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US West Coast Port Labor Talks: Cargo Route Changes Are Not Permanent Because There Is No Viable Long-Term Alternative

Current News - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 13:39

US West Coast Port Labor Talks: Cargo Route Changes Are Not Permanent Because There Is No Viable Long-Term Alternative
By Angelo Young@angeloyoung_a.young@ibtimes.com
on August 18 2014 3:50 PM

Ongoing contract negotiations between longshore workers and employers that handle 44 percent of all inbound containers such as the ones stacked on the Danish-built megaship Susan Maersk (pictured) has given shippers the jitters. But the divergence of cargo to Canada is exposing some of the capacity problems that will likely prevent most shippers from permanently shifting routes away from the U.S. West Coast. Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images
For months, representatives of about 20,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association and their employers have been negotiating a six-year labor contract. The lack of success in the talks, now more than three months old, is raising concerns about a possible strike or slowdown ahead of the economically important U.S. holiday shopping season. Those concerns, in turn, are driving an increasing number of shippers to seek alternatives to U.S. West Coast ports.


But regardless of the alternative routes available in Canada, Mexico or through the Panama or Suez canals to the Eastern seaboard, the West Coast is the best current option for a great deal of U.S.-bound goods.

The fact is that Canada, for example, which has had double-digit growth in container traffic at its main West Coast ports since the U.S. labor talks began May 12, simply cannot process all the cargo bound for the U.S. West Coast. Mexico has one major Pacific port, but faces a similar problem in delivering goods by rail to its northern neighbor.

Last week, Fitch Ratings warned of broader economic impacts of prolonged labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the ports and manages labor contracts. The financial ratings agency said the longer shippers need to use alternative routes the more likely they are to stay with them after a new labor contract is sorted. This would drive down business to the 29 U.S. West Coast ports, which have already seen their share of inbound containers drop from 50 percent in 2002 to about 44 percent last year, according to the PMA.

“If this shift were to persist from weeks into months, some shippers may continue to use alternative ports even after the ILWU contract is finalized and the risk of a strike or slowdown has passed,” Fitch said in an Aug. 11 note.

There's not a consensus about that. Cargo is backing up in Canada, underscoring the lack of capacity Canada’s pacific ports have for handling the massive amount of U.S.-bound goods. Earlier this month, DP World Ltd. (LON:DPW), the U.A.E.-based global marine terminal operator at Port Metro Vancouver, said it would no longer handle U.S. bound cargo, citing a lack of rail cars to receive the containers, according to the Journal of Commerce. TSI Terminal Systems, the largest container terminal at Vancouver, said it would continue to accept U.S.-bound cargo.

“Canada is a great Plan B, but if it were Plan A then shippers would be using them regularly,” Jason Kuehn, associate partner at New York-based transportation consulting firm Oliver Wyman, told International Business Times by phone on Monday. “Maybe one carrier or two will stay in Canada, but most of them will come back.”

The reason for that has to do with railroads.

“On the whole we don’t see a major shift to Canada happening,” Ben Hackett of Hackett Associates, a maritime industry adviser which tracks the world’s cargo traffic, told IBTimes by phone. “There’s limited capacity out of Vancouver andPrince Rupert because of the amount of the cargo. The rail lines are limited.”

Canada’s western ports ship container cargo to the United States, but the lines connect them to the American Midwest, the Northeast and to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast around New Orleans. Delivering to the western region of the U.S. requires transfers to other rail lines or to trucks, which makes shipping good through Canada to the West Coast less efficient than dropping containers at Los Angeles-Long Beach and other West Coast ports Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative

A bigger threat to the cargo container business on the U.S. West Coast is simply that container ships are getting bigger, increasing the amount of goods that can be delivered per ship through Egypt’s Suez Canal to Europe and the U.S. East Coast on the same route.

“The shift away from the West Coast is being driven by larger container ships and increasing use of the Suez Canal to the Asia-Europe routes,” Hackett said. “These ships continue on through the Mediterranean to the East Coast, so in many cases it’s cheaper.”

In addition, once the recently restarted Panama Canal expansion project is finished it will likely steal some U.S. West Coast market share as capacity increases enough to make the trip from Asia to the eastern United States more efficient, putting pressure on weaker West Coast ports, like San Francisco-Oakland, to retain market share. The port facilities of Los Angeles and Long Beach, on the other hand, are going to remain vital to the flow of goods to the western United States for the foreseeable future, analysts say.

Meanwhile, the ILWU and PMA say they’re committed to keeping the flow of goods steady. On Monday PMA spokesperson Wade Gates said by email that the talks are still ongoing with nothing to report. Contract negations were suspended in the last week of July so that the ILWU could finalize a tentative agreement with a consortium of grain handlers in a bitter two-year old labor dispute that led the 60,000-member ILWU to drop out of the AFL-CIO labor umbrella organization over a jurisdiction dispute.

Among key issues in the talks between the ILWU and the PMA are the union's desire to keep its current health care benefits despite the estimated annual $190 million increase to their plans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that neither side in the negotiations wants to absorb. The union also expects guarantees to its jurisdiction over waterfront activities by other unions or outside contract labor. The PMA, meantime, wants the freedom to bring in electricians, mechanics and computer contract workers to perform duties it says ILUW workers aren’t qualified to do. The employers also want to increase the work day by an hour.

