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ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project & ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 21:19

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the Vallejo ORCEM/VMT project And ILWU Local 10 Sec Treasurer Derrick Muhammad On “Blood Money"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIVqsWSb23w
APublished on Jun 1, 2017
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. He spoke on the long history of ILWU in the Bay Area on- and off-loading ships, barges and rail cars. He told the City Council neither VMT or Orcem had ever contacted them. But stated that this detail was secondary to health of the vulnerable.
The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Solano and Voices of Vallejo as well as almost 100 individuals. To view the entire proceeding, please click on the City link and scroll down to the meeting date. Public comment start at 7pm and lasted until 11:30pm.
ILWU 10 Union voices opposition to Vallego VMT/Orcem project
http://www.timesheraldonline.com/…/…/20170510/NEWS/170519987
Edwin Ferris, president of the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union 10, speaks during a Wednesday morning news conference. Ferris announced the union is opposed to the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project proposed for development in south Vallejo. Residents opposed to the project stand behind Ferris. John Glidden — Times-Herald
By John Glidden, Vallejo Times-Herald
POSTED: 05/10/17, 6:08 PM PDT | UPDATED: 3 WEEKS, 6 DAYS AGO0 COMMENTS
A citizen group opposed to a proposed project in south Vallejo picked up support Wednesday from the San Francisco-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) 10.
About 45 people met outside the locked gates of the old General Mills flour mill on Derr Street to hear the union’s official position regarding the Vallejo Marine Terminal and Orcem Americas project.
“We’re against this proposed project because it endangers the local community,” said Edwin Ferris, president of ILWU Local 10, during a morning news conference. “It will absolutely not bring good paying union jobs.”
Ferris said it was “irresponsible” to open a modern deep-water terminal and an industrial facility producing cement on the 32-acre site.
“The planning commission got it right, 6-1,” he added, causing several in attendance to start clapping and shout ‘yes’ in response.
The commission in early March denied the proposal, citing “quality of life” concerns.
Also in attendance was Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
Brown, who represents the area, expressed concern, especially since Grace Patterson Elementary is within a quarter mile of the project.
“This is a gem area, let’s do something positive with it,” she said.
Brown said she’d like to see dorm rooms built for the California State University Maritime Academy or a stadium for the Vallejo Admirals, the city’s professional baseball team.
Peter Brooks, president of Fresh Air Vallejo, the group opposed to the project, said the proposal, most notably the cement facility, will harm nearby residents.
“This community is primarily a minority neighborhood, a low-income neighborhood, already suffering from twice the state average of asthma,” Brooks said.
He said the facility will release a significant amount of dust and other particulate matter which will harm people with asthma.
“Vallejo is open for good, clean business — that employs lots of people,” he added. “That makes Vallejo proud, that doesn’t make Vallejo sick.”
Meanwhile, Jon Riley, executive director of the Napa/Solano Central Labor Council said he wants to see the city offer a fair process to the VMT/Orcem applicants.
Both applicants and supporters of the project have continually asked City Hall to certify a Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).
He also responded to the idea of putting another use at the site.
“No matter what they do with this facility, there is going to be vehicles and truck traffic,” Riley said.
Reached by phone later in the day, Steve Bryan, president of Orcem Americas, expressed surprise at Ferris’ comments. Bryan said those employed with the businesses will receive a “good wage.”
Late last year, Bryan and Danny Bernardini, business manager of the Napa Solano Building & Construction Trades Council, announced the two sides had reached a project labor agreement.
The PLA stipulates a prevailing wage, allows the council to handle any grievances, and determines how local members will be dispatched during the construction of the facility, Bernardini said last December.
Orcem also agreed to card check neutrality with its employees. Such an agreement stipulates an employer will recognize a union as the official bargaining agent for employees.
Bryan said he would like to see a certified FEIR, as well.
“A lot of people out there are confused,” he said. “A certified impact report will help people understand the project better.”
After the planning commission decision, VMT/Orcem filed an appeal.
The Vallejo City Council will meet on Tuesday, May 30 and Thursday, June 1 to hear the appeal. Both meetings are scheduled to begin at 4:30 p.m., with a tentative ending time of about 11 p.m., city officials confirmed recently.
Contact John Glidden at (707) 553-6832.

ILWU Local 10 Secretary Treasurer On “Blood Money”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkKkWChRQ6A

Published on May 31, 2017
This is the 3-minute statement from Derrick Muhammad, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse Union, Local 10 Secretary and Treasurer, at the May 30, 2017, City Council of Vallejo meeting. A beautifully written speech that not only targets what we need to do now to stop the proposed VMT/Orcem private port and cement project—but also the problems we need to solve next for South Vallejo: Air, Food, Schools, Housing.

The people of Vallejo thank the ILWU-10 for their work on our behalf. And the volunteers of Fresh Air Vallejo would like to thank all of the organizations who have endorsed our research and eduction efforts for the past 20 months. Other great speakers on May 30th included the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, Migrante Napa-Sola

ILWU Local 10 President Edwin Ferris speaks out against corporate greed and the ORCEM/VMT project
This is the powerful 2-minute statement from Edwin Ferris, President, Int’l Longshore & Warehouse…
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Tags: ilwucorporate greedVallejoORCEM/VMT Project
Categories: Labor News

Spanish Dockworker Strike Disrupts Ports and Trade Routes

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 17:09

Spanish Dockworker Strike Disrupts Ports and Trade Routes
http://gcaptain.com/spanish-dockworker-strike-disrupts-ports-and-trade-r...
June 5, 2017 by Reuters

port of Algeciras maersk
Maersk containership seen off the port of Algeciras, Spain. File Photo: Port of Algeciras/Juan G. Mata
MADRID, June 5 (Reuters) – Some of Spain’s biggest port terminals came to a standstill on Monday as shipping companies redirected cargos to avoid a dockers’ strike.

After months of talks between unions, companies and the Spanish government over a reform of port hiring practices, dockers held the first of several planned strikes to protest against possible job losses.

Some container shipping firms such as Maersk re-routed boats destined for the southern port of Algeciras to get around the strike, during which dockers will stop working every other hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week.

Alternative destinations used by firms included Portugal, Morocco and Malta.

Five further days of industrial action have also been called for next week, raising the prospect that the shift to rival ports could have lasting consequences, especially for those handling merchandise not ultimately destined for Spain.

“Let me tell you, eight days of strikes will completely shatter the port of Algeciras,” Manuel Moron, who heads up the port authority there, wrote in a colum, in EuropaSur local newspaper on Monday.

Algeciras is a trans-shipment hub used by firms to unload cargo and redistribute it onto other boats heading elsewhere in Europe or the Middle East.

An Algericas terminal operated by APM, which belongs to the Maersk Group, had ground to a halt on Monday as there were no ships, a port spokeswoman said. A second smaller terminal was operating during the hours between the strike.

Valencia, on the eastern Mediterranean coast and the biggest export and import port in Spain, was functioning during the appointed hours, a spokesman said.

Spanish companies adjusted their production strategies, staggering exports or speeding them up before the strike, to limit the knock-on effects on their business. About two thirds of Spain’s imports and exports, a key element of the recovering economy, are moved through the country’s docks.

Seat, part of German carmaker Volkswagen and which has a big plant near Barcelona’s port, had already shipped out vehicles as soon as they were ready to avoid a build-up in cars waiting to be exported, a source at the company said.

The government said minimum services were being upheld at ports to ensure perishable goods such as fruit and vegetables were getting through and passenger services were not disrupted.

The ports reform, which aims to crack down on closed-shop hiring in a heavily unionised sector as demanded by the European Union, was passed through parliament in mid-May after a series of setbacks and clashes between political parties.

Workers broke off subsequent talks with port representatives over how to implement the new law in a disagreement over safeguarding more than 6,000 docker jobs. (Reporting by Sarah White, Angus Berwick and Madrid TV; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Tags: Spanish Dockworkers Strikederegulation
Categories: Labor News

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries A Photography Exhibit At Pier 1

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 10:14

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries A Photography Exhibit At Pier 1
https://vimeo.com/183445426
https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/05/04/blue-collar-green-water-ferry-worke...

"Forever," by Blue & Gold Fleet deckhand Vince Atos. (Courtesy of Blue Collar Green Water)

https://ww2.kqed.org/news/2017/05/04/blue-collar-green-water-ferry-worke...

‘Blue Collar Green Water’: The Art of Working on S.F. Bay Ferries
By Dan Brekke
MAY 4, 2017

Commuting on Bay Area ferries might not be quite the perfect experience it used to be. Mostly because, like other ways of getting to and from work in this booming region, you’re going to find bigger crowds than ever.

But if you look up from your iPhone or laptop once the boat’s left the dock, you’ll find yourself in direct contact with the always unfolding drama of San Francisco Bay — the changing light, surging water and expansive vistas of bridges, skylines, shipping and, yes, even nature.

The people who experience this drama more often and more intimately than anyone else are those who work on the boats. To give the rest of us a glimpse of their world and how they see it, one group of workers is putting on a photo exhibition opening Friday at San Francisco’s Pier 1.

The “Blue Collar Green Water” show features juried work from deckhands, guest service reps, bartenders, captains and others who work for the Blue & Gold Fleet. That’s the company that operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry service under contract with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority. It’s also known for its tourist cruises from San Francisco’s Pier 41.

Rebecca Johnson, an Oakland native who’s been a deckhand on the bay for 20 years, is the moving spirit behind “Blue Collar Green Water.” The idea was inspired by the pictures she saw other ferry workers taking every day on the job.

“Working on the bay, you see it so many different ways,” she says. “You see it cold and foggy, you see it sunny and bright. And so I thought, why not find a way to share these photos with each other and with the people who don’t know what our jobs are.”

When she suggested a group photo project to her fellow workers a couple of years ago, she found lots of excitement. Out of that, a collective was formed to invite submissions from Blue & Gold crew members, design a website and produce a promotional video. A panel that included local professional photographers was created to judge the submissions for the exhibit.

Someone else really liked the “Blue Collar Green Water” idea, too: company management. Johnson brought her plan for a photo exhibition to Carolyn Horgan, then Blue & Gold’s president.

The project allowed workers from the fleet’s different units and unions to work together on something. The proposed show also fits in with a company goal.

“The thing that really appealed to me about it is that Blue & Gold was working hard on employee engagement,” Horgan says. “And this would be the ultimate of employee engagement.”

But there was more to it than that. Horgan, who is now retired, says the pictures in the show highlight the skill and grace involved in operating a fleet that carries millions of passengers each year.

“It’s just people doing something — tasks that I saw a lot, but other people maybe are not as familiar with, even tying up a boat,” Horgan says. There’s a beauty in something as simple as a deckhand “taking a line and putting it around a cleat.”

“Pastel,” by Joe Lovett. (Courtesy of "Blue Collar Green Water")
Johnson says the show has another point, too. At a time when unions and recognition of the importance of blue-collar work have become topics of national conversation, the exhibit showcases the humanity and pride of those who labor on the bay.

“I would love for people to just know that the workers on these ferries — they’re union workers, and they’re getting wages that allow them to live in the Bay Area,” Johnson says. “And why not? It should be this way.”

“Blue Collar Green Water” will be on display at Pier 1 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero, next to the Ferry Building, through May 31.

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

Twitter: twitter.com/danbrekke
Facebook: www.facebook.com/danbrekke
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/danbrekke

Tags: IBUFerry Boat WorkersBlue And Goldphotographers
Categories: Labor News

In Uber era, Chicago’s taxicab industry disappearing, study finds

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 08:44

In Uber era, Chicago’s taxicab industry disappearing, study finds
http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/chicagos-taxicab-industry-disappearing-...

CHICAGO NEWS 06/02/2017, 08:45am
Fran Spielman
@fspielman | email
Chicago cabdrivers struggling to survive in the Uber era are fighting a losing battle, with 40 percent of all medallions “inactive” and hundreds more either in foreclosure or headed there, a new study shows.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 2500 represents hundreds of cabdrivers and is continuing to organize the others.

