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Kenya: Equal Pay for Equal Work? Kenyan Nurses Push the Envelope

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Sentinel
Categories: Labor News

Somalia: Somali journalist detained without charge

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Morgan Southern At LA Port fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

Current News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 10:31

Morgan Southern At LA Port fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/07/10/morgan-southern-fires-tru...

Brett Murphy, USA TODAY NetworkPublished 9:50 a.m. ET July 10, 2017 | Updated 11:51 a.m. ET July 11, 201

A USA TODAY Network investigation found a predatory scheme that ensnared thousands of immigrant truck drivers at the port. Scott Hall

Rene Flores lost his job, his truck and $60,000 he paid toward buying it after he spoke to reporters about working conditions

Rene Flores said he regularly broke the law as a port trucker in southern California, hauling shipping containers up to 20 hours straight between Long Beach and Phoenix.

He kept a fake logbook tucked beneath his seat so regulators wouldn’t know he was violating federal fatigue laws for commercial truckers.

He said his company paid him so little -- and charged so much for his leased truck -- that he had no choice.

Flores said his managers at Morgan Southern knew about his hours, but for years the trucking company looked the other way.

Then, the 36-year-old father of two talked publicly about his illegal hours in a USA TODAY Network story.

On June 17, the day after the story published, Morgan Southern fired him.

Flores couldn’t afford to pay off the $30,000 balance on his leased truck, so the company took that too. Flores lost $60,000 in lease payments he had made since 2013.

What happened to Flores is just the latest episode in a decade-long struggle that has seen hundreds of port truckers in California turned into modern-day indentured servants.

As the USA TODAY Network reported last month, many of these drivers say they were forced by their bosses to sign lease-to-own truck contracts, putting them in debt to their own employers. The trucks are so expensive – up to several thousand dollars a month for payments and maintenance – that some drivers say they have no choice but to work 15 to 20 hours a day.

As part of a yearlong investigation into port trucking, the USA TODAY Network interviewed Flores and reported his story. He said that he regularly worked up to 20 hours a day and that he used a fake log book to avoid detection by federal regulators.

“Of course they (his employers) know,” he was quoted as saying in the original story. “But the company doesn’t care.”

Robert Milane, a spokesman and lawyer for Morgan Southern’s parent company Roadrunner Transportation, confirmed that Flores’ public criticism, coupled with the fact that he refused to use electronic logbooks, forced the company to act.

“The fact that he stated that in his interview, we had no choice to terminate his lease,” Milane said.

“He brought this on himself.”

Milane also denied that Flores drove more than federal law permits. He said Morgan Southern’s electronic time logs prevent any driver from doing so.

“What he says wasn’t true,” Milane said. “I know he wasn’t running over hours.”

But Flores said he would simply switch over to paper logbooks when he knew he would be working past federal limits.

Another Morgan Southern driver, Jose Juan Rodriguez, told reporters in December that when he was still leasing his truck he, too, often drove well past the legal limit. "Many times,” he said, “we complain to the supervisor but we’re told that if we aren't willing to work, 'there is the door.'"

Since July, 2015, Morgan Southern has been cited 15 times for hours violations in California, according to Department of Transportation inspection reports.

Using California’s open records law, reporters obtained a port authority database that records the exact time a truck enters or exits the gate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

A USA TODAY Network analysis of the data shows that Flores’ truck was in operation for at least 14 hours without the required 10-hour break at least nine times between 2013 and 2015. That number is likely an undercount because one of his most frequent routes took at least 13 hours, meaning he wouldn’t pass through port gates enough to be flagged as working too long.

Other Morgan Southern trucks appear to have exceeded hours limits more than 500 times from 2013 to 2016, the data show. Three out of four of the company’s rigs went over hours at least once.

It is not clear whether these instances are violations because two drivers might divide time behind the wheel of a single truck.

Trucking experts and regulators say it can be a federal crime for company managers to knowingly send drivers on the road past federal limits.

Companies are responsible for tracking their workers’ hours, even if they’re classified as independent contractors, said Craig Weaver, a motor carrier safety specialist with the California Highway Patrol.

“They know how many hours their guys are working,” he said. “Or they should.”

