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MA MBTA IAM mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:31

MA MBTA mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization
http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/74446
On March 15, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

— Photos courtesy of IAM&AW Local 264
By International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

A large crowd descended on MBTA headquarters in downtown Boston on Monday as transit mechanics rallied with allies to defend taxpayers, workers, and riders against the latest MBTA privatization scheme.

The MBTA mechanics were joined by community allies and elected leaders, including State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representatives Mike Connolly and Michelle DuBois (each of whom spoke), and multiple rider coalitions. All in attendance were united in opposing new for-profit privatization aimed at outsourcing core MBTA bus maintenance services.

“Giving up control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Arlington Ave. garage. Mike has 11 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

Despite a diverse and aging fleet of buses, federal data shows MBTA mechanics to be the best performing in the nation. The latest available data indicates MBTA busses travel an average of 12,964 between breakdowns. That is the best performance in the country by a difference of more than 6,000 miles. In fact, the invention of an MBTA mechanic and IAM 264 member is credited as playing the key role in improved winter performance by the MBTA this year. Public transit advocates warn that losing this kind of ingenuity and experience to outsourcing could destabilize the MBTA bus system.

“Too many of the bus routes are not running frequent enough schedules to serve our riders as it is,” said William Hallsen, a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Everett garage. William has 15 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Ceding control of bus maintenance to a for-profit company who will underbid, get rid of experienced mechanics, and cut corners is absolutely not the solution. Frankly, it’s dangerous.”

Since the MBTA allowed for-profit Keolis to take control of public commuter rail services, the results for riders and taxpayers have been disastrous. Millions have been spent to bail out the for-profit company after they underbid their contract. Even privatization proponents acknowledge that the largest and most critical privatization effort by the MBTA so far has been a massive failure. Data shows that Keolis continues to struggle with providing on-time service, despite the bailouts.

“Enough is enough,” said Mike Vartabedian, an IAM Local 264 representative with more than 20-years frontline experience fixing MBTA vehicles. “When you talk about destroying the best performing bus maintenance department in the country, that’s not a business decision, that’s a political decision. These for-profit, out-of-state companies can make up all the numbers they want to get their claws into the system, but when they lie or don’t deliver, Massachusetts residents pay the price – and that’s not right.”

Meanwhile, other key outsourcing contracts including with S.J. Services, ABM Industries, and the Maine Military Authority [6] have also been dramatically underbid. Results of the underbidding have included major repair delays to key MBTA fleet vehicles and attempts by janitorial contractors to rip health insurance coverage away from workers.

More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and to our communities every day. We believe in ensuring safety for our riders and in professionally negotiating contracts that guarantee our members have a say in their job and can perform those jobs in workplaces that are safe. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) and Local 264 have been fighting for workers, their families, and our communities for over 120 years.

Tags: IAMprivatizationMBTAoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

MA MBTA IAM mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:31

MA MBTA mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization
http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/74446
On March 15, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

— Photos courtesy of IAM&AW Local 264
By International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

A large crowd descended on MBTA headquarters in downtown Boston on Monday as transit mechanics rallied with allies to defend taxpayers, workers, and riders against the latest MBTA privatization scheme.

The MBTA mechanics were joined by community allies and elected leaders, including State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representatives Mike Connolly and Michelle DuBois (each of whom spoke), and multiple rider coalitions. All in attendance were united in opposing new for-profit privatization aimed at outsourcing core MBTA bus maintenance services.

“Giving up control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Arlington Ave. garage. Mike has 11 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

Despite a diverse and aging fleet of buses, federal data shows MBTA mechanics to be the best performing in the nation. The latest available data indicates MBTA busses travel an average of 12,964 between breakdowns. That is the best performance in the country by a difference of more than 6,000 miles. In fact, the invention of an MBTA mechanic and IAM 264 member is credited as playing the key role in improved winter performance by the MBTA this year. Public transit advocates warn that losing this kind of ingenuity and experience to outsourcing could destabilize the MBTA bus system.

“Too many of the bus routes are not running frequent enough schedules to serve our riders as it is,” said William Hallsen, a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Everett garage. William has 15 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Ceding control of bus maintenance to a for-profit company who will underbid, get rid of experienced mechanics, and cut corners is absolutely not the solution. Frankly, it’s dangerous.”

Since the MBTA allowed for-profit Keolis to take control of public commuter rail services, the results for riders and taxpayers have been disastrous. Millions have been spent to bail out the for-profit company after they underbid their contract. Even privatization proponents acknowledge that the largest and most critical privatization effort by the MBTA so far has been a massive failure. Data shows that Keolis continues to struggle with providing on-time service, despite the bailouts.

“Enough is enough,” said Mike Vartabedian, an IAM Local 264 representative with more than 20-years frontline experience fixing MBTA vehicles. “When you talk about destroying the best performing bus maintenance department in the country, that’s not a business decision, that’s a political decision. These for-profit, out-of-state companies can make up all the numbers they want to get their claws into the system, but when they lie or don’t deliver, Massachusetts residents pay the price – and that’s not right.”

Meanwhile, other key outsourcing contracts including with S.J. Services, ABM Industries, and the Maine Military Authority [6] have also been dramatically underbid. Results of the underbidding have included major repair delays to key MBTA fleet vehicles and attempts by janitorial contractors to rip health insurance coverage away from workers.

More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and to our communities every day. We believe in ensuring safety for our riders and in professionally negotiating contracts that guarantee our members have a say in their job and can perform those jobs in workplaces that are safe. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) and Local 264 have been fighting for workers, their families, and our communities for over 120 years.

Tags: IAMprivatizationMBTAoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

MA MBTA IAM mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:31

MA MBTA mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization
http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/74446
On March 15, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

— Photos courtesy of IAM&AW Local 264
By International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

A large crowd descended on MBTA headquarters in downtown Boston on Monday as transit mechanics rallied with allies to defend taxpayers, workers, and riders against the latest MBTA privatization scheme.

The MBTA mechanics were joined by community allies and elected leaders, including State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representatives Mike Connolly and Michelle DuBois (each of whom spoke), and multiple rider coalitions. All in attendance were united in opposing new for-profit privatization aimed at outsourcing core MBTA bus maintenance services.

“Giving up control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Arlington Ave. garage. Mike has 11 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

Despite a diverse and aging fleet of buses, federal data shows MBTA mechanics to be the best performing in the nation. The latest available data indicates MBTA busses travel an average of 12,964 between breakdowns. That is the best performance in the country by a difference of more than 6,000 miles. In fact, the invention of an MBTA mechanic and IAM 264 member is credited as playing the key role in improved winter performance by the MBTA this year. Public transit advocates warn that losing this kind of ingenuity and experience to outsourcing could destabilize the MBTA bus system.

“Too many of the bus routes are not running frequent enough schedules to serve our riders as it is,” said William Hallsen, a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Everett garage. William has 15 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Ceding control of bus maintenance to a for-profit company who will underbid, get rid of experienced mechanics, and cut corners is absolutely not the solution. Frankly, it’s dangerous.”

Since the MBTA allowed for-profit Keolis to take control of public commuter rail services, the results for riders and taxpayers have been disastrous. Millions have been spent to bail out the for-profit company after they underbid their contract. Even privatization proponents acknowledge that the largest and most critical privatization effort by the MBTA so far has been a massive failure. Data shows that Keolis continues to struggle with providing on-time service, despite the bailouts.

“Enough is enough,” said Mike Vartabedian, an IAM Local 264 representative with more than 20-years frontline experience fixing MBTA vehicles. “When you talk about destroying the best performing bus maintenance department in the country, that’s not a business decision, that’s a political decision. These for-profit, out-of-state companies can make up all the numbers they want to get their claws into the system, but when they lie or don’t deliver, Massachusetts residents pay the price – and that’s not right.”

Meanwhile, other key outsourcing contracts including with S.J. Services, ABM Industries, and the Maine Military Authority [6] have also been dramatically underbid. Results of the underbidding have included major repair delays to key MBTA fleet vehicles and attempts by janitorial contractors to rip health insurance coverage away from workers.

More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and to our communities every day. We believe in ensuring safety for our riders and in professionally negotiating contracts that guarantee our members have a say in their job and can perform those jobs in workplaces that are safe. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) and Local 264 have been fighting for workers, their families, and our communities for over 120 years.

Tags: IAMprivatizationMBTAoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

MA MBTA IAM mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization

Fri, 03/17/2017 - 12:31

MA MBTA mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization
http://www.thesomervilletimes.com/archives/74446
On March 15, 2017, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

— Photos courtesy of IAM&AW Local 264
By International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries and letters to the Editor of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)

A large crowd descended on MBTA headquarters in downtown Boston on Monday as transit mechanics rallied with allies to defend taxpayers, workers, and riders against the latest MBTA privatization scheme.

The MBTA mechanics were joined by community allies and elected leaders, including State Senator Marc Pacheco and State Representatives Mike Connolly and Michelle DuBois (each of whom spoke), and multiple rider coalitions. All in attendance were united in opposing new for-profit privatization aimed at outsourcing core MBTA bus maintenance services.

“Giving up control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Arlington Ave. garage. Mike has 11 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

Despite a diverse and aging fleet of buses, federal data shows MBTA mechanics to be the best performing in the nation. The latest available data indicates MBTA busses travel an average of 12,964 between breakdowns. That is the best performance in the country by a difference of more than 6,000 miles. In fact, the invention of an MBTA mechanic and IAM 264 member is credited as playing the key role in improved winter performance by the MBTA this year. Public transit advocates warn that losing this kind of ingenuity and experience to outsourcing could destabilize the MBTA bus system.

“Too many of the bus routes are not running frequent enough schedules to serve our riders as it is,” said William Hallsen, a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Everett garage. William has 15 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Ceding control of bus maintenance to a for-profit company who will underbid, get rid of experienced mechanics, and cut corners is absolutely not the solution. Frankly, it’s dangerous.”

Since the MBTA allowed for-profit Keolis to take control of public commuter rail services, the results for riders and taxpayers have been disastrous. Millions have been spent to bail out the for-profit company after they underbid their contract. Even privatization proponents acknowledge that the largest and most critical privatization effort by the MBTA so far has been a massive failure. Data shows that Keolis continues to struggle with providing on-time service, despite the bailouts.

“Enough is enough,” said Mike Vartabedian, an IAM Local 264 representative with more than 20-years frontline experience fixing MBTA vehicles. “When you talk about destroying the best performing bus maintenance department in the country, that’s not a business decision, that’s a political decision. These for-profit, out-of-state companies can make up all the numbers they want to get their claws into the system, but when they lie or don’t deliver, Massachusetts residents pay the price – and that’s not right.”

Meanwhile, other key outsourcing contracts including with S.J. Services, ABM Industries, and the Maine Military Authority [6] have also been dramatically underbid. Results of the underbidding have included major repair delays to key MBTA fleet vehicles and attempts by janitorial contractors to rip health insurance coverage away from workers.

More than 450 mechanics, fuelers, and other skilled professionals united in IAM Local 264 proudly contribute to the operation of the MBTA and to our communities every day. We believe in ensuring safety for our riders and in professionally negotiating contracts that guarantee our members have a say in their job and can perform those jobs in workplaces that are safe. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) and Local 264 have been fighting for workers, their families, and our communities for over 120 years.

Tags: IAMprivatizationMBTAoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

Spanish parliament defeats government plan to deregulate hiring of dock workers

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 15:15

Spanish parliament defeats government plan to deregulate hiring of dock workers
https://www.thelocal.es/20170316/spanish-parliament-defeats-government-p...
AFP
news@thelocal.es
16 March 2017
14:23 CET+01:00

Shipping containers and cranes dockside at the "Terminal de Contenidors de Barcelona SL" (TCB) cargo terminal. Photo: AFP
Spanish lawmakers on Thursday defeated a decree that would deregulate the hiring of dock workers at the county's ports, in a blow to conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's minority government.
The proposed reform, fiercely opposed by dockers who threatened to stage a nationwide strike that would hurt exports if it went ahead, was shot down with 175 votes against, 142 in favour and 33 abstentions.

It is the first major defeat for Rajoy's Popular Party, which has since October headed a minority government that has just 137 seats in the 350-seat lower house of parliament.