To bolster its case, the union asked statistician James Bradach of Nonprofit Data and Applications to analyze countless pieces of information disjointedly made available in on the city’s data portal.

His report, “Run Off the Road: Chicago’s Taxi Medallion Foreclosure Crisis,” shows a surge in medallion foreclosures and a precipitous drop in both taxicab trips and driver income in the three years since City Hall created an unlevel regulatory playing field between taxis and ride-hailing.

The study’s findings include:

227,033 ride-hailing vehicles registered with the city as of April competing with 6,999 taxi medallions.
The number of “monthly taxi trips” on the streets of Chicago has dropped by 52 percent over the last three years — from 2.3 million to 1.1 million.
774 medallions have been “surrendered to the city at some point,” with 579 more receiving foreclosure notices and 107 lawsuits filed since October.
2,940 taxis or 42 percent of the city’s 6,999 taxi medallions were classified as “inactive” in March after having failed to pick up a single passenger in the previous month. That means those licenses face “imminent foreclosure in the coming months,” the study says. In March, 2014, 16 percent of medallions were inactive.
Average monthly gross income for every one of the city’s active taxicab medallions has fallen over the last three years — from $5,276 to $3,206.
Cabdrivers who were eking out a $19,000 annual living after expenses in 2013 are now operating $4,000 in the red. That’s because their $44,000 in annual expenses have remained the same while business has plummeted.
39 percent of the city’s taxicab medallions are owned by small business with four or fewer licenses.
To keep a shrinking taxicab industry from disappearing altogether, AFSCME Local 2500 is demanding what it calls “comprehensive reform.”

Specifically, the union wants the City Council to: Eliminate the vehicle age limit so long as the cab can pass inspection; waive the ground transportation tax for struggling drivers; and eliminate the medallion license renewal fee.

The union is further demanding that City Hall: “Enact protections for lease drivers in the event of a fleet bankruptcy; reinstate the lottery for city-owned medallions to reduce operating costs for lease drivers; strengthen foreclosure protections in the city medallion owner rules; and eliminate “regulatory barriers” standing in the way of a “driver-to-passenger taxi ehail app” that competes with Uber and Lyft.

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), chairman of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, said the AFSCME study underscores his biggest fears.

“I’ve said all along that the system was stacked against the cab industry and that allowing Uber and Lyft to come in unregulated put the entire cab industry at a disadvantage,” Beale said.

“In five to seven years, you’re gonna have autonomous vehicles and no people working. All you’re gonna have left is driverless vehicles,” he said. “We need to fight for jobs and keep people employed. If we allow technology to put people out of work while the fat cats at the top make millions, the whole economy as we know it is gonna collapse. The road we’re going down is going to eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs that people are out here trying to make a living. You see it happening.”

John Aikins is one of those people.

He and his wife own two medallions, one of them purchased for $330,000 just five years ago, when cab licenses were still a “hot commodity.”

When the bubble burst, they couldn’t find a dependable driver for the second medallion and fell behind on their loans. After failing in their attempts to seek a loan modification, the lender filed suit to foreclose against them. With three children, the couple had no choice but to file for bankruptcy.

“Things are really bad. If you don’t go to the airport and wait three hours to get a fare, it’s very difficult to find fares in the city because there are so many ride-share cars. I’ve driven all the way from Belmont to Chestnut downtown and nobody flags me down,” Aikins said Thursday.

“I have three college-age children. One is thinking of moving from the dorm next semester,” he said. “Once the bankruptcy goes through, it’s going to be very hard to get any student loans for him. Fortunately, his school is not too far from where he live. So he can commute until things stabilize.”

He added, “I don’t blame Uber or Lyft for coming in. But the city has been so unfair, it’s beyond belief. Ride-sharing companies come in and the city didn’t do anything [while] we are following the same stringent rules and regulations and taxes.”

Veteran cabdriver Gilbert Uranta purchased his medallion in 2006 and still owes more than $260,000. But he hasn’t been able to make a payment on the loan for six months.

While waiting for the ax to fall in the form of a foreclosure lawsuit, the father of three has finally scheduled the knee replacement surgery he has been putting off because it will sideline him for three months.

“I’m not saying they shouldn’t have Uber. But there are too many of Uber. When you have more than 200,000 Ubers competing with 7,000 cabs, it’s difficult to make money. I start work at 4 a.m. By 7 p.m, I’m still on the street. I can’t can’t make enough money if I work 10 hours,” Uranta said.

“Things are not like what they used to be. I can’t take my kids on vacation like I used to,” he said. “I just have to make sure we survive by working extra hours. My own self with my wife — there are so many things we cannot do. We have to put the kids first.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court dealt the struggling taxicab industry what appeared to be a final blow.

By refusing to hear the taxi industry’s appeal, the nation’s highest court let stand a federal appeals court ruling last fall that snuffed out an attempt by the cab companies to level what they called an uneven playing field that favors Uber, whose investors include Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s brother.

The appeals court ruling essentially said that the business models between taxis and ride-hailing services are different and, therefore, they can continue to operate under different sets of rules in Chicago.

Tags: Uberderegulationindependent contractors
Categories: Labor News

Spanish dockworker unions Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora) have launched today a nation-wide strike impacting operations across the country’s ports.

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 14:09

Spanish dockworker unions Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora) have launched today a nation-wide strike impacting operations across the country’s ports.

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/221930/spanish-ports-hit-by-natio...
According to the representatives of the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora), a Spanish dockworkers union, almost 100 percent of workers supported the strike.

The workers are demanding that companies keep their employees and maintain the same working-conditions after the implementation of the port-reform.

Until now, the workers were hired through local stevedoring societies known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (SAGEP). However, the new law would enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones, potentially resulting in massive layoffs.

During today’s press conference, the union representatives said that, in their opinion, the main culprit for the ongoing situation is the government that put the companies in a privileged position.

At the moment, all dockworkers have an indefinite contract with their companies. Nevertheless, under the new regime, the companies would be given a choice to decide whether to keep them as employees or not.

During the recent talks between the union and Anesco, port employers’ association, the latter could not guarantee the security of 100 percent of those jobs, which prompted the stevedores to go ahead with their strike plans for this week.

The country’s ports could suffer considerable drop in traffic as shipping companies divert their cargo elsewhere due to strikes. Port statistics show that the port of Algeciras, the busiest in Spain, experienced a drop of 5.98 per cent in traffic so far in 2017.

Last week, Danish shipping major Maersk Line said that its latest fleet addition, the 20,568 TEU Madrid Maersk, would be omitting the port of Algeciras. Instead, the cargo would be discharged in Port Tangier for further connection to Algeciras.

The company’s ST Illinois will omit Algeciras APMT on June 6 and cargo will be discharged in Barcelona, while MSC Illona, employed on M2 TA5 service will omit Algeciras APMT and cargo on board will be discharge in Sines. Export cargo will be rolled to the next vessel voyage, Maersk Line added.

Reacting to the announcement, the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) asked “that all IDC members be aware of ships that may be diverted from Spain, and to not work accept these ships in their ports.”

“IDC will heed the strike advisory and will remain alert- with their full attention- in order to follow new developments of the Spanish situation. We will alert our IDC members to any future developments.

IDC will continue to support dockworkers everywhere in their struggle, and iterates their steadfast commitment to Coordinadora, who has demonstrated- yet again- strength in unity,” IDC said.

“This dispute is representative of the worldwide attack on dockers and of union busting efforts dressed up as ‘progressive reform’. Port liberalisation of this kind is short sighted and damaging and we won’t accept it. We encourage all of our affiliates to take every action within the legal framework of their country to support Spanish dockers whenever requested by our Spanish brothers and sisters,” ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said.

The latest round of strikes is planned to be held on 5th, 7th and 9th of June for 12 hours. Further rounds of strikes are likely to follow should the stakeholders fail to reach a deal on the continuation of negotiations on the matter.

As informed by Maersk, as a result of strikes, gates opening will be subjected to yard’s congestion, and under this scenario regular opening timetable is not guaranteed.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: Spanish DockworkersstrikeCoordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora)
Categories: Labor News

Tump Privatization of FAA-White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 09:53

Tump Privatization of FAA-White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/white-house-for...

The scene in the air traffic control tower at Dulles International Airport during a tour by the Federal Aviation Administration along with UPS and United Airlines as they gave a firsthand demonstration of the NextGen technology called Data Communications on Sept. 27, 2016. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

By Ashley Halsey III and John Wagner June 5 at 12:20 PM
The White House on Monday formally endorsed a plan to spin off more than 30,000 federal workers into a private nonprofit corporation, separating the nation’s air traffic controllers and those who work on a $36 billion modernization program from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Trump administration proposal essentially is an endorsement of a plan that failed to gain sufficient traction in Congress last year. The plan is in keeping with the stated desire of the administration and congressional Republicans to streamline government and transfer some functions into private hands.

President Trump condemned the Obama Administration and the FAA for wasting billions on modernization without results.

“The current system cannot keep up, has not been able to keep up for many years,” Trump said at White House ceremony. “We’re still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work.”

He said that during the Obama administration the FAA “didn’t know what the hell they were doing” in spending $7 billion to modernize the aviation system.

Monday’s announcement launched a week in which the administration will focus on infrastructure, with Trump traveling to Cincinnati on Wednesday to discuss the movement of freight on inland waterways, and on Thursday he has invited mayors and governors to the White House to discuss their infrastructure needs.

[Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure]

Trump will wrap up the week with a trip to the Department of Transportation to discuss ways to change rules and regulations to expedite project construction, with the goal of compacting the process from an average of eight years to two years or less.

The administration hopes to win congressional approval to spend an additional $200 billion tax dollars on infrastructure in the coming years, administration officials said.

“We absolutely do feel that the infrastructure package can be accomplished this year. We are working every day to that end,” said one administration official.

While the separating air traffic control from the FAA has been discussed for decades and was proposed under the Clinton administration, in its current iteration it has fractured the airline industry, divided the unions that represent the federal workers, raised the ire of private plane operators, been opposed by ranking House Democrats and raised eyebrows in the Senate.

White House officials in briefing reporters said they had given reassurance to the Department of Defense, rural airports and operators of non-commercial planes that their interests would be protected under the proposal.

The Trump administration endorsement, first signaled in a preliminary budget released in March, could provide the momentum needed to get the proposal through both houses and to the president’s desk for his signature.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, embraced the dormant concept last year and fought to win the approval of his committee. But the bill it passed got no attention on the House floor, and there was muttering on the Senate side that suggested it had no future there.

“I first spoke to President Trump back in 2014 about the need for reform, and I’m glad to be working on it with him in 2017,” Shuster said. “President Reagan once said ‘government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.’ Government bureaucracy has held back innovation in American aviation. It’s time to bring our aviation system into the 21st century.”

The issue on Capitol Hill has not been the functioning of the 14,000 air traffic controllers, who are universally subject to praise for their devotion to safety when mentioned in the House or Senate committees that oversee them.

Instead, Congress has expressed enormous frustration over the pace of the FAA’s modernization program, called NextGen.

While commonly referred to as a GPS-based system for directing the flow of aircraft, that simplistic explanation is akin to saying it’s the carburetor that makes a car’s wheels go around.

The reality is that NextGen is a complicated group of systems intended to smooth the flow of airplanes, speed air travel, save fuel and accommodate a 20 percent increase in passengers in the next two decades.

The current system is radar-based and requires planes to fly from one waypoint to the next rather than in a straight line to their destination. (Complaints about low-flying airliners have been legion across the country as the first of several NextGen projects has come on line.)

Selling Congress and the airlines, who would bear some of the cost, on a multibillion-dollar modernization program seemed like a dicey proposition, so about a dozen years ago the FAA came up with a catchy name for all its projects: NextGen.

That gave the FAA a single name to use when it sought money from Congress. But it also gave Congress a single program to hold accountable when elements of NextGen moved slowly, or not at all.

Congress’s perception that NextGen wasn’t moving fast enough was amply bolstered by critical reports from the inspector general’s office and from the Government Accountability Office.

The FAA, however, has been able to point to success in recent years with some elements of NextGen.

