Former ILWU Local 34 President Frank Billeci died on February 1 at the age of 79. Frank was a member of Local 34 for 42 years and served his local in several positions starting in 1969 when he was elected to the Local 34 Investigating Committee.
In 1971 he was elected to the Local 34 Labor Relations Committee and in 1973 was a delegate to the Longshore Caucus and Convention. He also served on the International Executive Board and the ILWU Container Freight Station Committee. In1977, Frank was elected Vice President of Local 34 and after six months, he assumed the office of Local 34 President when Jimmy Herman was elected ILWU International President.
He served as Local 34 President until 1989 when he took a break from elected office to return to the docks and work on projects with the International. He was again elected Local 34 President in 1994 and served in that position until his retirement in 1999.
After retiring, Frank spent time with his wife and family. He enjoyed following his favorite teams, the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers, camping on the Sacramento River, fishing with his son and being a grandfather.
“Frank’s dedication to his work and the ILWU family was unsurpassed,” said Local 34 Secretary-Treasurer Allen Fung. “He never made himself the spotlight; instead he was always the one to give others the opportunity to shine. If there is one word that can be used to remember Frank, that word would be ‘integrity.’”
Frank is survived by Joan, his wife of 44 years, his daughter Tina, his son, Roger, his sister, Rose, and four grandchildren: Peter, Nathan, Lauren and Caroline.
. The building located at 110 The Embarcadero on the City’s waterfront will become the permanent headquarters of The Commonwealth Club of California. The 112-year old public affairs forum bought the building two-years ago but the project has been delayed by a neighborhood group that opposed the project.
The building was the headquarters for the longshoreman during the City’s historic 1934 waterfront strike and was the site of pitched battles between workers, police and private security forces. Two workers, Nicholas Bordois and Howard Sperry, were shot and killed by police on Bloody Thursday—July 5th, 1934. Their bodies laid in the longshoremen’s hall until their funeral. The deaths of Bordois and Sperry rallied public support for the strikers and eventually sparked a four-day general strike in San Francisco.
The building has been vacant for years. A previous development project, which was ultimately rejected by the Board Supervisors, proposed tearing down the building entirely and replacing it with a high-rise condominium project. The ILWU passed a resolution at its convention in 2009 opposing that project.
The Commonwealth Club reached out to the ILWU from the outset of the new project and wanted to ensure that the building’s history would be appropriately honored. The façade on Steuart Street, where the longshoreman occupied the building, will be restored to its original 1934 appearance.
The building’s history will also be commemorated with a plaque on the outside and a historical exhibit inside. The side of the building facing the Embarcadero, which no longer bears and resemblance to its 1930s character, will be replaced with a modern curtain-wall façade.
Local 10 member Felipe Riley, Bay Area pensioner John Fisher and ILWU historian Harvey Schwartz spoke in favor of the project because of the Commonwealth Club’s commitment to honoring the history of the ILWU and the important role the 1934 waterfront strike played in the City’s history.
The Commonwealth Club will be working with the ILWU to design the marker and exhibit detailing the building’s history that will be seen by thousands of people attending the Club’s events every year.
The Tamarkin union members overwhelmingly voted in favor of Giant Eagle’s severance package Wednesday.
The vote was 129 to 4. Teamsters Local 377, which represents the workers, has been told by the company with passage of the package the plant employees will be able to stay through June.
Click here to read more at The Vindicator.
March 24, 2015: Over 200 active and retired Teamsters packed the Cincinnati Local 100 hall for the monthly Retirees Club meeting to hear speakers address the pending cuts to Central States pensions. Mike Walden, chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, told a standing room only audience that it was time to organize to push back the attacks on retirement security.
That same day, 150 Teamster retirees met at the Columbus union hall and heard Greg Smith, an Akron Local 24 retiree, speak on the pension issue. Representatives from U.S. Senators Brown and Portman’s staffs were also present to hear retirees speak out on the importance of maintaining the pensions they rely on for their retirement. See the article covering the meeting in the Columbus Post Dispatch.
Tom Kreckler, a retired Local 114 Teamster and Secretary-Treasurer of the retirees club, said, “Out of this meeting, we’re organizing a pension committee. We need to get the word out to hundreds of members who know nothing about what’s coming. We got a number of volunteers to sign up to help out. Spouses are getting involved too. We need to let Central States know that we won’t accept cuts without a fight.”
A committee was also formed in Columbus to carry forward the struggle to protect pensions. On March 21, a conference call of 100 pension committee and activists, convened by TDU, got reports from some committees and from the staff of the Pension Rights Center in Washington DC, on where the grassroots campaign is headed.
