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Hong Kong: HKCTU plans to file ILO complaint over detention of Chinese labour activists

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: RTHK
Categories: Labor News

China: Protests in HK demand release of ALL Chinese labour activists by Chinese New Year

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: HKCTU
Categories: Labor News

The Bernie Sanders Path to Victory in the South: African American Union Leaders-ILA 1422 Ken Riley Supported Clinton Without Membership Vote

Current News - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 10:03

The Bernie Sanders Path to Victory in the South: African American Union Leaders-ILA 1422 Ken Riley Supported Clinton Without Membership Vote
For example, in October, Vance was outraged when Ken Riley, the president of his local union, the International Longshore Association 1422, decided to endorse Clinton at their union hall in Charleston without any of the members of his union voting on the issue. Riley's endorsement of Clinton came as a shock to labor leaders not just in South Carolina, but longshoremen on both coasts. Riley had long been critical of endorsements of Democrats and had helped found the Labor Party in South Carolina.
http://www.thestreet.com/story/13450247/1/the-bernie-sanders-path-to-vic...
ByMike Elk
02/06/16 - 12:06 PM EST
1
Hillary Clinton has held as much as a 30-point lead in South Carolina over Bernie Sanders. Southern states like South Carolina, with large African American populations and where Clinton holds commanding leads, are thought to be crucial in securing the Democratic nomination for the former secretary of state.

But, with the Vermont senator gaining momentum with his surprisingly energetic campaign, there is a path for him to win the south -- and it goes through African American union leaders.

"I always like when they underestimate the African American community because on this one we are gonna rise to the occasion," Charles Vance tells me over the phone while on break from his job on the docks in Charleston, South Carolina.

Polling shows that Clinton has a 74% to 14% lead among African American voters over Sanders in South Carolina. Vance says that while organized labor represents only 3% of the workforce in South Carolina, that many key labor leaders, particularly in the African American community, could play crucial roles in organizing on Sanders' behalf.

Must Read: Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Might Run for President Together

The support of key African American union leaders played a key role in Clinton's narrow victory in Iowa, where union households made up 21% of the electorate and voted for Hillary by 52%-to-43% margin. Lee Saunders, the first African American elected to head the nation's largest public sector union, the 1.4 million member American Federation of State, County, and Municipal employees (AFSCME), was quick to claim credit for his role in the victory, pointing out that his union knocked on more than 8,000 doors and conducted 11,000 member-to-member meetings on Clinton's behalf.

"AFSCME's boots on the ground make a difference for candidates who stand with working people," Saunders said in a statement.

Activists say that in order for Sanders to win African American voters that he will need to mobilize an army of door-knockers who can do what AFSCME did for Clinton in Iowa for Sanders in the south.

Many African American union leaders have key connections within the civil rights and faith community that they are attempting to leverage to help build this army of door-knockers. And while the labor movement is small in places like South Carolina, in 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 of the 13 States categorized as "Southern" gained union members, adding a total of 200,000.

Clinton has received endorsement from over 24 different unions representing 10 million of the nearly 15 million union members in the United States. However, the endorsement process has been heavily criticized as not a single one of the unions that endorsed Clinton have allowed their members to vote on the endorsement. In contrast, many of the international and local unions that have endorsed Sanders have done so through a vote.

For example, in October, Vance was outraged when Ken Riley, the president of his local union, the International Longshore Association 1422, decided to endorse Clinton at their union hall in Charleston without any of the members of his union voting on the issue. Riley's endorsement of Clinton came as a shock to labor leaders not just in South Carolina, but longshoremen on both coasts. Riley had long been critical of endorsements of Democrats and had helped found the Labor Party in South Carolina.

"They are calling me a senior citizen, but I am a realist. I like winning," says Riley. "In order to get things done, you know you are gonna have to have realistic positions and know you have enough support to get things done." His words echo Clinton's, who has repeatedly said, ""I am a progressive who gets things done."

The lack of internal union democracy has lead many disgruntled union members to form the independent organization Labor for Bernie. The group's spokesperson Rand Wilson, who is white, boasts that the organization has "more than 10,000 union members who publicly support Bernie Sanders, and three national unions, and more than 65 local and regional labor organizations, representing nearly two million members that have endorsed the Sanders campaign for president."

The organization serves as an informal network of rank and file union members who are working together to form alternative union committees to get out the vote for Sanders. The union has also worked successfully with members to get regional federations to pass resolutions bucking their national unions and endorsing Sanders. The South Carolina AFL-CIO was formally rebuked for doing so by the international AFL-CIO last year in an effort to stop the pro-Sanders union mutinies from spreading.

Bill Fletcher, the first African American education director of the AFL-CIO, who is serving as an advisor to Labor for Bernie, says that many of the African American regional leaders that he speaks to on a regular basis are "feeling the Bern," but don't want to get burned by picking a loser

"The people I speak with are in general in favor of Sanders but they don't know whether he is likely to win so they don't whether it's...worth taking the risk," says Fletcher. "If he gets more serious, if there is a major black upsurge in South Carolina...things would shift very quickly in Sanders' favor among African American labor leaders."

But that's an uphill battle for the Democratic socialist, who is better known in New England than in the south.

"I have known Bernie's politics for years -- I am just a political junkie," says Jerome Favor, an African American electrician with the IBEW Local 776 in Charleston. "He is well known up north, but not nearly as well as the Clintons are in the South."

According to a recent Reuters/IPSOS poll, approximately 25% of Democrats say that they are not familiar with Sanders compared to Clinton, who has near-universal name recognition nationally. However, polling shows that as more voters get to know Sanders that his support increases. A July 2015, Washington Post ABC-News poll showed that only 28% of voters of color approved of Bernie Sanders, but a poll taken last month showed that 51% of voters of color now approve of Bernie Sanders.

As the primary migrates to South Carolina on February 20 and then to much of the rest of the south on Super Tuesday, March 1, Sanders will likely spend time and effort increasing his profile there. And the key to winning, many labor activists for Sanders feel, is just getting African Americans in the south to know who he is.

"I talked to a lot of people and they said 'I didn't know Sanders was back with Dr. King back in the day,'" says Sandy Squirewell, a member of the ITPEU, the Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union. Sanders marched with King and his campaign has made wide use of African American surrogates such as Cornel West, Killer Mike, and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner to tell that story, but it perhaps hasn't yet spread far enough in the south.

But increasing his name-recognition among potential supporters isn't enough; Sanders needs to "talk more about specific policies and communicate clearly to folks exactly what he is going to do for them," says Favor.

One problem, perhaps, is that he hasn't spent enough time asking them.

Bridget Todd, the former MSNBC social media editor and a veteran campaign strategist, says that the Sanders campaign needs to hold town hall meetings and engage on social media to figure out what type of policies that the African American community wants him to enact. Todd says that the campaign seeming responsive to social media pressure is vital for African American voters to feel like they have a real voice in Sanders' candidacy.

"Black folks are having real conversations about our political futures in some pretty interesting online spaces," says Todd. "A lot of these conversations are inherently political and can give you a sense of what black folks online care about, worry about, are suspicious of. This information should be used to drive policy -- not just outreach."

The key, Todd says, is to have African American supporters who can go out, listen to people, and be seen as effective representatives who have a real stake in shaping the policy of the Sanders campaign.

So far, the Sanders campaign has enlisted the support of local clergy and elected officials to campaign. Last week, former NAACP President Ben Jealous was asked if he would tour South Carolina for Sanders. South Carolina State Representative Justin Bamburg, who represented the family of Walter Scott who was shot in the back by North Charleston policy, recently switched his endorsement from Clinton to Sanders and has begun touring the state with Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, who was choked to death by police in Staten Island in July 2014.