When Shuster revived the concept of moving the controllers and the NextGen program to a private nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors, one of the big four airlines — Delta — opposed the move and parted company with the lobbying group Airlines for America, which endorsed it. Operators of small planes and corporate jets — known as “general aviation” to distinguish them from the airlines — pushed back out of fear the airlines would dominate the corporation’s board.

That National Air Traffic Controllers Association backed Shuster’s plan, saying the new corporation would ensure more stable funding than Congress could provide, while the 11,000-member Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union strongly opposed it.

“It is unfathomable, even dangerous, to consider gambling with the future and safety of our air traffic control system through privatization,” PASS President Mike Perrone said in a statement last month.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Control Association, whose union supported Shuster’s bill last year, said of the new plan, “We look forward to reviewing the specifics of the air traffic control reform legislation so we can evaluate whether it satisfies our Union’s principles, including protecting the rights and benefits of the ATC workforce.”

Mirroring much of Shuster’s 2016 proposal, a four-page White House proposal underscores that “no group should have the appearance of influence over the board of directors,” countering the argument that the airlines would dominate the board.

The White House plan tinkers with Shuster’s original plan in an attempt to ensure that airlines don’t dominate the board. Rather than assigning seats on the board to entities like airlines, unions, general aviation and the public, the initial selections would be similarly selected.

“We have totally unended that,” said a senior White House official. “Going forward it should operate like any other board and perpetuate itself and not be divided out by special interest groups.”

The new corporation would pay for itself through user fees for airlines and “reasonable” fees passed on to passengers, the administration said. It also would have the authority to adjust air routes after seeking public comment, recognizing that NextGen routing will cause noise over houses that haven’t previously experienced low-flying planes.

The wording of the White House paper may cause concern for union members who would go off the federal payroll. It specifies twice that current employees will retain their pay and benefits and be able to participate in federal retirement and health-care plans. It does not say that the corporation’s new hires should expect the same pay or benefits.

Categories: Labor News

Tump Privatization of FAA-White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 09:51

White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/white-house-for...

The scene in the air traffic control tower at Dulles International Airport during a tour by the Federal Aviation Administration along with UPS and United Airlines as they gave a firsthand demonstration of the NextGen technology called Data Communications on Sept. 27, 2016. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

By Ashley Halsey III and John Wagner June 5 at 12:20 PM
The White House on Monday formally endorsed a plan to spin off more than 30,000 federal workers into a private nonprofit corporation, separating the nation’s air traffic controllers and those who work on a $36 billion modernization program from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Trump administration proposal essentially is an endorsement of a plan that failed to gain sufficient traction in Congress last year. The plan is in keeping with the stated desire of the administration and congressional Republicans to streamline government and transfer some functions into private hands.

President Trump condemned the Obama Administration and the FAA for wasting billions on modernization without results.

“The current system cannot keep up, has not been able to keep up for many years,” Trump said at White House ceremony. “We’re still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work.”

He said that during the Obama administration the FAA “didn’t know what the hell they were doing” in spending $7 billion to modernize the aviation system.

Monday’s announcement launched a week in which the administration will focus on infrastructure, with Trump traveling to Cincinnati on Wednesday to discuss the movement of freight on inland waterways, and on Thursday he has invited mayors and governors to the White House to discuss their infrastructure needs.

[Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure]

Trump will wrap up the week with a trip to the Department of Transportation to discuss ways to change rules and regulations to expedite project construction, with the goal of compacting the process from an average of eight years to two years or less.

The administration hopes to win congressional approval to spend an additional $200 billion tax dollars on infrastructure in the coming years, administration officials said.

“We absolutely do feel that the infrastructure package can be accomplished this year. We are working every day to that end,” said one administration official.

While the separating air traffic control from the FAA has been discussed for decades and was proposed under the Clinton administration, in its current iteration it has fractured the airline industry, divided the unions that represent the federal workers, raised the ire of private plane operators, been opposed by ranking House Democrats and raised eyebrows in the Senate.

White House officials in briefing reporters said they had given reassurance to the Department of Defense, rural airports and operators of non-commercial planes that their interests would be protected under the proposal.

The Trump administration endorsement, first signaled in a preliminary budget released in March, could provide the momentum needed to get the proposal through both houses and to the president’s desk for his signature.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, embraced the dormant concept last year and fought to win the approval of his committee. But the bill it passed got no attention on the House floor, and there was muttering on the Senate side that suggested it had no future there.

“I first spoke to President Trump back in 2014 about the need for reform, and I’m glad to be working on it with him in 2017,” Shuster said. “President Reagan once said ‘government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.’ Government bureaucracy has held back innovation in American aviation. It’s time to bring our aviation system into the 21st century.”

The issue on Capitol Hill has not been the functioning of the 14,000 air traffic controllers, who are universally subject to praise for their devotion to safety when mentioned in the House or Senate committees that oversee them.

Instead, Congress has expressed enormous frustration over the pace of the FAA’s modernization program, called NextGen.

While commonly referred to as a GPS-based system for directing the flow of aircraft, that simplistic explanation is akin to saying it’s the carburetor that makes a car’s wheels go around.

The reality is that NextGen is a complicated group of systems intended to smooth the flow of airplanes, speed air travel, save fuel and accommodate a 20 percent increase in passengers in the next two decades.

The current system is radar-based and requires planes to fly from one waypoint to the next rather than in a straight line to their destination. (Complaints about low-flying airliners have been legion across the country as the first of several NextGen projects has come on line.)

Selling Congress and the airlines, who would bear some of the cost, on a multibillion-dollar modernization program seemed like a dicey proposition, so about a dozen years ago the FAA came up with a catchy name for all its projects: NextGen.

That gave the FAA a single name to use when it sought money from Congress. But it also gave Congress a single program to hold accountable when elements of NextGen moved slowly, or not at all.

Congress’s perception that NextGen wasn’t moving fast enough was amply bolstered by critical reports from the inspector general’s office and from the Government Accountability Office.

The FAA, however, has been able to point to success in recent years with some elements of NextGen.

When Shuster revived the concept of moving the controllers and the NextGen program to a private nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors, one of the big four airlines — Delta — opposed the move and parted company with the lobbying group Airlines for America, which endorsed it. Operators of small planes and corporate jets — known as “general aviation” to distinguish them from the airlines — pushed back out of fear the airlines would dominate the corporation’s board.

That National Air Traffic Controllers Association backed Shuster’s plan, saying the new corporation would ensure more stable funding than Congress could provide, while the 11,000-member Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union strongly opposed it.

“It is unfathomable, even dangerous, to consider gambling with the future and safety of our air traffic control system through privatization,” PASS President Mike Perrone said in a statement last month.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Control Association, whose union supported Shuster’s bill last year, said of the new plan, “We look forward to reviewing the specifics of the air traffic control reform legislation so we can evaluate whether it satisfies our Union’s principles, including protecting the rights and benefits of the ATC workforce.”

Mirroring much of Shuster’s 2016 proposal, a four-page White House proposal underscores that “no group should have the appearance of influence over the board of directors,” countering the argument that the airlines would dominate the board.

The White House plan tinkers with Shuster’s original plan in an attempt to ensure that airlines don’t dominate the board. Rather than assigning seats on the board to entities like airlines, unions, general aviation and the public, the initial selections would be similarly selected.

“We have totally unended that,” said a senior White House official. “Going forward it should operate like any other board and perpetuate itself and not be divided out by special interest groups.”

The new corporation would pay for itself through user fees for airlines and “reasonable” fees passed on to passengers, the administration said. It also would have the authority to adjust air routes after seeking public comment, recognizing that NextGen routing will cause noise over houses that haven’t previously experienced low-flying planes.

The wording of the White House paper may cause concern for union members who would go off the federal payroll. It specifies twice that current employees will retain their pay and benefits and be able to participate in federal retirement and health-care plans. It does not say that the corporation’s new hires should expect the same pay or benefits.

Tags: privatizationair travelunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Tump Privatization of FAA-White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 09:51

White House formally backs plan to send 30,000 federal workers to private corporation
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/white-house-for...

The scene in the air traffic control tower at Dulles International Airport during a tour by the Federal Aviation Administration along with UPS and United Airlines as they gave a firsthand demonstration of the NextGen technology called Data Communications on Sept. 27, 2016. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

By Ashley Halsey III and John Wagner June 5 at 12:20 PM
The White House on Monday formally endorsed a plan to spin off more than 30,000 federal workers into a private nonprofit corporation, separating the nation’s air traffic controllers and those who work on a $36 billion modernization program from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Trump administration proposal essentially is an endorsement of a plan that failed to gain sufficient traction in Congress last year. The plan is in keeping with the stated desire of the administration and congressional Republicans to streamline government and transfer some functions into private hands.

President Trump condemned the Obama Administration and the FAA for wasting billions on modernization without results.

“The current system cannot keep up, has not been able to keep up for many years,” Trump said at White House ceremony. “We’re still stuck with an ancient, broken, antiquated, horrible system that doesn’t work.”

He said that during the Obama administration the FAA “didn’t know what the hell they were doing” in spending $7 billion to modernize the aviation system.

Monday’s announcement launched a week in which the administration will focus on infrastructure, with Trump traveling to Cincinnati on Wednesday to discuss the movement of freight on inland waterways, and on Thursday he has invited mayors and governors to the White House to discuss their infrastructure needs.

[Trump advisers call for privatizing some public assets to build new infrastructure]

Trump will wrap up the week with a trip to the Department of Transportation to discuss ways to change rules and regulations to expedite project construction, with the goal of compacting the process from an average of eight years to two years or less.

The administration hopes to win congressional approval to spend an additional $200 billion tax dollars on infrastructure in the coming years, administration officials said.

“We absolutely do feel that the infrastructure package can be accomplished this year. We are working every day to that end,” said one administration official.

While the separating air traffic control from the FAA has been discussed for decades and was proposed under the Clinton administration, in its current iteration it has fractured the airline industry, divided the unions that represent the federal workers, raised the ire of private plane operators, been opposed by ranking House Democrats and raised eyebrows in the Senate.

White House officials in briefing reporters said they had given reassurance to the Department of Defense, rural airports and operators of non-commercial planes that their interests would be protected under the proposal.

The Trump administration endorsement, first signaled in a preliminary budget released in March, could provide the momentum needed to get the proposal through both houses and to the president’s desk for his signature.

Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, embraced the dormant concept last year and fought to win the approval of his committee. But the bill it passed got no attention on the House floor, and there was muttering on the Senate side that suggested it had no future there.

“I first spoke to President Trump back in 2014 about the need for reform, and I’m glad to be working on it with him in 2017,” Shuster said. “President Reagan once said ‘government is not the solution to the problem; government is the problem.’ Government bureaucracy has held back innovation in American aviation. It’s time to bring our aviation system into the 21st century.”

The issue on Capitol Hill has not been the functioning of the 14,000 air traffic controllers, who are universally subject to praise for their devotion to safety when mentioned in the House or Senate committees that oversee them.

Instead, Congress has expressed enormous frustration over the pace of the FAA’s modernization program, called NextGen.

While commonly referred to as a GPS-based system for directing the flow of aircraft, that simplistic explanation is akin to saying it’s the carburetor that makes a car’s wheels go around.

The reality is that NextGen is a complicated group of systems intended to smooth the flow of airplanes, speed air travel, save fuel and accommodate a 20 percent increase in passengers in the next two decades.

The current system is radar-based and requires planes to fly from one waypoint to the next rather than in a straight line to their destination. (Complaints about low-flying airliners have been legion across the country as the first of several NextGen projects has come on line.)

Selling Congress and the airlines, who would bear some of the cost, on a multibillion-dollar modernization program seemed like a dicey proposition, so about a dozen years ago the FAA came up with a catchy name for all its projects: NextGen.

That gave the FAA a single name to use when it sought money from Congress. But it also gave Congress a single program to hold accountable when elements of NextGen moved slowly, or not at all.

Congress’s perception that NextGen wasn’t moving fast enough was amply bolstered by critical reports from the inspector general’s office and from the Government Accountability Office.