The cabinet gave the green light to the decree more than two years after the EU Court of Justice ruled Spain must reform the sector, or face sanctions.

Currently, domestic or foreign companies can only hire dockers to load and unload ships from specific, already-established Spanish groups known as Sagebs that select, train and provide personnel, and no other firm.

The decree would allow companies to contract workers wherever they want.

"It is a European directive that we must follow," Rajoy said ahead of the vote in parliament on the decree.

"We have delayed its approval, we have given all the time in the world to reach an agreement."

Spain's 6,150 dockers fear that opening up the sector to competition will put their jobs and salaries at risk.

With aortic stenosis, the opening in the heart's aortic valve becomes narrow. Here are eight things you should know about this serious condition.

Over 60 percent of Spain's exports pass through the country's 46 main ports.

Spain, with its nearly 6,000 kilometres of coastline, is also a key transit point for exports from Europe to the rest of the world.

The International Dockworkers Council (IDC), an umbrella group of 91 unions in 41 countries, has also threated to stage coordinated strikes around the world in a show of support for Spanish dockers.

Tags: Spanish DockersderegulationIDCunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Spanish parliament defeats government plan to deregulate hiring of dock workers

Thu, 03/16/2017 - 15:15

Spanish parliament defeats government plan to deregulate hiring of dock workers
https://www.thelocal.es/20170316/spanish-parliament-defeats-government-p...
AFP
news@thelocal.es
16 March 2017
14:23 CET+01:00

Shipping containers and cranes dockside at the "Terminal de Contenidors de Barcelona SL" (TCB) cargo terminal. Photo: AFP
Spanish lawmakers on Thursday defeated a decree that would deregulate the hiring of dock workers at the county's ports, in a blow to conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's minority government.
The proposed reform, fiercely opposed by dockers who threatened to stage a nationwide strike that would hurt exports if it went ahead, was shot down with 175 votes against, 142 in favour and 33 abstentions.

It is the first major defeat for Rajoy's Popular Party, which has since October headed a minority government that has just 137 seats in the 350-seat lower house of parliament.

The cabinet gave the green light to the decree more than two years after the EU Court of Justice ruled Spain must reform the sector, or face sanctions.

Currently, domestic or foreign companies can only hire dockers to load and unload ships from specific, already-established Spanish groups known as Sagebs that select, train and provide personnel, and no other firm.

The decree would allow companies to contract workers wherever they want.

"It is a European directive that we must follow," Rajoy said ahead of the vote in parliament on the decree.

"We have delayed its approval, we have given all the time in the world to reach an agreement."

Spain's 6,150 dockers fear that opening up the sector to competition will put their jobs and salaries at risk.

With aortic stenosis, the opening in the heart's aortic valve becomes narrow. Here are eight things you should know about this serious condition.

Over 60 percent of Spain's exports pass through the country's 46 main ports.

Spain, with its nearly 6,000 kilometres of coastline, is also a key transit point for exports from Europe to the rest of the world.

The International Dockworkers Council (IDC), an umbrella group of 91 unions in 41 countries, has also threated to stage coordinated strikes around the world in a show of support for Spanish dockers.

Tags: Spanish DockersderegulationIDCunion busting
Categories: Labor News

UK train conductors strike three rail companies

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 11:08

UK train conductors strike three rail companies
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/14/rail-m14.html
By Robert Stevens
14 March 2017
Train conductors at Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Southern Rail struck Monday to oppose the planned introduction of Driver Only Operated services (DOO). Management’s proposals, backed to the hilt by the Conservative government, would lead to the loss of thousands of conductors’ jobs and undermine public safety.
The strike demonstrates the strength of the working class. Although the walkout involved only 2,000 conductors nationally, the rail firms were forced to cancel far more services than expected—with well over a 1,000 scheduled train journeys halted.
At Merseyrail, many drivers belonging to the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union refused to cross picket of conductors who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. Only minimal services ran on the network, with all services ceasing at 7pm. Between 11am and 2pm, Merseyrail was forced to suspend all trains.
Merseyrail normally transports 110,000 passengers each weekday, via 67 railway stations on one of the most heavily used rail networks outside London. Whole sections of the network were halted, with no trains running between Hunts Cross/Kirkby and Liverpool Central and between Ellesmere Port and James Street. Services did not run to many stations, including Bidston, Birkenhead Park, Conway Park and Manor Park.

The picket line at Huddersfield rail Station
A Merseyrail spokesman said the firm was not able to run its previously advertised timetable, as “train drivers, who are not part of the industrial action taking place on the Merseyrail network today, have decided not to cross RMT picket lines.”
Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail have refused to relent on plans to introduce DOO over the next three years. Merseyrail is procuring a new £460 million fleet of trains by 2020, designed to enable drivers to entirely control the opening and closing of doors--one of the main roles of conductors who are trained in up to 35 safety critical tasks. The plan, if implemented will result in the loss of 220 conductors’ jobs at Merseyrail.
Arriva Rail North, which covers rail services connecting cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, claimed around 40 percent of services ran Monday. However, no services ran before 7am, with trains stopping completely from 5pm to 7pm. The strike’s impact resulted in Arriva Rail North having to hire 300 buses to transport passengers. The two main stations in Manchester—Piccadilly and Victoria—were much quieter than normal with Victoria’s concourses and platforms empty during the morning rush hour.
At Southern, conductors and drivers have been fighting plans to introduce DOO over the last year. In striking Monday, RMT members at Southern were taking their 30th day of intermittent job actions. According to Southern it ran nearly a full service, after it drafted in managers and other scabs to replace conductors.
However, Southern has constantly inflated figures during strikes. Many of its planned services to and from London did not run, with several lines completely unable to operate. The propaganda was belied by scenes of many virtually empty and quiet train stations in various towns and cities.
The RMT noted in a March 9 press release, “The company claims on the number of trains that they are set to run are bogus, rigged and not borne out by the passenger feedback on strike days…” It added, “Managers from elsewhere in GTR operations are being swung in at considerable cost, both in cash terms and disruption to work elsewhere, to try and break the strike.”
Last month, Go-Ahead, which owns 65 percent of Southern's operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), reported that half-year profits from its rail business had fallen 35 percent to £26.9 million.
Letting the cat out of the bag as to what the rail companies eventually want to impose, Angie Doll, Southern's passenger services director said Monday, “Our on-board supervisors [the job title conductors are being forced into] are now established in their roles and passengers are beginning to see the benefits of having someone whose sole job is customer service.” In other words, underpaid staff will operate solely as revenue collectors, with no responsibilities for public safety.
The strike proves the willingness of transport workers to fight the destruction of their terms, conditions and livelihoods. The action by the ASLEF drivers at Merseyrail was in direct opposition to the ongoing sabotage of their struggle by the trade union bureaucracy. Since the beginning of the Southern dispute, the unions have sought to divide conductors and drivers from waging a unified offensive against DOO, which is the spearhead of attacks on gains rail workers have won over generations.
Last month, Southern GTR drivers, members of ASLEF, voted down a sell-out deal that fully accepted DOO, negotiated by the union under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Following its rejection, Southern management and ASLEF have resumed private talks at a secret location.
Despite describing the actions of ASLEF as a “historical betrayal,” the RMT kept up the division of drivers and conductors by insisting that the deal was an internal affair of ASLEF’s, blocking any common struggle of rail workers.
The offensive against rail workers is set to intensify with the Department of Transport’s announcement that DOO must be included by whichever private firm wins the next two franchises due to be awarded, South Western and West Midlands.
Opposed to the mobilisation of its more than 80,000 membership nationally in support of rail workers, RMT officials have simply called for more negotiations. Even though conductors are fighting the same attacks, the RMT issued separate press releases regarding each company. For Arriva Rail North, the union said, “It is now down to the company to ‎get that pledge back on the table and engage with the union in talks over a safe and sustainable future built around the guarantee of a guard on the trains." Regarding the Southern strike, the RMT declared, “[I]t is about time Southern/GTR got out of the bunker and got back round the table with the union in serious and meaningful talks." Merseyrail management should get out of “the bunker and started serious talks with the union that secure a safe future for their services and the guarantee of a guard on their trains.”
As for ASLEF, the union has refused to even report on its web site or twitter account that its members struck in solidarity with conductors at Merseyrail.

Tags: UKRMTAssociated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)
Categories: Labor News

UK train conductors strike three rail companies

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 11:08

UK train conductors strike three rail companies
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/14/rail-m14.html
By Robert Stevens
14 March 2017
Train conductors at Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Southern Rail struck Monday to oppose the planned introduction of Driver Only Operated services (DOO). Management’s proposals, backed to the hilt by the Conservative government, would lead to the loss of thousands of conductors’ jobs and undermine public safety.
The strike demonstrates the strength of the working class. Although the walkout involved only 2,000 conductors nationally, the rail firms were forced to cancel far more services than expected—with well over a 1,000 scheduled train journeys halted.
At Merseyrail, many drivers belonging to the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union refused to cross picket of conductors who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. Only minimal services ran on the network, with all services ceasing at 7pm. Between 11am and 2pm, Merseyrail was forced to suspend all trains.
Merseyrail normally transports 110,000 passengers each weekday, via 67 railway stations on one of the most heavily used rail networks outside London. Whole sections of the network were halted, with no trains running between Hunts Cross/Kirkby and Liverpool Central and between Ellesmere Port and James Street. Services did not run to many stations, including Bidston, Birkenhead Park, Conway Park and Manor Park.

The picket line at Huddersfield rail Station
A Merseyrail spokesman said the firm was not able to run its previously advertised timetable, as “train drivers, who are not part of the industrial action taking place on the Merseyrail network today, have decided not to cross RMT picket lines.”
Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail have refused to relent on plans to introduce DOO over the next three years. Merseyrail is procuring a new £460 million fleet of trains by 2020, designed to enable drivers to entirely control the opening and closing of doors--one of the main roles of conductors who are trained in up to 35 safety critical tasks. The plan, if implemented will result in the loss of 220 conductors’ jobs at Merseyrail.
Arriva Rail North, which covers rail services connecting cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, claimed around 40 percent of services ran Monday. However, no services ran before 7am, with trains stopping completely from 5pm to 7pm. The strike’s impact resulted in Arriva Rail North having to hire 300 buses to transport passengers. The two main stations in Manchester—Piccadilly and Victoria—were much quieter than normal with Victoria’s concourses and platforms empty during the morning rush hour.
At Southern, conductors and drivers have been fighting plans to introduce DOO over the last year. In striking Monday, RMT members at Southern were taking their 30th day of intermittent job actions. According to Southern it ran nearly a full service, after it drafted in managers and other scabs to replace conductors.
However, Southern has constantly inflated figures during strikes. Many of its planned services to and from London did not run, with several lines completely unable to operate. The propaganda was belied by scenes of many virtually empty and quiet train stations in various towns and cities.
The RMT noted in a March 9 press release, “The company claims on the number of trains that they are set to run are bogus, rigged and not borne out by the passenger feedback on strike days…” It added, “Managers from elsewhere in GTR operations are being swung in at considerable cost, both in cash terms and disruption to work elsewhere, to try and break the strike.”
Last month, Go-Ahead, which owns 65 percent of Southern's operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), reported that half-year profits from its rail business had fallen 35 percent to £26.9 million.
Letting the cat out of the bag as to what the rail companies eventually want to impose, Angie Doll, Southern's passenger services director said Monday, “Our on-board supervisors [the job title conductors are being forced into] are now established in their roles and passengers are beginning to see the benefits of having someone whose sole job is customer service.” In other words, underpaid staff will operate solely as revenue collectors, with no responsibilities for public safety.
The strike proves the willingness of transport workers to fight the destruction of their terms, conditions and livelihoods. The action by the ASLEF drivers at Merseyrail was in direct opposition to the ongoing sabotage of their struggle by the trade union bureaucracy. Since the beginning of the Southern dispute, the unions have sought to divide conductors and drivers from waging a unified offensive against DOO, which is the spearhead of attacks on gains rail workers have won over generations.
Last month, Southern GTR drivers, members of ASLEF, voted down a sell-out deal that fully accepted DOO, negotiated by the union under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Following its rejection, Southern management and ASLEF have resumed private talks at a secret location.
Despite describing the actions of ASLEF as a “historical betrayal,” the RMT kept up the division of drivers and conductors by insisting that the deal was an internal affair of ASLEF’s, blocking any common struggle of rail workers.
The offensive against rail workers is set to intensify with the Department of Transport’s announcement that DOO must be included by whichever private firm wins the next two franchises due to be awarded, South Western and West Midlands.
Opposed to the mobilisation of its more than 80,000 membership nationally in support of rail workers, RMT officials have simply called for more negotiations. Even though conductors are fighting the same attacks, the RMT issued separate press releases regarding each company. For Arriva Rail North, the union said, “It is now down to the company to ‎get that pledge back on the table and engage with the union in talks over a safe and sustainable future built around the guarantee of a guard on the trains." Regarding the Southern strike, the RMT declared, “[I]t is about time Southern/GTR got out of the bunker and got back round the table with the union in serious and meaningful talks." Merseyrail management should get out of “the bunker and started serious talks with the union that secure a safe future for their services and the guarantee of a guard on their trains.”
As for ASLEF, the union has refused to even report on its web site or twitter account that its members struck in solidarity with conductors at Merseyrail.