So far, the efforts seem to be working, as recent polls showing the race beginning to tighten. While Sanders has trailed Clinton by more than 30 points throughout the campaign in South Carolina, a Washington Post/ ABC News poll released last week showed that Sanders had narrowed that gap by 15 points to a more manageable 19-point lead.

If Sanders can figure out a strategy to pick up African American support in South Carolina, it could be the formula to win not just in South Carolina but in the many Super Tuesday primaries that follow, where African Americans constitute a huge block of Democratic primary voters. Given its roll in Iowa, labor could be the key.

Mike Elk is an outside contributor.

Tags: ILA 1422Bernie Sanders
Categories: Labor News

Akron-area Teamster retirees suggest going ‘old school’ and occupying federal building to protest pending union pension cuts

Current News - Sat, 02/06/2016 - 04:27

Akron-area Teamster retirees suggest going ‘old school’ and occupying federal building to protest pending union pension cuts
http://www.ohio.com/business/jim-mackinnon/akron-area-retirees-suggest-g...
By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer
Published: February 3, 2016 - 08:10 PM | Updated: February 4, 2016 - 01:32 PM

There was genuine anger, frustration, protest and even revolution in the air Wednesday.
But this wasn’t a wide-eyed college student protest. The people venting — some loudly, some quietly — largely were all gray- and white-haired.
Some 200-plus retired Teamsters gathered for several hours at a Knights of Columbus Hall in Akron, fearful that their pensions will be sliced in half or more if Congress doesn’t act quickly. They listened to John Murphy, the Teamsters international vice president out of Boston, talk about a new federal pension law that allows pension payment cuts and what union members need to do to either get major changes made to the law or have it repealed.
“Shut ’em down,” said one man in the audience.
“Go old-school on their ass,” said another.
Teamsters around the nation should stage a general strike, even if just for six hours, suggested someone else.
Block or occupy the U.S. Treasury Department building, one man quipped.
“So, what should we do?” someone in the audience asked.
“Shoot them,” said yet another audience member.
Murphy and others at the meeting had more peaceful actions in mind.
The main thing, they said, is retirees need to act quickly to persuade the federal government to reject the pending application by the Central States Pension Fund, filed with the U.S. Treasury, asks for permission to cut their monthly pensions, Murphy said.
Central States Pension Fund last year became the first financially troubled pension fund to seek relief with the federal government under the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act that was passed in late 2014. The law was designed to keep multiemployer plans solvent and continue to pay retirees, but possibly at reduced rates. Without making substantial changes, Central States said it will be insolvent in as little as 10 years.
As many as 48,000 retired Teamsters in Ohio and 400,000 across the nation face cuts, according to at least one estimate.
The Teamsters are organizing a call-in program that will connect retired union members with the local offices of their congressional representatives and U.S. Senate members, Murphy said.
“It’s very important you make these calls,” he said. “Don’t worry about being articulate. They’ll understand you. Speak from the heart.”
In addition, the union is asking retirees to send handwritten letters to their elected federal representatives as well.
“We can stop this,” Murphy said. “We need time. We need this rejected.”
On top of that, retirees from around the nation will be bused to Washington in the near future to protest.
Called to action
Retirees were also urged by Murphy to support the Keep Our Pension Promises Act legislation introduced last year by presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo. The act would repeal the 2014 multiemployer pension law.
Murphy also said retirees need to support legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, intended to give workers and retirees a binding vote on pension plan changes.
“They don’t want angry retirees,” Murphy told the group. “You are building a movement. You are organizing around this and building something. You are having an effect.”
Rick Kepler, 66, a Barberton resident, former Consolidated Freightways worker and recently retired Ohio organizer for the Teamsters, urged his fellow retirees to take strong action to save their pensions, saying the United States is in the middle of a class war.
“I have a real problem thinking that we are going to be successful,” Kepler said. “We’re putting all our hopes in our baskets in the fact that maybe our Congress will take care of us and make this right for us, so that what we fought for and lived for our whole lives will continue so we don’t have to take these major cuts like this.”
People need to pay attention to the retirees who suggested such things as a general strike and occupation or blockage of the Treasury building, Kepler said.
“If all this goes down the tubes, what are we going to do? Just take it then? Accept what happened?” he asked.
Backing Sanders
Change needs to come from the bottom up, not top down, Kepler said.
“This is a country that honors wealth and not work,” he said. “We’re the ones who built this country. We’re the ones who fought in their wars. And this is how we’re going to be treated? To rip us apart, our families apart, and everything we fought for? So yeah, continue to call the Congress and continue all that stuff. But at the end of the day, all of my brothers and sisters in here, when we’ve exercised everything that we’re told about a democracy, come July and you get your first cut check, you better think there’s got to be another way in this country to deal with this stuff.”
“Bernie [Sanders] is asking for a political revolution, not a violent revolution, a political revolution,” Kepler said. “I hope to God Teamsters get behind Bernie and not that other corporate sellout ... who’s running against Bernie.”
The audience applauded his comments.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.

Tags: teamstersPensionsOccupation
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Workers’ warrior and ITUC head Sharan Burrow tackles injustice

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Saturday Paper
Categories: Labor News

Global: Union struggles for decent work building at Rio Tinto across globe

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Transport Workers 100 Stop NYC Mayor de Blasio's Carriage-Horse Plan

Current News - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 13:26

Teamsters Transport Workers 100 Stop NYC Mayor de Blasio's Carriage-Horse Plan
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/05/nyregion/horse-carriage-deal-new-york....
Mayor de Blasio’s Carriage-Horse Plan Falters in City Council
By J. DAVID GOODMAN and MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUMFEB. 4, 2016 167 COMMENTS
Photo
<05HORSES-2-master675.jpg>
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to reporters outside City Hall on Thursday. He had pushed a bill that would have restricted carriage horses to Central Park. CreditBryan R. Smith for The New York Times

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s peculiar and controversial crusade to limit the Manhattan horse-carriage industry abruptly collapsed on Thursday, dealing a blow to his image at the expense of a political pursuit that many of his allies had hoped he would abandon long ago.

Despite personal pleas from Mr. de Blasio himself, the New York City Council canceled a vote on his bill to confine the industry’s horses to Central Park, a priority of wealthy donors that the mayor kept alive, despite scorn from labor unions, parks advocates, pedicab drivers and other groups.

The collapse immediately overshadowed Mr. de Blasio’s State of the City address, where he had planned to trumpet accomplishments and declare goals for the future. The speech, scheduled for Thursday evening to reach a wider audience, was part of an effort by City Hall to move past the unforced errors that have become an unwelcome hallmark of the mayor’s tenure.

Instead, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, found himself faced with defeat on another quixotic political quest of his own making.

Photo
<05HORSES-articleLarge.jpg>
A horse-drawn carriage in Central Park last month. CreditBryan Thomas for The New York Times
The collapse of the legislation came after the Teamsters union pulled its support on Thursday, saying its carriage-driver members believed the future of their industry would be endangered. The bill would have reduced the number of horses in the industry and devoted more than $25 million to renovating a Central Park stable as the animals’ new home.

Mr. de Blasio had lobbied lawmakers on the plan, occasionally in blunt terms, saying the deal was personally important to him, according to several people told of his conversations.

It was a significant use of political capital on an issue that was notably distant from Mr. de Blasio’s core mission of curbing inequality. But the horse carriages were a target of animal-rights activists, who spent about $1 million attacking his chief opponent in the 2013 Democratic primary for mayor, Christine C. Quinn, and who have continued to finance his endeavors.