The FAA, however, has been able to point to success in recent years with some elements of NextGen.

When Shuster revived the concept of moving the controllers and the NextGen program to a private nonprofit corporation run by a board of directors, one of the big four airlines — Delta — opposed the move and parted company with the lobbying group Airlines for America, which endorsed it. Operators of small planes and corporate jets — known as “general aviation” to distinguish them from the airlines — pushed back out of fear the airlines would dominate the corporation’s board.

That National Air Traffic Controllers Association backed Shuster’s plan, saying the new corporation would ensure more stable funding than Congress could provide, while the 11,000-member Professional Aviation Safety Specialists union strongly opposed it.

“It is unfathomable, even dangerous, to consider gambling with the future and safety of our air traffic control system through privatization,” PASS President Mike Perrone said in a statement last month.

Paul Rinaldi, president of the National Air Traffic Control Association, whose union supported Shuster’s bill last year, said of the new plan, “We look forward to reviewing the specifics of the air traffic control reform legislation so we can evaluate whether it satisfies our Union’s principles, including protecting the rights and benefits of the ATC workforce.”

Mirroring much of Shuster’s 2016 proposal, a four-page White House proposal underscores that “no group should have the appearance of influence over the board of directors,” countering the argument that the airlines would dominate the board.

The White House plan tinkers with Shuster’s original plan in an attempt to ensure that airlines don’t dominate the board. Rather than assigning seats on the board to entities like airlines, unions, general aviation and the public, the initial selections would be similarly selected.

“We have totally unended that,” said a senior White House official. “Going forward it should operate like any other board and perpetuate itself and not be divided out by special interest groups.”

The new corporation would pay for itself through user fees for airlines and “reasonable” fees passed on to passengers, the administration said. It also would have the authority to adjust air routes after seeking public comment, recognizing that NextGen routing will cause noise over houses that haven’t previously experienced low-flying planes.

The wording of the White House paper may cause concern for union members who would go off the federal payroll. It specifies twice that current employees will retain their pay and benefits and be able to participate in federal retirement and health-care plans. It does not say that the corporation’s new hires should expect the same pay or benefits.

Tags: privatizationair travelunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Unions react to the MAX killings "Best was a well-liked member of the COPPEA chapter of Professional & Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17 at the City of Portland. An army veteran and a father of four, he had been a technician at the city’s Bureau of Devel

Sun, 06/04/2017 - 18:45

Unions react to the MAX killings "Best was a well-liked member of the COPPEA chapter of Professional & Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17 at the City of Portland. An army veteran and a father of four, he had been a technician at the city’s Bureau of Development Services since 2015.”
https://nwlaborpress.org/2017/06/unions-react-to-the-max-killings/
Jun 2, 2017 Building Community

At the Hollywood Transit Center, an impromptu memorial to the victims of the May 26 attack on the MAX light rail.

By Don McIntosh

PORTLAND — The May 26 attacks on the MAX light rail train hit close to home for many local union members.

Jeremy Christian, an ex-con and self-described political nihilist, got on a westbound train at Lloyd Center at about 4:30 Friday and immediately targeted two African-American girls, one of them wearing a hijab, with a loud and frightening racist rant. Three men stepped forward to defend the girls and were stabbed in the neck by Christian. Micah David-Cole Fletcher survived. Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Rick Best died of their wounds.

Best was a well-liked member of the COPPEA chapter of Professional & Technical Employees (PTE) Local 17 at the City of Portland. An army veteran and a father of four, he had been a technician at the city’s Bureau of Development Services since 2015.

Local 17 posted a tribute to Rick on its website, and asked members to contribute to a GoFundMe pageto fund scholarships for Best’s children: Erik, Isaac, David, and Tramanh. The union also wrote a check to cover COBRA payments for June so Best’s family can maintain health insurance it was getting through the City. Portland City Council is working on ordinance to pay the COBRA payments for three years after that. The PTE 17 board will also consider other ways to honor Rick’s sacrifice and bravery at its June 15 meeting in Seattle, including the possibility of contributing to the Rick Best Memorial Scholarship Fund, since that is where his family would like donations to go.

Other union members dealt with the aftermath of the attacks in the course of doing their jobs, including members of the Portland Police Association, Teamster-represented paramedics who staff American Medical Response, and TriMet police officers and the TriMet light rail operator who halted the train after the attacks occurred. TriMet employees are represented by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757, which has been raising concerns about security on board buses and light rail trains for several years.

A thank you to the Good Samaritans, signed by TriMet operators
But in a May 31 statement about the attacks, ATU Local 757 president Shirley Block expressed opposition to a proposal to increase the presence of armed police officers aboard buses and trains. “Armed police officers aboard transit vehicles intimidate the public, reduce ridership, and provide little more than expensive security theatre,” Block wrote. Instead, Block said, the union is calling for a return to well-trained fare inspectors “who can de-escalate and/or assess the proper response to dangerous situations,” as well as a reinstatement of TriMet’s “Rider Advocate” program, which “recruited and paid individuals from low-income communities and communities of color to ride our buses and trains as liaisons between operators, fare inspectors, riders, and even police.” See the full statement here.

Oregon AFL-CIO president Tom Chamberlain also issued a statement May 31 in response to the attacks: “The unions of the Oregon AFL-CIO offer our sincere condolences to the families and friends of Taliesin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John Best, and we hope Micah David-Cole Fletcher has a complete recovery,” Chamberlain said. “The actions these three took demonstrates a unique combination of bravery and compassion. We hope the two young women who endured a hate-fueled verbal assault can process and ultimately heal from what I can only imagine to be a deeply devastating experience.”

“Incidents of hate and hate crimes have been on the rise in our country, and Friday’s violence remind Oregonians that we all must stand together in opposition to those who seek to divide us through fear and violence. Oregonians are sickened and disturbed by Friday’s events, and I encourage all of us to stand together and continue to take positive actions to protect the rights of us all. It’s through unity and solidarity that we will heal from this tragic incident. It’s through standing together against hatred that we can stop events like this from happening again.”

Tags: PFTE Local 17Portland Racist MurdersMax Light Train
Categories: Labor News

Spanish Ports Bracing for Dockworkers’ Strike On June 5th, 7th and 9th

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 19:07

Spanish Ports Bracing for Dockworkers’ Strike On June 5th, 7th and 9th

https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/221836/spanish-ports-bracing-for-...

Spanish dockworker unions have decided to keep the call for strikes for next week in order to voice their disapproval of the recently adopted port reform by the country’s parliament.

The strikes are scheduled for the 5th, 7th and 9th of June.

Spanish dockworkers fear the new reform would result in massive layoffs and have protested against the lack of their involvement in the negotiation process on the terms and conditions of the reform. Namely, the government aims to liberalize the hiring process of workers at ports, which in turn is likely to result in firing of unionized workers and replacing them with cheaper labor.

Originally, the country’s union Coordinadora announced a three-week strike advisory during the odd hours on May 24, 26, 29, 31 and June 2, 5, 7, 9 following the passing of the royal decree. However, the strike plans covering the month of May were shelved following a meeting of around 200 stevedores from all Spanish ports with Anesco, port employers’ association.

Nevertheless, the latest move was prompted by the association’s inability to guarantee job security to around 6,000 workers.

International dockworkers unions had said earlier that they would support their colleagues with industrial action across European ports, however their response is yet to be seen after the latest strike announcement.

Container shipping companies are expected to start shifting their calls to alternative neighboring ports so as to avoid delays of cargo due to the strikes.

Danish shipping major Maersk Line already said that its latest fleet addition, the 20,568 TEU Madrid Maersk, will be omitting the port of Algeciras. Instead, the cargo would be discharged in Port Tangier for further connection to Algeciras.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: Spanish Port StrikeCoordinadora
Categories: Labor News

Vigorous Campaign Revives Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764 in Right-to-Work Virginia

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 15:01

Vigorous Campaign Revives Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764 in Right-to-Work Virginia
http://labornotes.org/2017/05/vigorous-campaign-revives-transit-union-ri...
May 31, 2017 / John Ertl

After a robust union campaign, the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop. Photo: ATU
Going into its latest contract, the transit union in Fairfax County, Virginia, was in tough shape. People weren’t active because they didn’t believe the union could do much—and the union couldn’t do much because people weren’t active.

Management never budged on the issues that stewards brought up. Grievances piled up, unresolved. And since Virginia is a “right-to-work” state, half the workers in the bargaining unit weren’t even members of Transit (ATU) Local 1764.

But after a robust union campaign, in a matter of months the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop.

Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation—yet the 600 bus drivers, mechanics, and utilities staff at the Fairfax Connector have no pension, because they work for a private company rather than the county. Many can’t afford to live in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburb where they work.

Workers were seething because they had been cheated out of a retirement plan. In the previous contract, they had given up a 2 percent raise in exchange for a pension. But when a pension plan could not be set up according to the contract’s poorly written terms, the company exploited the loophole and kept the money.

“People saw that the union wasn’t working on their behalf, and they saw that management just did whatever it wanted,” said bus driver Rachid Mhamdi. “There was no trust in the union.”

BACK TO BASICS

How could this situation be turned around? More than a year before the contract was set to expire, the international union embarked on an ambitious campaign to “Fix the (Unfair)fax Connector.” The first step was clear: the union needed a stronger relationship with its members.

ATU staff set out to talk to members and encourage involvement. For starters, to better represent a workforce that includes immigrants from Somalia, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, and India, the local recruited and trained more stewards at each garage, focusing first on re-engaging people who had previously been leaders in the union. A call for volunteers yielded a large contract committee.

For the first time ever, the union began to print newsletters and distribute the contract in Spanish, Amharic, Somali, and Arabic. This was crucial, since the garages are full of “little communities,” says driver John Gillison. “The Middle Easterners hang out and talk to one another, as do the African immigrants and many other groups, but many of them didn’t get involved in the union because of the language barrier.”

Union stewards also created a text-message network where members could get the latest news and shop talk using the mobile phone app WhatsApp. Over half the members joined.

To identify key contract issues, the local surveyed members—something it had never done at this workplace. Stewards distributed surveys to all members in various languages, and received an encouraging response rate of 25 percent after two weeks.

The results showed that a top priority for most members was to achieve parity in wages and benefits among the three Fairfax Connector garages. The two newer garages, which had more recently joined the union, didn’t make as much as the original garage. Other key issues were boosting wages generally, shortening the time it took to reach the top rate of pay, and improving the retirement plan.

There were other problems too. Mechanics reported that maintenance staff would often find water bottles full of urine on buses, as drivers had no other option during uninterrupted shifts of up to 10 hours behind the wheel. Fully half of all the survey respondents said they often went without bathroom breaks. A whopping 74 percent said that fumes on the buses were a big issue.

Before this campaign, “sometimes you’d go to a union meeting and there’d only be seven or eight people there,” shop steward Luis Santiago said. But the activists’ outreach and the new app generated a buzz that began to attract more and more people to membership meetings—until the union struggled to find a room big enough to fit everybody.

OPENING VOLLEY

Local 1764 activists began to pursue the ultimate cause of their misery—not their direct employer, a giant multinational corporation called MV Transportation, but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This legislative body, made up of eight Democrats and two Republicans, had contracted out the work since the service began in 1985. Nevertheless, the county still owns the buses, sets the routes, establishes work rules, handles customer complaints, and even reserves the right to make the company fire someone.

To explain the issues that workers were facing, the contract committee attempted to meet with every supervisor on the board. Stunningly, some of the supervisors had never even heard of MV Transportation, despite its $70 million contract with the county. The supervisors sounded sympathetic at first, but they were reluctant to get involved, hiding behind the excuse that they couldn’t take sides in a private matter.

Next the contract committee organized a phone blitz. Members distributed flyers urging their co-workers to call the Fairfax Connector’s complaint hotline—usually used by customers to track down a lost bag or to complain about a late bus. After dozens of workers called to air their grievances about the absent pension, the county stopped taking hotline calls.

Members began to call the supervisors directly. The committee mobilized 30 members to pack a county board meeting, where senior bus driver Robert Snyder testified about the injustice of public servants in one of the richest counties in the nation not being able to retire with a pension or any dignity whatsoever.