Tags: UKRMTAssociated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)
Categories: Labor News

UK train conductors strike three rail companies

Wed, 03/15/2017 - 11:08

UK train conductors strike three rail companies
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/03/14/rail-m14.html
By Robert Stevens
14 March 2017
Train conductors at Arriva Rail North, Merseyrail and Southern Rail struck Monday to oppose the planned introduction of Driver Only Operated services (DOO). Management’s proposals, backed to the hilt by the Conservative government, would lead to the loss of thousands of conductors’ jobs and undermine public safety.
The strike demonstrates the strength of the working class. Although the walkout involved only 2,000 conductors nationally, the rail firms were forced to cancel far more services than expected—with well over a 1,000 scheduled train journeys halted.
At Merseyrail, many drivers belonging to the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) union refused to cross picket of conductors who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union. Only minimal services ran on the network, with all services ceasing at 7pm. Between 11am and 2pm, Merseyrail was forced to suspend all trains.
Merseyrail normally transports 110,000 passengers each weekday, via 67 railway stations on one of the most heavily used rail networks outside London. Whole sections of the network were halted, with no trains running between Hunts Cross/Kirkby and Liverpool Central and between Ellesmere Port and James Street. Services did not run to many stations, including Bidston, Birkenhead Park, Conway Park and Manor Park.

The picket line at Huddersfield rail Station
A Merseyrail spokesman said the firm was not able to run its previously advertised timetable, as “train drivers, who are not part of the industrial action taking place on the Merseyrail network today, have decided not to cross RMT picket lines.”
Arriva Rail North and Merseyrail have refused to relent on plans to introduce DOO over the next three years. Merseyrail is procuring a new £460 million fleet of trains by 2020, designed to enable drivers to entirely control the opening and closing of doors--one of the main roles of conductors who are trained in up to 35 safety critical tasks. The plan, if implemented will result in the loss of 220 conductors’ jobs at Merseyrail.
Arriva Rail North, which covers rail services connecting cities including Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Newcastle, claimed around 40 percent of services ran Monday. However, no services ran before 7am, with trains stopping completely from 5pm to 7pm. The strike’s impact resulted in Arriva Rail North having to hire 300 buses to transport passengers. The two main stations in Manchester—Piccadilly and Victoria—were much quieter than normal with Victoria’s concourses and platforms empty during the morning rush hour.
At Southern, conductors and drivers have been fighting plans to introduce DOO over the last year. In striking Monday, RMT members at Southern were taking their 30th day of intermittent job actions. According to Southern it ran nearly a full service, after it drafted in managers and other scabs to replace conductors.
However, Southern has constantly inflated figures during strikes. Many of its planned services to and from London did not run, with several lines completely unable to operate. The propaganda was belied by scenes of many virtually empty and quiet train stations in various towns and cities.
The RMT noted in a March 9 press release, “The company claims on the number of trains that they are set to run are bogus, rigged and not borne out by the passenger feedback on strike days…” It added, “Managers from elsewhere in GTR operations are being swung in at considerable cost, both in cash terms and disruption to work elsewhere, to try and break the strike.”
Last month, Go-Ahead, which owns 65 percent of Southern's operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), reported that half-year profits from its rail business had fallen 35 percent to £26.9 million.
Letting the cat out of the bag as to what the rail companies eventually want to impose, Angie Doll, Southern's passenger services director said Monday, “Our on-board supervisors [the job title conductors are being forced into] are now established in their roles and passengers are beginning to see the benefits of having someone whose sole job is customer service.” In other words, underpaid staff will operate solely as revenue collectors, with no responsibilities for public safety.
The strike proves the willingness of transport workers to fight the destruction of their terms, conditions and livelihoods. The action by the ASLEF drivers at Merseyrail was in direct opposition to the ongoing sabotage of their struggle by the trade union bureaucracy. Since the beginning of the Southern dispute, the unions have sought to divide conductors and drivers from waging a unified offensive against DOO, which is the spearhead of attacks on gains rail workers have won over generations.
Last month, Southern GTR drivers, members of ASLEF, voted down a sell-out deal that fully accepted DOO, negotiated by the union under the auspices of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). Following its rejection, Southern management and ASLEF have resumed private talks at a secret location.
Despite describing the actions of ASLEF as a “historical betrayal,” the RMT kept up the division of drivers and conductors by insisting that the deal was an internal affair of ASLEF’s, blocking any common struggle of rail workers.
The offensive against rail workers is set to intensify with the Department of Transport’s announcement that DOO must be included by whichever private firm wins the next two franchises due to be awarded, South Western and West Midlands.
Opposed to the mobilisation of its more than 80,000 membership nationally in support of rail workers, RMT officials have simply called for more negotiations. Even though conductors are fighting the same attacks, the RMT issued separate press releases regarding each company. For Arriva Rail North, the union said, “It is now down to the company to ‎get that pledge back on the table and engage with the union in talks over a safe and sustainable future built around the guarantee of a guard on the trains." Regarding the Southern strike, the RMT declared, “[I]t is about time Southern/GTR got out of the bunker and got back round the table with the union in serious and meaningful talks." Merseyrail management should get out of “the bunker and started serious talks with the union that secure a safe future for their services and the guarantee of a guard on their trains.”
As for ASLEF, the union has refused to even report on its web site or twitter account that its members struck in solidarity with conductors at Merseyrail.

Tags: UKRMTAssociated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF)
Categories: Labor News

How Japanese trade unions pulled the brakes on Uber’s bid to enter Tokyo

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 13:17

How Japanese trade unions pulled the brakes on Uber’s bid to enter Tokyo
https://www.equaltimes.org/how-trade-unions-pulled-the-brakes#.WMhOkBRBi-S
In 2015, the labour unions that represent Japan’s taxi drivers learned that Rakuten, one of the country’s largest retail and ecommerce companies, had made a large investment in the transportation app Lyft. This was the first sign of an emerging threat – the entrance of ride-hailing apps, most notably the global giant Uber – into the world’s largest city, Tokyo.

“We didn’t even know about ride-sharing, but after this, we started to study about it,” said Kazuhiko Kikuchi, chief secretary of the National Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren), one of several unions that represents taxi drivers in Japan. “We quickly realised that this is going to be a big issue [for us].”

The negative impact that ride-hailing has had on taxi drivers across the world has been well documented. Nearly every market they’ve entered has seen a dramatic drop in taxi usage, followed by wage reductions that, with time, impact ride-hailing drivers as well. In fact, the gig economy has also been shown to have a negative impact on workers wagesin many industries.

Japan, however, remains one of the few major developed countries that has yet to adopt the gig economy wholesale.
In fact, Uber was one of the first large platforms to attempt to break into the world’s third largest economy. The threat was palpable, though, because among OECD countries, Japan is country with the second lowest share of income concentrated in the top 10 per cent, after Belgium, and remains a country where CEOs make low salaries. The spread of the gig economy could alter Japan’s relative wage equality and have a huge, adverse impact on taxi drivers.

That is why, once Jiko-soren and others understood the threat Uber posed to their members, they began organising. In the end, they were able to do what few others around the world have – halt Uber’s entrance into Tokyo and preserve the livelihoods of its taxi driver members in Japan’s cities.

“Almost all the unions, from all over Japan, came together with the same purpose – to oppose ride-share,” said Jiko-soren chairperson Masatoshi Takashiro to Equal Times.

The case against Uber

Japan’s taxi sector is highly regulated, mostly a direct result of previous union organising and lobbying. These regulations both ensured protections for workers, decent wages due to government-set fares, and high safety standards for both passengers and drivers.

“In Japan, taxis are a form of transportation that is trusted by people,” said Takashiro.

While pricey, Japanese consumers consider taxis to be safe, reliable and clean. They also provide decent, well-paying jobs for several thousand workers in the Tokyo Metropolitan region.

For Jiko-soren, which represents independent taxi drivers and is an affiliate of the Zenroren national trade union centre, this meant that the potential entrance of Uber could destabilise the industry and have a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of its members.

“There are so many dangerous situations with Uber in other countries,” said Takashiro. “Drivers have been forced to work for very cheap wages.”

One challenge facing Jiko-soren was the fragmented nature of the taxi industry, with several unions representing workers. They range from Jiko-soren, a militant left-wing union, to those who represent corporate taxi drivers and quite often have close relationships with management. In fact, Japan’s various taxi unions had never worked together.

In other cities, it was this disunity that allowed Uber to come in and win. One advantage that Japanese organisers had was that they could learn from this example. Moreover, everyone was facing the threat equally – even corporate taxi companies stood to lose if Uber entered Tokyo.

In March 2016, eight Japanese unions organised a rally that brought together all their members, calling for the restriction of Uber-style ride-hailing and the maintenance of existing taxi regulations.
They sent in their demands to the government, and launched a public campaign alerting consumers to the real threat of Uber – and how, globally, the company has been resistant to the very safety measures that Japanese consumers take for granted.

“[The rally] had a very big impact, because we had never done anything like that before,” said Takashiro. “Even national politicians came, and both newspapers and TV media reported on it. Until then, people did not know about ride-sharing, but after this rally, they got to know about it…[and how] the entire taxi industry opposes this idea.”

It worked. Shortly after the rally, the government released new regulations that essentially ended Uber’s ride-hailing service in Tokyo and stated, bluntly, that ride-hailing would not be permitted in Japan’s major cities.

“That was a good result from our rally and organising efforts,” said Takashiro, but that did not mean the battle was finished.

A Trojan horse

Despite this initial success, Jiko-soren and its allies remain aware that Uber has not given up. The regulations did restrict its use in Japan’s big cities, but it also allowed for ride-hailing services in certain regions, specifically places that are termed “depopulated” where mostly elderly citizens reside. Already, Uber has launched a pilot project aimed at providing ride-hailing in two rural districts. To taxi union leaders, this could be a Trojan horse, and it something they continue to oppose.

“We are sure that they are going to use this opportunity – introducing ridesharing in depopulated areas – to take actions to expand services in the rest of the Japan,” said Takashiro. “[So we] will keep opposing Uber and trying to not to let ridesharing expand to the big cities.”

Moreover, Uber is continuing to lobby the Japanese government to deregulate the taxi sector, having recently joining the newly formed, pro-business Sharing Economy Association. The association is using the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo to justify the introduction of ride-hailing to Japan.

“We are waiting for the 2020 Games and we hope that by that time there will be some kind of right to be able to use these [rideshare] services,” said Takashi Sabetto, one of the founding members of Sharing Economy Association of Japan, which counts Uber as one of its members. “Some taxi companies might go bankrupt – but is that a bad thing?” he asks, adding that competition – not regulations – should decide their fate.

Tags: UberJapan taxi workersNational Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren)
Categories: Labor News

How Japanese trade unions pulled the brakes on Uber’s bid to enter Tokyo

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 13:17

How Japanese trade unions pulled the brakes on Uber’s bid to enter Tokyo
https://www.equaltimes.org/how-trade-unions-pulled-the-brakes#.WMhOkBRBi-S
In 2015, the labour unions that represent Japan’s taxi drivers learned that Rakuten, one of the country’s largest retail and ecommerce companies, had made a large investment in the transportation app Lyft. This was the first sign of an emerging threat – the entrance of ride-hailing apps, most notably the global giant Uber – into the world’s largest city, Tokyo.