The PMA said that full-time longshore workers earns an average of $132,000 a year, which includes overtime, but the ILUW points out its current labor contract calls for $35 an hour for the most experienced workers, which would be $72,800 at full time without overtime. About 30 percent of the longshore workers received about 30 hours a week on average, according to the PMA’s recent annual report (pdf).

Tags: ILWU Coast Wide Contract
Categories: Labor News

Tokyo Japan Solidarity Action With Gaza-Protest At Zim Tokyo Offices

Current News - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 11:54

Tokyo Japan Solidarity Action With Gaza-Protest At Zim Tokyo Offices
by Doro-Chiba International Solidarity Committee
Tuesday Aug 19th, 2014 11:44 AM
A delegation from the International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba went to the offices of Zim Japan in Tokyo to protest the massacre and attacks on the people of Gaza on August 15.
International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba (National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba)
2-8 Kaname-cho, Chuo-ku,
Chiba-Pref.,260-0017 Japan
ZIM Japan Co.Ltd. Tokyo Head office
Landmark Plaza 7f, 1-6-7 Shibakoen, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, 105-0011, Japan
Embassy of Israel
3 Nibancho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 102-0084, Japan

August 15, 2014 Dear Sirs,
We Doro-Chiba and Japanese working class protest against Israel's invasion and siege of Gaza--genocide of over 1,800 Palestinians including many children.
The Israel has bombed hospitals, schools and even UN shelters killing and injuring thousands.
The Palestinian trade unions, the South African Unions including COSATU, the International Transport Federation ITF and unions like Unison in the UK and around the world have condemned the Israeli attack on the Palestinian people and workers in the Gaza .
Together with these labor unions and organizations, we, Doro-Chiba, condemn the Israeli Government that has been committing atrocities in Gaza, the US Government that has been providing munitions for Israeli Government to attack Palestinian people and the Japanese Government that entered into a cooperation agreement between Israel in order to promote cooperation in development of weapons and arms trade.
Responding the call of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee of San Francisco, we protest against Israeli shipping company ZIM Integrated Shipping Ltd.
This Israeli shipping company operates throughout the world and was closely involved in supporting the
South African apartheid regime and the Palestinian trade unions have all called for an international boycott of shipping and trade with Israel to stop the military attacks.
In June 2010, over 1,200 community and labor activists with rank and file supporters from ILWU Local 10 of San Francisco supported a picket of a Zim Line ship to prevent it from loading and unloading.
On August 16, a mass picket line of labor and community activists is planned to stop the movement of bloody Israeli cargo.TWSC is calling on all ILWU Local 10 workers to honor the picket line.
We fully support the mass picketing on August 16. This is the kind of action that can really challenge the US supported Zionist terrorism. We, Doro-Chiba, also fight alongside with them.
Israeli Government, Immediately stop genocide in Gaza!
Zim Line, Stop shipping of arms and ammunition for massacre!
International Labor Solidarity Committee of Doro-Chiba (National Railway Motive Power Union of Chiba)
§Protest Statement Delivered
by Doro-Chiba International Solidarity Committee Tuesday Aug 19th, 2014 11:44 AM

Tags: Doro-ChibaZim Linessolidarityrailway workers
Categories: Labor News

Chicago Movers Stage Groundbreaking Strike

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 09:22
Kari LydersenIn These TimesAugust 19, 2014View the original piece

Every morning, workers at Golan’s Moving & Storage in the Chicago suburb of Skokie are ordered to arrive at work by 6 a.m. to prepare trucks for the day. If they are late, they can be suspended for several days or otherwise disciplined. Yet they typically don’t even start getting paid until about 8 a.m.—when they board a truck bound for their assignment.

This situation is among the many injustices that spurred Golan’s workers to organize with the faith-based workers rights group Arise Chicago last year before unionizing with Teamsters Local 705. Since December 2013, the first contract negotiations have dragged on, with management canceling planned sessions 12 times in six months, according to the Teamsters.

So on July 28, about four-fifths of Golan’s workers walked out on strike. Negotiations are theoretically continuing, but Teamsters Local 705 business agent Richard De Vries says that the company officials walked out of their most recent session, on August 14, after just 41 minutes. 

The union has filed various Unfair Labor Practices charges with the National Labor Relations Board, and a federal mediator was brought in to oversee the negotiations. Still, De Vries tells In These Times that these measures have so far not prevented Golan’s from essentially refusing to bargain. He thinks that the company is trying to delay signing a contract until December, at which point under labor law they can call for an election to decertify the union—because a year will have passed with no contract signed.

“This is our remedy: going on strike,” says De Vries. He reports that more than 80 workers out of a total of about 100 are on strike, including members of the company’s two separate sections, which do local and long-distance moves.

On Saturday, August 16, more than 100 supporters, including Teamsters members from other companies, joined the workers on the picket line. Leaders of Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths spoke to the crowd and asked the owners—Israelis who reportedly named the company for the region Israel captured from Syria during the Six-Day War—to recognize the concepts of workers’ rights and human dignity enshrined in all three world religions.