Kelsey Frazier is a Teamster trustee and foreman at another California port trucking company, Pasha Hawaii. He said most companies have safety managers whose job is to track how long truckers have been on the road based on their pickups and drop offs, which get called into the office.

Frazier said companies should know if drivers are over on their hours because they control when drivers are dispatched.

“I can promise you the company is tracking this,” he said. “Because you’re liable if you don’t.”

Tags: LA PortTruckers discriminationsolidarityindependent contractors
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU 308 CTA rail union workers favor strike in preliminary vote "Our labor is our weapon."

Current News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 08:23

Chicago ATU 308 CTA rail union workers favor strike in preliminary vote "Our labor is our weapon."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cta-strike-vote-071...
CTA

An outbound Green Line train approaches the 35th Street stop of the CTA 'L' on June 1, 2017, in Chicago. CTA rail workers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in a preliminary, unofficial vote, union representatives said on July 10, 2017. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
Mary Wisniewski Mary Wisniewski Contact Reporter
Chicago Tribune
Frustrated after 18 months of negotiations for a new contract, CTA rail workers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in a preliminary, unofficial vote, union representatives said Monday.

About a third of 3,000 union members cast their ballots last week, with 98 percent favoring a strike, said Kenneth Franklin, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308. Members of the union include those who operate "L" trains, janitors, track welders, car repairers and other rail system workers.

Franklin called the preliminary vote, which has not been tried before in Local 308 history, a "good litmus test" to sound out membership on the possibility of a strike. He could not say when an actual, official strike vote could be taken.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said a strike would be illegal, under state law and the current collective bargaining agreement, which still applies even though it has expired. Franklin disagreed, noting that the union has consulted lawyers on the issue. Franklin said the Chicago Transit Authority's offers have been "disrespectful."

"Their proposals basically gut our rights," Franklin said. "One of the negotiators for the CTA has stated on more than one occasion that they're in the business of saving money."

One issue cited by the union is a CTA proposal to increase employee contributions to health care costs. "It's a real sore subject for our members," Franklin said.

Franklin said the union also wants better working conditions. He said the "swing shift," which has some operators working from 6 to 10 a.m. and then again from 2 to 6 p.m., compromises quality of life.

Franklin said the union also wants CTA President Dorval Carter and Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson to participate in negotiations.

"I'm not afraid to discuss striking," Franklin said. "Our labor is our weapon."

Steele said swing shifts are necessary in transit, because peak hours of operation are during the morning and afternoon rush hours. He said the CTA is showing respect in negotiations and wants an "open dialogue" with the union. The transit agency requested arbitration last month.

"We have negotiated in good faith — fairly, openly and honestly," Steele said. He said the agency is looking at some practices and work rules that are "inefficient and costly."

Steele said CTA rail operators are among the highest-paid transit workers in the country and have "generous benefits." The average wage for a CTA rail operator ranges from $21.33 to $32.82 per hour.

CTA rail operators last went on strike in 1979, Franklin said.

The CTA bus driver union, ATU Local 241, said it "fully supports the positions taken by its sister Local 308 with respect to the bargaining process and its expression of frustration on behalf of the hardworking members of both locals." The union is also in negotiations for a new contract.

mwisniewski@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @marywizchicago

Tags: ATU 308Contractunion bustingstrikeRalm EmanuelCTA
Categories: Labor News

China: Is China Trying to Silence the Workers Who Make Ivanka Trump’s Apparel?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Nation
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

Current News - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 16:25

Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

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The Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a srike, as contract negotiations continue.
By Sarah Schulte and Laura Podesta
Updated 1 hr 27 mins ago
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a strike, their union announced Monday, as contentious contract negotiations continue.

In response, CTA management claims that the union does not have the right to strike.

Working without a contract for 18 months, train operators have apparently had enough. Amalgamated Transit Union Lcal 308 is hoping a preliminary strike vote will put some pressure on negotiations with the CTA.

"We do not want to cause the city a heart attack, but our patience has worn out. Our anger is growing," said Kenneth Franklin, president of ATU Local 308.

One-third of union members participated in the vote, which was 98 percent in favor of strike. No strike date has been set.

Calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval Carter to come to the negotiating table, the union accuses the city of being disrespectful by offering proposals that Local 308 says would increase part-time workers and diminish pensions.