“We didn’t even know about ride-sharing, but after this, we started to study about it,” said Kazuhiko Kikuchi, chief secretary of the National Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren), one of several unions that represents taxi drivers in Japan. “We quickly realised that this is going to be a big issue [for us].”

The negative impact that ride-hailing has had on taxi drivers across the world has been well documented. Nearly every market they’ve entered has seen a dramatic drop in taxi usage, followed by wage reductions that, with time, impact ride-hailing drivers as well. In fact, the gig economy has also been shown to have a negative impact on workers wagesin many industries.

Japan, however, remains one of the few major developed countries that has yet to adopt the gig economy wholesale.
In fact, Uber was one of the first large platforms to attempt to break into the world’s third largest economy. The threat was palpable, though, because among OECD countries, Japan is country with the second lowest share of income concentrated in the top 10 per cent, after Belgium, and remains a country where CEOs make low salaries. The spread of the gig economy could alter Japan’s relative wage equality and have a huge, adverse impact on taxi drivers.

That is why, once Jiko-soren and others understood the threat Uber posed to their members, they began organising. In the end, they were able to do what few others around the world have – halt Uber’s entrance into Tokyo and preserve the livelihoods of its taxi driver members in Japan’s cities.

“Almost all the unions, from all over Japan, came together with the same purpose – to oppose ride-share,” said Jiko-soren chairperson Masatoshi Takashiro to Equal Times.

The case against Uber

Japan’s taxi sector is highly regulated, mostly a direct result of previous union organising and lobbying. These regulations both ensured protections for workers, decent wages due to government-set fares, and high safety standards for both passengers and drivers.

“In Japan, taxis are a form of transportation that is trusted by people,” said Takashiro.

While pricey, Japanese consumers consider taxis to be safe, reliable and clean. They also provide decent, well-paying jobs for several thousand workers in the Tokyo Metropolitan region.

For Jiko-soren, which represents independent taxi drivers and is an affiliate of the Zenroren national trade union centre, this meant that the potential entrance of Uber could destabilise the industry and have a dramatic impact on the livelihoods of its members.

“There are so many dangerous situations with Uber in other countries,” said Takashiro. “Drivers have been forced to work for very cheap wages.”

One challenge facing Jiko-soren was the fragmented nature of the taxi industry, with several unions representing workers. They range from Jiko-soren, a militant left-wing union, to those who represent corporate taxi drivers and quite often have close relationships with management. In fact, Japan’s various taxi unions had never worked together.

In other cities, it was this disunity that allowed Uber to come in and win. One advantage that Japanese organisers had was that they could learn from this example. Moreover, everyone was facing the threat equally – even corporate taxi companies stood to lose if Uber entered Tokyo.

In March 2016, eight Japanese unions organised a rally that brought together all their members, calling for the restriction of Uber-style ride-hailing and the maintenance of existing taxi regulations.
They sent in their demands to the government, and launched a public campaign alerting consumers to the real threat of Uber – and how, globally, the company has been resistant to the very safety measures that Japanese consumers take for granted.

“[The rally] had a very big impact, because we had never done anything like that before,” said Takashiro. “Even national politicians came, and both newspapers and TV media reported on it. Until then, people did not know about ride-sharing, but after this rally, they got to know about it…[and how] the entire taxi industry opposes this idea.”

It worked. Shortly after the rally, the government released new regulations that essentially ended Uber’s ride-hailing service in Tokyo and stated, bluntly, that ride-hailing would not be permitted in Japan’s major cities.

“That was a good result from our rally and organising efforts,” said Takashiro, but that did not mean the battle was finished.

A Trojan horse

Despite this initial success, Jiko-soren and its allies remain aware that Uber has not given up. The regulations did restrict its use in Japan’s big cities, but it also allowed for ride-hailing services in certain regions, specifically places that are termed “depopulated” where mostly elderly citizens reside. Already, Uber has launched a pilot project aimed at providing ride-hailing in two rural districts. To taxi union leaders, this could be a Trojan horse, and it something they continue to oppose.

“We are sure that they are going to use this opportunity – introducing ridesharing in depopulated areas – to take actions to expand services in the rest of the Japan,” said Takashiro. “[So we] will keep opposing Uber and trying to not to let ridesharing expand to the big cities.”

Moreover, Uber is continuing to lobby the Japanese government to deregulate the taxi sector, having recently joining the newly formed, pro-business Sharing Economy Association. The association is using the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo to justify the introduction of ride-hailing to Japan.

“We are waiting for the 2020 Games and we hope that by that time there will be some kind of right to be able to use these [rideshare] services,” said Takashi Sabetto, one of the founding members of Sharing Economy Association of Japan, which counts Uber as one of its members. “Some taxi companies might go bankrupt – but is that a bad thing?” he asks, adding that competition – not regulations – should decide their fate.

Tags: UberJapan taxi workersNational Federation of Automobile Transport Workers’ Unions (Jiko-soren)
Categories: Labor News

Chicago CTA ATU On Int’l Women's Day - CTA Workers Want a Contract​

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 13:03

Chicago CTA ATU On Int’l Women's Day - CTA Workers Want a Contract​
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izoMgK7CGCo&feature=youtu.be
Published on Mar 13, 2017
On International Women’s Day, Amalgamated Transit Union women working at the CTA were facing intolerable conditions, as their locals have now been without a contract for over a year. The two unions — ATU 214 (buses) and ATU 308 (rail) — held practice pickets at several transit hubs, and demanded to speak to the Board of Directors at the downtown Chicago Transit Authority headquarters. The CTA tried, but failed, to bar union members and supporters from entering its March 8, 2017 Board meeting. In addition to decrying the fact that the bus drivers are forced to used porta potties, the unions presented disturbing photos of the unsanitary and unsafe conditions that workers are forced to deal with on the El trains, photos that the public can view here. Length 16:04.

Tags: ATU 241ATU 308International Women's DayChicago Transit AuthorityCTA
Categories: Labor News

The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:02

The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot
http://socialistproject.ca/bullet/1382.php
Sam Gindin and Herman Rosenfeld

A sign of the tragic disarray of the Canadian labour movement is the extent to which its misadventures keep piling up. As the turmoil within the union representing the Ontario government's unionized employees (Ontario Public Service Employees Union – OPSEU) hits the press, the chaos continues in Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The 10,500 members in that local – over a third of the ATU's Canadian membership – operate and maintain Toronto's transit system, North America's third largest public transit system, behind only New York and Mexico City. As with OPSEU, the acrimonious story is not about a tough strike or a response to an anti-union government. Rather, at a time when the union should be leading the charge to address popular frustrations with the failures in the city's transit system, the local is preoccupied with a messy internal battle.

Members of ATU Local 113 who work for Veolia Tansport on strike, October 2011 to Januay 2012.

Local 113 President Bob Kinnear had attempted to break away from its American-based parent and, in what was quickly apparent, to join Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union. For the time being he has clearly failed. The tale is mired in territorial conflicts over the members involved, legacies of personal nastiness among Canadian union leaders, whispers of conspiracy on the part of Unifor and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), of national flag waving and charges of U.S. imperialism, counter-denunciations of ‘nationalism’ and undermining international solidarity, opposing interpretations of democracy, a remarkable – if challenged – court decision, and miscellaneous elements impenetrable to either inside or outside observers.

Though we can't avoid delving into some of the sordid details of this development, we'll try to limit the noise of the various intrigues involved (for a blow-by-blow see: “ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis”).[1] The two crucial but difficult tasks are to get to the basic principles at stake and – above all – to figure out where the members stand and how their voices might play a more direct role in resolving this sordid clash.

Breaking Away

In trying to get a handle on this, a useful starting point is to compare it to an earlier breakaway from an American-based parent, one that is now generally even if not unanimously seen in positive terms: the formation of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) a little over three decades ago. The following differences are significant:

• The formation of the CAW involved a nation-wide section of an international union (the United Auto Workers – UAW) breaking away. ATU Local 113 is a local in one city.
• The autoworkers’ major bargaining was fully integrated across Canada and the USA. Local 113 bargains autonomously.
• The autoworkers’ split revolved around a clear and historic question: how to respond to concessions and the right of Canadians to make that decision themselves – in the face of actions taken by the international UAW to deny that right. No clear, agreed upon, issue has been articulated by Local 113.
• The Canadian autoworkers had established an overwhelming unity before it moved to break from their parent. Not only are the rest of the ATU locals (almost 2/3 of the Canadian members) apparently supportive of their international ties but even within Local 113, a clear majority of the executive board and an even larger proportion of the stewards have taken a stand against Kinnear and the split, with little or no indication (other than the usual rumblings in any union) of a rank and file rebellion against the parent.
• The Canadian autoworkers patiently developed the membership support for taking on the risks of breaking away. The union first withdrew from its cross-border collective agreement with Chrysler and struck the corporation on its own for the very first time. It later went on strike against GM in spite of pressures from its American parent, the UAW. Following that, it asked the UAW to take measures that concretely reflected Canadian autonomy. It was only after this was denied that the Canadians took the next, and very reluctant step of setting up their own Canadian union. All the while it brought its members into discussions of the growing tensions and went to the members to ratify the decision to break away. In the case of Local 113 on the other hand, the initiative by the president of the local to leave ATU seemed to very much come out of the blue.
• Finally, while it was easy to identify the Canadian autoworkers as representing progressive unionism against the faltering UAW, in the ATU conflict it is the Americans who apparently have the greater claim to that mantle. Larry Hanley, the president of the ATU, came to office with strong credentials in fighting for democratic unionism and won against the tired incumbents by promising to revive the union. He was one of the handful of U.S. union leaders who openly supported Bernie Sanders and has been moving to complement the workplace power of his members with community support through the organizing of a ‘bus riders’ union’. Hanley has as well dramatically expanded education and leadership training to ATU locals including in Canada. Local 113, according to Hanley, stands out as the one Canadian local that has abstained from these programs.
International Union, Canadian Members

The point is that the attempted breakaway from the ATU by Local 113 has no parallel to breakaways such as that of the CAW (now Unifor). It cannot be assumed – as Canadians generally tend to do – that the tag ‘Canadian” necessarily makes a group more progressive. Nevertheless, Canadian locals cannot be simply treated as any local in the U.S. with the same formal standing. No other country is penetrated by international unions centred elsewhere to anywhere near the extent that occurs in Canada and this fact demands great sensitivity on the part of unions that call themselves ‘internationals’ but which are in fact U.S.-based and controlled.

Unions straddling the Canada-U.S. border have, to varying extents, acknowledged this difference. Most have introduced structures and practices that move toward satisfying the principle of Canadian workers having the power to run their own affairs and determine their own policies, hopefully in solidarity with their American counterparts (The Canadian labour movement itself recognizes Quebec as a distinct region and its governing and operational procedures often apply differently in Quebec.) But even such accommodation can't foreclose the possibility of Canadian workers choosing to follow the general international pattern of establishing their own national unions.

In this regard, certain elements of the ATU's constitution are extremely troubling. As the court case launched against the receivership of the local by Kinnear and financed by Unifor noted, it is outrageously undemocratic to state that if only 10 workers decide to stay in the ATU, it is sufficient for those staying to retain the assets and ignore the votes of the other 99.9% of the membership. It is true that this rule – rooted in the 1930s and the desire to keep locals alive even if raided – doesn't prevent the workers from deciding to leave the local in spite of the assets. And in this particular case it can be expected that the subsequent support from Unifor or another suitor would offset that loss and so make a democratic exit possible. But this clause is anachronistic and should be unilaterally dropped by any union respecting the democratic process.

Similarly, though Canadian delegates elect a Canadian Director of the ATU, that position is alleged (though disputed by the ATU) to have little or no resources or power. Greater weight resides in the election of a Canadian to serve as an international vice-president of the ATU as a whole. But that position is elected by all the delegates to the ATU Convention, not just the Canadians. This conflicts with CLC policy going back to 1974 and is an affront to Canadian democratic autonomy. (Note that when the ATU imposed its trusteeship on the local, it was the international vice-president that was put in charge.)

The Process...