Onesimo Peña was one of the workers who contacted Arise last summer, frustrated with what he told In These Times was “so many abuses” suffered by his co-workers. He also notes that in more than a decade working for the company, his wages have only risen from $12 to $12.50 an hour, even though he has often been called on in emergencies or for important jobs.

“We’ve tried too many times to get the owners to listen to us but they wouldn’t,” says Peña. “So we went to Arise Chicago.”

In turn, Arise connected the workers with Teamsters Local 705. And marshaling support for unionizing was easy, Peña remembers.

“Everyone was tired of this situation,” he says.

Shortly after the workers voted to unionize, Peña says his wages increased to $14 an hour. The company also started paying overtime and made a few other concessions, including with regard to safety. De Vries says he can only speculate as to why, though Golan's may have been trying to dissuade workers from going on strike or trying to weaken the union in bargaining.

Golan’s workers don’t have insurance, paid sick days or vacation days or any other benefits. According to organizers, such as Arise Chicago’s Jorge Mujica, “There is wage theft all over the place,” including the aforementioned unpaid preparation work time, and logged hours that go missing from paychecks until workers complain.

Plus, workers’ wages are often further reduced by fines for a wide range of infractions. Jose Reyes, a Golan’s employee for 10 years, says he was once fined $700 because one of the other movers in the crew he oversaw had a small tear in his pants. Reyes tells In These Times that workers could also be charged for forgetting to leave the keys to their personal car with management before they head off to a job, or for failing to call the customer to say they are running late.

“There’s no warning, you get back from the job and they are waiting for you with a fine,” he says.

He and Peña also say managers have offered them incentives for reporting other workers for violations.

“They approached me and said, ‘If you turn people in, you will have your job forever, you can have a raise,’” says Reyes, who is on the union negotiating committee. “They were trying to buy me off.”

Worker Miguel Flores tells In These Times that under the terms worked by long-distance drivers who move customers to other states, he has earned only $40 for spending 10 hours unloading boxes at a home. (Mujica explains that this is likely technically legal under labor provisions for interstate commerce.)  

Movers in the long-distance unit are particularly upset that they are not compensated for waiting time of up to a day or more if customers are not ready when they arrive. These employees are paid based on factors such as miles driven and the volume of the move. So when a customer isn’t ready, they’re forced to spend time on the road unpaid, sleeping and waiting in their truck when they otherwise could be earning money.

De Vries says payment for such “detention time” is a major demand in negotiations. So far, though, management has offered only token concessions during the negotiation sessions that have occurred. “They have agreed to pay for showers at a truck stop,” which cost a few dollars, he says. And in response to union demands for paid days off, Golan’s offered a total of $10 a day for up to 10 vacation days, De Vries continues.

Golan’s also employs workers under the J-1 visa “work and study-based exchange” program, drawing students from around the world for 90-day stays in the United States. Silviu Radu joined the program while studying for his Masters in business administration at a university in his home country of Romania. After starting work at Golan’s in June and got to know many of his co-workers. He hadn’t been present for many of the complications surrounding organizing and negotiating, so the strike came as a bit of a surprise to him.

“I rode my bike to work and everyone was outside,” he tells In These Times. “I was like ‘Hey guys, what’s going on?’”

Once he learned about the walkout, though, he promptly joined it, as did several other J-1 workers, according to Radu and De Vries. The visa does not allow companies involved in walkouts to staff J-1 employees, so Radu is looking for another job while spending time on the picket lines.

“You get to bond with your colleagues,” Radu says. “These are good people, hard-working people who help each other.”

The J-1 visa—which has drawn controversy in the past over its reported abuse by employers including Hershey’s—cost Radu about $2,000, he says, including other fees connected to the program. Even so, he notes, laughing, that he “was making $10.50 an hour on the truck.”

For its part, Golan’s has largely responded to the actions with denial. Two large green signs outside the company, dated August 12 and addressed to workers from company secretary Yehuda Bitton, read: “The many reckless and dishonest statements about Golan’s and me are fabrications by the union and its representatives. Those of you who have worked for Golan’s for many years know these statements are not true.”

A Golan’s official inside the company during the rally declined to talk, and the spokesperson he referred In These Times to did not return a call for comment.

The company has also attempted to play on the fears on many of its workers regarding deportation. The signs, which are written in English and Spanish, go on to read that the union has threatened to call immigration authorities. De Vries says the U.S. State Department found out about the strike through the J-1 students, likely spurring the company to make that statement. The union has not contacted immigration authorities and would not do so, he argues.

Various workers tell In These Times they are confident the strike will force the company into meaningful negotiations for a contract with significant improvements. They say they’ve heard customers have canceled jobs because of the strike, and that little or no work has been happening at Golan’s. During the Saturday rally a moving truck entered the facility, but because it was manned by only one employee, De Vries said it was likely just a “show.” “You can’t move furniture with one person,” he says.

“We’ve seen trucks leaving and then find them parked 20 blocks away; they’re not working,” Mujica adds.