Train operators said their jobs have never been more stressful.

"Now with the violence that is on the uprise, the homeless we deal with on a daily basis, it is stressful as an operator," said train operator Deborah Lane.

"You have to deal with human feces in the motor cars, you have to deal with drug needles, drug addicts on the train," operator Kevin Wilson said.

While CTA riders are sympathetic, many said a strike would be devastating for their daily lives.

"It would be extraordinarily difficult to get from this location down to the Loop everyday," said rider Melissa Urbanski.

"I would probably lose my job, If couldn't get to work," said Robert Neason, a CTA rider.

The CTA said a strike can't happen because the union contract prohibits its members for striking for any reason. They call the strike vote a publicity stunt.

The transit authority said workers are not being disrespected.

"Our operators are among the highest paid in the nation. They have great wages, good working environments, good benefits and generally supportive management," said Steve Mayberry, a CTA spokesman.

Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

July 10, 2017 - please forward

[warning: they're not neutral]
Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

ABC at the git-go here attacks the union, going for a strategy of turning the riding public against ATU 308. Corporate media is not neutral in its reporting the news. It takes pains to turn other parts of the working class against the union. And they find their perfect interview:

"Probably lose my job, not being able to get to work. I have to ride the train. I live out south...two trains and a bus," said commuter Robert Neason. [abc7chicago]

This is why the labor movement in Chicago needs its own 21st-century media apparatus, and why it should not simply rely upon the corporate media to report things fairly. The worker quoted above would not face getting fired for missing his job due to conditions he can’t control, IF he had a strong union to represent him where he works. That is what this possible strike is really about: working people need a good union contract to protect them against unjust management decisions.

The CFL should make a public offer that it will send a union organizing team to the place where this unfortunate worker is employed, to make sure that it becomes unionized so that Robert Neason cannot be victimized unfairly if the ATU has a strike. And it would be best if the CFL also had its own robust media outlet to announce this, so that the statement isn’t undercut in some way.

The Chicago Federation of Labor had at one time its own radio station in the late 40s (WCFL) which reported on labor news, and also a newspaper, the Federation News. It has over the years allowed these two media resources to go defunct. Its sole strategy today is to rely on the ‘fairness’ of corporate media (a real throw of the dice!) and a handful of small-size social media-type pro-labor reporting outlets. It has neglected to develop any cable-tv series through utilizing the public access center CAN TV. The CFL has not invested over the years in beefing up its own, serious labor media defense strategy.

Although Labor Beat is a small media organization and is hardly the answer to filling in this gap, we would be glad to meet with and talk with any representatives of the CFL or ATU, or other unions and share what we know about producing a regular labor tv series and YouTube channel. We would also like to benefit from hearing the creative thinking on this from the rest of the labor movement.

This emerging situation over a possible ATU strike is a chance for all of us together to seriously drill down on this problem so that we are not left defenseless when ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox come after the transit union by using their media muscles to underhandedly torpedo organized labor.

In solidarity,

Larry Duncan
Labor Beat co-producer
www.laborbeat.org

abc7chicago report:
http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

Labor Beat’s report: ATU 308 Preliminary Strike Vote
https://youtu.be/rrvib4rLpYo

Tags: ATU 308right to strikeRahm Emanuelunion bustingcontract fightAmalgamated Transit Union
Categories: Labor News

USA: Defend US farmworkers' right to organize!

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

China: Veteran labour activist Liu Shaoming sentenced to four and a half years for his activism

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Pakistan: Journalist missing after house raided in Karachi

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

USA: IFJ slams President Donald Trump over violence against journalists

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

“The glamour of the job is just a mask” British Airways crew members defy strikebreaking operation

