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UK: Unions unite against Islamophobia joint TUC-DGB statement

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Stronger Unions
Categories: Labor News

Global: Rio Tinto seeks conflict with unions at global meeting

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

3/14 Rail Safety Conference Richmond, CA

Current News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 13:18

3/14 Rail Safety Conference Richmond, CA
Rail safety conference, Richmond California, 14 March 2015

“The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment” is the title of two back-to-back conferences; the first on Saturday, March 14, 2015 in Richmond, California; the second on Saturday, March 21 in Olympia, Washington.

Everyday a tragic trail derailment occurs, often transporting highly flammable Bakken Shale or Tar Sand, from North Dakota or Alberta, to refineries across North America. The 47 -- preventable-- deaths in Lac-Mégantic has wakened people to the dangers of oil trains and the movement of trains in general through their communities. Environmental activists are up-in-arms about the amounts of fossil fuels moving by rail. Farmers and other shippers are concerned about the congestion that has occurred in recent months, but in part to the oil boom. The rail networks in the U.S. and Canada and clogged with crude-by-rail, displacing the already heavy traffic of grains headed to port for export.

The public generally has no idea what goes on daily on America’s railroads. Chronic crew fatigue, single employee train crews, excessively long and heavy trains, draconian availability policies, short staffing, limited time off work create challenging safety issues of concern not just to railroaders, but to the entire population.

Please join us at this cutting edge conference that brings together railroad workers, environmentalists, community activists and concerned workers from other sectors, in order to build the movement for a safer and greener railroad, on that is more responsive to the needs of workers, trackside communities, citizens in general, and society as a whole.

Richmond is a perfect confluence for this conference as it has always been a company town, first for Santa Fe Railroad as the western terminus of its transcontinental railroad in 1900, then for Standard Oil (later becoming Chevron) in 1901 and its massive refinery complex, and again for Kaiser Industries with its four assembly line-like shipyards in the late 1930s through World War II. From 1910 until 1959 the Pullman Company located its largest West Coast rail car repair shop adjacent to the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe lines in the center of Richmond. It also fronts the San Francisco Bay with access to a channel of 40-60 feet deep, allowing the largest seagoing ships (mostly oil tankers these days) to call its ports. Despite still being the location of the Burlington Northern Sante Fe rail yard and Chevron's massive refinery, Richmond is a bottomed out deindustrialized city that puts its largely working class people of color population in the toxic shadow of oil, chemical and other polluting heavy industries.

In adjacent cities of Rodeo there is the Conoco Phillips Refinery, Benecia has Valero Refinery, and Martinez has both Shell and Tesoro Refineries (the latter currently on strike). They are served by both BNSF and Union Pacific Railroads and maritime wharfs. This area along the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays is statistically known as a "cancer cluster."

Members of the Empire Logistics/Global Supply Chains Study Group will facilitate the following workshop:

● Energy Supply Chain Inquiry
Interactive workshop where all participants will brainstorm ways for solidarity to flow through the various working class sectors down the chains – and model ways for strikes and direct action to spread from the point of extraction to the point of consumption, including the communities where the energy commodities pass through. All necessary materials (maps of rail lines, rail yards, ports & refineries; flowcharts of fossil fuel supply chains; etc.) will be provided.

Other workshops will be:

● Railroading 101
Single Employee Train Crews
Importance of Teamwork & Crew Fatigue
The Problem with Long & Heavy Trains
● Environmentalism 101
Climate Change & Crude-by-Rail 101
Political Ecology 101
● Solutionary Rail: A vision for electrified higher-speed rail
If you'd like to participate in either the Richmond or Olympia conference, you can register online:

For more information, see the website at www.RailroadConference.org

Tags: railroad safety
Categories: Labor News

‘Uber is a rip-off for its drivers and the public’: Cab Drivers Protest Rideshares in Chicago

Current News - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 12:51

‘Uber is a rip-off for its drivers and the public’: Cab Drivers Protest Rideshares in Chicago
THURSDAY, FEB 19, 2015, 1:38 PM
‘Uber is a rip-off for its drivers and the public’: Cab Drivers Protest Rideshares in Chicago

Cab drivers protest Uber outside Chicago's City Hall on Wednesday. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, is a major investor in the company. (CDU / Facebook)

If you’ve taken an Uber recently, you probably forked over an extra dollar for a “Safe Ride Fee,” a recently-added cost that the tech giant says will help ensure that drivers and their vehicles are fit for the road. Soon, you will also be able to share details of your location and ETA with people waiting at the other end of your Uber ride, just in case your driver decides to drive you to a secluded location, sexually assault you, and/or hit you over the head with a hammer—all offenses that Uber drivers have allegedly committed against riders during the past year.