De Vries says that very few moving companies are organized, and most non-unionized workplaces do not offer their largely immigrant workforce insurance or benefits. Hence, the Golan’s workers’ unionization and strike could be seen as a precedent-setting development for the industry.

Both Reyes and Peña says they take pride in their work and want to continue at Golan’s, only under better conditions. Still, Reyes says he tells his three kids, only half joking, “When you see a Golan’s truck, run and hide, so you don’t end up like me.”

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

In the Port, the Port of Oakland, the Zim Ship Sits Still Loaded and Unloved.

Current News - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 09:00

In the Port, the Port of Oakland, the Zim Ship Sits Still Loaded and Unloved.
TUE AUG 19, 2014 AT 07:24 AM PDT
In the Port, the Port of Oakland, the Zim Ship Sits Still Loaded and Unloved.

The Zim cargo ship sat unloaded all day Monday at the Port of Oakland as Longshoremen refused to cross community picket lines. For a report on Sunday's blockade see here, and for the mass protest on Saturday, here. Here's a synopsis of Monday's action at the Port of Oakland from a local source.

For the third consecutive day, an Israeli ship, the Zim Pireaus, has been blockaded by Bay Area protesters in solidarity with Gaza. Never in Oakland’s history has a ship been blockaded for three days in a row, said one organizer.
In the wee hours of Monday morning, with very little mobilization, a dozen or so people held a picket. With the support of longshore workers, the ship - which had already been delayed for two days at the Port of Oakland - sat unloaded.

In the evening, enough people came through to create pickets. Though police officers pushed a pathway through protesters, longshore workers again refused to cross the pickets. It is yet to be determined how much the blockade has cost Israel.

The Longshoremen issued a statement yesterday about Sunday's goings on. The reference to the 2005 protests at the Port and the injuring of longshoremen nine years ago is perfect, for no one can argue that the Oakland Police are capable of unpredictable and deadly actions in light of that incident and more recent history.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union were unable to report to work Sunday night at SSA Marine's terminal in Oakland, Calif., due to volatility associated with a large demonstration and significant police presence at the gates of the facility. In 2005, Oakland police fired rubber bullets in similar circumstances, wounding several longshoremen who were trying to report to work.

The ILWU has taken no position on the issue associated with the demonstration, but in cases when unsafe circumstances arise at the point of entry, the union must protect the safety of its members in the workplace. When it was ascertained that last night's demonstration and associated police presence created an unsafe environment, dispatched ILWU-represented Longshoremen and Clerks that arrived at the SSA gate to work stood by instead at a safe location away from the demonstration point.

A Video from Monday Night.

The blockade continues this morning. When I began putting this together it was too early to tell whether it would be successful again, but it looks like the ILWU has been told to stay home for at least another shift (see the last tweets at the bottom of the diary.)

Tweets from yesterday evening:

The Wait. With Cops For Company. From 5:30 PM Until After Dark.

No Unloading Tonight. Victory!

What About Tomorrow?

It's On! From This Morning.

An Early Morning Success!

8:18 AM PT:

Tags: ilwuZim LIne
Categories: Labor News

Oakland: Protesters block Israeli ship from unloading again for third day in a row

Current News - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 08:42

Oakland: Protesters block Israeli ship from unloading again for third day in a row
By Harry Harris and Kathleen Kirkwood, Oakland Tribune
POSTED: 08/18/2014 02:59:22 PM PDT3 COMMENTS| UPDATED: 88 MIN. AGO

OAKLAND -- For the third day in a row, protesters have apparently prevented a cargo ship operated by an Israeli company from unloading at the Port of Oakland, officials said.

A small group of about 15 people who came out Monday morning were not part of the official Block the Boat protest but were an autonomous rally supported by the movement. Two protesters were cited and released at the scene by Oakland police for blocking the roadway, Officer Johnna Watson said.
The group dispersed by 9 a.m. and officers were to remain on the scene to monitor events.
The Zim Integrated Shipping Lines vessel Piraeus had docked Saturday at the port's Oakland International Container Terminal, which encompasses berths 55 to 59, but dockworkers would not cross protesters' picket lines to offload its cargo.

File: Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags and signs as they march to berth 57 at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)
Port spokesman Robert Bernardo said that as of midafternoon on Monday, the ship still had not been unloaded due to an "unavailability of labor." It was not known if work would resume later in the day.
He said no other port operations were affected.
Representatives for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said Monday that the union had not taken an official stand on the issue, but that individual dockworkers had decided not to cross the pickets for safety reasons.
Past protests at the port had been unsafe when police confronted protesters, in one instance firing rubber bullets that hit some longshoremen reporting to work, according to a press release from the union.
The protest is "nothing short of political terrorism," and has little effect on Israel because the ship rarely goes to Israel, said Andy David, consulate general of Israel to the Pacific Northwest region.

"The people of Oakland and of California, these are the people who will suffer with these actions," David said.

The ZIM Piraeus transports goods between Asia and the U.S., according to consulate spokesman David Goodstone. Zim Integrated Shipping Ltd. is 32 percent-owned by Israeli shareholders, he said.

