount needed for one adult and one child to attain “a modest yet adequate standard of living” in the D.C. region — equal to the average for eight other major transit systems.

●Average retirement benefits at Metro are 56 percent of final salary, compared with 60 percent for 20 selected local governments.

●Metro’s pensions are 77 percent funded, which is the average for the nation’s 100 largest public pension funds.

Some previous studies have also found that Metro’s pay levels were generally in line with industry norms. But critics have said it was necessary nonetheless to strengthen management’s hand in bargaining with unions over pay and operating procedures.

[Metro GM proposes ‘new business model’ and $500 million a year in extra funding to save D.C.-area transit agency.]

At the Wednesday meeting, Virginia Del. James M. LeMunyon (R-Fairfax) pressed Kienitz to explain why Federal Transit Administration data show Metro’s rail operating cost is 62 cents per passenger mile, compared with 32 cents in San Francisco and 39 cents in Chicago.

Kienitz said the higher costs were attributable to higher maintenance expenses at Metro, and because Metro keeps trains in service for more hours each week relative to its ridership. He also noted Metro pays more than other systems for riders’ comfort, offering “big wide cars and nice, comfy seats.”
After the meeting, LeMunyon questioned that those factors alone could explain such a large cost difference.

“I have a hard time buying that,” he said.

Metro has said it needs at least $500 million a year in additional funds, starting mid-2018, for new equipment and maintenance to restore it to a state of good repair.He also told the transportation commission meeting the Virginia legislature would need to see a much more detailed plan for a Metro turnaround before it agreed to give the system additional funds.

“If you want them [legislators] to invest in something, they want to know what they’re investing in,” LeMunyon said.

In a related development, Loudoun Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles) presented a four-page document urging changes in Metro’s collective bargaining agreement with its largest union, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, to save money and improve efficiency.

The proposal included calls to allow Metro to hire more part-time employees, and allow management to fix work schedules without being subject to outside arbitration.

Tags: ATU 689DC Metro
Categories: Labor News

Statement by the Organizing Committee for the National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback & Build a Solidarity Network (Oct 6-8, Chicago, at UAW 551 Union Hall)

Current News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:46

Statement by the Organizing Committee for the National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback & Build a Solidarity Network (Oct 6-8, Chicago, at UAW 551 Union Hall)

The Organizing Committee for the National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback & Build a Solidarity Network calls for full support of the struggle of Chicago Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) 241/308 transit workers who have been working without a contract for over 18 months. They face dangerous working conditions, retaliatory firings and are fighting for living wages and benefits in the face of an attack on all transit workers and public workers in Chicago, Illinois and the country.
The effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner to scapegoat public workers and to destroy public services is a threat not only the workers and services but to all our communities, youth and students. The future of all the people in Chicago and Illinois are at risk.
Our network supports your struggle and also calls for a united front of all transit workers and public workers in Illinois with communities and the public to band together to defend each other. We cannot isolate our struggle and fight alone if we are to be successful.
While these politicians claim that there is no money to provide for decent wages, benefits, pensions and services the number of billionaires and millionaires grows in Illinois and throughout the country. Working people in Chicago, Illinois and the US should not bear the cost of this crisis.
We support the actions of ATU 241 and ATU 308 in their just and righteous fight for not only themselves but all of us. We call on unions and allied organizations to pass a form of the resolution below and join any support rallies with your banners and your organizations. Also join us on October 6,7&8 at United Auto, Aerospace, Agricultural Implement Workers (UAW) 551 in Chicago for a national workers conference.

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All
National Workers Conference to Organize the Fightback & Build a Solidarity Network
https://www.facebook.com/ events/371406356586798/

Whereas,
The 20,000 public transportation working and retiree families of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) and PACE suburban buses have been working without a new contract for over eighteen months, and,
Whereas,
On July 6, 2017, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 308 held a pre-strike authorization vote where over 97% and over 900 workers voted in favor. They held a press conference a few days later to let the public know they may need to stop public transit service because the city negotiators are demanding massive take-aways knowing workers can not accept, and,
Whereas,
About 7,000 transit workers safely move 1.5 million people every day in Chicago. Almost every worker is a leader of a family and a leader in our communities. However, transit workers, like other members of the working class, are under constant attack by the city administration and their appointed managers. Workers are disrespected, harassed and forced into extremely dangerous working conditions.
Transit workers face a lack of respect for the complex, dangerous and important work they do. They face massive surveillance of their work alongside punitive and excessive discipline policies. They face dangerous sleeping and work schedules which is very dangerous to the riding public. Work speed-ups are causing repetitive stress injuries and the appointed managers attempt to criminalize workers who try to take time off work to heal or help their families. Misdirected violence from the legitimate anger of passengers is a constant concern, and,