Uber denied liability in these incidents, as well as in the death of a 6-year-old girl struck by one of its drivers in San Francisco last year. But in December Uber hired a “head of global safety” and pledged to ramp up precautions. Riders may or may not be comforted by the results so far: Among them, an assurance that they will now be able to press an app-based “panic button” if things in the passenger seat start to go awry. But they’re consistent with Uber’s approach of letting the free market to take the wheel—while continuing to collect commissions of up to 25 percent. Uber is currently valued at $40 billion.

The company has faced a slew of bad headlines in Chicago as of late, including two alleged sexual assaults by its drivers over a three-week period in January. Nevertheless, the city announced this week that it would license Uber to operate as a “transportation network provider” (TNP), a new category of commercial vehicle transportation created last year.

On Wednesday, more than 100 Chicago cab drivers rallied at City Hall to protest the decision, which they say harms their livelihoods as well as public safety. Chicago cab drivers must pass background checks and drug and physical exams each year as a condition of license renewal, leading cabbies to complain that they’re victims of a “two-tier” system that subjects them to onerous regulation while giving a free pass to Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride services.

“The issues are piling up and the city is not solving them,” said Ismail Onay, who has been a licensed taxi driver in Chicago for 14 years. “Driving a cab used to be a pathway to the middle class, but Uber is disrupting and killing our industry.”

While Chicago caps the number of cabs that can operate at any given time to about 6,500, there are as many as 13,000 Uber drivers in the city according to Cab Drivers United, a labor group affiliated with AFSCME Council 31 that staged Wednesday’s protest. The United Taxidrivers Community Council, another labor group, staged a separate protest against Uber on Tuesday.

App-based “sharing economy” companies have long enjoyed a regulatory Wild West, but Chicago, Boston and several other cities have moved recently to impose new rules on ridesharing. After passing an ordinance last spring that established a licensing process and protections against price surging, Chicago issued the first TNP licenses to Lyft and Sidecar in November.

According to the ridesharing ordinance, companies whose drivers log an average of more than 20 hours per week must obtain a “Class B” license, which requires drivers on the platform to obtain a public chauffeur’s license and submit to background checks and annual vehicle inspections conducted by the city. But both Lyft and Sidecar were granted the less restrictive and expensive “Class A” license created by the ordinance, under which the companies must pay $10,000 for the licenses but can continue to conduct their own background and vehicle inspections.

The city allows companies to choose which license they apply for, and then allows them to self-report their own data on driver hours to prove that they are complying with its regulations. As a result, say cab companies and other critics of the ordinance, few companies are likely to opt for the more expensive and onerous license—effectively continuing the unregulated status quo for ridesharing.

Uber also applied for a TNP license, but the city had delayed its approval in the wake of the alleged sexual assaults by its drivers. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the city’s decision this week to license Uber is contingent on a “promise” from the company to implement a list of additional safety measures in Chicago, including cooperating with police in investigations of its drivers, employing off-duty police officers to conduct monthly safety audits and checking the city’s list of suspended, denied and revoked chauffeur’s licenses and deactivating any drivers who appear on this list. (Neither the City of Chicago nor Uber responded to requests for comment on this decision).

Cab drivers believe this is woefully inadequate.

“After two years of operating illegally in Chicago, the city’s response to allow Uber, a politically connected, billion-dollar corporation to operate based on a ‘promise’ is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” said Cheryl Miller, a member of CDU.

They’re not the only ones crying foul. Alderman Bob Fioretti, who is running for mayor in Chicago’s elections this month, has accused current Mayor Rahm Emanuel of political favoritism towards Uber. The mayor’s brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, is a major investor in Uber, though his William Morris Endeavor agency has declined to state exactly how large its ownership interest is.

The mayor has said that his advocacy of ridesharing regulations are “just the opposite” of favoritism. “Let me say this about Ari. He doesn’t need his older brother to get rich. Think of it as me getting back at him,” Emanuel told the Chicago Sun-Times last year.