Current News - Sun, 07/09/2017 - 10:34

“The glamour of the job is just a mask”
British Airways crew members defy strikebreaking operation
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/07/07/mixe-j07.html
By Ross Mitchell
7 July 2017
British Airways (BA) “mixed fleet” cabin crew at Heathrow airport are striking to oppose poverty pay and in opposition to punitive sanctions against around 1,400 workers involved in previous industrial action.
The strike by crew members—who work a combination of long- and short-haul flights--began on July 1 and will last until July 16. This is the latest job action in one of the longest industrial disputes in the European airline industry this century.
The dispute has comprised a total of 26 days of strikes and bears witness to the resilience and determination of BA workers.
BA mixed fleet crews number 3,000 and have a nominal salary ranging from £12,000 (US $15,561) to £16,000 (US $20,748) with expenses. Some crew members even sleep in their cars between flights to save on accommodation expenses, while others come to work while sick to avoid losing pay.
The sanctions against cabin crew workers, which management describe as the “consequences of striking,” including docking two years of bonuses and removing all staff travel discounts for the next year for anyone joining the strike. The Unite union estimates this would cost strikers an average of £850 (US$1,102).
A statement from the airline read, “We have set out the consequences for crew if they take strike action. The purposes of these consequences are to encourage crew to come to work.”
Management have devised a massive strikebreaking operation. They secured an agreement with the government-backed Civil Aviation Authority--responsible for the regulation of aviation safety in the UK--for the hiring of nine short-haul Airbus A320 jets, plus pilots and cabin crew as well as maintenance workers and an insurance deal from Qatar Airways for the duration of the strike. These are termed “wet-leased” aircraft and are covering for around 30 domestic and European flights a day that have been grounded due to the strike.
Throughout the dispute, the Unite union has sought to keep the strike isolated to the workers at Heathrow. It opposes its extension among the 9,000 workers at other major BA bases at London Gatwick, London City Airport and Stansted airport, let alone workers employed at the international airlines group IAG that BA is part of. IAG employs 60,000 workers worldwide, comprising Iberia, Vueling, Aer Lingus, and EasyJet.
Unite has done everything to stifle the struggle, repeatedly cancelling scheduled strikes and limiting the walkouts they do call. Most recently, it cancelled a strike due to take place between June 16 to 19 to facilitate talks with management at the government’s Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
Prior to the talks the union drafted up a "final compromise position" behind the backs of its members, which has not been made public.
Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said, "The refusal by British Airways bosses to meaningfully consider our compromise offer is deeply disappointing. A resolution to this long-running dispute was within the grasp of British Airways, but instead of grabbing that opportunity, bosses rebuffed it.” It regretted that “British Airways faces an entirely avoidable two-week strike and prolonged legal action on behalf of over 1,400 mixed cabin crew.”
The fact that workers are employed on such inferior contracts in the first place is the responsibility of Unite. The creation of a two-tiered workforce was imposed following the defeat of the national BA strike in 2010, with Unite and the BASSA union playing a critical role. The imposition and continuation of low pay rates for the mixed fleet is part of the strategy by IAG to restructure its global pay levels downwards to be more competitive.
This allowed BA over the years to steadily replace more expensive, better terms and conditions contracts, with cheap labour with the collaboration of Unite.
Mixed fleet crews operate an increasing number of long-haul and short-haul flights inside and outside Europe. They operate on 32 long-haul flights to international destinations such as Abu Dhabi, Houston, Shanghai, Singapore and Sydney. Short-haul mixed fleet crews cover about 50 European destinations such as Helsinki, St Petersburg, Sofia, Vienna and Kiev.
That such draconian pay levels are now accepted by Unite were made clear in the comments of its spokesperson Alex Flynn, who said prior to the strike, “The issue is now largely around sanctions that have been meted out to the people that went on strike.”
The union’s isolation of workers and their resulting victimisation has resulted in votes in favour of strike action falling. In November 2016, 79 percent of mixed fleet workers voted to strike, with Unite cancelling a planned stoppage at the last minute. A second ballot in December saw 70 percent in favour of a strike. The last ballot in March 2017 saw support down to 56 percent on a turnout of 72 percent.
Back in December 2016 Unite general secretary Len McCluskey personally intervened to call off a planned strike scheduled over the busy Christmas holiday period to oversee negotiations. He declared, “I am delighted that British Airways has heeded our calls for talks. It is only by getting round the table that we can find a solution to my members’ concerns.”
Almost seven months have now elapsed, and BA workers are no further forward in their struggle for better pay and working conditions. 1,400 striking workers are suffering disciplinary sanctions, including removing staff travel, which allows crews to commute with an airline for free to reach the base where they pick up work.
The conditions being imposed on mixed fleet workers are intolerable. One worker speaking anonymously to the World Socialist Web Site said, “We don't have enough money to eat properly in Dubai each time we must stay over until the next flight. The travel enjoyment is not there as we were told as recruits. It has been tough and some of us who strike got punished by management.
“Essentially you are part of the plane. You just fly and stopover and cannot spend because the salaries are crap. Our conditions are not much different from airlines in the Arab countries. The glamour of the job is just a mask.”
Speaking to the Independent, another said she could not buy a house on the money she earned. “I’m required to live within a two-hour radius of Heathrow. I can't buy anywhere with the money I’m on. When I go and ask for a mortgage, they laugh at me." The worker earned less £20,000 last year and said, “I’ve been at British Airways for six years, and I’ve never entered the sickness process.”
The newspaper added, “A male colleague said that he earned more on a zero-hours contract with [budget airline] Ryanair. His P60 [total pay and deductions] showed income for the year at under £18,000.”
According to the Independent, the “Cabin crew say the pay deal comes with unacceptable strings attached: the loss of bonuses and travel concessions for a further year, as punishment for those who go on strike. They must also, say strikers, agree not to carry yellow pens or other yellow symbols. That might sound random, but yellow symbolises to other crew that they are strikers.”
To keep the dispute under its control, Unite has called a further strike to be held over 14 days from July 19, with another call to BA to negotiate “a settlement to this long running dispute.” This is being combined with an appeal to the courts to oppose BA’s leasing of Qatar Airways' aircraft.
Mixed fleet workers at BA must break the stranglehold of the union bureaucracy over the dispute. The prerequisite for a successful struggle is the creation of action committees, independent of Unite and based on the fight to unite airline workers throughout the world in common struggle against the global corporations. Only on this basis can they oppose the dead-end class collaborationist perspective of the trade unions, which has resulted in defeat after defeat.

