“One-to-one, worker-to-worker – that’s a big part of how we organize in the ILWU.” explained Wesley Furtado, International Vice President (Hawaii). This approach has worked for our Union over the years, including 2013 when over 500 new members were brought into Local 142 between September and November.
On September 1, 2013, the Andaz Maui at Wailea – a Hyatt brand resort – agreed to card check recognition and a first contract that will give Andaz Maui workers a 14.5% increase over 3.5 years. The Andaz is expected to eventually employ some 400 bargaining unit workers.
“The Andaz was the priority for our organizing in Local 142.” Furtado continued. “It was a brand new hotel built on the grounds of the former Renaissance Wailea Resort – an ILWU unit for many years. We wanted to make sure it continued to be an ILWU house so we could protect the standards we have at the two other Hyatt resorts represented by Local 142.”
Organizers and rank and file leaders from many Maui Division units identified Andaz applicants from around the island and signed these workers on union authorization cards. Thousands of family members, co-workers, and friends were contacted. Social media and many new and creative ideas were used to build on the ILWU approach of one-to-one, worker-to-worker.
In Hawaii Division, rank and file members were key in convincing a non-union department of the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay to organize. On September 6, 2013, Guest Service Agents voted 6 – 2 to join the ILWU in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
On September 10, 2013, the NLRB conducted an election on Oahu for 45 drivers and warehouse workers at Anheuser-Busch Sales of Hawaii. The Anheuser-Busch workers took ownership of this organizing drive; leaders talked to co-workers, signed them up on ILWU cards, set up group meetings – and they won! The vote: 27 – 17.
Another NLRB election, this time for workers at Kaanapali Alii, was held November 20, 2013. Kaanapali Alii is a vacation condominium resort located between two longtime ILWU units, the Westin Maui Resort & Spa and the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa.
Organizers built a solid core of support through one-to-one contact with the workers, and this support grew stronger as ILWU members who are family and friends of Kaanapali Alii employees urged them to “go union”. On election day, leaders and members from the Westin and Hyatt turned out to hold signs encouraging a “yes” vote. The 75 Kaanapali Alii workers responded, voting 49 – 22 for the ILWU.
“Westin is a well-established unit in the ILWU and Kaanapali Alii is right next to our hotel. Our members came out when Alii workers voted – we wanted to show them that they weren’t alone. We live in the same communities and shop in the same stores. We want them to enjoy the benefits of an ILWU contract just like we do,” said Mike Bunyard, unit chair at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa.
In spite of these victories, organizing is tough. Most workers seeking to join a union in this country face an uphill battle made even more difficult by weak labor laws. But one-to-one, worker-to-worker contact – especially by members who can talk firsthand about the ILWU – goes a long ways towards countering the fear and intimidation that many workers face when trying to form a union.
With the current Longshore and Clerks’ Contract expiring just four months from now on midnight of June 30, 2014, the Coast Longshore Division Caucus began two weeks of meetings on February 24 that will establish member-based priorities for the new contract negotiations.
A democratic process
A team of 90 elected delegates representing workers from every West Coast port were joined by dozens of pensioners, special dignitaries, fraternal organizations and member-observers who filled the San Francisco meeting hall from morning ‘til night.
Local 13 veteran Joe Cortez was elected Chair of the Caucus by delegates who also tapped Frank Ponce De Leon as Caucus Secretary. ILWU International President Bob McEllrath delivered brief introductory remarks that provided context and background for the discussions that followed.
“You’re here to set the agenda that our Negotiating Committee will follow,” he explained. “This is your Caucus – and you’ll be calling the shots.” McEllrath then laid out his perspective on issues that will shape the upcoming contract talks. He urged delegates to “hold the line,” and encouraged them to propose strategies to address the challenges ahead, including:
• Jurisdiction – efforts by the employers and other unions to poach Longshore jobs.
• Health Care & Pensions – increased employer & government pressure to cut benefits.
• Automation – employer efforts to replace workers with new technology.