Uber passengers, of course, aren’t the only ones being taken for a ride by Silicon Valley. As In These Times has reported previously, drivers on the Uber platform have been staging protests of their own in opposition to what they say are erratic fare cuts and a dwindling share of the company’s profits.

Cab Drivers United (CDU), which began organizing Chicago taxi drivers last year, says that it currently has 4,000 members, none of them UberX drivers. But a spokesperson says that the group would welcome drivers who work on app-based platforms, given the exploitative nature of the industry.

Following efforts by AFSCME to organize cab drivers in New Orleans, CDU has been working to reduce the rates drivers pay to lease their vehicles; improve the process for adjudicating complaints and citations, for which drivers can lose their licenses; and decrease the maximum fines drivers can receive for violations like rider complaints or traffic violations. The group is not officially a union, and AFSCME says it has no plans at present to file for an election, but CDU was successful in passing a “taxi driver fairness” ordinance through the city council that will take effect this month.

Still, taxi drivers say that Uber is cutting into their fares and that the city needs to create a level playing field.

“Uber is a rip-off for its drivers and a rip-off for the public,” said cab driver and CDU member David Boakye. “This is our first big protest against Uber in Chicago, but if we need to we will escalate.”

Tags: UberTaxi driversCDU
Categories: Labor News

Liverpool IWW Demonstrates For Precarious Workers

IWW - Fri, 02/27/2015 - 07:56

Pro-Claimant Demo Gets Great Public Support in West Derby

By the Liverpool IWW

Members of Liverpool IWW joined around a dozen activists, including people from the benefits advice group Reclaim, outside West Derby job centre on Eaton Road this lunchtime. This was part of a national day of action in solidarity with Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox. Tony was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath job centre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We protested to drive home the message that ‘advocacy is not a crime’, and aiming to build towards smashing sanctions against unemployed workers.

read more

Categories: Unions

USA: The incredible decline of American unions, in one animated map

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Washington Post
Categories: Labor News

Global: Right to Strike Re-affirmed at ILO

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

India: Trade unions slam “anti-labour” policies of the Centre

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Hindu
Categories: Labor News

World Dockers IDC Calls For Support Of Greek People Against "Ultra-liberal policies"

Current News - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 09:45

World Dockers IDC Calls For Support Of Greek People Against "Ultra-liberal policies"

From: "IDC"
IDC-E statement in support of the Greek People
Date: February 26, 2015 at 3:28:40 AM PST
To: "'IDC'"

February 26, 2014

IDC-E statement in support of the Greek People

All the members of the IDC European zone support the Greek people who, through a democratic vote affirmed their opposition to the austerity measures imposed by Europe.

For several years, the peoples of Europe are suffering from ultra-liberal policies imposed by European organizations under the dictates of the major financial powers.

Hard working people must no longer accept to be crushed so that the rich are getting richer.

Greek port sector unions have also been fighting against these policies in recent years and especially the last few months, before the announcement of the privatization of the ports and port authorities of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, with a tireless struggle to defend their jobs and a productive sector of the Greek economy, under pressures from the Troika to sell off the port to private investors.

The example of our Greek comrades must show us the way to discard this capitalist Europe that we no longer want.

ETUC must take into account the will of the workers and bring those claims forward in order to coordinate the European struggles needed to develop a true social Europe at the service of all peoples, of all workers and not at the service of a few oligarchs.

Again, we extend our congratulations to the Greek people that have continuously opposed a Europe that nobody wants and tries to silence by all means those who dare to show that a change is possible and necessary.

We are with you and we will try to push all European peoples to join you in your fight.

Workers throughout Europe will join forces for the benefit of the people.

The members of IDC Europe
"Will never walk alone again"

Susana Busquets
Coordination Office
International Dockworkers Council (IDC)
Ph. +34 93 225 25 28
Fax. +34 93 221 65 88

Tags: IDCGreeceausterity
Categories: Labor News

Mexico: Police kill one, injure dozens at teachers’ protest

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Euronews
Categories: Labor News

Another Canadian National Railway Derailment – Northern Minnesota

Railroaded's Blog - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:29

As debate heightens about the transport of dangerous goods by rail, another Canadian National Railway train derailed early this morning about 25 miles NW of Duluth, Minnesota (Star Tribune). 13 of 107 cars derailed, 3 of which were loaded with naphthalene, a hazardous material best known as the active ingredient in mothballs. St. Louis County Emergency Services Manager Scott Camps said there is a “potential for release of naphthalene when they have to off-load the product from the damaged cars”. Preliminary information suggests that some or all of the other derailed cars were loaded with plastic pellets.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for information on hundreds of other CN derailments in the U.S. and Canada.