The mayor, who pledged to ban the industry on Day 1 of his administration, said he believed that it was inhumane to make horses traverse Midtown streets. He also made clear that he wanted to show he could stick to his word.

But Mr. de Blasio had little support in his cause. Although the Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, ultimately supported the compromise, the plan was met with wide skepticism.

Parks advocates questioned the use of parkland for a private concern. Pedicab drivers said they would be ruined by a clause in the plan barring them from operating in parts of Central Park. One labor union this week said it would consider a lawsuit to stop it.

In the end, Mr. de Blasio’s isolation on the horse plan was underscored, in ignominious fashion, during an extraordinary scene at City Hall on Thursday morning. The mayor arrived at 11:30 a.m. in his sport-utility vehicle to find a jubilant crowd of horse-carriage drivers, celebrating the death of his plan.

For about 15 minutes, Mr. de Blasio huddled inside the car, conferring with aides as reporters and television cameras gathered. When the mayor finally emerged, he pledged, defiantly, “to find a way forward.”

“There’s a lot of people who believe that it does not make sense to have horse carriages on the streets of Midtown Manhattan, and that having them in the park was a good idea,” the mayor told reporters.

The Teamsters, Mr. de Blasio said, “didn’t keep to their agreement — it’s as simple as that.”

The mayor’s office said that on Thursday morning the legislation had the votes needed to pass. But many council members never quite warmed to the mayor’s effort, and the backing of the Teamsters was seen as critical to secure support for a bill that would effectively eliminate some unionized jobs.

“There were many members, including myself, who had always said that the only way I could ever support a compromise was if the Teamsters were a party to and supported the deal,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a Queens Democrat.

Once the Teamsters pulled out, Mr. Van Bramer added, “they knew they didn’t have the votes and they had to pull the bill.”

Some lawmakers had been prepared to support the compromise simply to move it off their plate, saying Mr. de Blasio’s plan had become a painful distraction.

“New York City politics is in danger of becoming just as much as a laughingstock as the presidential race,” Councilman Ritchie Torres, a Bronx Democrat, said on Thursday.

Because the Council rarely votes on measures that are not assured of passage, the bill’s removal from the calendar for a vote on Friday is tantamount to its defeat.

For Mr. de Blasio, the defeat is also a painful reminder of another legislative fiasco: his attempt to limit the expansion of the car-service app Uber. While the Council was deliberating, the mayor flew to Italy for an environmental conference at the Vatican; the bill died while he was returning to New York.

This past weekend, Mr. de Blasio spent four days in Iowa, where he knocked on doors as a volunteer for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Back home, opposition to the horse plan was growing, as prominent leaders from the Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the Central Labor Council made calls opposing the legislation.

Some last-minute sweeteners by the administration, including a promise that the city’s tourism arm, NYC & Company, would promote the horse-carriage industry, failed to shore up union support.

“It’s a great day for the horse and carriages,” Ian McKeever, a carriage driver and spokesman for the industry, said on Thursday. “I’m from Dublin, so I’m having a pint.”

Reached on his phone on Thursday, Steven Nislick, the de Blasio donor and animal-rights activist whose group, Nyclass, pushed for a horse-carriage ban, hung up without a word. In a statement released later, he and his Nyclass partner, Wendy Neu, called the collapse of the deal “outrageous and wrong.”

Mr. Van Bramer, who as majority leader in the Council had been crucial to securing support for the deal based on the Teamsters’ participation, said it was time for the city to “move on” to other issues.

“This has gone on for too long, and I would say that there have been several attempts to do this,” he said. “They have not been successful, and we should move on to more pressing matters and more important issues that the people of the City of New York want us to focus on.”

For Mr. de Blasio, however, the quest continues.

“The people of this city know what I believe,” the mayor wrote in a statement, “and we will work toward a new path on this issue.”

Tags: teamstersTWU 100horse carriages
Categories: Labor News

Will protesting Uber drivers disrupt Super Bowl transit? “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”

Current News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 17:22

Will protesting Uber drivers disrupt Super Bowl transit? “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Will-protesting-Uber-drivers...
By Carolyn SaidFebruary 4, 2016 Updated: February 4, 2016 4:05pm

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Seth Wenig, Associated PressUber drivers, including Kalsang Tsering (right), chant and yell as people enter and leave an Uber office in New York.
A price-cut war between Uber and Lyft has sparked Uber driver protests and highlighted differences in how some drivers view the two ride-hailing companies.

Uber slashed prices for its service in January and February in various markets, saying it was combatting a seasonal slowdown. In San Francisco, prices went down 10 percent, while fares in the East Bay and South Bay were reduced by 20 percent. Drivers can still make a guaranteed amount per hour if they hit certain benchmarks, such as accepting 90 percent of ride requests, it said. Lyft followed suit with price cuts in a number of markets, telling drivers that it was the only way to keep customers. In the Bay Area, Lyft cut prices by 10 percent.

On Monday, hundreds of drivers protested at Uber’s New York headquarters, according to the New York Times. On the same day in San Francisco, about 200 drivers honked horns and snarled traffic outside Uber’s Mid-Market headquarters to protest, according to BuzzFeed.

Some protesters are now targeting the Super Bowl, seeking to disrupt Uber’s partnership with the game. The ride service has a dedicated space at Levi’s Stadium in exchange for between $250,000 and $500,000 in cash and services. Game-day protests could include a “strike” — drivers staying home instead of ferrying the hordes of people at the game. Flyers and postings on social media also ominously mention creating traffic gridlock outside the stadium — something that seems guaranteed to happen even without a protest.

‘Ridiculously low’

“The problem is the fares are ridiculously low,” said Mario Leadum, who led Monday’s protest in San Francisco. “It’s great for customers but hurtful for drivers.”

Three years ago, Leadum said, he made about $3,000 a week after driving five long days for Uber. “Now the same hours, and I’m fighting to make $650 or $700 in a week,” he said. He’d like to see prices restored to 2014 levels. Leadum said he has 5,000 local drivers who support the protest and said they’ve started to make connections with upset drivers in other cities.

In a YouTube video, Leadum exhorts drivers to protest on Sunday, saying that Uber will cut rates from the current $1.15 a mile to 50 cents a mile that day. Uber categorically denied that rates would be cut so low. In fact, most observers expect both Uber and Lyft to raise their rates on Sunday to lure more drivers.

“Every time Uber cuts prices, there’s a lot of unrest among drivers,” said Harry Campbell, a driver who runs the Rideshare Guy blog and podcast. “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”

Campbell praised Lyft for being transparent in a frank letter that co-founder and President John Zimmer sent to drivers after it cut prices in Uber’s wake.

“Previously, we tried preserving prices (when the competition cut them) but saw a negative impact on ridership,” Zinner wrote. “This leads to fewer rides and creates a bad situation for both the driver community and company long-term.” Zimmer said Lyft recently invited some drivers to brainstorm solutions to keep the price cuts from hurting them and is implementing some of the ideas.

<920x1240.jpg>Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty ImagesUber drivers protest recent fare cuts Monday in front of the ride service’s New York offices.
Uber has some 40,000 active drivers, defined as those who’ve used the app at least three times in the past month. All are contractors who work whenever they want, meaning the word “strike” doesn’t apply. On social media, many drivers say they are looking forward to price surges on Sunday.

“Once you’ve hit a certain critical mass with drivers, you can probably afford to make them a little unhappy from time to time,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jack Dawson Research. “They’re up to speed with your system, rely on the income and can’t afford to stop doing it, at least not in a large numbers.”