Whereas,

The arrogant city, state and national government of the super wealthy believe that they have transit workers in a legal straight-jacket. They have written unjust laws in an attempt to scare workers away from using their human right to collectively withhold their labor, and,

Whereas,

Workers around the United States and around the world are under attack and are searching for ways to effectively fight back and win. The public transit workers of Chicago urgently need to know that they are not alone. Should they decide to stop the buses and trains, the transit workers need to know that major sections of the international working class would rise to support them.

Therefore, be it resolved

[labor union, organization, undersigned individuals or simply your individual name] hereby publicly state: “We support the transit workers of Chicago in their fight for dignified working conditions. Their fight is our fight!”

Therefore, be it further resolved,

[labor union, organization, undersigned individuals or simply your individual name] hereby resolve to take the following immediate practical steps to support transit workers.

1. Distribute and make this resolution immediately public though all means available (social media, newsletter websites, etc.).
2. Encourage affiliated unions, groups and allies to make similar resolutions. (forwarding this resolution electronically, etc.)
3. Send copies of this resolution to Amalgamated Transit Union international office and also to Chicago locals 241 and 308. [Include names and contact information of contact persons for direct collaboration.]
-ATU international, address, phone, email
-308...address, phone, email
-241...address, phone, email

Therefore, be it finally resolved,

Should transit workers be forced to strike or take other direct collective action, [labor union, organization, undersigned individuals or simply your individual name] shall take at least the following immediate actions:

1. Build and participate in solidarity organizations helping the transit workers to win.

2. If in the Chicago area, join the mass demonstrations, rallies and picket lines led by the transit workers. If in the United States, arrange for bus or other transportation to attend and participate in the actions. If outside of the United States, distribute the literature of the unions and other allied organizations internationally to build international support for the workers.

Tags: ATU 308solidarityChicago Transit
Categories: Labor News

Peru: Govt. Declares State of Emergency Amidst Strikes

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: Vacuousness of CSR on Display in Loblaws’ Victory in Rana Plaza Class Action Lawsuit

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Law of Work
Categories: Labor News

Australia: The power and passion of union boss Sally McManus

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian Australia
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU 308 Kenneth Franklin of the CTA on Chicago Radio About Contract Fight, Union Busting And Health And Safety

Current News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 08:56

Chicago ATU 308 Kenneth Franklin of the CTA on Chicago Radio About Contract Fight, Union Busting And Health And Safety
https://soundcloud.com/chicagosprogressivetalk/kenneth-franklin-of-the-c...
Chicago ATU 308 Kenneth Franklin talks about the union busting attack and privatization by Mayor Ralm Emanuel. UAW 551 Vice President Scott Houldierson called in to support the transit workers in their fight for a contract.

Tags: ATU 308Ralm EmanuelsolidarityUAW 551privatization
Categories: Labor News

Southwest Airlines Bullies, Abuses and Fires Too Many People, TWU 555 Labor Union Leader Says

Current News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 08:55

Southwest Airlines Bullies, Abuses and Fires Too Many People, TWU 555 Labor Union Leader Says
https://www.thestreet.com/story/14238377/1/transport-workers-union-leade...
Ted Reed Follow Jul 21, 2017 9:55 AM EDT

The president of the Transport Workers Union, the largest labor union at Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) has written a scathing letter that condemns "intolerable and cancerous" working conditions for the carrier's groundworkers and decries mistreatment including 2,700 disciplinary actions and 468 terminations since January 2015.

"Groundworkers are flagrantly mistreated and abused by management," wrote John Samuelsen, president of the New York-based union that represents 12,000 Southwest groundworkers as well as 15,000 flight attendants. The letter refers to the ground workers, members of TWU Local 555.

In 2017, Samuelsen said, "Southwest is writing up nearly three workers per day and firing one worker every other day."

"The outright hostility to the workforce has obliterated morale, which can only have a negative impact on the passenger experience," he wrote. "The TWU finds it hard to believe that Southwest finds this to be an ideal business model."

The letter, sent late Wednesday, was signed by Samuelsen, Local 555 President Greg Puriski and 13 other TWU leaders. They said they are available to meet with airline executives as soon as possible.