Filed under: Derailment
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters United Organizing Meetings - NYC and New England, March 14 & 15

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 08:47

Teamster members across the country are organizing for new leadership and a new direction in our International Union.

In the last International Union election, the opposition forces were divided.

This time Local 804 President Tim Sylvester, Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman and other Teamster leaders are building a coalition effort that is uniting Teamsters, including former Hoffa supporters, in one movement for a stronger union.

Get involved with Teamster officers and members who are building a movement to elect new International Union leadership and rebuild Teamster power.

New York City
Saturday March 14
10:30 a.m.
Knights of Columbus
4918 Queens Blvd, Woodside, NY 11377

Click here to RSVP for the March 14 meeting in NYC.

Or "join" the event on Facebook.


New England
Sunday March 15
1:00 p.m.
Italian American Civic Club
231 Lake Avenue, Worcester, MA 01604

Click here to RSVP for the March 15 meeting in Worcester.

Or "join" the event on Facebook.


Help spread the word! Download and pass out leaflets for the NYC March 14 and New England March 15 meetings.

Email takebackourunion2016 [at] gmail.com if you have any questions about the meetings.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Wisconsin Workers Protest 'Right-to-Work' Threat

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:48

February 25, 2015: "The weather was cold yesterday but the crowd came together for the first rally of the growing protest against the latest attack on workers and the Middle class in Wisconsin," says Local 200 retiree and TDU Steering Committee member Dan Campbell.

Click here to read more on the new threat of 'right-to-work' legislation in Wisconsin.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Proposed bill seeks to end BART strikes

Current News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:12

Proposed bill seeks to end BART strikes
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez @FitztheReporter

State Assemblywoman Catherine B. Baker, R-San Ramon, announced Tuesday a bill to end BART workers' legal right to strike, which some unions are calling a roadblock to repairing relationships with BART management.

BART workers currently have a no-strike clause in their contracts, but may legally strike when their contracts expire. Baker argued that this a "loophole" that needs to end.

In 2013, two BART strikes halted commutes across the Bay Area. Two workers also lost their lives on the tracks after they were struck by a train that was running without passengers and used to train replacement workers.

This is a "unique approach to preventing future BART strikes," Baker said in a statement.

Two of BART's largest unions said their focus should be on repairing highly fractured relationships with BART management in time for the June 2017 contract negotiations.

"This is opening old wounds, the workers are trying to get along with the district," Pete Castelli, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, told The San Francisco Examiner.

Chris Finn, head of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555, said relationships with the district have improved.

In the wake of an independent report on its labor relations, BART hired a new assistant general manager of employee relations, and made public commitments to address 63 recommendations to fix labor relations.

Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman said the strike cost the Bay Area $73 million per day in lost worker productivity.

BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost said the board will vote to take positions on specific bills in June.

More Transportation »

Tags: Transportation, BART strike, BART board of directors, SEIU 1021, labor

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Categories: Labor News

Southwest Jets to Keep Flying After Missed Inspections- In Past "local FAA officials permitted the carrier to fly 46 aircraft without completing mandatory structural inspections."

Current News - Wed, 02/25/2015 - 05:20

Southwest Jets to Keep Flying After Missed Inspections- In Past "local FAA officials permitted the carrier to fly 46 aircraft without completing mandatory structural inspections."
Southwest failed to perform mandatory inspections on 128 jets, FAA agrees planes can fly for five days while checks are
Southwest canceled 90 flights Tuesday night as a result of the airline pulling roughly one-fifth of its fleet out of service, a spokeswoman said. PHOTO: RICK WILKING/REUTERS
Updated Feb. 25, 2015 2:23 a.m. ET
Southwest Airlines Co. failed to perform mandatory rudder inspections on more than 125 jets, or roughly one-fifth of its fleet, forcing it to scramble late Tuesday to negotiate an unusual arrangement with federal regulators to keep the planes flying until the checks were completed.

The drama began Tuesday afternoon, when the carrier informed the FAA that certain hydraulic inspections were missed on 128 of the company’s Boeing 737-700 models, which were voluntarily taken out of service right away. Some 80 flights were canceled on Tuesday as a result.