Delegates responded warmly to a proposal by Southern California Pensioner’s Group President Greg Mitre who asked that the Caucus be dedicated to the memory of Victor Manuel Crespo Puerto who was murdered late last month by anti-union death squads in Honduras. Victor Crespo and his wife became assassination targets after his son led efforts to help Port workers secure a union contract at a newly privatized port managed by International Container Terminal Service Incorporated (ICTSI), a story that was detailed in last month’s Dispatcher. Other dedications were offered on behalf of fallen members Frank Cappiello, Sr., of Local 52; Ernie Di Villarico of Local 34; Reg Theriault, Eric Wright and Joy Daniels of Local 10; Local 10 pensioners Osborn Hill, Al Broussard, John Romo, Manny Simpson; and Ethyl Chester – widow of former Local 10 member and International Vice President, Bill Chester.
Delegations of dockworkers from around the world attended the Caucus to convey their solidarity and support. Heading the list of dignitaries was Paddy Crumlin, President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) which represents over 700 unions in 150 countries with 4.7 million workers.
In addition to serving as Chair of the ITF Dockers Section, Crumlin is General Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). He urged ILWU delegates to remember that their upcoming contract struggle would be watched by dockworkers across the globe who draw inspiration from the ILWU’s strength and courage. “You can count on your friends at ports around the globe to be there if you need our help,” said Crumlin, who noted that powerful carriers and terminal operators are bent on squeezing union members on a global scale. He also cited recent struggles in Australia where dockers have been tangling with powerful employers, “just like the ones you’ll be facing in a few months.” He said MUA members are in the process of tackling new technology, “which we don’t oppose if employers are willing to negotiate the impacts on workers and ensure that they result in dignity and security instead of fear and insecurity.” Crumlin said MUA members at the Port of Brisbane decided to address new technology there by choosing a 32-hour work week with excellent pay that expanded the MUA’s membership and strength.
Another important solidarity delegation attending the Caucus was the International Dockers Council (IDC), led by General Coordinator Antolin Goya, representing 90,000 dockers around the globe. Goya also serves as the head of Coordinadora, the union representing 80% of dockworkers in Spain. Goya pledged that the IDC and Spanish dockers would “stand with you in solidarity” because “a victory by the ILWU will help dockworkers everywhere.”
Recognizing that Hawaiian Longshore workers have their own contract that is negotiated separately from the mainland, President McEllrath made a point of acknowledging the delegation of Hawaiian Longshore Division leaders who attended the Caucus, led by Director Nate Lum, along with Wesley Furtado, International Vice President, Hawaii. The Hawaiian members were introduced and thanked for their pledges of solidarity and support.
Reports for delegates
The Longshore Division’s Coast Committee, consisting of International President Bob McEllrath, Vice President Ray Familathe, and Coast Committeemen Ray Ortiz, Jr., and Leal Sundet, reported on the critical issues expected to emerge in negotiations and gave suggestions and recommendations for delegates to consider as they debate goals and priorities during the two-week Caucus.
Pension & welfare
Additional reports were submitted by the Coast Pension & Welfare Committee that met in late January to prepare materials for Caucus members. Coast Benefits Specialist John Castanho led a series of presentations that provided delegates with detailed information about the union’s health insurance and pension plans. Experts and attorneys were also on hand to provide additional analysis and answer questions.
Thanking Nick Buckles
As the Dispatcher was going to press in late February, delegates were just beginning to debate the many resolutions that will guide the upcoming contract negotiations. The first resolution to be adopted by delegates was passed unanimously by a standing ovation of delegates who honored Local 32 member Nick Buckles, who started working on the docks in 1961 and served for 18 years as the ILWU’s Washington Area Welfare Director. Many heartfelt testimonials, including several filled with tears, accompanied the resolution and honorary plaque that Buckles accepted graciously from the Caucus. Next month’s Dispatcher will report on the conclusions reached by the Caucus and the next steps ahead in the 2014 contract negotiations.