Canadian unions have, via the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) come together to reach a consensus on how to avoid the destructiveness of the conflicts that came with Canadian attempts to break away from U.S.-based parents and which overlapped with questions of raiding. This involved a step by step procedure enshrined in the CLC constitution (Article 4: CLC Constitution, Amended May 2014). This called for abstaining from tampering with another union's members, application by a Canadian union/local to the CLC for a negotiated process to be put in place, a review of the complaints and an opportunity for the international to correct the problem, an independent report if there is no agreement reached, and finally a supervised membership vote if necessary backed by sanctions if that is blocked. In this case, however, this process did not get off the ground as both sides accused the other of undermining the process.

The ATU argued that Unifor President Jerry Dias had been secretly meeting Kinnear (“tampering”) and that Kinnear had no mandate from his executive or members to apply to the CLC for support in a breakaway. Dias countered that Unifor had started no raiding drive and signed no cards, and that Unifor's financial support for Kinnear's court challenge was primarily in support of the right of Local 113's members to democratically determine their own future. In the court decision, the judge noted that the ATU's quick strike to put the local into trusteeship and exile Kinnear served to block free speech within the local. In reaction to the trusteeship, CLC President Hassan Yussuff – it did not ease suspicions that Yussuff came out of Unifor – took the unprecedented step of temporarily suspending the CLC process (under Article 4 of the CLC's constitution). This led to angry accusations, from international and national unions alike, that Yussuff was siding with Dias.

Suspending Article 4 formally allowed Unifor to raid Local 113, but with a trusteeship in place and no signs of serious membership support, a raid was clearly not on. The affiliates’ anger reflected a deeper concern: setting a dangerous precedent. Trusteeships are not uncommon in many Canadian unions; in condemning the ATU trusteeship and linking this to suspending protection against raiding, it seemed that raiding in cases of trusteeship was being endorsed. The strong reaction against this promptly led the CLC to reverse its position and reinstate Article 4.

Though the judge ruled that the rapid-fire trusteeship of the ATU wasn't justified, the story doesn't end here. If the judge's decision is upheld in a challenge, Kinnear remains president. But with a profoundly antagonistic board and steward body, and a membership hardly rushing to his defense, Kinnear has for the time being not been coming into the union office. If the court's decision is reversed, Kinnear will be formally gone but ATU's overall reputation as a progressive, democratic union will be damaged by the continuing charges of heavy-handed intervention.

As for Unifor, it seems to have walked into a minefield it was unprepared for. It will argue that its commitment to defending the right of Canadian workers to make their own decisions has been reinforced by the court's critical and precedent-setting decision for other Canadian workers contemplating a break from their parent. Even if the court order is reversed, the issue of greater or full Canadian autonomy has been highlighted. With the likelihood of Local 113 leaving the ATU seemingly foreclosed, at least for the time being, the ATU should be farsighted enough to consolidate this victory by consulting its Canadian locals on extending greater autonomy to them while deepening the impressive plans it has for strengthening the union and its locals’ activism more generally.

Closure to this sad chapter won't however end without addressing the great silence of the members. The survival of Local 113 is ultimately based – as is the case in all unions – not on the behind-the-scenes-machinations of union executives or even consensus-based constitutional procedures, as important as these might be, but on democratic decisions directly made by the rank-and-file membership. This could occur through a CLC supervised vote (unlikely given the current chaos around the use of the CLC's Article 4), or an ATU-initiated but independently-supervised ratification vote in Local 113 for staying in the union (also unlikely because of ATU concern for the precedent it sets for inviting such votes), or take some other form. But unless some democratic expression of membership sentiments emerges a cloud will continue to hang over all the parties involved.

Deeper Issues Confronting the Canadian Labour Movement

The dispiriting events piling up in the North American and Canadian labour movements are symptoms of the labour movement's disorientation. Underlying the tensions exposed by the conflict in Local 113 are three deeper issues confronting the Canadian labour movement. First, once workers join a union, they cannot be treated as the property of the union. Procedures for democratically leaving to join another union must be accepted and this is true whether it is a national or international union. Trusteeships to prevent this are undemocratic and, of course, the combination of an imposed trusteeship and it originating from a foreign-based parent makes such interventions particularly poisonous. Of course applying this principle universally is not always clear-cut. It would obviously be destructive if members decided to shop around for another home – rather than fight to change their union – because of a particular slight or imperfect end to bargaining. And local trusteeships determined by a central body on behalf of union-wide concerns are in fact sometimes necessary, as when there is corruption that is also linked to blocking internal democracy.

The problems with raiding is not just that it is destructive to class solidarity but that it tends to offer an easy ‘fix’ to tougher problems and serves as a diversion from these challenges.”

Second, this emphasis on the right to leave might suggest that what is negatively labelled ‘raiding’ might be validated as contributing to ‘liberating’ workers from an oppressive union. This will in some cases be true, but this defense of raiding is very often only a glib justification of expanding one union's dues collecting power at the expense of another. The problems with raiding is not just that it is destructive to class solidarity but that it tends to offer an easy ‘fix’ to tougher problems and serves as a diversion from these challenges.

Those familiar challenges include: How can unions correct their generally sorry record in organizing new members? Can unions actually demonstrate real solidarity and introduce joint campaigns to organize new members independent of which of them gets the ultimate dues (or whether none do as new unions are set up)? And is the key to organizing better techniques, or does it start with the kind of radical internal revival and reorientation that leaves unions both more attractive to non-union workers and more likely to mobilize the internal disposition and resources to make creative organizing breakthroughs possible?

Third, in the particular case of international unions, it is often said that globalization strengthens the case for international unions. In fact, however, because the main impact on workers’ lives has shifts from collective bargaining outcomes to the policies of the state – e.g. social service cutbacks, privatization, back-to-work legislation, inequitable tax reform, and free trade – the strategic importance of national class alliances becomes correspondingly more significant than cross border ties established in an earlier period. In this case, demanding the autonomy to genuinely address the development of class power within Canada – up to and including breaking away from the U.S.-based parent – may make perfect sense. And it need not be inconsistent with greater overall internationalism (the CAW became significantly more internationalist after it broke with the UAW).

But this involves more than reducing the serious step of a breakaway to an abstract nationalism. Working class sovereignty can only have legitimate meaning if it starts with the Canadian rank and file as the final arbiters of changes in Canadian structures. It demands building the working class in both Canada and the U.S. through bringing more workers into unions rather than fighting over dues. And it means collectively struggling with how to reinvent our unions and extend their boundaries into all dimensions of working class lives. •

Sam Gindin was an assistant to Bob White when he was CAW president, research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000 and is now an adjunct professor (retired) at York University in Toronto. He is the author of The Canadian Auto Workers: The Birth and Transformation of a Union.

Herman Rosenfeld is a Toronto-based socialist activist, educator, organizer and writer. He is a retired national staffperson with the Canadian Auto Workers (now Unifor), and worked in their Education Department.

Endnotes:

1. We attempted to talk to Bob Kinnear before writing this piece, but for whatever reason he did not get back to us.

Tags: ATU 113Canadian LabourTrusteeshipunion democracy
Categories: Labor News

The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot

Tue, 03/14/2017 - 12:02

The Crisis in the ATU: Labour Shoots Itself in the Foot
http://socialistproject.ca/bullet/1382.php
Sam Gindin and Herman Rosenfeld

A sign of the tragic disarray of the Canadian labour movement is the extent to which its misadventures keep piling up. As the turmoil within the union representing the Ontario government's unionized employees (Ontario Public Service Employees Union – OPSEU) hits the press, the chaos continues in Local 113 of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU). The 10,500 members in that local – over a third of the ATU's Canadian membership – operate and maintain Toronto's transit system, North America's third largest public transit system, behind only New York and Mexico City. As with OPSEU, the acrimonious story is not about a tough strike or a response to an anti-union government. Rather, at a time when the union should be leading the charge to address popular frustrations with the failures in the city's transit system, the local is preoccupied with a messy internal battle.

Members of ATU Local 113 who work for Veolia Tansport on strike, October 2011 to Januay 2012.

Local 113 President Bob Kinnear had attempted to break away from its American-based parent and, in what was quickly apparent, to join Unifor, Canada's largest private sector union. For the time being he has clearly failed. The tale is mired in territorial conflicts over the members involved, legacies of personal nastiness among Canadian union leaders, whispers of conspiracy on the part of Unifor and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), of national flag waving and charges of U.S. imperialism, counter-denunciations of ‘nationalism’ and undermining international solidarity, opposing interpretations of democracy, a remarkable – if challenged – court decision, and miscellaneous elements impenetrable to either inside or outside observers.

Though we can't avoid delving into some of the sordid details of this development, we'll try to limit the noise of the various intrigues involved (for a blow-by-blow see: “ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis”).[1] The two crucial but difficult tasks are to get to the basic principles at stake and – above all – to figure out where the members stand and how their voices might play a more direct role in resolving this sordid clash.

Breaking Away

In trying to get a handle on this, a useful starting point is to compare it to an earlier breakaway from an American-based parent, one that is now generally even if not unanimously seen in positive terms: the formation of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) a little over three decades ago. The following differences are significant:

• The formation of the CAW involved a nation-wide section of an international union (the United Auto Workers – UAW) breaking away. ATU Local 113 is a local in one city.
• The autoworkers’ major bargaining was fully integrated across Canada and the USA. Local 113 bargains autonomously.
• The autoworkers’ split revolved around a clear and historic question: how to respond to concessions and the right of Canadians to make that decision themselves – in the face of actions taken by the international UAW to deny that right. No clear, agreed upon, issue has been articulated by Local 113.
• The Canadian autoworkers had established an overwhelming unity before it moved to break from their parent. Not only are the rest of the ATU locals (almost 2/3 of the Canadian members) apparently supportive of their international ties but even within Local 113, a clear majority of the executive board and an even larger proportion of the stewards have taken a stand against Kinnear and the split, with little or no indication (other than the usual rumblings in any union) of a rank and file rebellion against the parent.
• The Canadian autoworkers patiently developed the membership support for taking on the risks of breaking away. The union first withdrew from its cross-border collective agreement with Chrysler and struck the corporation on its own for the very first time. It later went on strike against GM in spite of pressures from its American parent, the UAW. Following that, it asked the UAW to take measures that concretely reflected Canadian autonomy. It was only after this was denied that the Canadians took the next, and very reluctant step of setting up their own Canadian union. All the while it brought its members into discussions of the growing tensions and went to the members to ratify the decision to break away. In the case of Local 113 on the other hand, the initiative by the president of the local to leave ATU seemed to very much come out of the blue.
• Finally, while it was easy to identify the Canadian autoworkers as representing progressive unionism against the faltering UAW, in the ATU conflict it is the Americans who apparently have the greater claim to that mantle. Larry Hanley, the president of the ATU, came to office with strong credentials in fighting for democratic unionism and won against the tired incumbents by promising to revive the union. He was one of the handful of U.S. union leaders who openly supported Bernie Sanders and has been moving to complement the workplace power of his members with community support through the organizing of a ‘bus riders’ union’. Hanley has as well dramatically expanded education and leadership training to ATU locals including in Canada. Local 113, according to Hanley, stands out as the one Canadian local that has abstained from these programs.
International Union, Canadian Members

The point is that the attempted breakaway from the ATU by Local 113 has no parallel to breakaways such as that of the CAW (now Unifor). It cannot be assumed – as Canadians generally tend to do – that the tag ‘Canadian” necessarily makes a group more progressive. Nevertheless, Canadian locals cannot be simply treated as any local in the U.S. with the same formal standing. No other country is penetrated by international unions centred elsewhere to anywhere near the extent that occurs in Canada and this fact demands great sensitivity on the part of unions that call themselves ‘internationals’ but which are in fact U.S.-based and controlled.

Unions straddling the Canada-U.S. border have, to varying extents, acknowledged this difference. Most have introduced structures and practices that move toward satisfying the principle of Canadian workers having the power to run their own affairs and determine their own policies, hopefully in solidarity with their American counterparts (The Canadian labour movement itself recognizes Quebec as a distinct region and its governing and operational procedures often apply differently in Quebec.) But even such accommodation can't foreclose the possibility of Canadian workers choosing to follow the general international pattern of establishing their own national unions.