Officials from Southwest, the Federal Aviation Administration and plane maker Boeing Co. then hunkered down to work out a plan to get the checks completed as quickly as possible, with the aim of returning the planes to service in the interim. Around 1 a.m. Wednesday Eastern time, Southwest said the FAA approved “a proposal that would allow the planes to keep flying for a maximum of five days” while inspections are done. An FAA spokesman confirmed the arrangement.

Southwest flies more than 3,400 flights a day, meaning that taking out a fifth of its fleet could result in hundreds of cancellations nationwide. The company’s updated statement anticipated “very minimal impact” on Wednesday’s operations.

Reflecting the fluid nature of the situation, the FAA released its own statement about two hours earlier confirming that the carrier had “missed some required inspections on the standby rudder system” on 128 aircraft. The statement added that FAA officials, working with representatives of the airline and manufacturer Boeing Co., were still evaluating a proposal “that would allow the airline to continue flying the planes until the inspections are completed over the next few days.”

The Dallas-based carrier is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 737 jets and relies entirely on the single-aisle workhorse for its fleet. According to Boeing’s website, the company has taken delivery of 941 737 jets directly from the plane maker since 1971 and has a further 273 still on order as of Jan. 31.

Though the inspection slipup already has turned into an embarrassing irritant for the Southwest, it isn’t expected to have the longer-term negative impact of a 2008 dispute with the FAA and lawmakers over maintenance lapses.

Congressional hearings created a tumult that buffeted the industry after it was disclosed that local FAA officials permitted the carrier to fly 46 aircraft without completing mandatory structural inspections. In another case a year later, the FAA allowed Southwest to continue flying roughly 50 jets that were equipped with unauthorized parts while it worked to replace those parts, after the agency concluded they didn’t pose an immediate safety hazard.

Write to Jon Ostrower at jon.ostrower@wsj.com and Andy Pasztor at andy.pasztor@wsj.com

Tags: FAASWAhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

USA: Want to Be Happy? Join a Union

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Times
Categories: Labor News

Retirees Facing Severe Pension Cuts

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 02/24/2015 - 07:44
Ted HartNBCFebruary 24, 2015View the original piece

Whit Wyatt of Washington Court House worked as a teamster truck driver for 33 years. Now Whit and his wife Barb have a comfortable retirement living on Whit's teamster pension and social security.

But Wyatt is one of hundreds of thousands of union retirees who may soon see severe cuts to their monthly pension checks. “I've planned my life around my guaranteed pension and it just looks like that's going to be taken away," Wyatt said.

Click here to read more.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

OSHA Employee says the federal whistleblower program isn’t protecting whistleblowers or the public-From Railroads, Airlines And Trucking

Current News - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 17:08

OSHA Employee says the federal whistleblower program isn’t protecting whistleblowers or the public-From Railroads, Airlines And Trucking
Industries With Whistleblower Protection

OSHA whistleblower protection doesn't apply to all workers, everywhere. There are 22 different statutes that determine whether whistleblower protection applies and how a worker might make a complaint. Click the list items below for more info.

Workers can make a formal complaint by contacting their regional OSHA office.

Employee says the federal whistleblower program isn’t protecting whistleblowers or the public
By Vicky Nguyen, Liz Wagner and Felipe Escamilla

From airlines to pipelines, they are the workers on the front lines who speak up when they witness wrongdoing. An NBC Bay Area investigation reveals that the federal program designed to protect whistleblowers may be failing to meet its mission, and insiders say that puts all of us at risk.
Updated 2 hours ago
For decades, whistleblowers have played a pivotal role in exposing wrongdoing in industries that affect public safety and welfare. NSA leaker Edward Snowden, “Deep Throat” Mark Felt and Enron Corporation’s Sherron Watkins famously blew the whistle on their employers.
The federal government established the Whistleblower Protection Program in the 1970s to shield employees from retaliation when they report wrongdoing or safety hazards in their industry. But insiders say the program is failing the very people it is supposed to protect, and jeopardizing public health and safety in the process.
The program is run and managed by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Current and former OSHA employees, complainants and government reports reveal a system that has botched the investigation and management of whistleblower cases.
“OSHA is hostile to whistleblowers,” said Darrell Whitman, an agency investigator.
For the past five years Whitman has worked in the San Francisco office of OSHA’s Region 9, which oversees four states—California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii—and the U.S. territory Guam. Whitman examines complaints from workers who have been fired for speaking up about problems in 22 industries ranging from pipeline safety and food production to aviation and nuclear defense.