Tags: BACabin Crewsstrikeliving wagesairline workersUnitesolidarity
Categories: Labor News

USA: Sex toy shop workers tired of getting screwed vote to unionize

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

Chicago ATU 308 Preliminary 97.4% Strike Vote

Current News - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 22:11

Chicago ATU 308 Preliminary 97.4% Strike Vote
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrvib4rLpYo
Published on Jul 4, 2017
On June 29, 2017 the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308, the union of the rail division at the Chicago Transit Authority, held a city-wide preliminary strike authorization vote among its members. Of 927 members who voted, 97.4% voted YES for a strike. Scenes and interviews from the voting locations.

Tags: ATU 308strike voteCTA
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: Garment factory blast raises fresh concerns over workers’ safety

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Eco-Business
Categories: Labor News

USA: New initiative takes on fight for women's leadership in union movement

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TAP
Categories: Labor News

Swedish Dockworkers, APMT Gothenburg Mediation Ends without Result

Current News - Thu, 07/06/2017 - 14:06

Swedish Dockworkers, APMT Gothenburg Mediation Ends without Result
https://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/224500/swedish-dockworkers-apmt-g...
zoom
Image Courtesy: Svenska Hamnarbetarna
The latest mediation round between Swedish Dockworkers’ Union, section 4, and APM Terminals Gothenburg has been terminated after the latest attempt of reaching a deal on collective bargaining agreement fell through.

Dockworkers union said that it had proposed on Tuesday, July 4 that the parties sign a collective agreement built on a previously proposed mediation bid as a temporary solution, “to try to normalize relations and to work towards a sustainable solution in agreement negotiations forward.”

As disclosed, the conditions were that the agreement would be short and clear.

However, APM Terminals rejected the offer, the union informed, adding that, according to the government-appointed mediators, the company was not interested in a short contract.

Following the latest developments, the mediators announced that there were no preconditions for a reconciliation of the two parties on the matter, terminating the mediation round that was launched on June 16.

In June, APM Terminals Gothenburg served a notice of termination to 160 staff members, out of a total of 450 employees, due to “a sharp fall in volumes over the past year”.

However, earlier this month, the union said that there was no new information about APM Terminals recent announcement that the company will lay off 150 dockworkers in Gothenburg.

“The Swedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU), which organises some 85% of the dockworkers at the container terminal, is still barred from participating in the redundancy talks and currently lacks insight in the ongoing related negotiations between APMT and the minority union STWU,” the union added.