In morning trading, Southwest shares were down 0.51%.

Russell McCrady, Southwest's vice president of labor relations, said the carrier is committed to "efforts to maintain strong, constructive relationships with our employees' representational groups including TWU 555.

"Discipline is a necessary part of business but any discipline we administer is far from 'arbitrary,'" McCrady said in a prepared statement. "We do not take for granted that Southwest continues to be named a best place to work and best employer by national publications and we are very proud that our employee culture is the foundation for these designations."

McCrady said Southwest will respond to Samuelsen's letter and welcomes the opportunity to meet.

Southwest employs about 54,000 workers including about 7,200 hired in both 2016 and 2015, said spokeswoman Beth Hardin. She said the number of terminations over three years is not atypical for the number of workers involved.

Local 555 signed a five-year contract in 2016. In an interview, Samuelsen said the letter is not related to contract negotiations but rather represents an effort "to fight Southwest on working conditions that are now entrenched on the property, on an antiquated labor relations model designed to drive production {that} drives morale down across Southwest properties."

TWU has about 200,000 members, including 42,000 in Local 100, which represents New York City bus and subway workers. Samuelsen headed Local 100 until he took over the TWU presidency in May.

"I'm a new president, taking note of a situation at Southwest where people are being fired and unfairly disciplined," he said. "I found that to be intolerable."

Tags: Bullyingworker rightsunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Southwest Airlines Fires And Bullies Too Many People, TWU 555 Labor Union Leader Says

Current News - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 08:17

Southwest Airlines Fires And Bullies Too Many People, TWU 555 Labor Union Leader Says
"Southwest is writing up nearly three workers per day and firing one worker every other day.”
"intolerable and cancerous" working conditions for the carrier's groundworkers and decries mistreatment including 2,700 disciplinary actions and 468 terminations since January 2015.
https://www.thestreet.com/story/14238377/1/transport-workers-union-leade...
Ted Reed Follow Jul 21, 2017 9:55 AM EDT

The president of the Transport Workers Union, the largest labor union at Southwest Airlines Co. (LUV) has written a scathing letter that condemns "intolerable and cancerous" working conditions for the carrier's groundworkers and decries mistreatment including 2,700 disciplinary actions and 468 terminations since January 2015.

"Groundworkers are flagrantly mistreated and abused by management," wrote John Samuelsen, president of the New York-based union that represents 12,000 Southwest groundworkers as well as 15,000 flight attendants. The letter refers to the ground workers, members of TWU Local 555.

In 2017, Samuelsen said, "Southwest is writing up nearly three workers per day and firing one worker every other day."

"The outright hostility to the workforce has obliterated morale, which can only have a negative impact on the passenger experience," he wrote. "The TWU finds it hard to believe that Southwest finds this to be an ideal business model."

The letter, sent late Wednesday, was signed by Samuelsen, Local 555 President Greg Puriski and 13 other TWU leaders. They said they are available to meet with airline executives as soon as possible.

In morning trading, Southwest shares were down 0.51%.

Russell McCrady, Southwest's vice president of labor relations, said the carrier is committed to "efforts to maintain strong, constructive relationships with our employees' representational groups including TWU 555.

"Discipline is a necessary part of business but any discipline we administer is far from 'arbitrary,'" McCrady said in a prepared statement. "We do not take for granted that Southwest continues to be named a best place to work and best employer by national publications and we are very proud that our employee culture is the foundation for these designations."

McCrady said Southwest will respond to Samuelsen's letter and welcomes the opportunity to meet.

Southwest employs about 54,000 workers including about 7,200 hired in both 2016 and 2015, said spokeswoman Beth Hardin. She said the number of terminations over three years is not atypical for the number of workers involved.

Local 555 signed a five-year contract in 2016. In an interview, Samuelsen said the letter is not related to contract negotiations but rather represents an effort "to fight Southwest on working conditions that are now entrenched on the property, on an antiquated labor relations model designed to drive production {that} drives morale down across Southwest properties."

TWU has about 200,000 members, including 42,000 in Local 100, which represents New York City bus and subway workers. Samuelsen headed Local 100 until he took over the TWU presidency in May.

"I'm a new president, taking note of a situation at Southwest where people are being fired and unfairly disciplined," he said. "I found that to be intolerable."

Tags: Bullyingretaliationharassmenthealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Dockworkers squeezed by automation, abandoned by politicians

Current News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 20:27

ILWU Dockworkers squeezed by automation, abandoned by politicians
http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Dockworkers-squeezed-by-automati...
By Jack Heyman

July 20, 2017 Updated: July 20, 2017 4:21pm

The ink wasn’t even dry on the West Coast longshore contract when the head of the employers’ group, the Pacific Maritime Association, proposed to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union a three-year extension, making it an eight-year contract. While the number of registered longshore jobs, 14,000, is the about same as in 1952, the volume of cargo passing through the 29 ports has increased 14 times to a record-breaking 350 million revenue tons a year.

Under the current contract, employers have eliminated hundreds of longshore jobs through automation on marine terminals such as the fully automated Long Beach Container Terminal and the semi-automated TraPac freight-forwarding facility in the Port of Los Angeles.

“By the end of an extended contract in 2022, several thousand longshore jobs will be eliminated on an annual basis due to automation,” warned Ed Ferris, president of ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco. With driverless trucks and crane operators in control towers running three cranes simultaneously, the chance of serious and deadly accidents are enormous.

Now maritime employers are pulling out all stops to push through this job-killing contract extension, using both Democratic and Republican politicians, high-powered PR firms and even some union officials.

On July 18, The Chronicle published an Open Forum by Democrats Mickey Kantor, former U.S. secretary of commerce who led the U.S. negotiations to create the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which cost millions of jobs, and Norman Mineta, also a former secretary of commerce.

The authors of this pro-employer piece talk of preserving “labor peace” and refer to West Coast port shutdowns over the last 15 years. Yes, there is a class war on the waterfront, but it’s being waged by the employers: Those port closures were caused by employer lockouts in 2002, 2013 and 2014 during longshore contract negotiations.

The 2002 lockout was ended after Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., called on President George W. Bush to invoke the antilabor Taft-Hartley Act — not against the maritime employers’ lockout but against the longshore union. The only time the ILWU shut down Pacific Coast ports between 2002 and today was May Day, 2008, in protest of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — the first-ever labor strike in the United States to protest a war.

In their Chronicle commentary, the two Democrats cite figures for wages and pensions that reflect only the highest skill level after a lifetime of work in one of the most dangerous industries. And then they threaten that “if the contract proposal is rejected,” it could lead Republicans and Democrats alike to impose antistrike legislation on the waterfront.

The ILWU backed Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary and then Hillary Clinton in the election. Yet no matter who leads it, the Democratic Party represents Wall Street on the waterfront. Clearly what’s needed is a workers’ party to fight for workers’ interests. And that includes fighting for nationalization without compensation of the transport industry while establishing workers’ control.

The so-called “friends of labor” Democrats have been enlisted by the Pacific Maritime Association because earlier this year at the Longshore Caucus, a union meeting representing West Coast dockworkers, the San Francisco delegates voted unanimously to oppose a contract extension. Saturday, they held a conference at their union hall on automation and the proposed contract extension. One proposal was to make automation benefit dockworkers by reducing the workweek to 30 hours while maintaining 40 hours pay, creating another work shift.

There are tens of millions of unemployed people in this country. The labor movement should launch a new campaign for a shorter workweek at no loss in pay as part of a struggle for full employment to benefit all, not President Trump and his Wall Street cronies. In resisting this contract extension, ILWU waterfront workers can stand up for all workers.

Jack Heyman, a retired Oakland longshoreman, chairs the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee. https://www.transportworkers.org/

The ILWU, Automation, Longshore Workers & The 8 Year Contract With Jack Heyman
https://youtu.be/WHjq-MNnr5s
Jack Heyman a retired ILWU Local 10 member and chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee spoke at a conference on Longshore Work, Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives. The conference took place on July 15, 2017 at ILWU Local 10 in San Francisco.
For additional media:
http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Dockworkers-squeezed-by-automati...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTcJXCDjq0
https://youtu.be/FNbvWfS1HYs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LbMYXeRElM&feature=
https://youtu.be/SNcU37rL2Ng
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGTcJXCDjq0
https://raquelcardeiravarela.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/automation-in-port...
https://raquelcardeiravarela.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/studyautomation...
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: ILWU Local 10Automationtechnology8 year contractpoliticians
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: Cumhuriyet journalists face trial on 24 July

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

China: VW workers in China issue letter in German calling for union solidarity

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/20/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Pages

Subscribe to Transport Workers Solidarity Committee aggregator - Labor News