Arbitrator orders ILWU longshoremen back to Port of Portland after walkout supporting Honduran dockworkers
Arbitrator orders ILWU longshoremen back to Port of Portland after walkout supporting Honduran dockworkers
Hondurans Carlos Alvarado, left, and Glen Galdames picket outside Terminal 6 Tuesday. Longshore workers walked off their jobs at the Port of Portland's container terminal Tuesday in solidarity with the Hondurans, who are members of the SGTM union involved in a dispute with a Central American subsidiary of Portland terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc.'s Filipino parent company. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian)
PrintBy Richard Read | email@example.com
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on March 04, 2014 at 2:29 PM, updated March 04, 2014 at 11:49 PM
An arbitrator ruled that a picket line that caused longshore workers to leave their jobs at thePort of Portland's container yard Tuesday violated contract terms, and ordered them back to work, according to ICTSI Oregon Inc., the terminal operator.
Jan Holmes, an arbitrator jointly hired by the longshore union and the West Coast employers association, said the picket line established by Honduran dockworkers was not "bona fide," therefore longshoremen were not entitled to honor it, said Michael Garone, a lawyer and spokesman for ICTSI Oregon.
A new longshore crew reported to work as Holmes made her ruling, so Terminal 6 was up and running again Tuesday evening, Garone said. Holmes could not be reached late Tuesday to confirm her decision. A spokeswoman for theInternational Longshore and Warehouse Union did not respond to a request to confirm and comment on the ruling. A Pacific Maritime Association spokesman had no information on the ruling Tuesday night.
Dockworkers from Honduras began picketing the embattled North Portland cargo terminal Tuesday morning, saying they'd been denied jobs back home by a subsidiary of ICTSI's parent company. All longshore workers at the terminal walked out at midday, according to ICTSI.
It was one of the few walkouts at the terminal in 21 months of turmoil that has included multiple lawsuits, alleged longshore slowdowns, bans by a federal judge on slowdowns, skipped port calls by international cargo vessels, snarled freight, threats by Hanjin Shipping Co. to abandon Portland, mile-long truck lines, interventions by Gov. John Kitzhaber and numerous grievances, arbitrations and accusations of unfair labor practices.
The work stoppage was another setback for attempts by the Port of Portland to persuade Hanjin to continue calling on Terminal 6. Hanjin executives in Seoul are watching Portland developments closely as they decide whether to keep the Port in their trans-Pacific loop. Thousands of businesses in Oregon and beyond depend on the terminal for containers of exports and imports, which would cost extra to truck to and from other ports if Hanjin pulled out.
Elvis Ganda, chief executive of ICTSI Oregon, said in a written statement that the actions by the ILWU "appear to demonstrate its continued intent to drive Hanjin out of Portland and to close Terminal 6."
Jennifer Sargent, an ILWU spokeswoman, disputed wording included in a bulletin issued by ICTSI Terminal 6 gate managers who said longshore workers "walked off the job" after lunch. "A union picket line was established at T-6 and the Portland longshoremen honored it as they would any other such picket line," she said in an email.
The picketing by Central American union members occurred only in Portland, and not at any other West Coast port, because it's the only place in the United States where ICTSI operates a terminal.
Ganda called the work stoppage "misguided and illegal." But in her ruling, Holmes said the union had not engaged in an illegal work stoppage as defined by the Pacific Coast Longshore Contract, Garone said.
Instead Holmes ruled Tuesday's picket was not bona fide, he said, meaning it was not a true picket as described by the contract. Therefore longshoremen could not honor it.
To be bona fide, a picket must be staged at the premises of an employer with which the union is engaged in a dispute over wages, hours or working conditions of employees, a majority of whom the organization represents. The picketing Hondurans had no labor dispute with ICTSI Oregon, which does not employ them.
Ganda said issues at other terminals that may be affiliated with ICTSI Oregon's parent company had no connection to ICTSI's Portland operations.
"However, when the ILWU seeks to shut down Terminal 6 over an alleged dispute taking place thousands of miles away, it causes severe disruptions which hurt carriers, local truckers, shippers and members of the local community, companies and individuals that have no involvement with the issue being raised," Ganda said.