In this regard, certain elements of the ATU's constitution are extremely troubling. As the court case launched against the receivership of the local by Kinnear and financed by Unifor noted, it is outrageously undemocratic to state that if only 10 workers decide to stay in the ATU, it is sufficient for those staying to retain the assets and ignore the votes of the other 99.9% of the membership. It is true that this rule – rooted in the 1930s and the desire to keep locals alive even if raided – doesn't prevent the workers from deciding to leave the local in spite of the assets. And in this particular case it can be expected that the subsequent support from Unifor or another suitor would offset that loss and so make a democratic exit possible. But this clause is anachronistic and should be unilaterally dropped by any union respecting the democratic process.

Similarly, though Canadian delegates elect a Canadian Director of the ATU, that position is alleged (though disputed by the ATU) to have little or no resources or power. Greater weight resides in the election of a Canadian to serve as an international vice-president of the ATU as a whole. But that position is elected by all the delegates to the ATU Convention, not just the Canadians. This conflicts with CLC policy going back to 1974 and is an affront to Canadian democratic autonomy. (Note that when the ATU imposed its trusteeship on the local, it was the international vice-president that was put in charge.)

The Process...

Canadian unions have, via the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) come together to reach a consensus on how to avoid the destructiveness of the conflicts that came with Canadian attempts to break away from U.S.-based parents and which overlapped with questions of raiding. This involved a step by step procedure enshrined in the CLC constitution (Article 4: CLC Constitution, Amended May 2014). This called for abstaining from tampering with another union's members, application by a Canadian union/local to the CLC for a negotiated process to be put in place, a review of the complaints and an opportunity for the international to correct the problem, an independent report if there is no agreement reached, and finally a supervised membership vote if necessary backed by sanctions if that is blocked. In this case, however, this process did not get off the ground as both sides accused the other of undermining the process.

The ATU argued that Unifor President Jerry Dias had been secretly meeting Kinnear (“tampering”) and that Kinnear had no mandate from his executive or members to apply to the CLC for support in a breakaway. Dias countered that Unifor had started no raiding drive and signed no cards, and that Unifor's financial support for Kinnear's court challenge was primarily in support of the right of Local 113's members to democratically determine their own future. In the court decision, the judge noted that the ATU's quick strike to put the local into trusteeship and exile Kinnear served to block free speech within the local. In reaction to the trusteeship, CLC President Hassan Yussuff – it did not ease suspicions that Yussuff came out of Unifor – took the unprecedented step of temporarily suspending the CLC process (under Article 4 of the CLC's constitution). This led to angry accusations, from international and national unions alike, that Yussuff was siding with Dias.

Suspending Article 4 formally allowed Unifor to raid Local 113, but with a trusteeship in place and no signs of serious membership support, a raid was clearly not on. The affiliates’ anger reflected a deeper concern: setting a dangerous precedent. Trusteeships are not uncommon in many Canadian unions; in condemning the ATU trusteeship and linking this to suspending protection against raiding, it seemed that raiding in cases of trusteeship was being endorsed. The strong reaction against this promptly led the CLC to reverse its position and reinstate Article 4.

Though the judge ruled that the rapid-fire trusteeship of the ATU wasn't justified, the story doesn't end here. If the judge's decision is upheld in a challenge, Kinnear remains president. But with a profoundly antagonistic board and steward body, and a membership hardly rushing to his defense, Kinnear has for the time being not been coming into the union office. If the court's decision is reversed, Kinnear will be formally gone but ATU's overall reputation as a progressive, democratic union will be damaged by the continuing charges of heavy-handed intervention.

As for Unifor, it seems to have walked into a minefield it was unprepared for. It will argue that its commitment to defending the right of Canadian workers to make their own decisions has been reinforced by the court's critical and precedent-setting decision for other Canadian workers contemplating a break from their parent. Even if the court order is reversed, the issue of greater or full Canadian autonomy has been highlighted. With the likelihood of Local 113 leaving the ATU seemingly foreclosed, at least for the time being, the ATU should be farsighted enough to consolidate this victory by consulting its Canadian locals on extending greater autonomy to them while deepening the impressive plans it has for strengthening the union and its locals’ activism more generally.

Closure to this sad chapter won't however end without addressing the great silence of the members. The survival of Local 113 is ultimately based – as is the case in all unions – not on the behind-the-scenes-machinations of union executives or even consensus-based constitutional procedures, as important as these might be, but on democratic decisions directly made by the rank-and-file membership. This could occur through a CLC supervised vote (unlikely given the current chaos around the use of the CLC's Article 4), or an ATU-initiated but independently-supervised ratification vote in Local 113 for staying in the union (also unlikely because of ATU concern for the precedent it sets for inviting such votes), or take some other form. But unless some democratic expression of membership sentiments emerges a cloud will continue to hang over all the parties involved.

Deeper Issues Confronting the Canadian Labour Movement

The dispiriting events piling up in the North American and Canadian labour movements are symptoms of the labour movement's disorientation. Underlying the tensions exposed by the conflict in Local 113 are three deeper issues confronting the Canadian labour movement. First, once workers join a union, they cannot be treated as the property of the union. Procedures for democratically leaving to join another union must be accepted and this is true whether it is a national or international union. Trusteeships to prevent this are undemocratic and, of course, the combination of an imposed trusteeship and it originating from a foreign-based parent makes such interventions particularly poisonous. Of course applying this principle universally is not always clear-cut. It would obviously be destructive if members decided to shop around for another home – rather than fight to change their union – because of a particular slight or imperfect end to bargaining. And local trusteeships determined by a central body on behalf of union-wide concerns are in fact sometimes necessary, as when there is corruption that is also linked to blocking internal democracy.

The problems with raiding is not just that it is destructive to class solidarity but that it tends to offer an easy ‘fix’ to tougher problems and serves as a diversion from these challenges.”

Second, this emphasis on the right to leave might suggest that what is negatively labelled ‘raiding’ might be validated as contributing to ‘liberating’ workers from an oppressive union. This will in some cases be true, but this defense of raiding is very often only a glib justification of expanding one union's dues collecting power at the expense of another. The problems with raiding is not just that it is destructive to class solidarity but that it tends to offer an easy ‘fix’ to tougher problems and serves as a diversion from these challenges.

Those familiar challenges include: How can unions correct their generally sorry record in organizing new members? Can unions actually demonstrate real solidarity and introduce joint campaigns to organize new members independent of which of them gets the ultimate dues (or whether none do as new unions are set up)? And is the key to organizing better techniques, or does it start with the kind of radical internal revival and reorientation that leaves unions both more attractive to non-union workers and more likely to mobilize the internal disposition and resources to make creative organizing breakthroughs possible?

Third, in the particular case of international unions, it is often said that globalization strengthens the case for international unions. In fact, however, because the main impact on workers’ lives has shifts from collective bargaining outcomes to the policies of the state – e.g. social service cutbacks, privatization, back-to-work legislation, inequitable tax reform, and free trade – the strategic importance of national class alliances becomes correspondingly more significant than cross border ties established in an earlier period. In this case, demanding the autonomy to genuinely address the development of class power within Canada – up to and including breaking away from the U.S.-based parent – may make perfect sense. And it need not be inconsistent with greater overall internationalism (the CAW became significantly more internationalist after it broke with the UAW).

But this involves more than reducing the serious step of a breakaway to an abstract nationalism. Working class sovereignty can only have legitimate meaning if it starts with the Canadian rank and file as the final arbiters of changes in Canadian structures. It demands building the working class in both Canada and the U.S. through bringing more workers into unions rather than fighting over dues. And it means collectively struggling with how to reinvent our unions and extend their boundaries into all dimensions of working class lives. •

Sam Gindin was an assistant to Bob White when he was CAW president, research director of the Canadian Auto Workers from 1974–2000 and is now an adjunct professor (retired) at York University in Toronto. He is the author of The Canadian Auto Workers: The Birth and Transformation of a Union.

Herman Rosenfeld is a Toronto-based socialist activist, educator, organizer and writer. He is a retired national staffperson with the Canadian Auto Workers (now Unifor), and worked in their Education Department.

Endnotes:

1. We attempted to talk to Bob Kinnear before writing this piece, but for whatever reason he did not get back to us.

Tags: ATU 113Canadian LabourTrusteeshipunion democracy
Categories: Labor News

Over Six Thousand Spanish Dockworkers’ Jobs Face the Axe Over six thousand Spanish dockworkers could be made redundant if the Spanish government abides by the demands of the European Commission to scrap the country’s current port labor system.

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 10:51

Over Six Thousand Spanish Dockworkers’ Jobs Face the Axe
Over six thousand Spanish dockworkers could be made redundant if the Spanish government abides by the demands of the European Commission to scrap the country’s current port labor system.
http://www.leftvoice.org/Over-Six-Thousand-Spanish-Dockworkers-Jobs-Face...
Sean Robertson
March 09, 2017

Spain’s entire workforce of dockworkers — over 6,000 workers — could be laid off in the next four years if a Royal Decree Law announced on February 17 is adopted by the Spanish parliament. This Decree Law is due to be put to a vote on March 9, when the minority government of conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy places it before the Spanish Congress of Deputies.

The jobs and livelihoods of the Spanish dockworkers came under serious threat on December 11, 2014, the day that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the current Spanish port labor system was at odds with the European Union (EU) Treaty. In particular, the Court ruled the current system violated Article 49 of the EU Treaty which deals with the principle of freedom of establishment.

Under the current Spanish port labor system, all dockworkers must be members of a stevedoring society, known as a Sociedad Anónima de Gestión de Estibadores Portuarios(SAGEP - Port Stevedores Management Company). These stevedoring societies are responsible for the recruitment, training and allocation of all dockworker labor to stevedoring companies. All terminal operators and other cargo handling companies are required to source their labor through the SAGEP system as well as financially contribute to it.

The system works in a similar fashion to the hiring halls of longshore workers in the United States. All work allocated through the SAGEP system occurs on a rotational basis, thus ensuring that dockworkers work in an environment that is relatively free from discrimination and favoritism. Employers argue that this system is effectively a “closed shop” which allows for the continuation of “inefficient and expensive work practices.”

It was this SAGEP system that was targeted by the December 11, 2014 European Court of Justice ruling. The Court ruled that the Spanish port labor system forces businesses from EU member states outside of Spain to register and take part in these stevedoring societies, which it deems to be in breach of the Article 49 of the EU Treaty.

Along with its ruling, the ECJ gave the Spanish government a February 2015 deadline to inform the EU of how it was going to comply with the European Court ruling, a deadline which the Spanish government failed to meet.

During the first half of 2015, the union that covers the vast majority of Spanish dockers, the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (CETM - State-wide Coordinating Committee of Maritime Workers, better known as La Coordinadora), met with stevedoring employers and the Ministry of Public Works to try and draw up a consensus document that would facilitate the adaptation of new legislation. However, this negotiation process was paralyzed by Spain’s ongoing political instability. The country has had two indecisive general elections in December 2015 and June 2016 and a continuing deadlock that was only broken in October 2016 with the coming to power of the current minority conservative government.

For failing to meet this deadline, the European Court handed down a fine to the Spanish government of 15.6 million Euro ($16.4 million) in July 2016 along with additional daily fines of 134,000 Euro ($141,000) for each day that this ruling was not abided by.

The conservative Partido Popular (PP - People’s Party) government has now moved to abide by the European Court’s ruling with its recent Royal Decree Law. This now infamous decree law which seeks to amend the Ports Act of 2010, was put forward by the Minister of Public Works Iñigo de la Serna and signed by the Spanish Council of Ministers on February 24. De la Serna claims that his decree will make use of the maximum amount of flexibility allowed under EU law to protect jobs and workers’ rights. But this claim could not be further from the truth.

De la Serna’s decree law would see the scrapping of the SAGEP system within four years. If adopted, this legislation would oblige stevedoring companies to only contract 75 percent of their labor needs from the SAGEP system in the first year, 50 percent in the second, 25 percent in the third and none by the beginning of the fourth year. The Spanish government would then have to subsidize the redundancies of the over six thousand dockworkers made redundant as a result.