RAMPING IT UP

With the company holding out and the county supervisors hiding out, next Local 1764 Trustee Sesil Rubain led a press conference outside the Fairfax County Government Center. Dozens of members marched up to the county executive’s office to deliver a petition with hundreds of signatures.

We flyered at transit stations during rush hour and at public events. Twenty members braved frigid temperatures to educate Virginia Democratic Party bigwigs outside their brunch fundraiser at a posh country club.

To kick off the first day of bargaining, workers held their first informational picket in years—right in front of management’s office. And after a few unproductive bargaining sessions, 100 members rallied in the Fairfax town square, took over Main Street, and marched through the heart of town.

But when the company still refused to address the major issues in the next sessions of bargaining—and went on the offensive by unilaterally implementing background and credit checks on our members—union leaders asked outraged members to take a strike authorization vote.

Around 150 people turned out for the most-attended meeting in the union’s history. When the strike motion came up, the room exploded in cheers. By secret ballot, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike if MV didn’t settle a fair contract.

Gillison called the experience life-changing. “In my 68 years,” he said, “I have never seen a brotherhood and a sisterhood come together at the workplace like that.”

VICTORY AND BEYOND

Setting a strike deadline did the trick. The company finally gave way on many issues, and settled a contract.

The wage progression was shortened from 15 years to five. Top pay for bus operators rose to $32.25 per hour, and the union bridged much of the gap in compensation between garages.

On retirement, while workers didn’t get a pension, the company agreed to increase its 401(k) match by 250 percent. Workers also won back the wages they had given up in the previous contract for the failed pension proposal.

The union won much better language on bathroom breaks, beat back the credit and background checks, and got the company to adopt a number of the union's recommendations to address the fumes. MV replaced the faulty hoses that used to leak coolant that would burn up and cause strong odors in buses. The company retrofitted older buses with longer exhaust tips to prevent exhaust from coming into the air intake vents, and sealed the engine compartments and other vehicle openings to help prevent fumes from seeping into the cabin.

Another upshot of the campaign was the ousting of the much-hated vice president of operations, who had been chiefly responsible for management’s uncooperative attitude. In the wake of his departure, Santiago said, “management started showing us respect that we’d never seen before. They started to talk to us, respond to meetings, and work out issues with the shop stewards.”

Over the course of this campaign, the union signed up nearly 200 new members, bringing its membership rate above 85 percent of the bargaining unit. “Once people started to get educated about the union and began to see all the activity going on,” said Santiago, “they got excited about the union and they wanted to sign up and join.”

John Ertl is a field mobilization specialist for the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Tags: (ATU) Local 1764Fairfax connectorPensionsMV Transportation
Categories: Labor News

Vigorous Campaign Revives Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764 in Right-to-Work Virginia

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 15:01

Vigorous Campaign Revives Transit Union (ATU) Local 1764 in Right-to-Work Virginia
http://labornotes.org/2017/05/vigorous-campaign-revives-transit-union-ri...
May 31, 2017 / John Ertl

After a robust union campaign, the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop. Photo: ATU
Going into its latest contract, the transit union in Fairfax County, Virginia, was in tough shape. People weren’t active because they didn’t believe the union could do much—and the union couldn’t do much because people weren’t active.

Management never budged on the issues that stewards brought up. Grievances piled up, unresolved. And since Virginia is a “right-to-work” state, half the workers in the bargaining unit weren’t even members of Transit (ATU) Local 1764.

But after a robust union campaign, in a matter of months the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop.

Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation—yet the 600 bus drivers, mechanics, and utilities staff at the Fairfax Connector have no pension, because they work for a private company rather than the county. Many can’t afford to live in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburb where they work.

Workers were seething because they had been cheated out of a retirement plan. In the previous contract, they had given up a 2 percent raise in exchange for a pension. But when a pension plan could not be set up according to the contract’s poorly written terms, the company exploited the loophole and kept the money.

“People saw that the union wasn’t working on their behalf, and they saw that management just did whatever it wanted,” said bus driver Rachid Mhamdi. “There was no trust in the union.”

BACK TO BASICS

How could this situation be turned around? More than a year before the contract was set to expire, the international union embarked on an ambitious campaign to “Fix the (Unfair)fax Connector.” The first step was clear: the union needed a stronger relationship with its members.

ATU staff set out to talk to members and encourage involvement. For starters, to better represent a workforce that includes immigrants from Somalia, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, and India, the local recruited and trained more stewards at each garage, focusing first on re-engaging people who had previously been leaders in the union. A call for volunteers yielded a large contract committee.

For the first time ever, the union began to print newsletters and distribute the contract in Spanish, Amharic, Somali, and Arabic. This was crucial, since the garages are full of “little communities,” says driver John Gillison. “The Middle Easterners hang out and talk to one another, as do the African immigrants and many other groups, but many of them didn’t get involved in the union because of the language barrier.”

Union stewards also created a text-message network where members could get the latest news and shop talk using the mobile phone app WhatsApp. Over half the members joined.

To identify key contract issues, the local surveyed members—something it had never done at this workplace. Stewards distributed surveys to all members in various languages, and received an encouraging response rate of 25 percent after two weeks.

The results showed that a top priority for most members was to achieve parity in wages and benefits among the three Fairfax Connector garages. The two newer garages, which had more recently joined the union, didn’t make as much as the original garage. Other key issues were boosting wages generally, shortening the time it took to reach the top rate of pay, and improving the retirement plan.

There were other problems too. Mechanics reported that maintenance staff would often find water bottles full of urine on buses, as drivers had no other option during uninterrupted shifts of up to 10 hours behind the wheel. Fully half of all the survey respondents said they often went without bathroom breaks. A whopping 74 percent said that fumes on the buses were a big issue.

Before this campaign, “sometimes you’d go to a union meeting and there’d only be seven or eight people there,” shop steward Luis Santiago said. But the activists’ outreach and the new app generated a buzz that began to attract more and more people to membership meetings—until the union struggled to find a room big enough to fit everybody.

OPENING VOLLEY

Local 1764 activists began to pursue the ultimate cause of their misery—not their direct employer, a giant multinational corporation called MV Transportation, but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This legislative body, made up of eight Democrats and two Republicans, had contracted out the work since the service began in 1985. Nevertheless, the county still owns the buses, sets the routes, establishes work rules, handles customer complaints, and even reserves the right to make the company fire someone.

To explain the issues that workers were facing, the contract committee attempted to meet with every supervisor on the board. Stunningly, some of the supervisors had never even heard of MV Transportation, despite its $70 million contract with the county. The supervisors sounded sympathetic at first, but they were reluctant to get involved, hiding behind the excuse that they couldn’t take sides in a private matter.

Next the contract committee organized a phone blitz. Members distributed flyers urging their co-workers to call the Fairfax Connector’s complaint hotline—usually used by customers to track down a lost bag or to complain about a late bus. After dozens of workers called to air their grievances about the absent pension, the county stopped taking hotline calls.

Members began to call the supervisors directly. The committee mobilized 30 members to pack a county board meeting, where senior bus driver Robert Snyder testified about the injustice of public servants in one of the richest counties in the nation not being able to retire with a pension or any dignity whatsoever.

RAMPING IT UP

With the company holding out and the county supervisors hiding out, next Local 1764 Trustee Sesil Rubain led a press conference outside the Fairfax County Government Center. Dozens of members marched up to the county executive’s office to deliver a petition with hundreds of signatures.

We flyered at transit stations during rush hour and at public events. Twenty members braved frigid temperatures to educate Virginia Democratic Party bigwigs outside their brunch fundraiser at a posh country club.

To kick off the first day of bargaining, workers held their first informational picket in years—right in front of management’s office. And after a few unproductive bargaining sessions, 100 members rallied in the Fairfax town square, took over Main Street, and marched through the heart of town.

But when the company still refused to address the major issues in the next sessions of bargaining—and went on the offensive by unilaterally implementing background and credit checks on our members—union leaders asked outraged members to take a strike authorization vote.

Around 150 people turned out for the most-attended meeting in the union’s history. When the strike motion came up, the room exploded in cheers. By secret ballot, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike if MV didn’t settle a fair contract.

Gillison called the experience life-changing. “In my 68 years,” he said, “I have never seen a brotherhood and a sisterhood come together at the workplace like that.”

VICTORY AND BEYOND

Setting a strike deadline did the trick. The company finally gave way on many issues, and settled a contract.

The wage progression was shortened from 15 years to five. Top pay for bus operators rose to $32.25 per hour, and the union bridged much of the gap in compensation between garages.

On retirement, while workers didn’t get a pension, the company agreed to increase its 401(k) match by 250 percent. Workers also won back the wages they had given up in the previous contract for the failed pension proposal.

The union won much better language on bathroom breaks, beat back the credit and background checks, and got the company to adopt a number of the union's recommendations to address the fumes. MV replaced the faulty hoses that used to leak coolant that would burn up and cause strong odors in buses. The company retrofitted older buses with longer exhaust tips to prevent exhaust from coming into the air intake vents, and sealed the engine compartments and other vehicle openings to help prevent fumes from seeping into the cabin.

Another upshot of the campaign was the ousting of the much-hated vice president of operations, who had been chiefly responsible for management’s uncooperative attitude. In the wake of his departure, Santiago said, “management started showing us respect that we’d never seen before. They started to talk to us, respond to meetings, and work out issues with the shop stewards.”

Over the course of this campaign, the union signed up nearly 200 new members, bringing its membership rate above 85 percent of the bargaining unit. “Once people started to get educated about the union and began to see all the activity going on,” said Santiago, “they got excited about the union and they wanted to sign up and join.”

John Ertl is a field mobilization specialist for the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Tags: (ATU) Local 1764Fairfax connectorPensionsMV Transportation
Categories: Labor News

FRA inspects less than 1% of railroad system

Fri, 06/02/2017 - 10:21

FRA inspects less than 1% of railroad system
http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/659536.pdf
The Federal Railroad Association admits its inspectors are able to inspect less than one percent of the federally regulated railroad system.
GAO Government Accountability Office, Rail Safety: Improved Human Capital Planning Could Address Emerging Safety Oversight Challenges, report to Congress, December 2013

Tags: railroad safetyderegulationsafety
Categories: Labor News

Putting the mask on TTC subway air pollution-Toronto ATU 113 Transit Workers At Risk

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 09:01

Putting the mask on TTC subway air pollution-Toronto ATU 113 Transit Workers At Risk

http://rankandfile.ca/2017/06/01/putting-the-mask-on-ttc-subway-air-poll...

Posted on June 1, 2017 in ATU, environment, health and safety, Toronto
ttc-workers.jpg.size.custom.crop.1086x719By Donna Burman, member of ATU Local 113

Recently, a study led by University of Toronto (U of T) chemical engineer Greg Evans published in Environmental Science and Technology demonstrated that that trains and platforms of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) have higher levels of air pollution than other transportation systems in Canada.

There is particulate matter (PM) in the air found circulating in the subway system. PM includes dust, but what is at issue is particulates that are much smaller than dust called PM2.5. The numeric value is based according to the size of the particulate measured in micrometers.

These particulates can only be seen using a microscope. The smaller the PM, the more damage they cause to your health as these particulates stick to the interior of the lung once it is inhaled. Once there, PM2.5 can irritate the lungs and cause health issues.

PM2.5 is caused by many things including the wheels and brakes on the subway trains. The braking system causes small combustions causing fine particulates to be released into the air as small as PM2.5. Once in the air, it can remain for days or weeks and can be transported over long ranges. Changing weather patterns contribute to differences in concentrations in the air due to weather conditions including heat, cold, and wind factors.

PM2.5 is unhealthy

There is not any safe level of PM2.5 exposure. Even healthy, active people are in danger when exposed to high amounts. The effects of exposure include:

· Shortness of breath

· Eye, nose and throat irritation

· Excessive coughing and wheezing

· Diminished lung function and lung disease

· Diminished heart function, sometimes resulting in heart attack

· Asthmatic attacks

· Death

PM2.5 has been associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke, mortality, inflammatory and epigenetic effects, respiratory including lung cancer. The higher the concentration of PM2.5, the higher the health concern for people exposed. The lowest amount possible is strived for but levels between 15-40 micrograms per cubic metre is considered within satisfactory limits.