An ILWU news release issued Tuesday said that ICTSI's parent company in the Philippines, International Container Terminal Services Inc., was awarded a 29-year concession agreement in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, on Feb. 1, 2013. The Manila company established a Central American subsidiary, Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana, known as OPC.
According to the ILWU, OPC imposed "a sham labor agreement" that was approved by the Honduran government and ICTSI, but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. The companies began hiring workers under the agreement in December 2013, according to the ILWU, and proceeded to fire large numbers of union supporters, sparking a protest Feb. 26.
"The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with 'terrorism' and 'damaging the national economy,'” the ILWU release said. "One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others."
Ganda, of ICTSI, said in his statement that the ILWU's news release contained "multiple inaccurate statements about this alleged foreign dispute." He didn't detail the alleged inaccuracies.
Union president opts out
Meanwhile Robert "Big Bob" McEllrath, ILWU International president in San Francisco, wrote a letter this week to Kitzhaber, saying the union will not take part in an independent review that the governor asked the Port to conduct of Terminal 6 operations.
McEllrath's letter dated Monday said Kitzhaber departed from his "neutrality and judiciousness" regarding the labor disputes when he said longshore productivity levels had been low except for on Super Bowl Sunday, when container movement abruptly sped up ahead of the kickoff. McEllrath said ICTSI managers arranged the yard efficiently that day to guarantee high productivity, then fed the story of longshoremen's sudden fast work to The Oregonian.
McEllrath told Kitzhaber that the Port, as a partisan entity in legal proceedings, could not be trusted to spearhead an independent review. "With all due respect, Governor," McEllrath wrote, "you have unwittingly initiated a sham review process that both the Port and ICTSI will use to strengthen their legal claims against the ILWU."
-- Richard ReadTags: ilwusolidarity
“Railroad Workers United (RWU) has embarked upon a campaign to limit the length and tonnage of freight trains across North America. The goal is to reverse the long running trend whereby the rail carriers assemble ever longer and heavier trains which are dangerous to railroad workers, pedestrians and motorists, trackside communities, the environment, and society in general.” This is what a recent news release says, issued by Railroad Workers United.
RWU goes on to say, in spite of the number of long and heavy train wrecks last year, rail carriers continue to operate long and heavy trains and in fact even expand upon this trend, in attempts to improve the bottom line. The organization points out it takes longer to stop such trains, and the longer and heavier the train, the greater the potential for a train break-in-two, emergency brake applications and derailments. Longer and heavier trains result in more severe train wrecks if and when such trains derail, long trains are more likely to have air brake problems, and it’s more difficult for train crews to safely run, inspect, work and test such trains. Road and pedestrian crossings are more likely to be blocked by longer and heavier trains, causing inconvenience and increased emergency services response times. Such trains also tend to increase the number of hours train crews must spend getting the trains in and out of the terminal and over the road, all of which increase crew fatigue, reduce situational awareness, and lower quality of work and home life for engineers and trainmen.
The news release concludes, “Therefore, RWU opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains. Furthermore, we support a reduction in the length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and/or operating in very cold temperatures. We expect that these goals can be achieved through both legislative efforts and at the bargaining table.”
RWU is an organization that works to unite railroad workers from all the rail crafts in North America. To quote from their website, “…we have formed this inter-union, cross-craft, solidarity “caucus” of railroad workers from all crafts, all carriers, and all unions across North America.” The RWU works to strengthen the bargaining position of railroad workers and to enhance working conditions, including the safety of railroad workers and the public. More information is available on the RWU website.
Railroaded believes no one is more aware of rail safety hazards, nor is more qualified to suggest improvements, than those who work on the railroads. Hopefully, rail companies at the corporate level will heed the suggestions of experienced railroad workers, as represented by Railroad Workers United.
Filed under: blocked railway crossings, Derailment, emergency response times, Safety, too long trains
PORTLAND, OR (MARCH 4, 2014) – On March 4, Central American port workers from the labor union Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) from Puerto Cortés in Honduras established a picket line in front of ICTSI’s Oregon’soperation at Terminal 6 in Portland. SGTM workers held picket signs that read, “S.G.T.M. LOCKED OUT ICTSI” and statedthat they are facing murder, military repression, death threats,and anti-union attacks. ILWU workers honored the picket line in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.