A map of all the regional OSHA offices in the US. Region 9 headquarters are in San Francisco.
Photo credit: OSHA
When people from those sectors blow the whistle, OSHA is supposed to pay attention. But Whitman says that’s not happening.
“It is so incredibly absurd that we have placed our faith in these people who have no intention of following through to protect the public,” he said.
Whitman said that after he began his job in 2010 he discovered a disturbing pattern of what he considers mismanagement by his supervisors. He said superiors pressured employees to rush investigations to eliminate a growing backlog of cases and dismiss complaints even when Whitman found they had merit.
He points to at least six instances where he believes managers bungled the outcome of cases or decided to dismiss them unfairly. Two cases which Whitman calls “slam dunks” involve the environmental testing and aviation industries.
“Slam Dunk” Cases
For three years beginning in 2010 Aaron Stookey worked as a flight service specialist for defense contractor, Lockheed Martin. He helped commercial, private and military pilots plan safe flight paths by advising them of weather conditions in the skies near them.
“I want that pilot to know everything they need to know,” said Stookey, “so everyone aboard that aircraft can safely get to their destination and see their families that night.”
He was certified to assist pilots in just three mountain states—Colorado, Wyoming and Montana—not the entire country. Stookey says often times he would receive calls from locations with which he was not familiar. He says his managers pressured him to answer an increasing call volume and instructed him not to reveal his actual location when pilots called for help. Stookey believed that practice violated laws established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“They did not want the pilot to know that they received someone who was not certified in a flight plan area,” he said. “I would say this isn’t safe, this is really deceptive to the aviation community and I am not comfortable with that.”
After repeated warnings, Lockheed Martin fired Stookey for failing to follow company procedures. In a statement the company said specialists are “trained to carefully follow FAA regulations and our standard of care policies to ensure the safety of general aviation pilots.”
Mike Madry also believes he suffered retaliation from his employer and said OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program let him down.
For a decade Madry served as the Phoenix-based quality assurance manager for Em Lab P&K, one of the largest indoor air quality testing companies in the U.S. In 2009, Madry says he documented multiple labs misusing a device that records test results for asbestos, a cancer causing carcinogen found in many older homes and schools. He said the device called into question the accuracy of thousands of samples.
“The compromised testing process could put the whole nation at risk,” Madry said.
He says he also found that a lab in San Bruno was cutting corners by conducting tests in just 20 seconds instead of the standard time of five to 10 minutes.
“I asked repeatedly how these tests were able to be done in such a short period of time and I never got a clear answer from management,” Madry said.
He was fired in 2011. He says according to the company, he was terminated for failing to return from medical leave. In an email Em Lab P&K said it has a “strong basis for defending itself against Mr. Madry’s allegations” but declined to comment further citing pending litigation.
Whitman investigated and determined both companies violated the law by retaliating against Madry and Stookey. His findings called for the employers to rehire the men with back pay. Instead, Whitman says his superiors dismissed the cases.
“I expected those supervisory people in that office to back up my complaint,” Madry said. “They simply kicked me to the curb.”
“When you simply dismiss a case because you don’t like it or don’t want to stand up to business,” Whitman said, “you are basically sending a message to other whistleblowers, don’t file a complaint because we’re not going to take it seriously.”
Whitman was so upset by how his managers dealt with Madry’s case that he petitioned OSHA headquarters to review it. The national office agreed with Whitman and reversed Region 9’s decision.
With regard to Stookey’s case, Lockheed Martin said in a statement “the OSHA investigative process worked as it should have. When all the relevant facts were reviewed by OSHA supervisors and administrators, Mr. Stookey’s claim was found to be without merit.”