The U of T study demonstrated levels of PM2.5 as high as 95 micrograms per cubic metre, or 10 times the levels found outdoors. Levels ranged anywhere from 80.8 to 140 micrograms. These levels included high concentrations of metal inside the trains. PM2.5 levels ranging between 40 to 65 ug/m3 are categorized “unhealthy for sensitive groups” whereas PM2.5 levels over 100 are “unhealthy.”

“They’re afraid of the optics”

There were four work refusals from the result of this study from Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113 members demanding to wear masks after the release of the study. The Ministry of Labour was called in and they deemed that TTC is doing their due diligence to its employees and that the employees are not endangered. As such, masks are not required.

The TTC does not want the use of masks since it gives the appearance that the air is not safe to breathe. This may erode public confidence in using the TTC, especially for people who use it as their main mode of transportation.

“They’re afraid of the optics,” says Kevin Morton, Secretary-Treasurer of ATU Local 113.

ATU Local 113 has made their position clear. They are pushing the TTC to allow workers the choice to protect themselves by wearing masks underground. The union has called for an independent investigation and they will consult their own expert to determine the health and safety implications for their members. On May 23, 2017 ATU Local 113 met with the TTC and all parties agreed to the need for a new study.

Yet, Morton demands to know “why hasn’t the TTC conducted its own testing?”

Last week, the TTC board met and voted to send the air quality issue back to staff. The question remains is why it took this long to conduct a new study. The TTC conducted air quality studies in 1977, 1980 and 1995 That’s 22 years since the last one. The TTC has insisted that they had plans to conduct one later this year.

Who will pay for masks?

At this time, the TTC is not required to provide a N95 mask which is specially designed to filter out PM 2.5. Since the employer is not required to supply such a mask, they do not pay for it. If the employer has to provide personal protective equipment (PPE), they must pay for it. In unionized workplaces, employers and the union will often decide who pays for PPE in collective agreements.

According to the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), the employer must assess its workplace for hazards, implement engineering controls, and must control or eliminate hazards before using PPE. The use of PPE is often a last resort after all other attempts to reduce or eliminate risks have been exhausted.

Currently, the TTC has been achieving this through the adoption of new equipment including subway tunnel vacuuming that has been criticized as not being enough to reduce PM2.5 levels. It further remains open to speculation whether the subway tunnel vacuuming currently used are sufficient to keep the air clean.

When PPE is used, the employer must inform employees why PPE is necessary and when it must be worn. They must train the employee on how to use and care for the PPE and how to recognize PPE deterioration and failure. The employer must enforce the requirement to wear the selected PPE in the workplace.

The implications are clear as these procedures would cost the employer time and funding to adopt. While it would be easy to grant ATU members the opportunity to use PPE, who will pay for it?

ATU Local 113 is clear in its demands to ensure the workers are protected. What is open to speculation is why the TTC does not want masks when the union demands that their members have the right to protect their long term health.

Tags: subway pollutionATU 113air pollutiontransit workers
Categories: Labor News

WW5-30-17 ILWU Local 10 Members Face Nooses At Port Of Oakland And Tesla Injuries

Thu, 06/01/2017 - 08:11

WW5-30-17 ILWU Local 10 Members Face Nooses At Port Of Oakland And Tesla Injuries
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww5-30-17-ilwu-members-face-nooses...
WorkWeek looks at the hanging noose incidents and swastikas at the Port of Oakland against ILWU Local 10 longshore workers 85% of whom are African American. WorkWeek interviews ILWU Local 10 members Sean Graham and Stacie Rodgers. They protested by walking out on May 25, 2017. They discuss the history of these incidents and the need to have direct labor action to stop these attacks.
Next WorkWeek looks at the growing number of injuries at the Tesla plant at Fremont California. We interview Doug Parker, Executive Director of WorkSafe. Workers went to WorkSafe through the UAW which is seeking to organize the workers.
WorkSafe presented a study showing that there has been large increase in injuries and these were significantly higher than other auto plants.
For more information from WorkSafe
www.worksafe.org
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/05/25/noose-discovery-prompts-longshore...
Production of
WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Tags: racist noosesILWU Local 10SSAport of Oaklandracism
Categories: Labor News

Vigorous Campaign Revives ATU 1764 Transit Union in Right-to-Work Virginia

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 21:03

Vigorous Campaign Revives ATU 1764 Transit Union in Right-to-Work Virginia
May 31, 2017 / John Ertl

http://www.labornotes.org/2017/05/vigorous-campaign-revives-transit-unio...
Going into its latest contract, the transit union in Fairfax County, Virginia, was in tough shape. People weren’t active because they didn’t believe the union could do much—and the union couldn’t do much because people weren’t active.

Management never budged on the issues that stewards brought up. Grievances piled up, unresolved. And since Virginia is a “right-to-work” state, half the workers in the bargaining unit weren’t even members of Transit (ATU) Local 1764.

But after a robust union campaign, in a matter of months the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop.

Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation—yet the 600 bus drivers, mechanics, and utilities staff at the Fairfax Connector have no pension, because they work for a private company rather than the county. Many can’t afford to live in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburb where they work.

Workers were seething because they had been cheated out of a retirement plan. In the previous contract, they had given up a 2 percent raise in exchange for a pension. But when a pension plan could not be set up according to the contract’s poorly written terms, the company exploited the loophole and kept the money.

“People saw that the union wasn’t working on their behalf, and they saw that management just did whatever it wanted,” said bus driver Rachid Mhamdi. “There was no trust in the union.”

How could this situation be turned around? More than a year before the contract was set to expire, the international union embarked on an ambitious campaign to “Fix the (Unfair)fax Connector.” The first step was clear: the union needed a stronger relationship with its members.

ATU staff set out to talk to members and encourage involvement. For starters, to better represent a workforce that includes immigrants from Somalia, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, and India, the local recruited and trained more stewards at each garage, focusing first on re-engaging people who had previously been leaders in the union. A call for volunteers yielded a large contract committee.

For the first time ever, the union began to print newsletters and distribute the contract in Spanish, Amharic, Somali, and Arabic. This was crucial, since the garages are full of “little communities,” says driver John Gillison. “The Middle Easterners hang out and talk to one another, as do the African immigrants and many other groups, but many of them didn’t get involved in the union because of the language barrier.”

Union stewards also created a text-message network where members could get the latest news and shop talk using the mobile phone app WhatsApp. Over half the members joined.

To identify key contract issues, the local surveyed members—something it had never done at this workplace. Stewards distributed surveys to all members in various languages, and received an encouraging response rate of 25 percent after two weeks.

The results showed that a top priority for most members was to achieve parity in wages and benefits among the three Fairfax Connector garages. The two newer garages, which had more recently joined the union, didn’t make as much as the original garage. Other key issues were boosting wages generally, shortening the time it took to reach the top rate of pay, and improving the retirement plan.

There were other problems too. Mechanics reported that maintenance staff would often find water bottles full of urine on buses, as drivers had no other option during uninterrupted shifts of up to 10 hours behind the wheel. Fully half of all the survey respondents said they often went without bathroom breaks. A whopping 74 percent said that fumes on the buses were a big issue.

Before this campaign, “sometimes you’d go to a union meeting and there’d only be seven or eight people there,” shop steward Luis Santiago said. But the activists’ outreach and the new app generated a buzz that began to attract more and more people to membership meetings—until the union struggled to find a room big enough to fit everybody.

OPENING VOLLEY

Local 1764 activists began to pursue the ultimate cause of their misery—not their direct employer, a giant multinational corporation called MV Transportation, but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This legislative body, made up of eight Democrats and two Republicans, had contracted out the work since the service began in 1985. Nevertheless, the county still owns the buses, sets the routes, establishes work rules, handles customer complaints, and even reserves the right to make the company fire someone.

To explain the issues that workers were facing, the contract committee attempted to meet with every supervisor on the board. Stunningly, some of the supervisors had never even heard of MV Transportation, despite its $70 million contract with the county. The supervisors sounded sympathetic at first, but they were reluctant to get involved, hiding behind the excuse that they couldn’t take sides in a private matter.

Next the contract committee organized a phone blitz. Members distributed flyers urging their co-workers to call the Fairfax Connector’s complaint hotline—usually used by customers to track down a lost bag or to complain about a late bus. After dozens of workers called to air their grievances about the absent pension, the county stopped taking hotline calls.

Members began to call the supervisors directly. The committee mobilized 30 members to pack a county board meeting, where senior bus driver Robert Snyder testified about the injustice of public servants in one of the richest counties in the nation not being able to retire with a pension or any dignity whatsoever.

RAMPING IT UP

With the company holding out and the county supervisors hiding out, next Local 1764 Trustee Sesil Rubain led a press conference outside the Fairfax County Government Center. Dozens of members marched up to the county executive’s office to deliver a petition with hundreds of signatures.

We flyered at transit stations during rush hour and at public events. Twenty members braved frigid temperatures to educate Virginia Democratic Party bigwigs outside their brunch fundraiser at a posh country club.

To kick off the first day of bargaining, workers held their first informational picket in years—right in front of management’s office. And after a few unproductive bargaining sessions, 100 members rallied in the Fairfax town square, took over Main Street, and marched through the heart of town.

But when the company still refused to address the major issues in the next sessions of bargaining—and went on the offensive by unilaterally implementing background and credit checks on our members—union leaders asked outraged members to take a strike authorization vote.

Around 150 people turned out for the most-attended meeting in the union’s history. When the strike motion came up, the room exploded in cheers. By secret ballot, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike if MV didn’t settle a fair contract.

Gillison called the experience life-changing. “In my 68 years,” he said, “I have never seen a brotherhood and a sisterhood come together at the workplace like that.”

VICTORY AND BEYOND

Setting a strike deadline did the trick. The company finally gave way on many issues, and settled a contract.

The wage progression was shortened from 15 years to five. Top pay for bus operators rose to $32.25 per hour, and the union bridged much of the gap in compensation between garages.

On retirement, while workers didn’t get a pension, the company agreed to increase its 401(k) match by 250 percent. Workers also won back the wages they had given up in the previous contract for the failed pension proposal.

The union won much better language on bathroom breaks, beat back the credit and background checks, and got the company to adopt a number of the union's recommendations to address the fumes. MV replaced the faulty hoses that used to leak coolant that would burn up and cause strong odors in buses. The company retrofitted older buses with longer exhaust tips to prevent exhaust from coming into the air intake vents, and sealed the engine compartments and other vehicle openings to help prevent fumes from seeping into the cabin.

Another upshot of the campaign was the ousting of the much-hated vice president of operations, who had been chiefly responsible for management’s uncooperative attitude. In the wake of his departure, Santiago said, “management started showing us respect that we’d never seen before. They started to talk to us, respond to meetings, and work out issues with the shop stewards.”

Over the course of this campaign, the union signed up nearly 200 new members, bringing its membership rate above 85 percent of the bargaining unit. “Once people started to get educated about the union and began to see all the activity going on,” said Santiago, “they got excited about the union and they wanted to sign up and join.”

John Ertl is a field mobilization specialist for the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Tags: ATU 1764Right To Work
Categories: Labor News

Vigorous Campaign Revives ATU 1764 Transit Union in Right-to-Work Virginia

Wed, 05/31/2017 - 21:03

Vigorous Campaign Revives ATU 1764 Transit Union in Right-to-Work Virginia
May 31, 2017 / John Ertl

http://www.labornotes.org/2017/05/vigorous-campaign-revives-transit-unio...
Going into its latest contract, the transit union in Fairfax County, Virginia, was in tough shape. People weren’t active because they didn’t believe the union could do much—and the union couldn’t do much because people weren’t active.

Management never budged on the issues that stewards brought up. Grievances piled up, unresolved. And since Virginia is a “right-to-work” state, half the workers in the bargaining unit weren’t even members of Transit (ATU) Local 1764.