Commodity market

Price wars are to be expected in what’s essentially a commodity market, he said. “Ultimately Uber and Lyft are more or less the same thing,” he said. “Price continues to be one of the biggest levers to differentiate from one another and get one up on the competition.”

Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings who studies ride service drivers, said momentum is growing for protest movements, including recent connections between some partners and organized labor. Some regulatory changes could allow Uber drivers to organize and even unionize, despite not being employees.

“As these companies lose their favorite-son, sharing-economy edge, there could be more consumer attention to the workers’ plight,” she said.

But Dawson said consumers ultimately do not make choices based on political ideals.

Not much happened after talk of boycotting Uber in late 2014 over reports that it might intimidate journalists who criticized it, he said.

“We all love to espouse these principles until we really need a ride, then cold reality sets in and we end up ordering an Uber anyway,” he said. “In reality, principles rarely affect companies very much. People object to Google collecting all sorts of information about us, but it has the best search engine. Apple workers in China aren’t treated the way you’d like, but what other phone are you going to use?”

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: UberDrivers Strike
Categories: Labor News

UAL IBT Contract Fight Against Union Busting And Flint Water And The UAW

Current News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 17:16

WW2-2-16 UAL IBT Contract Fight And Flint Water And The UAW
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/ww2-2-16-ual-ibt-contract-fight-an...
WorkWeek looks at the long contract fight between the UAL and IBT mechanics who have been without a contract for more than two years. Joseph Prisco a member of the UAL IBT negotiating committee and mechanic discusses the concession demands UAL is making and the union busting attack by UAL management. CWA-AFA flight attendants are also without a contract.
Next WorkWeek investigates the causes of the Flint water contamination and who caused it. We hear from UAW Assistant Regional Director Steve Dawes from Flint, Barb Ingalls who is the former president of the Detroit CWA Typographical Union and Frank Hammer, former president of UAW 909 in Warren. They discuss the background to the privatization drive by Michigan governor Rick Snyder and the role of GM in stopping the contaminated water from going into the engine plant which was rusting the engines.
Production of WorkWeek Radio
workweek@kpfa.org
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio

Tags: UALContractIBT Teamstersmechanics
Categories: Labor News

Will protesting Uber drivers disrupt Super Bowl transit? “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”

Current News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 17:14

Will protesting Uber drivers disrupt Super Bowl transit? “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Will-protesting-Uber-drivers...
By Carolyn SaidFebruary 4, 2016 Updated: February 4, 2016 4:05pm

Photo: Seth Wenig, Associated PressUber drivers, including Kalsang Tsering (right), chant and yell as people enter and leave an Uber office in New York.
A price-cut war between Uber and Lyft has sparked Uber driver protests and highlighted differences in how some drivers view the two ride-hailing companies.

Uber slashed prices for its service in January and February in various markets, saying it was combatting a seasonal slowdown. In San Francisco, prices went down 10 percent, while fares in the East Bay and South Bay were reduced by 20 percent. Drivers can still make a guaranteed amount per hour if they hit certain benchmarks, such as accepting 90 percent of ride requests, it said. Lyft followed suit with price cuts in a number of markets, telling drivers that it was the only way to keep customers. In the Bay Area, Lyft cut prices by 10 percent.

On Monday, hundreds of drivers protested at Uber’s New York headquarters, according to the New York Times. On the same day in San Francisco, about 200 drivers honked horns and snarled traffic outside Uber’s Mid-Market headquarters to protest, according to BuzzFeed.

Some protesters are now targeting the Super Bowl, seeking to disrupt Uber’s partnership with the game. The ride service has a dedicated space at Levi’s Stadium in exchange for between $250,000 and $500,000 in cash and services. Game-day protests could include a “strike” — drivers staying home instead of ferrying the hordes of people at the game. Flyers and postings on social media also ominously mention creating traffic gridlock outside the stadium — something that seems guaranteed to happen even without a protest.

‘Ridiculously low’

“The problem is the fares are ridiculously low,” said Mario Leadum, who led Monday’s protest in San Francisco. “It’s great for customers but hurtful for drivers.”

Three years ago, Leadum said, he made about $3,000 a week after driving five long days for Uber. “Now the same hours, and I’m fighting to make $650 or $700 in a week,” he said. He’d like to see prices restored to 2014 levels. Leadum said he has 5,000 local drivers who support the protest and said they’ve started to make connections with upset drivers in other cities.

In a YouTube video, Leadum exhorts drivers to protest on Sunday, saying that Uber will cut rates from the current $1.15 a mile to 50 cents a mile that day. Uber categorically denied that rates would be cut so low. In fact, most observers expect both Uber and Lyft to raise their rates on Sunday to lure more drivers.

“Every time Uber cuts prices, there’s a lot of unrest among drivers,” said Harry Campbell, a driver who runs the Rideshare Guy blog and podcast. “No one is really happy to go to work and do the same job for less pay. We often hear rumblings about strikes, but Uber won’t react unless it affects their bottom line.”

Campbell praised Lyft for being transparent in a frank letter that co-founder and President John Zimmer sent to drivers after it cut prices in Uber’s wake.

“Previously, we tried preserving prices (when the competition cut them) but saw a negative impact on ridership,” Zinner wrote. “This leads to fewer rides and creates a bad situation for both the driver community and company long-term.” Zimmer said Lyft recently invited some drivers to brainstorm solutions to keep the price cuts from hurting them and is implementing some of the ideas.

Photo: Spencer Platt, Getty ImagesUber drivers protest recent fare cuts Monday in front of the ride service’s New York offices.
Uber has some 40,000 active drivers, defined as those who’ve used the app at least three times in the past month. All are contractors who work whenever they want, meaning the word “strike” doesn’t apply. On social media, many drivers say they are looking forward to price surges on Sunday.

“Once you’ve hit a certain critical mass with drivers, you can probably afford to make them a little unhappy from time to time,” said Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jack Dawson Research. “They’re up to speed with your system, rely on the income and can’t afford to stop doing it, at least not in a large numbers.”

Commodity market

Price wars are to be expected in what’s essentially a commodity market, he said. “Ultimately Uber and Lyft are more or less the same thing,” he said. “Price continues to be one of the biggest levers to differentiate from one another and get one up on the competition.”

Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings who studies ride service drivers, said momentum is growing for protest movements, including recent connections between some partners and organized labor. Some regulatory changes could allow Uber drivers to organize and even unionize, despite not being employees.

“As these companies lose their favorite-son, sharing-economy edge, there could be more consumer attention to the workers’ plight,” she said.

But Dawson said consumers ultimately do not make choices based on political ideals.

Not much happened after talk of boycotting Uber in late 2014 over reports that it might intimidate journalists who criticized it, he said.

“We all love to espouse these principles until we really need a ride, then cold reality sets in and we end up ordering an Uber anyway,” he said. “In reality, principles rarely affect companies very much. People object to Google collecting all sorts of information about us, but it has the best search engine. Apple workers in China aren’t treated the way you’d like, but what other phone are you going to use?”

Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: csaid@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @csaid

Tags: UberProtestDrivers
Categories: Labor News

Former Union Buster Steve Glazer Who Is Now Democrat Senator Wants BART Union Concessions Before Supporting Bond

Current News - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:49

Former Union Buster Steve Glazer Who Is Now Democrat Senator Wants BART Union Concessions Before Supporting Bond

Glazer: Rework BART union contracts before $3 billion bond vote
http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_29470563/glazer-rework-...
By Sam Richards

srichards@bayareanewsgroup.com

POSTED: 02/03/2016 01:00:38 PM PST1 COMMENT| UPDATED: ABOUT 17 HOURS AGO
WALNUT CREEK -- Saying BART has been irresponsible with its money over time, a group of East Bay elected officials called on BART to renegotiate its 2013 employee contracts before going to voters in November with a $3 billion bond measure to pay for rail system improvements.