Removing this system would leave stevedoring companies free to hire untrained, increasingly casualized and non-union labor in an industry with a union density of over 95 percent. If this was to occur, injury and fatality rates in an already dangerous industry would skyrocket, secure full-time jobs would be replaced with casual labor, and dockworkers’ wages could fall by as much as 60 percent. One consultancy report suggests that the average annual salary of 67,800 Euro ($72,000) — a figure disputed by dockers’ unions — would collapse to 26,934 Euro ($29,500).

Spanish dockers’ unions have pointed out that the current Royal Decree Law is in contravention of International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 137, which ensures the permanent and regular employment of dockworkers, the maintaining of registers for all categories of dockworkers, and states that registered dockworkers should have priority for all dock work.

Spanish ports – a strategic economic sector

Spanish ports are a strategic sector of the Spanish economy. Along with tourism, the fragile Spanish economy is heavily dependent on the export sector which has continued to grow while the country’s industrial sector continues to fall behind. As a consequence, the Spanish economy is heavily dependent on its ports, with over half of all Spain’s exports and nearly 80 percent its imports moving through Spanish ports. The strategic location of Spanish ports also makes them a good location for the transshipment of goods from one country to another. A quarter of all goods that pass through Spanish ports are in transit, and the port of Algeciras on the southern tip of Spain is one of the top ten transshipment ports in the world.

Along with the Spanish economy’s heavy dependence on exports and the port sector, another factor that is spurring sections of Spanish capital to take on the dockworkers is the country’s recent improvement in export competitiveness compared to that of other EU member states. An employer think tank suggests that the economic crisis that began in 2008 has seen wages being held down while productivity has increased. It is this process of wage devaluation that has put Spanish manufacturers and exporters in a better position vis-à-vis their European competitors.

It is this advantage that Spanish employers want to hold on to, and they see the current port labor system as an obstacle to maintaining it. In an article in Port Strategy, Mike Mundy refers to the annual “financial hit” of 220 million Euro that Spanish port employers have to endure because dockworkers’ wages are “up to 50% higher” than those that “would apply in a free market”. Of course, when these people refer to the “free market”, they point to the low wages of North African workers, such as those in the growing port of Tangier, and expect Spanish workers to compete with them.

Spearheading the current push to liberalize the Spanish port sector is the Plataforma de Inversores en Puertos Españoles (PIPE - Platform of Investors in Spanish Ports), a lobby group formed in 2013 of major companies working in the ports such as Noatum (owned by investment funds such as JP Morgan), OHL Concesiones, Algeposa and Boluda. PIPE claims that slashing dockers’ wages by 60 percent would inject 2.4 billion Euro into the Spanish economy. Another business lobby group, the Asociación Nacional de Empresas Estibadoras y Consignatarias de Buques (Anesco - National Association of Stevedoring Companies and Ship Consignees) has been working closely with the Minister of Public Works Iñigo de la Serna and the Partido Popular government.

Given the desire of stevedoring and shipping companies to force Spanish dockworkers to receive the “free market” wages of poorly paid North African dockers, it is no surprise that these companies, along with their big business press and conservative political party friends have unleashed a campaign to turn public opinion against the dockworkers. In fact the campaign from these quarters is so formulaic that El Diario journalist Isaac Rosa called it out weeks before the Decree Law was even tabled.

Rosa’s article “Get ready to hate the dockworkers” highlights the way that any group of workers who refuse to succumb to ‘labor reforms’, liberalization and casualization are quickly tagged as “privileged.” In Spain’s recent past there were the public service “parasites”, the “subsidized” miners, the teachers who are “always on vacation” and the “most hated” air traffic controllers (who had their strike of 2010 broken by military intervention). Spanish dockworkers, along with being “privileged”, have also been dubbed a “mafia” and an “aristocracy” that “earns a lot” and “works little” in their “hereditary” jobs. These barbs are thrown by the same conservative forces that uphold the hereditary offices of the Spanish Royal Family and turn a blind eye to the corrupt political and business acquaintances of wealthy entrepreneurs who receive massive salaries and envelopes under the table.

Despite this campaign, there has been a massive show of popular support for the besieged dockworkers. Social movements and left-wing organizations have expressed their solidarity with the country’s dockers, and social media has seen an explosion of support with trending hashtags such as #SOSestiba (SOS stevedores) and #NiUnPasoAtras (Not One Step Back).

Such support is of course very encouraging. But with the European Union, local and international stevedoring and shipping companies, political parties such as PM Rajoy’s Partido Popular and the big business press all lined up against them, Spanish dockworkers’ and their unions are in for the fight of their lives.

Just over six thousand dockworkers have the power to paralyze all of Spain’s 46 ports, and with it, the flow of exports and imports that is so vital to the Spanish economy. It is this power that they are going to have to use if they are to have any chance to beating the array of opponents lined up against them.

This article includes information from articles which first appeared at izquierdadiario.es here and here

Tags: Spanish DockersEuropean Unionderegulation
Categories: Labor News

ITF Pres MUA Nat Sec. Pres Paddy Crumlin at Melbourne rally against Turnbull Government

Sat, 03/11/2017 - 10:41

ITF Pres MUA Nat Sec. Pres Paddy Crumlin at Melbourne rally against Turnbull Government
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEtitfZGx94
Maritime Union of Australia
Published on Mar 8, 2017
MUA National Secretary and ITF President Paddy Crumlin addresses the anti-ABCC rally in Melbourne

Tags: MUAPaddy CrumlinWar On Workers
Categories: Labor News

Union-backed Lyft drivers object to $27-million settlement “Lyft makes its profits by undercutting workers and taxpayers,” Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise said in a statement. “This is an unfair settlement and drivers have earned more and deserve be

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 10:06

Union-backed Lyft drivers object to $27-million settlement “Lyft makes its profits by undercutting workers and taxpayers,” Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise said in a statement. “This is an unfair settlement and drivers have earned more and deserve better.”
http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-lyft-settlement-2016...
Lyft At Its San Francisco Headquarters Showcasing Lyft Cars, The Glowstache, The Lyft App, Lyft Passengers And Drivers
A Lyft ride in San Francisco. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images for Lyft)
Paresh Dave Paresh DaveContact Reporter
A handful of California Lyft drivers and a Teamsters-backed drivers’ alliance are seeking to squash a proposed $27-million settlement in a lawsuit against the ride-hailing app company.

The objectors have written to U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in recent days, saying the payout and contractual concessions to drivers are insufficient. They also expressed concern that the deal doesn’t address the most important issue: whether drivers for ride-hailing companies such as Lyft and Uber should remain independent contractors or be treated as employees, eligible for healthcare benefits and paid time off, among other provisions.

The union-backed objectors acknowledged that trying to resolve that question once and for all carries significant risks -- namely losing in trial. But they told the court that “the stakes for the state, the economy and the drivers themselves are much higher.”

That classification of app-centric workers has led to several legal battles across the country, including the 2013 class-action case against Lyft in Chhabria’s San Francisco courtroom. An estimated 100,000 drivers could be eligible for a portion of the $27 million based on how much they drove. About 40,000 drivers already have filed claims, according to Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the class.
She said Tuesday that worker classification remains highly contested and the settlement represents the best achievable outcome at this time.

“We’re doing what we can do to advance the workers’ rights,” she said. “Nothing about this settlement is a statement that the drivers are properly classified.”

But it does preserve Lyft drivers as independent contractors, potentially limiting their ability file future class-action lawsuits and collectively bargain with the company.

Labor-union groups including the Uber Lyft Teamsters Rideshare Alliance, Teamsters Joint Council 7 and Teamsters Joint Council 42 say that’s not OK.

“Lyft makes its profits by undercutting workers and taxpayers,” Joint Council 7 President Rome Aloise said in a statement. “This is an unfair settlement and drivers have earned more and deserve better.”

Lyft doesn’t generate profits, but it could soon, company president John Zimmer recently said.

The settlement was already upped from about $12 million earlier this year after Lyft submitted updated data about its business. The Teamsters group voiced objections about the agreement at that point too, but Chhabria said such issues were better addressed through legislation than court rulings.

It’s unclear how much sway the latest letters will have with Chhabria, who gave preliminary approval to the $27-million figure in June. A hearing for final approval is expected Dec. 1.

Lyft expressed confidence that the settlement would stand.

It “preserves the flexibility of drivers to choose when, where and for how long they drive, and enables consumers to continue benefiting from Lyft's convenient, affordable rides,” the company said.

A similar case against Uber is now in jeopardy. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen rejected a $100-million settlement in the Uber drivers’ case in August. A month later, an appeals court in an unrelated case ruled Uber drivers must take their grievances to arbitration as opposed to the courts.

“We’re now picking up the pieces,” said Liss-Riordan, who’s also representing the Uber drivers.

Tags: Lyftindependent contractorsteamsters
Categories: Labor News

The troubled, covert agency responsible for moving the nation's most lethal cargo

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 09:00

The troubled, covert agency responsible for moving the nation's most lethal cargo
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-nuclear-couriers-20170310-story.html
Office of Secure Transportation big rigs haul nuclear weapons and highly enriched uranium on the nation's highways each day. (Office of Secure Transportation)
Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. HenniganContact Reporters
The unmarked 18-wheelers ply the nation’s interstates and two-lane highways, logging 3 million miles a year hauling the most lethal cargo there is: nuclear bombs.

The covert fleet, which shuttles warheads from missile silos, bomber bases and submarine docks to nuclear weapons labs across the country, is operated by the Office of Secure Transportation, a troubled agency within the U.S. Department of Energy so cloaked in secrecy that few people outside the government know it exists.

The $237-million-a-year agency operates a fleet of 42 tractor-trailers, staffed by highly armed couriers, many of them veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, responsible for making sure nuclear weapons and components pass through foggy mountain passes and urban traffic jams without incident.

The transportation office is about to become more crucial than ever as the U.S. embarks on a $1-trillion upgrade of the nuclear arsenal that will require thousands of additional warhead shipments over the next 15 years.

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The increased workload will hit an agency already struggling with problems of forced overtime, high driver turnover, old trucks and poor worker morale — raising questions about its ability to keep nuclear shipments safe from attack in an era of more sophisticated terrorism.

“We are going to be having an increase in the movements of weapons in coming years and we should be worried,” said Robert Alvarez, a former deputy assistant Energy secretary who now focuses on nuclear and energy issues for the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. “We always have to assume the worst-case scenario when we are hauling nuclear weapons around the country.”

That worst case would be a terrorist group hijacking a truck and obtaining a multi-kiloton hydrogen bomb.

“The terror threat is significant,” said one high-level Energy Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the program publicly. “If you are in one of the communities along the route, you have something to worry about.”

The Times reviewed government documents dating back two decades and interviewed dozens of government officials, former military officers and arms control advocates to examine the agency. The picture that emerges is an organization hampered by an insular management, a crisis of morale among the rank-and-file and outdated equipment.

Among the findings of the Times investigation:

• The agency is 48 agents short of its planned staffing of 370, a result of budget cuts. Weapons and tactics classes were canceled in 2011 and 2012 for lack of money.
• More than a third of the workforce has been putting in more than 900 hours a year of overtime, which former couriers and Energy Department officials say has contributed to a breakdown in morale and rapid turnover.
• In 2010, an inquiry by the Energy Department’s inspector general inquiry found widespread alcohol problems. It cited 16 alcohol-related incidents over a three-year period, including an agent on a 2007 mission who was arrested for public intoxication and two agents on a 2009 mission who were handcuffed and detained by police after a fight at a bar.
• In 2014, the commander of the agency’s operation at the Y12 National Security Complex in Tennessee threatened to kill an employee in an altercation, but no disciplinary action was taken.
• The agency’s top executive in 2009 was charged with drunk driving after police found him parked on a sidewalk with an open bottle of beer and a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15%, nearly twice the legal limit, according to New Mexico court records.
• The agency’s truck fleet is antiquated by commercial standards and well past its operational life even under the department’s own guidelines. About half the tractors are more than 15 years old. The high-security trailers used by the agency are even older, designed before the current era of terrorist threats.
How the agency wound up in this state is a story of neglect that begins at the end of the Cold War.

After the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991 and chances of a nuclear attack faded, the U.S. dramatically reduced its nuclear stockpile and gave it less attention as military priorities shifted.