But after a robust union campaign, in a matter of months the Fairfax Connector went from a unit at risk of decertifying to a strong union shop.

Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation—yet the 600 bus drivers, mechanics, and utilities staff at the Fairfax Connector have no pension, because they work for a private company rather than the county. Many can’t afford to live in the affluent Washington, D.C., suburb where they work.

Workers were seething because they had been cheated out of a retirement plan. In the previous contract, they had given up a 2 percent raise in exchange for a pension. But when a pension plan could not be set up according to the contract’s poorly written terms, the company exploited the loophole and kept the money.

“People saw that the union wasn’t working on their behalf, and they saw that management just did whatever it wanted,” said bus driver Rachid Mhamdi. “There was no trust in the union.”

How could this situation be turned around? More than a year before the contract was set to expire, the international union embarked on an ambitious campaign to “Fix the (Unfair)fax Connector.” The first step was clear: the union needed a stronger relationship with its members.

ATU staff set out to talk to members and encourage involvement. For starters, to better represent a workforce that includes immigrants from Somalia, Nigeria, Togo, Tanzania, Morocco, Egypt, and India, the local recruited and trained more stewards at each garage, focusing first on re-engaging people who had previously been leaders in the union. A call for volunteers yielded a large contract committee.

For the first time ever, the union began to print newsletters and distribute the contract in Spanish, Amharic, Somali, and Arabic. This was crucial, since the garages are full of “little communities,” says driver John Gillison. “The Middle Easterners hang out and talk to one another, as do the African immigrants and many other groups, but many of them didn’t get involved in the union because of the language barrier.”

Union stewards also created a text-message network where members could get the latest news and shop talk using the mobile phone app WhatsApp. Over half the members joined.

To identify key contract issues, the local surveyed members—something it had never done at this workplace. Stewards distributed surveys to all members in various languages, and received an encouraging response rate of 25 percent after two weeks.

The results showed that a top priority for most members was to achieve parity in wages and benefits among the three Fairfax Connector garages. The two newer garages, which had more recently joined the union, didn’t make as much as the original garage. Other key issues were boosting wages generally, shortening the time it took to reach the top rate of pay, and improving the retirement plan.

There were other problems too. Mechanics reported that maintenance staff would often find water bottles full of urine on buses, as drivers had no other option during uninterrupted shifts of up to 10 hours behind the wheel. Fully half of all the survey respondents said they often went without bathroom breaks. A whopping 74 percent said that fumes on the buses were a big issue.

Before this campaign, “sometimes you’d go to a union meeting and there’d only be seven or eight people there,” shop steward Luis Santiago said. But the activists’ outreach and the new app generated a buzz that began to attract more and more people to membership meetings—until the union struggled to find a room big enough to fit everybody.

OPENING VOLLEY

Local 1764 activists began to pursue the ultimate cause of their misery—not their direct employer, a giant multinational corporation called MV Transportation, but the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

This legislative body, made up of eight Democrats and two Republicans, had contracted out the work since the service began in 1985. Nevertheless, the county still owns the buses, sets the routes, establishes work rules, handles customer complaints, and even reserves the right to make the company fire someone.

To explain the issues that workers were facing, the contract committee attempted to meet with every supervisor on the board. Stunningly, some of the supervisors had never even heard of MV Transportation, despite its $70 million contract with the county. The supervisors sounded sympathetic at first, but they were reluctant to get involved, hiding behind the excuse that they couldn’t take sides in a private matter.

Next the contract committee organized a phone blitz. Members distributed flyers urging their co-workers to call the Fairfax Connector’s complaint hotline—usually used by customers to track down a lost bag or to complain about a late bus. After dozens of workers called to air their grievances about the absent pension, the county stopped taking hotline calls.

Members began to call the supervisors directly. The committee mobilized 30 members to pack a county board meeting, where senior bus driver Robert Snyder testified about the injustice of public servants in one of the richest counties in the nation not being able to retire with a pension or any dignity whatsoever.

RAMPING IT UP

With the company holding out and the county supervisors hiding out, next Local 1764 Trustee Sesil Rubain led a press conference outside the Fairfax County Government Center. Dozens of members marched up to the county executive’s office to deliver a petition with hundreds of signatures.

We flyered at transit stations during rush hour and at public events. Twenty members braved frigid temperatures to educate Virginia Democratic Party bigwigs outside their brunch fundraiser at a posh country club.

To kick off the first day of bargaining, workers held their first informational picket in years—right in front of management’s office. And after a few unproductive bargaining sessions, 100 members rallied in the Fairfax town square, took over Main Street, and marched through the heart of town.

But when the company still refused to address the major issues in the next sessions of bargaining—and went on the offensive by unilaterally implementing background and credit checks on our members—union leaders asked outraged members to take a strike authorization vote.

Around 150 people turned out for the most-attended meeting in the union’s history. When the strike motion came up, the room exploded in cheers. By secret ballot, members voted unanimously to authorize a strike if MV didn’t settle a fair contract.

Gillison called the experience life-changing. “In my 68 years,” he said, “I have never seen a brotherhood and a sisterhood come together at the workplace like that.”

VICTORY AND BEYOND

Setting a strike deadline did the trick. The company finally gave way on many issues, and settled a contract.

The wage progression was shortened from 15 years to five. Top pay for bus operators rose to $32.25 per hour, and the union bridged much of the gap in compensation between garages.

On retirement, while workers didn’t get a pension, the company agreed to increase its 401(k) match by 250 percent. Workers also won back the wages they had given up in the previous contract for the failed pension proposal.

The union won much better language on bathroom breaks, beat back the credit and background checks, and got the company to adopt a number of the union's recommendations to address the fumes. MV replaced the faulty hoses that used to leak coolant that would burn up and cause strong odors in buses. The company retrofitted older buses with longer exhaust tips to prevent exhaust from coming into the air intake vents, and sealed the engine compartments and other vehicle openings to help prevent fumes from seeping into the cabin.

Another upshot of the campaign was the ousting of the much-hated vice president of operations, who had been chiefly responsible for management’s uncooperative attitude. In the wake of his departure, Santiago said, “management started showing us respect that we’d never seen before. They started to talk to us, respond to meetings, and work out issues with the shop stewards.”

Over the course of this campaign, the union signed up nearly 200 new members, bringing its membership rate above 85 percent of the bargaining unit. “Once people started to get educated about the union and began to see all the activity going on,” said Santiago, “they got excited about the union and they wanted to sign up and join.”

John Ertl is a field mobilization specialist for the Amalgamated Transit Union.

Tags: ATU 1764Right To Work
Categories: Labor News

DC ATU 689 DC Ten Reasons Why Transit Privatization is Bad for DC workers, public and safety

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:32

DC ATU 689 DC Ten Reasons Why Transit Privatization is Bad for DC workers, public and safety
http://www.atulocal689.org/10-reasons-why-privatization-is-bad-for-dc.html
Download PDF with Citations

1. Privatization does not guarantee savings. Proponents of privatizing transit often make lofty claims about savings through private sector efficiencies. But frequently these claims couldn’t be farther from the truth. Public agencies are often more efficient because no profit margin gets siphoned off to shareholders.

• In Phoenix, Veolia demanded an additional $27.5 million on top of its existing $386 million contract. Veolia threatened to leave on short notice during contract negotiations if the city did not meet its demands. 1

• Officials canceled a management contract with First Transit in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The public agency experienced a cost savings by managing the system in-house.

• Veolia was dropped after 3 years by Chatham Area Transit (CAT) in Savannah, GA after the CAT chairman concluded that the private operator “was becoming too expensive.”

2. Service issues may rise: any savings often come from cutbacks.
Contractor claims about service should be taken with a grain of salt. Up-front savings are often coupled with cutbacks, hurting the most vulnerable users like the disabled and children.

• In San Diego, First Transit promised $10 million in annual savings by taking over the North County Transit District. Modest cost declines were primarily due to service cutbacks. First Transit operated 14,000 fewer service hours while other costs shot up by $1.4 million primarily due to administrative fees.

• Between 2008 and 2010, MV Transportation was fined 295 times for bad service in the city of Fairfield, CA, which had turned to the private operator as a solution to budget shortfalls. Officials concluded that the private operator “exhibited mostly negative trends in all areas” related to performance and efficiency.

• In Nassau County, NY Veolia slashed service to close a $7.3 million budget gap. More than 30 routes saw cutbacks, in all 60% of the system experienced service declines.

• After 19 years of privatized service in the Toledo, OH area, paratransit riders complaints
were so numerous that the agency fired First Transit.

3. Privatization can undermine safety.

Private bus operators are known to have less experienced drivers (due to higher turnover) and more mechanical difficulties (due to inadequate maintenance). These can present enormous safety hazards to riders.

• In Denver, private operators running buses side-by-side with publicly operated buses had a worse safety record.

• In Austin, TX, bus mechanics became concerned that Veolia was cutting corners on maintenance. They risked their jobs and went public about safety hazards. Among the issues were defective emergency brakes, tired brake pads, and faulty hoses.

• In Houston, news media reports indicated that First Transit operators were responsible for a number of high profile accidents, injuring car passengers and pedestrians.

4. It could leave us open to more political corruption. Political corruption in the District is giving us a bad reputation. The District government has a responsibility now more than ever to ensure that key government functions won’t be used for personal gain. Contracting out transit services could lead to corruption making the politically connected wealthy on the backs of taxpayers.

• In 2011, the Federal Transit Administration asked the Office of the Inspector General to investigate a contract awarded to Veolia in Phoenix. Former mayoral staffers were found to have had undue influence on the awarding of contracts. The mayor’s campaign fundraiser and his girlfriend were reported to be Veolia employees.

• When city officials in Fairfield, CA grew disgruntled with the poor quality of service provided by the contractor and fined the company 295 times, MV Transportation responded by making $10,000 in campaign donations to city council members. Fines were suspended and some were canceled.

• A District appointee to the WMATA Board of Directors, Tom Downs, also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for Veolia. This is a current conflict of interest.

5. Many private operators have poor track records. Privatization will require efforts to keep a watchful eye on public money. Keeping companies accountable requires more oversight and resources than with a public agency. We will need numerous (and costly) accountability mechanisms: auditing, legal fees, transaction costs, and staff time. A publicly owned and operated service, like WMATA, already has such processes in place to ensure accountability.

• In Denver, private contractors were replaced 3 times in 3 years requiring enormous transactions costs as the agency had to find a new operator for transit services.

• During a 3 month period in 2011, Veolia was fined $3 million for poor performance, primarily due to buses running late. Unfortunately, most of these fines were waived and Phoenix riders were left with substandard service.

• In Roanoke, VA, a 2009 audit of the Greater Roanoke Transit Authority showed that First Transit misused $70,000 in taxpayer money. The General Manager billed the city for more than $14,000 spent on golf, cigars, alcohol, and fine dining.

6. We deserve transparency. If a private operator runs our system, the public won’t know how our public resources get spent.

A private takeover of public transit can mean important information about what the system costs taxpayers gets “lost.” Companies frequently refuse to tell the public about operational problems leading to cost overruns and spending scandals.

• When asked by the mayor of Columbia, SC to account for operational costs, Veolia refused to open its books. The company made the galling claim that as a private, for-profit company it was exempt from disclosure. It still has not released enough details.

7. Fares on privatized systems go up over time. Contractors often mislead public officials about the true costs of their services because they tend to focus on early years of service rather than later years when older equipment requires additional maintenance.

• In Nassau County, NY, a public transit advocacy group cried foul over a clause in Veolia’s contract to operate the Long Island Bus which allowed the company to raise fares by 25% without county approval. 18
8. Contracting with private transit companies can lead to procurement abuse.

• In Roanoke, VA, the assistant general manager, a First Transit employee, was accused of bid-rigging that resulted in $200,000 of procurement costs for his wife’s decorating business. He was fired and the audits were sent to the U.S. Attorney General’s office.