"There have been decades of shortsighted fiscal and management decisions," said state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who led a news conference at the Walnut Creek BART station Wednesday.
Essentially, Glazer said voters shouldn't trust BART to use $3 billion responsibly, and he has joined with Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho, of Discovery Bay, and 29 East Bay mayors and city council members in seeking a contract renegotiation.
Glazer said he isn't asking BART employees to "revisit their salary choices," but he and the others insist that BART workers not be allowed to strike, and that such a provision should be in any new contract. Any new contract should also allow BART managers to be trained to operate trains during strikes, which Glazer said isn't the case now.
"This is a positive opportunity for BART to get its fiscal house together," said Pleasanton Councilman Jerry Pentin, standing with Glazer.
A letter to BART's board members and employee unions dated Feb. 3 from the 32 politicians calls for negotiating a new contract that "takes into account the dire fiscal needs of the (BART) system." Negotiations should be well under way by the November election, he said.

Asked whether the unions would agree to renegotiating, Glazer said the unions have as much invested in BART's success as anyone.
BART directors plan a $3 billion bond measure in Contra Costa, Alameda and San Francisco counties to improve BART service and upgrade the trains. While a poll conducted last summer by BART showed 75 percent public support for the bond, the five local officials flanking Glazer Wednesday likely didn't cast any of those "yes" votes.
Glazer made BART labor actions a key issue in the March and May special elections to fill the District 7 Senate seat left vacant when Mark DeSaulnier moved to Congress. He first blasted BART workers' right to strike, and then criticized the subsequent contract agreements with BART workers as too generous.

BART Director Joel Keller said Wednesday he agrees with Glazer in that BART employees shouldn't strike. He also said there's room for "honest disagreement" about whether the union contract terms were too generous, and the circumstances of the contract's approval.

But he said BART needs major repairs to all parts of its 40-year-old system, and that the bond measure will include an oversight panel to make sure the money is well spent.

"It's a big mistake to hold a bond measure hostage over that disagreement," said Keller, who suggested Glazer could instead introduce legislation aimed at making BART strikes illegal.

Such a bill, AB 528, was introduced by Baker in February 2015 but died in committee.

BART board member Gail Murray of Walnut Creek suggested it's politically expedient for Glazer and the others to say BART should solve the strike issue when they have failed thus far to get political backing to do that legislatively. She also called the demand to renegotiate the contracts "unrealistic."

Chris Finn, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 based in Oakland, had little to say Wednesday morning about Glazer's basic concerns.

"We're focused on some other things right now," he said, noting that labor and management are talking to each other about working better together on myriad issues, including successfully moving hundreds of thousands of riders to and from Super Bowl activities.

Contact Sam Richards at 925-943-8241. Follow him at Twitter.com/samrichardsWC

Tags: BARTATU 1555Steve Glazer
Categories: Labor News

Asia: TPP agreement bad for democracy, rights, public services and health

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Greece: Country grinds to a halt in general strike over pension reforms

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CBC
Categories: Labor News

Uber and Lyft Challenged In DC By ATU and Disabled Advocates Over Transport Of Disabled

Current News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:03

Uber and Lyft Challenged In DC By ATU and Disabled Advocates Over Transport Of Disabled
Transit Workers, Disability Advocates Sound Alarm as WMATA Proposes Uber or Lyft as Paratransit Provider: A planned proposal from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to contract a successful alternative paratransit program to on-demand providers like Uber or Lyft has transit workers anddisability advocates sounding the alarm. “United Spinal is deeply disappointed that WMATA has chosen to partner with Lyft, a service that has yet to provide an accessible option for wheelchair users,” said Carol Tyson, Director of Disability Policy for United Spinal Association, which last week joined the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Prince George's Advocates for Community-Based Transit, the Montgomery County Union Taxi Co-Operative, the AFL-CIO, and a growing list of co-signers on a letter expressing grave concernsabout WMATA's proposal. ATU Locals 689 and 1764 represent more than 15,000 transit workers in the region, including MetroAccess employees. The proposal would "drive the whole system off the road and into a tree," said ATU president Larry Hanley. The coalition expressed its support for alternative paratransit service and called on WMATA “to ensure a gold standard for accessibility and working conditions for any company providing public transit services.” MetroAccess photo courtesy WMATA

Uber and Lyft Challenged In DC Over Transport Of Disabled
January 28, 2016 Via Electronic Mail

Paul Wiedefeld
General Manager/Chief Executive Officer
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) 600 5th St, NW
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Mr. Wiedefeld,

The undersigned disability rights, labor, social justice and transit equity organizations, and individuals, write to convey our support for alternative paratransit programs. We also write to share concerns regarding a proposal referred to by WMATA staff during Accessibility Advisory Committee (AAC) meetings this month. MetroAccess eligible individuals in the District now use the Transport DC service to travel anywhere within the District via sedan or wheelchair accessible taxi. Surrounding jurisdictions, and residents, have expressed interest in replicating the program.

We have heard members of the WMATA Board may support similar programs in Maryland and Virginia, but also that there may be interest in allowing transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft to provide alternative paratransit service as well. This is of grave concern to our coalition for many reasons, most importantly because neither company has adequate access to wheelchair accessible vehicles.1 We urge the WMATA Board and staff to consider an alternative paratransit program that: awards access for all; enforces compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA); prioritizes safety; improves working conditions, wages, benefits, and training of employees; and will result in the growth of the local economy and small businesses.

Accessible Transportation Needs and Barriers
DC, Maryland and Virginia area (DMV) residents with disabilities of all ages and backgrounds use the full WMATA public transit system -- bus, rail, and MetroAccess -- every day. DMV residents use WMATA to attend school, take part in religious services, shop, attend medical appointments, vote, work, spend time with friends, and otherwise participate in and contribute to the community. WMATA is often touted as one of the most accessible transit systems in the country, yet significant barriers remain.2

A lack of adequate accessible, affordable housing near transit stops places Metro services out of reach for many. In addition, inaccessible Metro infrastructure such as elevator outages, and broken intercom systems, as well as inclement weather combined with inaccessible bus stops and sidewalks are

1 Currently, Uber provides wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) service in the District through partnerships with taxi drivers, however this may not be a sustainable solution. According to a recent District of Columbia Taxicab Commission Accessibility Advisory Committee (DCTC AAC), as a result of competition, it is common for the numbers of taxis to decrease in a city in which TNCs are operating. A decrease in the numbers of accessible taxis in San Francisco has been attributed to the rise of TNCs companies. In early 2013, there were 100 WAV taxis in San Francisco. There are now only 64. Drivers and companies are no longer purchasing WAV medallions in New York City. The DCTC AAC has expressed concern that the District may face a similar loss. (DCTC AAC 2015 Annual Report)

2 Inadequate accessible transportation is a national problem. Adults with disabilities are much more than twice as likely as those without disabilities to consider inadequate transportation a problem. (Kessler Foundation/NOD Survey of Americans with Disabilities, Harris Interactive, 2010).

significant barriers to Metro for many.3 WMATA is required to provide paratransit and other transportation services to people with disabilities who are unable to use the system because it is inaccessible or due to significant disability.4

MetroAccess Fills a Gap
MetroAccess, WMATA’s paratransit service, fills a gap for those unable to make use of Metro bus and rail. WMATA outsources contracts to six private corporations to provide a necessary and essential door to door service. Customers must reserve their shared ride at least a day in advance. MetroAccess call center workers and drivers are committed to their roles, but are paid substandard wages and face abusive working conditions. Current MetroAccess providers are transportation companies that must be strictly overseen to ensure that safety and anti-discrimination provisions under the ADA are followed.