The campaign is spreading throughout the Central and Southern regions, and beyond.Pension and Benefits
March 24, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund trustees have set up a briefing for local union officers on April 8. Will this be the big announcement regarding their proposed pension cuts – or a background briefing?
The announcement states only that they will “provide Local Union officers with background information on the MPRA [pension cut legislation], review the process and timetable…and outline a communication plan for our participants.” It goes on to state that the Board of Trustees [four Teamster officials and four management reps] are “currently reviewing options.”
We believe that review needs to be expanded.
The Fund has stepped up security at their building in Rosemont Illinois, and this announcement states that only pre-registered union officers will be allowed in the meeting, with “no walk-ins.”
We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Teamster retirees and members are fighting back against cuts, and for better and more equitable solutions. If you think there should be an independent audit before any cuts are proposed, and that the process should be more equitable, then find out how you can be part of making it happen.Pension and Benefits
Which Way for The ILWU-
Militant Unionism or Business Unionism?
* Hear ILWU Activists Speak on the Recent Longshore Contract Negotiations
* Open Discussion on the Tentative Agreement
* Longshore Members & Caucus delegates invited
WHEN: Tuesday, March 31, 7PM
WHERE: First Unitarian Universalist Church
1187 Franklin St., SF
(Facing ILWU International Headquarters)
￼￼ILWU members stop scab grain train in Longview
The ILWU has a proud history of class struggle and the fight for democratic principles codified in the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU. Today ILWU officials flaunt these union principles, using top down control to direct longshore workers to cross picket lines and keep contract negotiations secret while the PMA gives the contract to the maritime employers’ Journal Of Commerce. This contract
PMA head McKenna and ILWU Pres McEllrath both get Shippers’ Award.
gives employers a free hand to automate without counter demands of shorter shifts tied to wage in- creases and follows on the tail of the concessionary grain contracts at EGT and the Northwest Grain agreements. Left unchecked, it will gut ILWU’s coastwide power and bury the last militant union in the U.S.
Anthony Leviege, activist member ILWU Local 10
Stacey Rodgers, Executive Board member ILWU Local 10
Jack Mulcahy*, member ILWU Local 8 Portland, grain negotiator
Dan Coffman*, former president of Longview ILWU Local 21
Howard Keylor, retired member of ILWU Local 10, an organizer of the historic 1984 longshore
Jack Heyman, retired member of ILWU Local 10, organizer of militant port actions
(* speaking via skype)
Organized by the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (www.transportworkers.org)
For information: (415) 282-1908 Labor Donated
Bangladesh: Rana Plaza: Countdown to second anniversary begins with compensation fund still US$9 million short
Labor Strife an Unwelcome Novelty for Emirates Airline
Cabin crew complain of working longer hours and shortened layovers
By RORY JONES
March 20, 2015 9:20 a.m. ET
DUBAI—Emirates Airline is fighting an unusual headwind: labor trouble.
In the U.S. and Europe, the Dubai-owned carrier is fighting accusations by rivals that it benefits from unfair government subsidies. Back home, however, Emirates, the world’s largest international airline by traffic, is engaged in a rare tussle with its own cabin-crew staff.
According to current and former staff, cabin-crew employees have been complaining internally about a host of issues, including accusations the airline is asking crew to work more hours and shortening layovers between connecting flights. In response, Emirates is holding a series of unprecedented meetings where staff can air grievances directly to senior management. It also recently suspended a performance-evaluation system of cabin staff—conducted after each flight—that employees complained was too critical.
Labor trouble is a frequent headache for global carriers, where strikes and other job action can disrupt service. But in Dubai, a semiautonomous monarchy that is part of the United Arab Emirates, strikes and unions are banned.
Emirates has long been a demanding employer, especially for cabin-crew personnel—requiring rigorous training, including in etiquette and grooming. But cabin-crew staff also enjoy benefits not typical at many other airlines, including free accommodation and transportation to and from work. That has all helped keep a lid on labor strife among its roughly 20,000 cabin-crew employees until now.
The dissent comes as the airline is growing rapidly and recruiting aggressively to fill its cabins. Emirates carried 44.5 million passengers in its latest financial year, and forecasts 70 million passengers by 2020.
It plans to hire 5,000 more cabin staff this year, to accommodate growth and attrition. That fast clip is straining current staff, according to some employees.
Flight attendants say they are having to work more shifts, with shorter layovers. First-class attendants, who typically work their way up to their postings in premium cabins, are being asked to work in economy to make up for shortages there, according to these employees. Many cabin-crew staff had some annual leave allocation deferred last year, they said.