ICTSI, the Philippines-based global terminal operator that began its first venture in the United States in 2010 when it leased Terminal 6 from the Port of Portland, is the parent company for ICTSI Oregon and Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana(OPC). On February 1, 2013, ICTSI was awarded a concession agreement in Puerto Cortés for 29 years. ICTSI then establishedOPC,
which imposed a sham labor agreement that was approved by the Honduran Government and ICTSI but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. ICTSI/OPC began hiring workers under the sham labor agreement in December 2013 and, over the course of the next couple months, the company fired large numbers of union supporters. This mass firing of union supporters sparked protest on February 26, 2014. The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with “terrorism” and “damaging the national economy”. One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others.
A backlog of grain rail car orders in Canada tops 60,000, 8 times more than a year ago, causing an estimated $3.5 billion in lost sales to date (Edmonton Journal). Many farmers are blaming Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway for favouring the more lucrative transport of crude oil and other dangerous goods over hauling grain (see this link).
The backlog has resulted in reduced grain prices and increased transport costs. The Executive Director of the Western Grain Elevator Association said, “This is the highest backlog ever.” Many farmers aren’t even able to move their crops to nearby grain elevators because they’re full. One Manitoba farmer hasn’t been able to sell any of his bumper wheat, canola, barley or oat crops, and the delay means $200,000 in lost revenue, as grain prices plummeted.
Prairie farmers had record harvests in 2013 of wheat, canola and corn, and increases from multiple crops, but the rail backlog has quickly turned the good news into bad news. Provincial and federal politicians are angry and have demanded the problem get fixed, including penalizing CN and CP for breaking their grain hauling commitments.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, shipping oil by rail
RWU Resolution in Support of Limits to Long & Heavy Trains
Adopted by the RWU Steering Committee February 4th, 2014
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
Whereas, the North American rail carriers continue to run longer and heavier trains each year, and have expressed their desire to run even longer trains in the future; and
Whereas, the last year has witnessed a number of long and heavy train wrecks, resulting in a loss of life and property, wholesale evacuations, injured train crews and environmental devastation; and
Whereas, the rail carriers have a professed interest in operating such long and heavy trains as a way to perceived savings on fuel costs, motive power and labor costs; and
Whereas, rather than face the reality of the situation, the rail carriers and law makers choose to focus on irrelevant issues like inward facing cameras; and
Whereas, such overly long and heavy trains create a dangerous and unsafe situation for a number of reasons:
1 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is and the more time it takes to slow or to stop such a train;
2 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more slack action is in the train, increasing run-ins and run-outs, increasing the potential for break-in-twos, emergency brake applications and derailments;
3 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more severe the train wreck if and when such a train does derail;
4 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is for the train crew to safely run, inspect, work, test, and otherwise get such a train over the road.
5 -- such trains tend to make for longer tours-of-duty for train crews, resulting in fatigue, more time at the away-from-home terminal, and a lower quality of work and home life;
6 – such trains are more likely to have air brake problems, especially in cold weather;
7 -- the longer and heavier the train, the greater likelihood of blocked road and pedestrian crossings, creating a best an inconvenience to the public and at worst an inability to provide emergency services when needed;
8 -- these blocked crossing in effect “train” motorists and the public to “run the gates” to avoid being blocked for long periods, resulting in grade crossing accidents and fatalities.
Therefore, Be it Resolved that Railroad Workers United opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains; and
Be it Further Resolved that RWU supports a reduction in length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and /or cold temperatures; and
Be it Finally Resolved that RWU urge the unions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to further these ends legislatively and/or contractually.
Railroad Workers United
health and safety
Original Page: http://ecology.iww.org/node/360Tags: Railroad workershealth and safety
From the Boston IWW
Four workers at Insomnia Cookies' Cambridge store went on strike on August 19, protesting poverty pay and wretched working conditions, and demanding $15/hr, health benefits and a union at their workplace. The company illegally fired all four. For the next six months strikers, IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and organized boycotts, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).