Alternative Paratransit Solutions: Transport DC
WMATA has partnered with the District Department of Transportation, and the DC Taxi Commission, to provide alternative paratransit service through Transport DC. MetroAccess eligible passengers may call an hour in advance to reserve a single trip (ie, not a shared ride) taxi ride in a sedan or wheelchair accessible van. Transport DC has been in operation a little more than a year and has been hugely successful. In FY15, its first year, Transport DC provided more than 47,000 trips within the District for a $5 flat fee. Ridership continues to increase. For the first time MetroAccess customers had access to quality transportation in case of an emergency. In addition, savings to the DC budget in the 2nd half of FY15 is estimated at 1.8 million.

Customers in surrounding jurisdictions, Maryland and Virginia, have been calling for an alternative paratransit solution similar to Transport DC. Transportation providers in the area such as the MontCo Union Taxi Co-operative (Co-op) have been working towards building a fleet of wheelchair accessible taxis. The Co-op is also developing an app that would allow them to provide quality, accessible taxi service to Maryland MetroAccess customers.

Alternative Paratransit in Maryland: Concerns and Recommendations
In an effort to increase transportation options for Maryland residents, WMATA staff referenced the possibility of a proposal for future service providers at the January 2016 WMATA AAC meeting, and the MetroAccess Subcommittee meeting. We strongly support providing alternative service options to MD and VA residents. Should WMATA choose to provide contracts or work with companies in MD or VA to provide alternative paratransit, we ask that WMATA Board and staff consider the following.

Alternative paratransit service contacts should be awarded to companies that:
1. Prioritize access for all and ensure adequate numbers of wheelchair accessible vehicles are

available. It is our understanding that Lyft has no available accessible vehicles and Uber may not have any in MD, or an adequate supply. Provision of service only to ambulatory passengers (those that do not require a wheelchair accessible vehicle) will create a two-tiered, segregated alternative paratransit system.

3 The Transit Riders for Equity & Accessibility’s Call to Action: Ensure WMATA’s Access to All (10/28/15) provides a select list of issues to address to improve WMATA accessibility.
4 49 CFR § 37.123 (1991)

2. Prioritize working conditions of their drivers and other workers, and prioritize hiring of any MetroAccess workers displaced by the transfer of work to taxi or TNC-based paratransit

2

programs. Good working conditions and pay will lead to higher quality and consistent service and less turnover, as reinforced in recent reports from the FTA and GAO.

• Prioritize compliance, and accept their role as a transportation provider under the ADA. The ADA provides stringent anti-discrimination guidelines that ensure all passengers, including those with service animals and wheelchairs, are protected. Please consider any outstanding litigation regarding compliance.

• Prioritize safety of the passengers and workers, and accept liability.

• Prioritize accessibility through all of its business lines. Any alternative paratransit contract should be awarded to companies that provide wheelchair accessible service to all of their customers in any region where they do business. Awarding contracts that do not provide access to all WMATA customers sends a message to the riding public that WMATA does not prioritize access.

• In addition, we urge you to consider the possibility of awarding the contract to more than one company. Allowing more than one company, most especially local businesses, to participate will contribute to the growth of the DMV economy, and allows for trips to be shifted in response to growing pains as needed. Providing these contracts to more than one company is considered best practice amongst transit agencies.

Our coalition applauds WMATA’s efforts to ensure passengers’ access to quality transportation options in the DMV. We ask you to adopt alternative paratransit solutions that not only ensure the sustainability of MetroAccess in the long-run, but also benefit the entire community. Send the message that access for all in the DMV is a priority.

Sincerely,

Becaye Traore, Board Member, MontCo Union Taxi Co-operative
Charlie Crawford, Member, WMATA Accessibility Advisory Committee (as an individual)
Dennis Butler, Deputy Chair, DCTC Accessibility Advisory Committee (as an individual)
District of Columbia Developmental Disabilities Council
Heidi Case, Project ACTION! Advisor
Julie Piché, CEO, All Access Taxi, LLC
Lawrence Hanley, International President, Amalgamated Transit Union
Mary Jane Owen, Disability Concepts in Action
Nadia Ibrahim, Ms Wheelchair Maryland 2016
Peter Ibik, President, Montgomery County Professional Drivers Union
Prince Georges’ Advocates for Community-based Transit (ACT)
Seth Morgan, Chair, Montgomery County, MD Commission on People with Disabilities (as an individual) Tefere Gebre, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President
United Spinal Association

CC: WMATA Board of Directors

3

Tags: Uberdisabledoutsourcing
Categories: Labor News

Uber Drivers and Others in the Gig Economy Take a Stand

Current News - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:01

Uber Drivers and Others in the Gig Economy Take a Stand
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/03/business/uber-drivers-and-others-in-th...
By NOAM SCHEIBERFEB. 2, 2016

An Uber driver cruising through a night-life district in Tampa, Fla., his car adorned with messages protesting Uber’s policies. CreditLuke Johnson for The New York Times

Last September, Dallas-area drivers for UberBlack, the company’s high-end car service, received an email informing them that they would be expected to start picking up passengers on UberX, its low-cost option.

The next day, when the policy was scheduled to go into effect, dozens of drivers caravaned to Uber’s office in downtown Dallas and planted themselves outside until company officials met with them. Many had taken out loans to buy luxury vehicles that cost upward of $35,000, and worried that the modest per-mile rate for UberX passengers would barely cover gas and wear and tear, to say nothing of their car payments.

The standoff stretched across nearly three more tense days until Uber allowed them to opt out of the policy. “They thought we were just going to give up, walk away,” said Kirubel Kebede, a leader of the group. “But we said, ‘No, this is our livelihood.’”

In the rapid growth of the online gig economy, many workers have felt squeezed and at times dehumanized by a business structure that promises independence but often leaves them at the mercy of increasingly powerful companies. Some are beginning to band together in search of leverage and to secure what they see as fairer treatment from the platforms that make the work possible.

Photo

Ryan Valentine, a former driver for Uber in Tampa, Fla., marked his vehicle with messages expressing his dissatisfaction with the company before a recent protest.CreditLuke Johnson for The New York Times
“We started realizing we’re not contractors, we’re more like employees,” said Berhane Alemayoh, one of the UberBlack drivers in Dallas. “They tell us what kind of car to drive. They kick you out if a customer accused you of not having a clean car. They started to tighten the rope. Gradually, we can’t breathe any more.”

Perhaps the most prominent effort was a measure to give ride-hailing drivers the right to unionize in Seattle, which was approved by the City Council in December.

But while many campaigns by alienated workers have shunned this more traditional labor-organizing approach, they have highlighted a basis for advancing the interests of gig economy workers collectively.

“There’s a sense of workplace identity and group consciousness despite the insistence from many of these platforms that they are simply open ‘marketplaces’ or ‘malls’ for digital labor,” said Mary L. Gray, a researcher at Microsoft Research and professor in the Media School at Indiana University who studies gig economy workers.

The efforts extend well beyond drivers for Uber and its prime competitor, Lyft. A group of couriers who find work on the platform Postmates is waging a campaign to create an “I’m done after this delivery” button because they worry that turning down jobs will affect how many future assignments they receive. (A Postmates official said turning down jobs had no effect on future work, but that the company was still sympathetic to the idea.)

The National Domestic Workers Alliance, which organizes nannies and housekeepers, recently produced what it calls the Good Work Code, which it has urged gig economy companies to adopt.