In May this year, APMT imposed a partial lockout that was in effect from 4 pm (1600 hrs) on 19 May until midnight (2400 hrs) on 30 June.

According to the union, the employer’s industrial action meant that the dockworkers were shut out from the port without pay and that the terminal was shut down between 16.00 and 07.00 on all weekdays during the said period, resulting in production loss of 371 hours.

APMT had justified the move saying that after 14 blockades and nine days of strike action by SDU over the past year, the company needed a way of ensuring reliable service.

APMT Gothenburg is open but is operating slower than usual due to the recent cyber attack on its parent company Maersk.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: Swedish dockersunion bustingSwedish Dockworkers’ Union (SDU)
Categories: Labor News

Colombia: Sugar union leader murdered

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Statement By SF Taxi Workers Alliance On Deregulation And Attack On Taxi Workers

Current News - Wed, 07/05/2017 - 11:51

Statement By SF Taxi Workers Alliance On Deregulation And Attack On Taxi Workers

http://www.sftwa.org

The world is experiencing a change in the way taxicab services are delivered on a global scale. The reason for this change is because of the development of an application (app), utilized on a smart phone that calls a person nearby driving his or her own car. The developers of this app, as a taxi service, call the type of business in which they are engaged peer-to-peer or “sharing.” It was based on illegal file-sharing apps (like Napster) which Kalanick was twice found guilty of running. It is different from the old “gypsy cabs” because the app has a Yelp-like rating system, to alert other users about the quality of the driver, and a built in payment system in which both “peers” are identifiable for potential crimes (failure to pay or kidnapping). The developer of the app makes money by charging the driver a percentage of each ride he/she performs. The driver makes money by charging the customer for the price of the ride. The driver (peer) uses the app entirely voluntarily and is an independent contractor paying a fee to a service for calls.

Those whose job it is to regulate vehicles for hire, at both the city and state levels, have allowed them to operate under the rubric of “not wanting to stifle innovation.” SF Mayor Ed Lee declared July 13, 2013 “Lyft day” after his own MTA was issuing Uber “cease and desist” notices (October 20, 2010).” The CPUC then took it upon themselves to usurp regulatory oversight by declaring them (during a hasty two-day meeting) a new form of livery industry, Transportation Network Company (TNC) which they do regulate. They can therefore go anywhere in the state without regulation from local municipalities. Of course, they do not go anywhere, but rather to the cities with the greatest market for their services; that market is San Francisco. Over fifty thousand TNCs now flock to San Francisco daily to pick up fares, contributing to the air pollution and traffic congestion that everyone now recognizes.

This business has decimated traditional for-hire ride services, particularly taxis. Taxi drivers have seen their number of rides (and income) cut substantially by one third to one half. Many drivers have simply quit driving taxi. Some have become Uber drivers. As a result half of the taxi fleets stand idle. Now Uber and Lyft drivers with grievances against the TNCs have approached labor unions and asked for representation. Their desire for labor recognition belies the fact that for taxi workers they are considered the labor equivalent of “scabs.” Neither taxi drivers nor TNC drivers are strictly speaking workers. If not for the decline in their incomes most taxi drivers and TNC drivers would not have any interest in unions. Why, therefore, should the labor movement have any interest in un-organizable independent contractor taxi drivers?

Taxi drivers were among the first occupations to become “independent contractor” in 1978 when the employer-employee relationship broke down due to Proposition K. Cab companies saw the independent contractor status as a way to shift the risk for taxi operation entirely to the driver. The driver now paid a flat “gate” to take the cab out and returned the cab with a full tank of gas. The companies therefore made a definite profit every day regardless of how poorly the driver did. Independent contractor status has now spread far and wide throughout the workforce, undermining labor’s efforts to organize workers. Taxis, however, have been limited by city regulation by the requirement to possess a medallion, which the city issues. Thus taxi drivers have been able to achieve a decent income, despite the intention of the independent contractor status to drag incomes down. With the over-supply of drivers that the TNCs provide, the independent contractor device works and the incomes of taxi drivers and TNC drivers fall below the minimum wage for employer-employee workers.

To be continued . . . .

Tags: UberLyftderegulationindependent contractorsunion busting
Categories: Labor News

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