• The Federal Transit Administration formally admonished Phoenix for extending an $81 million contract with Veolia without a bidding process. Veolia had intimate political ties to local officials.
9. Drivers responsible for our safe commutes will be forced to work at lower wages with fewer benefits. Experienced drivers with good track records will leave the profession. Drivers at private operators typically have much lower wages than public workers. Workers are driven out of their job as wages and benefits fail to keep pace with their experience as a safe, effective drivers. The result is not only high turnover (which carries additional training costs), but a low-road economic approach to workers charged with keeping us safe each and every day.

• In the greater Sacremento, CA area, the Yolobus system lost over half of its First Transit drivers in a year. While the regional transit system paid its top drivers $21 an hour, First Transit paid its most experienced drivers $14 an hour. As a result of the low-wages and
fast turnover, the head of the agency publicly discussed firing First Transit and bringing operations in-house or merging with the regional transit system.

• According to a spokesperson from the American Public Transit Association, “I don't want to sound like I'm against privatization, but there's no inherent advantage of it… There's nothing about that private-sector manager that makes him a better manager than a public-sector manager… if the savings are all, say, in the labor part, then you say all you're doing is competing for the lowest wages.”

• When transit systems were privatized by Veolia in Nassau County, NY and New Orleans, LA, workers lost retirement benefits. A spokesman for Veolia in North Carolina stated that the company refuses to take on any pension plan responsibilities. Strangely, Veolia is controlled by a French financial institution that administers pensions in France.

10. The creation of multiple systems within a system can be confusing for riders and policy makers.

Navigating beyond our borders is already a difficult task. As jurisdictions continue to operate transit services outside of WMATA, riders must endure confusing signage, transfers, and waits because transit services are not coordinated. Adding another layer of transit service in the core of region’s transit system can only add unnecessary complications. Worse, policy makers making budget decisions will only face ever more complicated decisions in choosing how to allocate scarce resources to multiple, sometimes redundant services.

• We’re already seeing signs of this in the District. WMATA’s Metrobus service and DDOT’s Circulator service have two different sets of maps, signs, phone numbers, and naming conventions.

Tags: privatizationATU 689outsourcing transit
Categories: Labor News

CN, conductors union in last-ditch talks to avoid strike

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 12:16

CN, conductors union in last-ditch talks to avoid strike
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/cn-rail-union-plans-s...
ERIC ATKINS - RAILWAY INDUSTRY REPORTER
The Globe and Mail
Published Monday, May 29, 2017 6:55AM EDT
Last updated Monday, May 29, 2017 1:30PM EDT

Canadian National Railway Co. and the union representing its conductors are in mediated contract talks today at a Montreal hotel ahead of a Tuesday morning strike deadline.

Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC), which represents 3,000 locomotive conductors and yard workers, says it will walk off the job at 4 a.m. on Tuesday after the company imposed new work conditions over the weekend.

“The parties have been negotiating through the night and remain at the bargaining table this morning,” said CN spokesman Patrick Waldron, adding he is “cautiously optimistic” a deal will be reached before the deadline.

“We’re doing everything we can to avoid a strike, and Teamster members expect the same from management,” Roland Hackl, TCRC vice-president and lead negotiator for the union, said in a statement.

A union official reached by phone declined to comment on Monday.

Bob Ballantyne of the Freight Management Association of Canada said a railway strike will damage the entire Canadian economy, leading to clogged ports at key trading hubs, factory shutdowns and layoffs.

Much of the manufacturing sector depends on just-in-time railway deliveries and shipments of components and finished products, meaning any disruption has significant spillover effects, he said.

“Things are moving well in the Canadian economy,” Mr. Ballantyne said by phone. “This kind of thing could really put a damper on it.”

The industry group, which represents 100 companies in a range of industries that rely on rail transport, huddled on the weekend and sent letters to cabinet ministers and the Prime Minister, urging them to be prepared to legislate an end to any strike.

“We have an economy that really depends on rail,” he said.

CN handles much of the grain, containers and other goods that move in and out of the Port of Vancouver, and has exclusive rail access to the port of Prince Rupert.

The Chamber of Shipping, which represents ocean-going ships that call on the West Coast, said a labour disruption would have a “drastic” and lasting impact on imports and exports. “With ships having departed Asia weeks ago enroute [to] our ports, a disruption could become very complicated,” said Robert Lewis-Manning, the group’s president. “A significant stoppage could take months to overcome.”

“A disruption in service could impact the transportation of goods across the country,” Patricia Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, said in a statement Monday.

Ms. Hajdu said she encourages both sides to continue mediated talks and will closely monitor their progress. “Our government respects, and has faith in, the collective bargaining process,” she said.

The possibility of a strike comes as CN has been outperforming much of the North American industry, winning contracts and posting larger-than-average freight volumes.

In the first three months of the year, Montreal-based CN moved record amounts of freight for a profit of $884-million.

Under the previous Conservative government, rail strikes were quickly ended with legislation.

CN’s locomotive engineers are also Teamsters but operate under a separate collective agreement reached in 2015. In past strikes, CN managers have operated trains.

The work changes imposed by CN on the weekend, which CN says are not open to negotiations or grievances, include a 2-per-cent raise and the loss of protection against relocations.

“We cannot allow this to happen,” said a Teamsters memo to members.

The Teamsters recently reached a tentative, five-year agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. covering 2,000 track maintenance workers.

The union’s collective agreement with CP for conductors and engineers expires at the end of 2017. Those talks are expected to be a test of new CP chief executive officer Keith Creel’s stated objective to improve labour relations at the Calgary-based freight carrier.

Since 2012, CP has had two strikes by Teamster-represented train crews.

Tags: CN IBT Railway Strike
Categories: Labor News

SF's Pier 70 shipyard closes after 150 years

Mon, 05/29/2017 - 06:02

SF's Pier 70 shipyard closes after 150 years
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/SF-Pier-70-shipyard-closes-af...

By J.K. DineenMay 28, 2017 Updated: May 28, 2017 8:48pm
hoto: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleCarlisa Coleman worked for 18 years before she was laid off at the former BAE Systems shipyard at Pier 70 in San Francisco.

Some came for their boots and hard hats. Others for their final paycheck. They stood outside the shipyard gates at Pier 70 with trash bags full of work clothes and talked about stuff people usually talk about when the boss lays everyone off.

Medical insurance. Pensions. Job prospects. Who was responsible for messing up their lives.

At 8 o’clock, a horn blasted in the yard. “Break time!” joked Eric Lee, who spent 12 good years at the shipyard. Of course, there was nobody left to take a break.

After 150 years of continuous operation, the shipyard at Pier 70 shut down Friday, the victim of a legal squabble between a multinational corporation and a much smaller company. The big boy no longer wanted to operate the business while the little guy thought better of taking it over when it became apparent the repair facility itself was in need of millions of dollars of repairs.

Stuck in the middle was the Port of San Francisco, which owns the dry docks, and the men and women for whom the shipyard — and the majestic vessels they repaired — was both a living and a way of life.

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleJames White is among the last of the employees laid off from their jobs at the former BAE Systems shipyard to pick up their belongings at Pier 70.
For a dozen years, BAE Systems, which has a $27 billion market cap, operated the repair facility, which consists of two dry docks. One, Dry Dock No. 2, is a monumental steel cradle capable of lifting sparkling white 900-foot cruise ships weighing 60,000 tons. The other, named Eureka, is smaller: at 528 feet long, it can hoist ships weighing 14,500 tons.

For most of that time, BAE kept the bigger of the two dry docks busy — it was the largest working dry dock on the West Coast and the only one capable of hoisting the late-model, jumbo cruise ships out of the water. But then a bigger dry dock, with larger cranes, opened near Portland, Ore., and the cruise ships migrated north.

Meanwhile, BAE decided San Francisco didn’t fit into its ship repair plan, which consists mostly of multibillion-dollar contracts with the U.S. Navy at facilities adjacent to Navy yards in the southern United States, Hawaii and Southern California. It sold the Pier 70 business to Puglia Engineering, which is based in Washington state. Puglia paid just $1 for the business but assumed $38 million in pension liabilities.

When Puglia took over, there had consistently been 250 employees at the shipyard, a number that went up when things were busy and down during slow periods. In February, six weeks after assuming control of the yard, Puglia filed notice of imminent closure. In a deal with the port, it agreed to keep it open for 90 days but laid off many workers in February and more in March. On Friday, it was goodbye to the bare-bones crew — fewer than a dozen — that had stayed on to wind things down. But others who had been previously pink-slipped showed up to witness the sad conclusion.

<920x920.jpg>
Photo: Paul Chinn / Paul Chinn / The Chronicle
IMAGE 1 OF 8James White carries a bag of his possessions toward co-workers Barry Thomas (left) and Eric Lee after the last of the laid-off employees made a final visit to the shipyard at Pier 70.
“It’s painful, and it’s frustrating,” said Gerry Roybal, maritime marketing manager for the port. “I’ve developed these relationships with these people. I worry about their future. These people were really harmed by what happened. The port was really harmed by what happened.”

Shipyard workers say Puglia never really showed up at Pier 70. Representatives from company headquarters appeared only a handful of times after taking over the lease. The signs on the property still say BAE. After the U.S. Navy ship Carl Brashear, which was in dry dock when BAE was still in charge, the only business that came in was a minor barge job.

“We don’t know what a person from Puglia looks like,” said Carlisa Coleman, who worked as a painter and sandblaster for 18 years. “We never even met one.”

Instead of putting the shipyard employees to work, Puglia put a team of lawyers to work, suing BAE and alleging in court that it had been misled into thinking the two dry docks were “well-maintained and could be put to immediate use.”

Instead, Puglia said, it discovered the smaller of the two dry docks had “deteriorated to an extent that it would cost $9 million” to make it operational. In addition, the lawsuit says an additional $12 million in dredging is needed.

In a cross complaint, BAE called Puglia a “sophisticated buyer” that spent more than a year conducting its own “due diligence of the business and its assets.” Puglia would not comment.

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Paul Chinn, The ChronicleModern glass towers rise in stark contrast behind the old Eureka dry dock at the former BAE Systems shipyard at Pier 70 in San Francisco.
Workers say they blame both companies.

“We got caught up in a bad business deal,” Coleman said. “We got played by people with money and power. How do you buy a company on Jan. 2 and before the end of May you close it? Who does that? If Puglia didn’t have the money to run the shipyard, they should have left us alone.”

Eric Lee, a San Francisco native who lives in Ingleside Heights, said being a maritime worker is his life. As a high school graduate, he has been able to make a middle-class living — upward of $70,000 and $80,000 a year. He is a homeowner.

“We’re human beings. We’re workers. We’re residents of San Francisco. I was depending on my pension. I was depending on retiring as a maritime worker in San Francisco,” Lee said.

Workers said they will miss the ships as much as the shipyard. On Friday, Lee was wearing a hat with the Carl Brashear insignia on it — one of his favorite vessels along with the Amelia Earhart and the Jeremiah O’Brien.

James White, who grew up in the Sunset District’s Oceanside neighborhood, said that he was in state prison in 2010 when he saw a program about the dry dock on the National Geographic Channel show “World’s Toughest Fixes.” It was about a cruise ship, the Sea Princess. Despite being a city native, he didn’t realize there were still blue-collar jobs on the waterfront. When he was released, he made getting a shipyard job his top priority.

“This yard changed my life,” he said. “I went from sitting in a box to being able to walk around with the captain of a ship and actually know exactly what I was talking about. I understand the language of the shipping industry.”

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Coleman said the workers are in a tough spot, going from steady work to no work in a short period of time.

“I don’t have a Plan B, a lot of us don’t have a Plan B,” she said. “We don’t know how we are going to pay our bills, feed or families or get medical insurance.”

But port Director Elaine Forbes said there is some hope for the workers. She said several shipyard operators are interested in taking over the yard. The port hopes to have a new request for proposal issued before the end of July.

“It’s a sad situation, but I’m hoping it’s only temporarily sad,” Forbes said. “We are getting calls from operators who think there is a viable market for ship repair in San Francisco.”

J.K. Dineen is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: jdineen@sfchronicle.com Twitter:

Tags: San Francisco Shipyard workers
Categories: Labor News

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