The Pireaus was prevented from unloading both Saturday and Sunday by larger groups of Block the Boat protesters in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza and its ongoing occupation of Palestine.

Mohammed Shehk, a spokesman for Block of the Boat, said even though Monday's protest was not called by their group, they still supported the action.

Shehk said their movement hopes to gain momentum and make the company realize they are not welcome at the Port of Oakland or other West Coast ports. Protesters are planning to meet Zim ships scheduled to dock later this week in Tacoma and Seattle and awareness campaigns are planned for Vancouver and Long Beach.

Tags: ilwuZim Ship
Categories: Labor News

Here's The Real Reason Why The Trucking Industry Is Running Out Of Drivers

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:59
Mamta Badkar and Rob WileBusiness InsiderAugust 19, 2014View the original piece

Higher driving costs and falling pay have created a truck-driver shortage that's likely to worsen in the coming years.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates the U.S. is short 30,000 truck drivers — a number expected to surge to 239,000 by 2022.

In July 2013, new federal hours-of-service rules went into effect. 

The key provision was a limit to the use of a 34-hour "restart." Drivers have a 70-hour-a-week cap on how much time they can be on the road. Previously, they'd been able to artificially reset that cap to zero if they took 34 consecutive hours off. Now, many are unable to do so.

As a result, according to a survey from the American Transportation Research Institute, more than 80% of motor carriers have experienced a productivity loss, with nearly half saying they require more drivers to haul the same amount of freight.

"Smaller 'owner/operator' firms are increasingly dropping by the wayside as the cost of operations and maintenance are simply becoming too expensive to stay in business," Paul Pittman, a planner at a North Carolina-based logisitcs company, told Business Insider by email. 

So drivers are suddenly faced with the choice of leaving the profession entirely or moving to a larger company where wages are likely to be lower. 

"As controls continue to tighten, many of the existing drivers currently employed are turning to other areas of employment simply to get off the road and escape some of the regulations implemented to govern their operations," Pittman said.

To hang on, small operators are forced to cut corners. For Jeff, a driver who asked to be identified by only his first name, the pay isn't the biggest issue — it's the compromises some firms are making on driver compliance.

"With how my lifestyle is [the pay is] pretty decent. I don’t go out and blow money on speed boats, or the best electronics, or hookers and blow," Jeff said. "I’m married and I have four children. We prioritize our finances. Two years ago we finally bought an HDTV. My main issue is the safety aspect."

Violating Rules

His primary issue with trucking companies is the pressure they put on drivers to violate federal rules. Jeff worked for a small outfit in the Midwest. The owner of that company, he says, wanted him to take a dry van load from Hubbard, Ohio, to Syracuse, New York, which is about 327 miles.

Jeff explained that this trip takes longer for trucks than it does for cars, because trucks carry heavier loads, and it takes longer for them to speed up and slow down. It would take a truck about five hours and 15 minutes from Hubbard to Syracuse. 

The owner, whom Jeff didn't want named, asked him to drive back to Hubbard empty, do a drop-and-hook (drop one trailer, hook another) and take another trailer up to Binghamton, New York, the same day. And the trip from Hubbard to Binghamton is about five and a half hours, meaning a round trip would only leave him about 30 minutes of driving for the day and legally Jeff couldn't.

"When you're non-compliant as a driver you run the risk of fatigue and the risk of hurting other people," he said. "And as a driver it's my license on the line." Jeff said he was asked by multiple trucking companies to falsify his logs, but he refused to.

"I consider myself a safety-oriented driver, and I have found that is a bad thing," Jeff said. "Because since I got my CDL [commercial driver's license] in 2008, I have worked for about 10 different trucking companies. That doesn't look good because it looks like it is job hopping ... I'm sticking to my guns."

Time Away From Home

Another problem is lack of time spent at home. Todd Feucht of Wisconsin says drivers can expect to spend as little as 52 days at home a year. Feucht, who hauls oversize loads, averages about three to five weeks. Last year he was home 54 days, including his vacation days. "Back in the day you were treated like a knight, but now you're treated like a peon," Feucht says.

All of this helps explain why the turnover rate at large truckload carriers was 92% annualized in Q1, according to the ATA. Turnover refers to the rate at which drivers leave the industry and are replaced.

"One-hundred percent turnover doesn’t mean that every driver left," ATA chief economist Bob Costello says. "If you keep a driver for 90 days, the rate generally drops in half. However, there are a group of drivers that churn, and they generally stay at a carrier for a short length of time (just weeks or a couple of months). Many drivers stay with a carrier for years."

Getting Squeezed

Meanwhile, drivers with less experience or bargaining power get squeezed. Feucht has been driving trucks for 20 years and thinks trucking companies need to be more honest when recruiting.

The new drivers are "greener than grass," he said. Those who attempt to lease trucks quickly discover the significant cost of maintenance and overhead. Young drivers who go this route end up having very little to show for it. 

"I meet these guys at truck-stops and they can barely afford to eat ramen during the week," Feucht told Business Insider. "They're dropping $850 on a truck a week."

Truck drivers typically get paid hourly or by the mile. Some get a percentage of the load. If you're getting less than 33 cents a mile "you're getting ripped off," Jeff, a 36-year old truck driver from Ohio, told Business Insider.