“They would be dispatched to a home that didn’t feel safe, but would be hesitant to exit themselves from that situation because it might affect their ratings,” said Palak Shah, the alliance official leading the effort, citing one of several issues that the Good Work Code is intended to address. A handful of firms, like Managed by Q, LeadGenius and CareLinx, have embraced the guidelines.

Similarly, a group of workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform, where people post and accept piecework assignments, in 2014 developed extensive guidelines — including recommended pay and the need to provide timely responses to questions — for academics who use the platform for research purposes. More than 60 academics have signed on to date.

Though the so-called Turkers tend to value the flexibility and independence of freelancing and often reject the idea of a traditional union, many have also developed a kind of working-stiff identity. “I’ve heard them say Jeff Bezos is their boss — we’re workers here,” said Niloufar Salehi, a Stanford Ph.D. student who spent a year immersed in Turker forums to help the workers organize.

By contrast, sellers of goods on digital marketplaces like eBay and Etsy rarely think of themselves as employees. In their minds, they say, they are independent artisans and shopkeepers.

“Etsy is the place where the shop exists, where I pay rent,” said Sandie Russo, a longtime seller of hand-knit accessories and knitting patterns who once ran an online forum in which sellers helped one another address common problems. “It’s definitely that you’re an entrepreneur, not a worker.”

Like the Etsy shopkeepers, many Uber drivers began their relationship with the company thinking of themselves as self-employed.

“There is that sense initially,” said Harry Campbell, a longtime Uber driver who runs a popular blog and podcast about ride-hailing. “But as time goes on, it wears off. You start to see that Uber does control a lot of aspects of the work.”

Unlike sellers on eBay or Etsy, Uber drivers cannot set the prices they charge. They are also constrained by the all-important rating system — maintain an average of around 4.6 out of 5 stars from customers in many cities or risk being deactivated — to behave a certain way, like not marketing other businesses to passengers.

The experience of the Dallas UberBlack drivers is telling. When Uber entered Dallas in 2012, many of the drivers were either independent hired-car operators or contractors for limousine companies who bought or leased their own cars.

“Some had their own business, they were fine with the business,” Mr. Alemayoh said. “They just used Uber as a complement.”

The drivers formed a tactical alliance with the company to help it gain the city’s approval, which local cab operators resisted. Mr. Alemayoh even sang Uber’s praises in testimony before the Houston City Council, after the company asked him to speak there as part of its expansion efforts. “I said it’s fair to drivers to have Uber,” he recalled. “I spoke on their behalf, they didn’t pay me.”

But the relationship began to sour in 2014, when the company decreed that drivers with cars made before 2008 would no longer be able to participate in UberBlack.

“We said, ‘You guys are affecting so many families,’” said Mr. Kebede, a leader of a group called the Association of Limousine Owners and Operators of Dallas Fort Worth, formed the previous year. Uber extended the grace period by several months in some cases but did not reverse the policy.

By the time Uber handed down its UberX directive in September, the drivers had long since recognized that they were at the company’s beck and call. Because of Uber’s popularity, almost all their other sources of business had dried up. And Uber had earned the imprimatur of the City Council, which made the drivers politically expendable, too.

So it was something of a surprise that the drivers’ association, which represents about 500 of the 2,000 to 3,000 black-car drivers it believes are active in the Dallas area, was able to push Uber not only to scale back the UberX change, but also to reinstate several of the drivers it had deactivated for pressuring fellow drivers as the showdown escalated.

Some continue to be deactivated for what they feel are arbitrary reasons, which Uber maintains are unrelated to the protest (“Drivers have the right to free expression and we respect that,” said a company representative). But to the extent that the Dallas drivers have been successful, one crucial advantage is that they were able to organize in person rather than depend exclusively on the Internet and social media.

That also helps explain the success of the campaign in Seattle, where Uber had previously reversed a rate cut after facing pressure from drivers. (Uber maintains that the reversal was unrelated.) “The drivers have gone out and talked to each other,” said Dawn Gearhart, a spokeswoman in the area for the Teamsters union, which provides support services to local drivers. “Every time they would call a meeting, a couple hundred people would show up.”

Since the beginning of the year, drivers in cities like New York and San Francisco have relied on a similar local focus to organize protests over rate cuts. Hundreds of drivers descended on Uber’s headquarters in Queens on Monday to demand that the old rates be restored.

In the Tampa area, drivers have protested cuts that brought rates down to 65 cents a mile from 95 cents as of early January, and from $1.20 as recently as last spring. Net earnings for drivers there can come perilously close to subminimum wage rates on a 15- to 20-minute trip in town once they factor in pickup and wait times and the cost of gas, depreciation and maintenance.

“We sometimes lower prices in a city to get more people using Uber,” said an Uber representative. “As we have always said, price cuts need to work for drivers. If they do not, we will roll them back.”

In response, the Tampa area drivers started a weekly logout of an hour or two during peak periods for weekend revelers. During that time, they write messages on their windows about what they consider unlivable wages. The group has grown rapidly to a network of 700 drivers who communicate via an app-based walkie-talkie service called Zello.

The Tampa drivers’ goal is to enlist Uber’s most politically valuable asset — legions of customers who have grown dependent on the service — to help send a message to Uber. Over time, they hope to extend the logouts to several hours, perhaps even a full day on the weekend.

“It’s a little blip on Uber’s radar,” said Josh Streeter, one of the leaders. “But then people might believe they have the power. That if they band together, they could pull off a bigger action.”

Tags: UberDrivers
Categories: Labor News

9,000 Uber Drivers Planning to Disrupt Super Bowl With Protest

Current News - Tue, 02/02/2016 - 23:51

9,000 Uber Drivers Planning to Disrupt Super Bowl With Protest
http://observer.com/2016/02/9000-uber-drivers-planning-to-disrupt-super-...
'We're shutting it down. We're shutting the highways down.'
By Sage Lazzaro • 02/02/16 4:57pm

Mike Dean of The Rideshare Report, narrating yesterday’s San Francisco protest. (Screengrab: YouTube)
Yesterday, a caravan of about 1,000 Uber drivers reportedly drove through San Francisco, yelling and beeping their horns. In a tight pack, the string of disgruntled drivers drove by the airport, the Uber support center and City Hall to protest the recent fare cuts, which have left many drivers earning below minimum wage.

This rally, however, was just a taste of what’s to come. These drivers along with many, many more are planning to assemble this sunday for a protest that will disrupt the Super Bowl, set to be held at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco. Specifically, they plan to congest the highways leading to the stadium and even the area around the stadium itself. Thousands of drivers are expected to attend.

“We’re telling them we’re going to shut it down for the Super Bowl. We’re shutting it down. We’re shutting the highways down. We’re shutting everything down and we’re not going to allow Uber to keep screwing drivers over,” Mario, who organized the caravan but declined to give his last name, said in a video recorded by RideShare Report’s Mike Dean at the protest.

In the video, Mario says he has 4,000 drivers from the area planning to attend and that another 5,000 from Los Angeles have committed to the protest also.

“This will continue until Travis decides to man up and start paying these drivers what they deserve,” he added.

On the Rideshare Report, Mr. Dean writes that the plan to disrupt the Super Bowl was inspired by a tip a driver received from an Uber employee. He says a driver got word that the company plans to offer a promotion on Super Bowl Sunday and drop rates from $1.15 per mile to 50 cents per mile to help ease the surge pricing effect.