Emirates said in a statement that it hasn’t shortened layover times, and any changes to staff routines are exceptions that comply with safety rules. Staff have to work in other cabins at times, the carrier said. Emirates didn’t immediately respond to a request seeking comment about deferred leave.
The company also declined to comment generally about cabin-crew complaints, and to make executives available for interviews. Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the General Civil Aviation Authority, the U.A.E.’s airline regulator, said issues about airline labor conditions are a matter to be sorted out between staff and management.
‘There are a number of subjects that are causing concern at the moment’
—Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president of service delivery, in an email to staff.
The gripe sessions initiated this year are one way Emirates is trying to manage the complaints. In an email in January to staff announcing the meetings, Terry Daly, Emirates’ senior vice president of service delivery, wrote he was “aware that there are a number of subjects that are causing concern at the moment.” He called the meetings “an opportunity to talk about these directly with me,” according to a copy of the email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Emirates has held three sessions so far. The first meeting, held last month at Emirates’ Dubai headquarters, lasted double the scheduled two hours, according to three attendees. In a statement, Emirates said the forums last month were just one of many ways employees could communicate with management. “We have always encouraged open dialogue,” the carrier said.
Emirates Chief Executive Tim Clark has weighed in. Late last year, he started to send a quarterly “update” email to employees, soliciting feedback from staff. But he also warned about gossip mongering: “I’m astonished by the range of colorful stories that sometimes do the rounds in our company,” he wrote in October. His advice, he continued, according to a copy of the email, is to “keep well away from naysayers and gossips and focus instead on our ambition to be one of the most loved lifestyle brands.”
Write to Rory Jones at email@example.comTags: Emirates Airlinelabor
Starting next month, Target will raise its minimum wage to $9 an hour. Sound familiar? That's because Target’s decision comes just one month after its competitor Walmart said it would raise its starting wage to $9 and eventually $10 per hour. T.J. Maxx and Marshalls have also announced a new $9 an hour base. These minimum wage increases reflect an improving economy and the impact of widespread protest through campaigns like the fast food strikes and OUR Walmart.
The business press, unsurprisingly, chalks up the hikes to an improving economy. The Wall Street Journal writes, "Target’s move is the latest example of a tightening labor market and rising competition for lower paid workers amid declining joblessness and signs that consumer confidence is returning." At 5.5%, the country's unemployment rate is at its lowest in six years. Earlier this year, a review of several studies found that higher wages led to more productivity and lower turnover rates, which can then lead to higher profits for companies.
Click here to read more at In These Times.Issues: Labor Movement
Since Whitley Wyatt retired in 2000 after 33 years as a trucker, he’s collected a pension of $3,300 a month.
Now, the 71-year-old says as much as $2,000 of his monthly check is at risk because of legislation passed by Congress last year that is meant to help underfunded multiemployer pension plans bolster their finances by giving them a way to cut benefits for some retirees.
Click here to read more at The Columbus Dispatch.Issues: Pension and Benefits
‘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
BY REBECCA BURNS
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: UberCDU
CP train derailment near Wetaskiwin, more than a dozen cars leave tracks
Transportation Safety Board says no injuries reported following derailment of 15 to 20 potash cars
CBC News Posted: Mar 22, 2015 1:20 PM MT Last Updated: Mar 22, 2015 2:09 PM MT
The Transportation Safety board says the cars, which were carrying potash, left the rails at around 9:30 Sunday morning (Laurel Wheler)
A train derailment south of Edmonton has left over a dozen train cars mangled on the side of a highway Sunday morning.
The Transportation Safety Board has confirmed between 15 to 20 cars, all carrying potash, left the tracks near Highway 13, about one kilometre outside the town of Wetaskiwin, Alta.
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board are expected to arrive on the scene later today (Laurel Wheler)
"It’s just a total wreck,” said Dale Aitchison, who came across the derailment shortly after it happened.
"They are pretty much crunched up and piled up on top of each other.”
While no one was injured in the derailment, Aitchison said the incident made him worry about the safety of having freight trains run so close to the town.
"There’s a lot of oil, a lot of gas around here. If that left the tracks, it would be devastating.”
The highway has been blocked off and a team of investigators with the safety board is expected to arrive on scene later in the afternoon.Tags: rail wrecktransportation safety board
Labor Musicians Sing Out At Richmond, CA Railroad Meeting
J.P. Wright, a railroad worker and co-chair of Railroad Workers United RWU and Leith Kahl, a Seattle longshoreman played labor music during a break at a railroad workers conference in Richmond California on March 14, 2015.
For more of their music:
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org