The truck drivers suggest if these companies want to see this turnover decrease they need to focus on improving pay, improving training for new entrants, and they need to not push them to violate federal regulations.

There may finally be some movement on this front. Last month, Swift, one of the largest haulers in the U.S., announced it would refocus expenditures on better labor conditions for employees, including higher wages.

"After assessing the current and expected environment, we believe the best investment we can make at this time, for all of our stakeholders, is in our drivers," the firm said in its earnings release. "Our goal is to clear the path for our drivers by helping them overcome challenges, eliminate wait times and take home more money."


Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Teamster Rail Workers Revolt vs Driving Solo

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:41

August 19, 2014: There’s a rank and file rebellion brewing among rail workers, and Teamster engineers are in the thick of it. They are fighting back against a deal made secretly by the conductors union with the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.

Most rail engineers belong to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) which is a part of the Teamsters Union. The organization leading the charge against the deal to allow one-person crews is Rail Workers United (RWU), a solidarity network of rail workers in various unions.

Read the story here:  http://labornotes.org/2014/08/rail-workers-revolt-against-driving-solo

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Mass March & Picket At Oakland Port To Stop Israel's Zim Line Ship Piraeus To Protest Crimes In Gaza

Current News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 23:26

Video/Audio Of Action Against Zim Line At Port Of Oakland On August 16, 2014
Mass March & Picket At Oakland Port To Stop Israel's Zim Line Ship Piraeus To Protest Crimes In Gaza
Nearly 3,000 people marched on the Port of Oakland on
August 16 to picket the Zim Line ship Piraeus. The Zim ship Piraes would not come into the birth until Sunday August 17, 2014 and then was picketed again. ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 refused to cross
the picket lines and the ship was not worked. Participants in the
protest talk about why they are supporting the blockade of the Zim ship.
For ,more video:
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: ilwuZim picketport of Oakland
Categories: Labor News

Bid to block Israeli ship continues in Oakland

Current News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 22:26

Bid to block Israeli ship continues in Oakland
Kurtis Alexander

August 18, 2014

(08-18) 17:00 PDT OAKLAND -- An Israeli cargo ship at the Port of Oakland sat another day without getting unloaded after activists protesting Israel's military actions in Gaza continued a waterfront picket Monday morning.

The protesters, organizing under the motto "Block the Boat," converged at the International Container Terminal on Sunday to try to prevent the Piraeus from discharging goods. A handful of demonstrators returned Monday.

Though the protesters were gone by 11 a.m., port officials said the longshoremen responsible for unloading the vessel did not come in Monday. Their union representative said they wanted to stay clear of the political fray and had concerns about their safety after several were injured in a 2003 port demonstration.

The boat is managed by Israel's largest shipping firm, Zim Integrated Shipping Services, and has become the target of local activists seeking a boycott of Israeli goods.

Port officials said they were unclear when operations would resume.

The Israel consulate in San Francisco said the vessel was only 32 percent owned by Israeli shareholders, and that the action "will only hurt innocent American workers and the city of Oakland."

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander

Tags: ilwuZim Ship
Categories: Labor News

China: Could Stronger Unions Make China More Democratic?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Nation
Categories: Labor News

Union affiliation could help SF taxi industry – but possibly only in Sacramento

Current News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:33

Union affiliation could help SF taxi industry – but possibly only in Sacramento
August 18, 2014News » Transportation
Union affiliation could help SF taxi industry – but possibly only in Sacramento
By Chris Roberts
In labor-friendly San Francisco, taking an Uber ride home is now an anti-worker affront.
The City’s taxi industry still faces an uphill climb against mobile app-hailed ride services like Uber and Lyft, which are taking business and drivers away from the traditional taxi industry.

But by taking the first steps to affiliate themselves with organized labor, San Francisco taxi drivers should be able to enjoy increased political clout in City Hall and in Sacramento, where taxi-friendly legislation could emerge next year, according to labor analysts.

And if it ever came down to standing arm-in-arm at the picket line, taxi drivers should be able to count on a few thousand friends from other labor organizations, union officials told The San Francisco Examiner on Friday.

Traditional labor unions are groups of employees who band together in order to bargain collectively for a better contract or improved working conditions.

That will not work with cabdrivers – for one, they’re not employees but rather independent contractors who affiliate themselves with a particular cab company. What this means is that state and federal labor laws over sick days and work hours will not apply, said John Logan, a professor of labor relations at San Francisco State University. And the traditional woes of a cabdriver – long hours, no health benefits or sick days, and no pension – may not be alleviated anytime soon.

But rather than immediately improved working conditions, cabdrivers are banding together for working conditions period.

And unionized cabdrivers will not quite take action the same way that BART workers did last year, when they went on strike twice before coming to terms with the agency on a new contract.

The City is unlikely to see an all-out taxi strike, Logan said, which would possibly have the deleterious effect of giving ride services like Uber an even bigger share of the market.

The best way cabdrivers can hope for survival now that they are in the fold of organized labor is by leaning on labor-friendly politicians, who could introduced legislation to level the playing field between cabs and ride services, such as the push from Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla, D-Concord, to tighten insurance regulations for ride services.