A History of Mismanagement
NBC Bay Area’s Investigate Unit spoke with six additional whistleblowers who believe Region 9 managers mishandled or unfairly dismissed their cases.
OSHA statistics show that only a small number of investigations result in merit findings, or a so-called victory for the whistleblower. From 2009 to 2014 OSHA’s Region 9 issued merit findings 16 times out of 562 investigations, or 2.8 percent. The region settled an additional 23 percent of cases. Over the same time period, the Whistleblower Protection Program as a whole found merit in 2.7 percent of cases and settled 15 percent.
Whitman has an explanation for the low percentages:
“They don’t want the investigations done,” Whitman said. “They want numbers.”
Whitman shared emails sent between multiple investigators in his office last year highlighting similar concerns over “pressure to close out more cases” and meet “quotas.”
A former Region 9 whistleblower investigator who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity said managers consider the quantity of cases closed more important than the quality of investigations.
“If all you are doing is an assembly line of investigations you are not assisting anybody,” she said.
A 2010 audit conducted by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Labor found that OSHA “did not always ensure that complainants received appropriate investigations.” Other internal reviews and reports have criticized OSHA for its low merit rate and inattention to longstanding program weaknesses.
Whitman points to his reports that he says his supervisor altered without his consent. In one instance, he says the conclusion was changed from a merit finding to a non-merit determination.
“This is an example of falsification of documents,” he said.
Whitman has lodged formal complaints all the way up to the U.S. Secretary of Labor, and he now considers himself a whistleblower. He says he has faced discipline for giving complainants information about how he believes OSHA management mishandled their cases, and expects to be fired after NBC Bay Area’s investigation airs.
OSHA declined to comment citing an ongoing personnel investigation but said the department has reinvigorated the Whistleblower Protection Program since 2009 by adding resources, reorganizing staff and establishing an advisory committee to recommend changes.
"Based on the progress we have made in improving the program, the allegations made by some are preposterous," Jordan Barab, OSHA's Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor said in a statement. "We have made progress on addressing the backlog, increased the number of settlements and merit cases and significantly increased the amount of damages from employers who have retaliated against workers."
Whitman says efforts to reform the system have yet to result in meaningful protections for whistleblowers or the public.
“The message has gotten out to a lot of people. You either quit your job or keep your mouth shut because if a company doesn’t fire you or blacklist you, OSHA will destroy your life,” Whitman said. “As a consequence there are a lot of things that aren’t being reported. And that’s the scarier part.”

Tags: oshahealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

New Tank Cars No Safer than Older Ones

Railroaded's Blog - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 15:56

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada says the new CPC-1232 tank cars are no better than the older DOT-111 tank cars that derailed, punctured, spilled 6.5 million litres of crude oil, and burned in July 2013, killing 47 people, seriously damaging the environment and leveling much of downtown Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.

In a preliminary report on the February 14, 2015 derailment of a Canadian National Railway oil train near Timmins in northern Ontario, the TSB says at least 19 of the 29 derailed tank cars were breached or partially breached, releasing crude oil which was being shipped from Alberta’s tar sands region (Reuters). Seven of the derailed tank cars caught fire and burned for about 4 days. “Preliminary assessment of the CPC-1232-compliant tank cars involved in this occurrence demonstrates the inadequacy of this standard given the tank cars’ similar performance to the legacy Class 111 tank cars involved in the Lac-Mégantic accident”, said the Board.

The February 16, 2015 derailment of a CSX oil train in West Virginia also involved the newer model CPC-1232-compliant tank cars. About 15 of 27 tank cars that derailed in that crash caught fire and spilled Bakken crude oil into Armstrong Creek and the Kanawha River.

Considering this latest revelation by the TSB, one has to wonder whether it is actually possible to make shipping oil by rail safe. Visit this link for more information on the dangers associated with shipping oil and other dangerous goods by rail.


Filed under: shipping oil by rail
Categories: Labor News

Ohio Teamsters want New Leadership

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 12:12

February 23, 2015: Teamsters in Ohio are joining the movement for change in the International union. Ben Sizemore, A YRC driver in Local 407 told the Cleveland meeting yesterday “We’re goin’ to smoke ‘em in the election next year.”

Teamsters from Columbus Local 413 braved nasty weather this past Saturday to hear Tim Sylvester, Fred Zuckerman, and their own local President Tony Jones, lay out their ideas and plans for taking back the IBT for the rank and file membership. 75 Teamsters attended, from various shops and crafts. Members talked about the downhill slide in Teamster contracts and Teamster power during Hoffa’s 16 years in office.

Cleveland-Akron Teamsters came out on Sunday from Locals 24, 407, 964, 377, along with Teamsters from Western Pennsylvania. The room was wall-to-wall solidarity and unity of purpose: building a strong movement to restore Teamster power and pride. 

Categories: Labor News, Unions


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