The transportation office budget stagnated, and was hit by big cuts in some years, leading to staffing shortages and delays in updating equipment. Drivers had to start working long hours of overtime, which led to morale problems and management breakdowns.

Despite these problems, the agency asserts that it has maintained a high level of security and has never lost a weapon, though it has been involved in several accidents.

The agency denied repeated requests for interviews with top managers. It issued a statement touting its safety record: “For more than 40 years — even after driving the equivalent distance of a trip to Mars and back — no cargo has ever been damaged in transit,” it said.

Yet even one of its most stringent security measures was breached, the inspector general found in 2014, when an “unauthorized” employee had access to a nuclear weapon on a convoy mission.

According to two knowledgeable sources, the person in question had lost his human reliability rating, which is based on screening for drugs, alcohol abuse or mental health problems, among other things. Under the agency’s rules, the unidentified employee should not have been allowed on the mission. The employee was discovered at a military base and removed from the assignment.

Overseers in Congress say the transportation office is less prepared for an attack than it used to be.

"It clearly needs a reinvestment,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, the Texas Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview. “Like other parts of the nuclear enterprise, the agency has been allowed to atrophy as the country has focused on other things.”

‘Transportation is the Achilles heel of nuclear security’

The United States has 4,018 nuclear warheads.

About 450 are in underground silos in Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota. An additional 1,000 or so are on submarines, which dock at bases in Washington and Georgia. Hundreds more bombs are assigned to the U.S. strategic bomber fleet, which is based in Louisiana, North Dakota and Missouri. And a reserve stockpile sits in bunkers near the transportation office headquarters at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Each weapon — a complex physics machine that contains as many as 6,000 parts, including tanks of gas, wheels and gears, batteries, wiring, plastic-type explosives and radioactive materials — requires routine inspection, testing and maintenance.

The workers who perform those services don’t travel to the weapons. The weapons go to them.

They are picked up by the transportation office and driven to the government’s sole plant for working on live nuclear warheads, the Pantex Plant outside Amarillo in the Texas panhandle.

From there, various pieces are parceled out to government plants and laboratories across the country. Uranium assemblies travel to Tennessee, plutonium parts to New Mexico, radioactive gas canisters to South Carolina, non-nuclear classified parts to California and firing mechanisms to Kansas.

Those parts are then returned to Texas so the warheads can be reassembled and trucked back to their silos or military bases.

The system dates back to the 1950s and the rapid buildup of nuclear arms that accompanied the Cold War. Weapons were spread across the nation to ensure that a significant number could not be destroyed in a focused missile strike.

The same went for the facilities that service those weapons. But exactly where they wound up — and where they are today — largely came down to politics, as members of Congress schemed to bring high-paying jobs to their districts.

The result is an unwieldy system that requires some of the most dangerous and vulnerable components of the nation’s defense system to be routinely shipped on long-distance journeys from one end of the country to the other — and the shipments, with the coming modernization effort, are only expected to multiply.

“This has a classic footprint of an antiquated and inefficient supply chain management system that was created at a time of national emergency," said Nick Vyas, an industrial logistics expert at USC.

“If this were a private operation, it would be out of business in less than 90 days,” he said. “No person in their right mind would subscribe to a service like this.”

More serious than the inefficiencies in moving so many parts is the vulnerability inherent in placing nuclear bombs on the highways, several experts said.

“Transportation is the Achilles heel of nuclear security and everyone knows that,” said Bruce Blair, a retired Air Force missile officer, Princeton University researcher and founder of Global Zero, a nonprofit group that seeks elimination of nuclear weapons.

The danger is not a traffic accident — even a fiery crash is not supposed to explode a warhead — but a heist.

“In an age of terrorism, you’re taking a big risk any time you decide to move nuclear material into the public space over long distances via ground transport,” Blair said. “Bad things happen.”

The high-security trailers that carry the weapons present potential intruders with formidable obstacles, including shock-delivering systems, thick walls that ooze immobilizing foam, and axles designed to explode to prevent a trailer from being towed away, according to independent nuclear weapons experts.

“The trucks will kill you,” a scientist involved in the matter said.

The Energy Department recruits ex-soldiers and special operations commandos for its courier jobs, usually veterans of U.S. wars. Incoming agents train for 21 months at Ft. Chafee in Arkansas, focusing on how to counter a roadside attack by terrorists set on stealing a weapon. The couriers must pass yearly psychological and medical assessments.

Security officers protect big rigs hauling nuclear weapons. (Office of Secure Transportation)
They spend months each year working out in private gyms, rehearsing tactics and training with high-powered weapons to counter an attack.

The work itself is mundane and tiring, involving long hours on the road under a constant state of high alert. Workers often put in 75 hours a week, according to numerous reviews of the agency.

Matt Hill joined the transportation office after 13 years in the Marine Corps and three deployments to Iraq. He was looking for civilian employment that would tap into his military experience.

But the job was not what Hill expected. Life on the road meant long weeks away from his family. The pay, about $73,000 a year with overtime, was less than he made in the Marines.

Couriers have been quitting, many of them the experienced veterans so crucial to maintaining safety, Hill said. Finally in February 2016, after just three years on the job, Hill quit too.

"The senior agents are all leaving," he said. “People at the top won’t listen.”

‘Ominous symptoms’ of structural problems

The agency has been the target of worker complaints for years.

In the 1990s, a nuclear courier named Jim Bailey alleged that that on-the-job radiation exposure had damaged his DNA and led to birth defects in his daughter.

A panel of experts found that was unlikely. But in a 67-page report issued in 1998, it laid out a number of other deep problems within the agency, finding that “low morale, distrust and poor communications” among agents are “the ominous symptoms of progressively worsening structural problems” in working conditions.

Two-thirds of couriers had symptoms of sleep disorders, including irritability, and the cramped trucks led to knee and back ailments, the report found.

Bailey was fired but sued and won a small amount of back pay and the right to return to his job. He never did.

After the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the government turned its attention to the nation’s most critical vulnerabilities and concluded that more needed to be done to prevent terrorists from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

In a 2005 letter to Congress, then-Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman called the transportation office a “top priority” and asked Congress for money for more agents, special weapons, tougher armored vehicles and improved tactics.

The goal was to increase staffing from about 290 to 420 couriers by 2008. But the agency never never reached that level, as lawmakers rejected most of the funding request. Today it aims to employ 370 agents but has 332.

The long hours couriers must work — identified as a chronic problem by the inspector general — contribute to poor morale and a tense work environment.

Those tensions can boil over, as when the supervisor in Tennessee threatened to kill an employee. The same supervisor had been involved in seven verbal and physical incidents that weren’t reported, including “uncontrolled anger, hostility and aggression toward fellow workers and authority figures, according to a 2014 report by the inspector general.

The failure to discipline the employee posed a grave danger, the report found, concluding that it raised the risk that “unsuitable individuals could be allowed to protect nuclear weapons, weapon components and special nuclear material, raising possible national security concerns."

As for the alcohol issues cited by the inspector general, the agency has banned beer kegs at parties at the Ft. Chafee dormitory for trainees and mandated random alcohol testing and suspension of agents with a blood alcohol concentration above 0.02%.

And after years of lean budgets — and sometimes outright cuts — the agency requested a 19% increase in fiscal 2017, to $283 million. But Congress didn’t approve it, and the agency’s funding for this year is less than what it received in 2012.

The agency has been able to purchase five new rigs a year. More potent self-defense systems for the trucks are on the way in a trailer dubbed the Mobile Guardian, which the Energy Department is spending $670 million to develop. But the new trailers are not expected to hit the road until 2023 — long after the weapons modernization program is underway.

Meanwhile, the older rigs are well maintained and log fewer miles than comparable commercial trucks, and agency officials are confident they will be able to do the job, said Al Stotts, a spokesman for the nuclear administration.

“They don’t send them out with problems,” he said.

Tags: nuclear safetyTruckinghealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Lyft Drivers Fed Up And Angry Against Settlement Deal In SF

Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:59

Lyft Drivers Fed Up And Angry Against Settlement Deal In SF
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7HKxkTPpVk
Lyft and UBER drivers protested a legal settlement in a case of fraud against Lyft in San Francisco on March 9, 2017. The drivers said the settlement would not benefit many driver properly and that many were on starvation wages. Also Edward Escobar of The Alliance For Independent Workers reported that the danger of privatization of BART and other public transit was a direct result of platforms like UBER and Lyft that are encouraging people to take private transportation and creating environmental problems and that the lack of regulation is also leading to serious accidents and threatening the health and safety of the drivers, the passengers and public. The deal which would benefit the lawyer primarily would also allow Lyft to continue to classify the workers as independent contractors which means that that they have no problem continuing to exploit them with no control of their work as they are "gig workers". A large part of the settlement will go to the lawyer instead of the drivers in the settlement deal which was approved by the judge.
Additional media:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDeLO1Yr-pk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGnqVzaZxoE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCrwoiYejWg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPhA9DFYCYU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UikoqJS9cKY
For more information on Alliance for Independent Workers
theallianceorg@outlook.com

Tags: Lyfttemporary workersindependent contractors
Categories: Labor News

Lyft Drivers To Protest Lyft's $27 Million Court Settlement

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 16:18

REJECT LYFT SETTLEMENT
SELLING OUT DRIVERS RIGHTS
▪ MOST LYFT DRIVERS WILL ONLY RECEIVE ABOUT $40!
▪ FIRE ATTORNEY SHANNON LISS-RIORDAN: LYFT settlement betrays Drivers Rights by promoting TNC Misclassification as Independent Contractors - LYFT avoids paying employment taxes, workers compensation, unemployment & fair wages
LYFT’s other problems... Profits before People
*LYFT CUT DRIVERS EARNINGS AGAIN IN JANUARY - DRIVERS WORK MORE AND MAKE LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE
*LYFT PROFITED DURING JFK STRIKE FAR MORE THAN UBER... LYFT EVEN SURGED PRICES! Undermining New York Taxi Workers Alliance Strike 1/28 - LYFT UNETHICAL - Strategically exploited liberal dissatisfaction with its main competitor, UBER.
*LYFT INVESTORS: PETER THIEL & CARL ICAHN – HUGE TRUMP SUPPORTERS
Join Workers Rights Protest March 9th, Thursday 9a 450 Golden Gate Ave. SF
Organizer: The Alliance for Independent Workers Contact: Edward Escobar 415.992.0061
TheALLIANCEorg@Outlook.com
*Supported by SEIU National & Fight For 15

Lyft Drivers Protest of $27 Million Settlement

On Thursday morning, many San Francisco Bay Area Lyft drivers will be asking the US DISTRICT COURT Judge Chhabria to reject the final settlement in the class-action matter of Cotter Vs Lyft. Despite the perceived high dollar amount of $27 million dollars, if the final settlement is approved, the vast majority of Lyft Drivers will only receive approximately $40, with some higher amounts going to few drivers with longest history of driving with Lyft...however, the greatest amount of the settlement proceeds would go to class attorneys, who generally receive 33-40%.

The majority of the drivers outrage, is directed to the potentially damaging impact on employment status determination for future cases brought by Workers, who are misclassified as Independent Contractors but yet treated with less consideration and compensation than minimum wage employees. Many workers in technology are also experiencing the same work related employment classification challenges throughout the greater San Francisco Bay area, as Silicon Valley tech leaders push the envelope to introduce a third classification of Employment - One that is much more beneficial to their profit motivated interests.

As was the case with Uber's $100 million dollar settlement rejection by US District Court Judge Edward Chen, end of last year - Uber drivers protested the settlement and were successful - Now Lyft drivers are protesting to get the same results - sending a reject settlement message to Judge Chhabria to not let LYFT off the hook so easily, LYFT has been known to get off lightly compared to Uber - both rideshare companies operate in the same manner and have demonstrated equally their ability to ride roughshod over any legal restrictions that obstruct their ultimate goals to improve their bottom line - profits before people.

THE ALLIANCE FOR INDEPENDENT WORKERS Unites the voices of the voiceless many... Addressing the ever growing needs of the New Gig Economy Workers... Advocating on their behalves to succeed - not just survive!

EDWARD ESCOBAR
founder
The ALLIANCE
for Independent Workers
TheALLIANCEorg(at)outlook.com
415.992.0061

Tags: Lyft driversCourt Settlement
Categories: Labor News

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