“Unions have that kind of influence that drivers would not have by themselves,” Logan said. “There’s good reason to think they’ll benefit from that in Sacramento and in [San Francisco] City Hall.”

Taxi companies are regulated locally, yet their existential threat is from ride services that are regulated by a state agency, the California Public Utilities Commission. That means help for taxis is most likely to come from the state Legislature in Sacramento.

But even there, taxi drivers will encounter familiar opposition: Uber, Lyft, and their army of well-paid lobbyists, who mounted a furious campaign against Bonilla’s proposal this week.

Of late, labor has been more welcoming to “non-traditional” employees like domestic care workers and day laborers.

Cabdrivers have also been welcomed into the union fold in New York City; Portland, Ore.; and Orange County, said Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council.

It’s not certain what benefits taxi drivers could hope for in the short term. The next legislative session in Sacramento begins in January.

Meanwhile, for anyone identifying with the plight of the worker, there’s only one way to get home that’s not Muni or BART.

“I take taxis only,” Paulson said.

Tags: TaxiUberunionization
Categories: Labor News

Mass March & Picket At Oakland Port To Stop Israel's Zim Line Ship Piraeus To Protest Crimes In Gaza

Current News - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 10:23

Mass March & Picket At Oakland Port To Stop Israel's Zim Line Ship Piraeus To Protest Crimes In Gaza
Nearly 3,000 people marched on the Port of Oakland on
August 16 to picket the Zim Line ship Piraeus. The Zim ship Piraes would not come into the birth until Sunday August 17, 2014 and then was picketed again. ILWU Local 10 and ILWU Local 34 refused to cross
the picket lines and the ship was not worked. Participants in the
protest talk about why they are supporting the blockade of the Zim ship.
Video/Audio Of Action Against Zim Line At Port Of Oakland On August 16, 2014
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: Zim LinesPicket of Zim PiraeusZionismLabor Action
Categories: Labor News

Protesters meet Israeli-owned commercial ship at Port of Oakland

Current News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 21:12

Protesters meet Israeli-owned commercial ship at Port of Oakland
Posted: 6:19 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014
Protesters meet Israeli-owned commercial ship at Port of Oakland

KTVU.com and Wires
OAKLAND, Calif. — For the second time this weekend, Bay Area protesters are gathering at the Port of Oakland to try to stop an Israeli-owned commercial ship from docking and unloading in an act of protest against recent Israeli military action in Gaza.
The ship, Piraeus, identified as a Zim Integrated Shipping Services vessel by the online ship tracking service Marine Traffic, was moored at the Port of Oakland area as of 5:30 p.m. this evening, according to the website.
The 964-foot ship reportedly rerouted Saturday afternoon as a large crowd of protesters marched to the Port of Oakland to block its arrival.
At Saturday afternoon's protest, demonstrators carried signs with slogans such as "Gaza will be free," "Boycott. Divest, Sanction. End Israeli Apartheid," and "Resist Zionism and Imperialism."
Zim is the largest Israeli cargo shipping company and according to Zim's website, the company was established in 1945 and is one of the largest carriers in the global container shipping industry.
Protesters are singling out Zim ships because 32 percent of the company is owned by Israel Corporation, which was founded in 1968 by the Israeli government and is Israel's largest holding company.
Zim's remaining shares are owned by financial institutions and ship-owners, according to the company's website.
In 2010, a similar protest against a Zim ship docking at the Port of Oakland was held by hundreds of demonstrators condemning Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Tags: ilwublockadeZim
Categories: Labor News

Palestine: ITF to send Mission to Gaza, West Bank and Israel

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Asia: Across Asia's borders, labour activists team up to press wage claims

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Reuters
Categories: Labor News

Activists declare first victory as Israeli ship delays docking at Oakland

Current News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 10:00

Activists declare first victory as Israeli ship delays docking at Oakland

Electronic Intifada 08/16/2014

Activists declare first victory as Israeli ship delays docking at Oakland

by Charlotte Silver

(Nidal El-Khairy)
San Francisco Bay Area Palestine activists have declared their first victory in attempting to prevent the offloading of an Israeli cargo vessel at the Oakland Port. Originally planning to show up at 5:00 am Saturday morning to block the ship, activists sent word out late last night that the meeting time had been moved up to 3:00pm, as the ship had delayed its arrival at Oakland in an apparent attempt to avoid the protest.

Activist Mohamed Shehk told The Electronic Intifada that the organizers have been tracking the vessel Zim Piraeus, and realized last night that it had stopped before reaching its Oakland destination, spending the night at sea.

“This delay is seen as a victory for us. It shows how much Zim is trying to avoid our protest, and it shows how effective we can be when we can organize these types of actions,” Shehk said.

Zim Integrated Shipping Services is the Israeli international maritime shipping line.

A Zim Lines ship docks every Friday night around 9:00 pm at the Oakland port for an early morning offload. Activists have been working with members of the local chapter of the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union (ILWU), and hope that port workers will agree not to offload the Israeli cargo.

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Of significance, the ILWU Local 10 is currently negotiating a new contract, the previous one having expired 1 July 2014. This means that ILWU Local 10 could potentially engage in a strike without breaking the rules of a contract.

In 2010, when activists successfully prevented the offloading of a Zim Lines ship in an historic first, Local 10 relied on the port’s arbitrator to declare the working conditions unsafe. According to longtime rank and file union member Clarence Thomas, there is currently no contractual language which would allow for an arbitrator to be called in: “I expect the rank and file to respect the picket line, as we have done of picket lines since the 1930s.”

ILWU has a long history of refusing to load ships from countries engaging in gross violations of human rights. In the 1930s, West Coast dockworkers refused to load and offload ships belonging to Italy after they invaded Ethiopia, and Japan after it invaded Manchuria.

In 1978 and 1980, ILWU refused to load military cargo headed for Chile and El Salvador respectively. And in 1984, the union refused to unload a South African ship for 11 straight days.

The terminal at which Zim Lines docks is owned by Stevedoring Services of America — which has been in protracted negotiations with ILWU Local 10 since last May.

Speaking as a rank and file member of the ILWU Local 10, Thomas emphasized that organizing at the ports in solidarity with Palestinians is essential given that Israel has foreclosed on any opportunity for Palestinians to engage in international trade through its ports.

“As a longshoreman, I know how critical international trade is to the economy. I think it is an appropriate action against those who have prevented the self-determination of the Palestinian people and to show solidarity with the people of Gaza.”

Tags: Zim Blockadeilwu
Categories: Labor News

Israeli ship remains at sea as thousands of protesters gather in Oakland

Current News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 09:53

Israeli ship remains at sea as thousands of protesters gather in Oakland
Blockade delayed as word spreads that the Zim Piraeus is off the coast of California, closer to Santa Cruz, and won’t be docking that day

By Rebecca Bowe at the Port of Oakland

The Guardian (U.K.), Aug 17, 2014

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the port of Oakland attempt to prevent an Israeli ship from docking.
An Israeli ship that was scheduled to dock at the port of Oakland in California on Saturday remained at sea as between 2,000 and 3,000 pro-Palestinian activists streamed towards the port entrance, chanting and waving flags.

The protesters intended to form a picket line at Berth 57 to prevent work crews from unloading the ship.

Activists had originally planned to meet at 5am for a blockade of the Zim Integrated Shipping Services vessel, the Zim Piraeus, but word that its arrival had been delayed prompted organizers to push the protest back until later in the afternoon.

The event began with a brief rally at a nearby transit station, followed by a march to the port. Sameh Ayesh, a 21-year-old Palestinian activist with the San Francisco-based Arab Youth Organization, led the crowd in a chant.

“We’re gonna block the boat,” he called into a megaphone. “Block, block the boat.”

But before the march had even reached the port entrance, an activist who identified himself as Eyad delivered word that the Zim vessel would not be docking that day. An online ship tracking service showed that the vessel was off the coast of California, closer to Santa Cruz, as the march got under way.

Activists interpreted the delay as a victory since the schedule change seemed to have been made in response to the planned pickets. “We have stopped the Zim Piraeus from docking on the west coast of the United States,” said Eyad, of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (Aroc), into a megaphone, drawing cheers from the crowd as the march came to a halt on a bridge leading towards the docks.

“Zim Lines is the largest Israeli shipping company, and it’s a huge flow of capital for the state of Israel,” said Lara Kiswani, executive director of the centre, whose organisation was one of 70 to take part in planning the blockade.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators approach the port of Oakland in an attempt to prevent an Israeli ship from docking.
Kiswani said the action was meant to generate momentum for a broader campaign calling for boycott, divestment and sanctions against the Israeli government as a response to violence in Gaza. “With the recent attacks on Palestine … there’s been a lot of discussion locally, particularly with Aroc, on how to escalate our tactics,” she said.

A similar blockade against a Zim vessel took place in 2010, when pro-Palestinian activists formed picket lines in response to Israel’s attack on a flotilla ferrying humanitarian outreach workers to Gaza. “After the flotilla was attacked by the state of Israel, we successfully were able to block the Zim Lines ship here, with the ILWU,” Kiswani said. “So for years we were working with ILWU, with rank and file, and with the leadership, to try and raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians.” In 1984, she added, “ILWU took a position against apartheid, and the workers refused to unload that ship”.

As the march reached the port entrance, where activists had originally planned to stage a picket, they encountered a line of police officers standing in formation. Protesters erupted into chants of, “hands up, don’t shoot!” – echoing chants sounded in response to police violence directed against street protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Several others made statements linking recent acts of police brutality with the conflict in Gaza. “On Twitter, we’ve seen people in Gaza tweet to protesters in Ferguson how to cope with teargas,” said Mohamed Shehk, who helped organize the blockade with the Oakland-based nonprofit Critical Resistance. “They’re saying things like, ‘as Palestinians, we know what it’s like to be targeted and killed for being of the wrong ethnicity’.”

The Guardian is seeking comment from the port of Oakland and the Zim shipping company.

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Tags: Zim picketIsraelilwu
Categories: Labor News


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