These drivers are just a few of the many who have spent the last few weeks fighting Uber for a living wage. Nationwide, drivers have boycotted, raised their voices on social media (only to be blocked by CEO Travis Kalanick, in some cases) and hosted rallies in dozens of cities, including yesterday in New York City, where an estimated 1,000 drivers gathered outside the company’s New York headquarters in Brooklyn. It was no coincidence the NYC and San Francisco rallies happened at the same time. Mario said they were a coordinated act and that his team is united with those protesting in New York, Seattle,Washington D.C., New Jersey and Texas.

Tags: UBER Super BowlrallyDrivers
Categories: Labor News

Investigation begins into N.J., N.Y. port walkout, as dockworkers return "Union leaders said publicly they too had been caught unawares that their members had been planning to walk off the job, but cited growing anger by dockworkers over what they see as

Current News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 19:00

Investigation begins into N.J., N.Y. port walkout, as dockworkers return "Union leaders said publicly they too had been caught unawares that their members had been planning to walk off the job, but cited growing anger by dockworkers over what they see as a growing "intrusion into their livelihoods" by waterfront commission, which licenses longshoremen."

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2016/02/investigation_begins_into_nj_ny...

By Ted Sherman
February 01, 2016 at 5:30 AM, updated February 01, 2016 at 10:27 AM

NEWARK—Cargo operations at the region's ports resumed over the weekend, as the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor said it was opening an investigation into who orchestrated what it called an illegal walkout on Friday.

Port officials expect a normal workday today, after dockworkers walked off the job without warning on Friday, shutting down the busiest waterfront on the East Coast.

The longshoremen came back Friday night and worked over the weekend, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which serves as the landlord for the New York Harbor terminal areas in the two states.

"They worked ships Friday night and yesterday," said Coleman.

While many of the terminals handling cargo from the ships that call on Port Newark and the other terminals in the region are typically closed to truckers on the weekend, there were some operations on Saturday and Sunday. Coleman said Global Container Terminal in Bayonne put in extra hours in advance of the walkout to make up for the snow days, and was open Sunday with no problems.

"We expect a normal day tomorrow and will have normal Port Authority Police Department staffing at the terminals to assist with traffic control, which is typically an issue in the morning," he said.

Surprise walkout by dockworks shuts down port

The move, which quickly led to huge truck backlogs, caught port officials, terminal operators and even union executives unaware.
Meanwhile, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, which can lift a dockworker's license to work for any number of rules violations, said it has opened a probe into what sparked the sudden day-long labor action, and who may have been responsible.

"We have begun an investigation as to who ordered the illegal walkout and why," said Walter Arsenault, the commission's executive director. "We expect normal operations in the port tomorrow. Commission detectives will be in the port as they always are."

The New York Shipping Association, which represents the terminal operators, ocean carriers, and stevedores, said Monday should be a normal day.

"The next step is obviously to sit down and try and resolve the outstanding points," said NYSA spokeswoman Beverly Fedorko. "We can't get into the specific details of the discussions, but they all have to do with work preservation."

A union spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday. Some 4,000 union members work at the port.

The dockworkers, who walked off the job at about 10 a.m on Friday, returned that evening after an arbitrator issued a finding that the work stoppage represented a contract violation, leading the International Longshoremen's Association to urge its members to return to "accept orders and return to work immediately."

The Port of New York & New Jersey is the East Coast's busiest port, not least because of its location in a consumer market of 25 million people. So what are the products that arrive from the Middle East, China and elsewhere in the holds of tankers and stacked on the decks of container ships? Here are the region's top 10 imports, by dollar value, for the first half of 2015, as compiled by the Port Authority. (John Munson | NJ Advance Media)
Steve Strunsky | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Much of what comes into the port follows a tight logistics schedule so that things do not sit in warehouses for any length of time, noted Richard Barone, vice president for transportation at the Regional Plan Association, which examines transportation, environmental and economic development issues in the Northeast.

"There isn't much leeway when there is a stoppage like this," he said. "It could be very serious."

He pointed to the 2004 strike by dockworkers at Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach, shutting down the port for an entire week. Barone said the Congressional Budget Office later estimated the economic losses at $150 million per day. More recently, a protracted labor dispute last year again jammed ship traffic at ports along the West Coast, affecting not only imports coming into the United States, but tons of fresh fruits and vegetables bound for Asian markets.

At the same time, Barone said about 80 percent of the goods that come into the New York area ports stay in the metropolitan area. "They feed us, clothe us, and are used in our daily lives," he said.

Kurt Krummenacker, vice president and senior credit officer for Moody's Investors Service, said the terminal operators would bear most of the risk of any long-term strike.

"We are continuing to monitor the situation and identify the underlying labor issues," he said.
It is still unclear exactly what precipitated the walkout, which caught just about everyone at the port by surprise. The NYSA has an existing collective bargaining agreement with the ILA and had not been negotiating with the powerful union.

Union leaders said publicly they too had been caught unawares that their members had been planning to walk off the job, but cited growing anger by dockworkers over what they see as a growing "intrusion into their livelihoods" by waterfront commission, which licenses longshoremen.

Both the union and the shipping association have frequently chafed at the commission's regulations, which both say has held up hiring and threatens a labor shortage. Last year, the New Jersey Legislature moved to pull the state out of the commission, which had also come under attack for internal abuses by the New York Inspector General in 2009 that led to an overhaul of the agency. Gov. Chris Christie, however vetoed the measure.

The bi-state commission, created more than 60 years ago, is tasked with keeping out corruption and mob control on the docks, and has been involved in a number of criminal actions in recent years charging union members in a mob-tied shakedown of other workers.

Economic impact
Any long-term work stoppage at the sprawling port of New York Harbor potentially could cause billions in economic losses.

The combined terminals of New York Harbor—which include Port Newark, the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal, the Howland Hook Marine Terminal, the Brooklyn-Port Authority Marine Terminal, the Red Hook Container Terminal, and the Port Jersey Port Authority Marine Terminal—handle more than 3.3 million cargo containers a year, which represents some $200 billion in products ranging from food and clothes to furniture and cars.

Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

Tags: ILAWildcat strikeNYC
Categories: Labor News

NYC Uber drivers protest fare cuts outside Queens office: ‘After we pay the commission...we are not making anything’

Current News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 18:46

NYC Uber drivers protest fare cuts outside Queens office: ‘After we pay the commission...we are not making anything’
http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uber-drivers-protest-fare-cuts-queen...
BY DAN RIVOLI NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Updated: Monday, February 1, 2016, 2:56 PM

Uber Driver Protest
CBS New York

Angry Uber drivers hit the streets outside of the app’s Queens office on Monday to protest against cuts to fares.

Drivers at the rally outside the company’s Long Island City, Queens, office Monday said the fare cuts made it harder to earn a decent income, while Uber continues to rake in a 20-25% commission off each ride.

“After we pay the commission…we are not making anything,” said driver Afsal Khan, 28.

He and other drivers said they’ll have to hustle harder to make the same amount of money.

Khan said he usually did 80 trips a week.

“Now, I have to do 120 trips to make the same money,” Khan said.

Amit Agniho, 48, said he didn’t know if he could squeeze in more hours behind the wheel of an Uber.

“I already work 12 hours,” he said. “More than 12 hours is so hard to work.”

Drivers who use the low-cost UberX and XL services last week were sacked with a 15% cut in fare rates, including a drop in the minimum fare to $7, from $8.

At the rally organized by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, the group’s director, Bhairavi Desai, stood on top of a dirty pile of snow to lead the drivers in a chant, “lower the commission, not the fare” and “respect the drivers.”

The hacks, who are called driver-partners at Uber, said the app is not acting like a partner.

“They’re changing policy to benefit themselves, not the drivers,” Dawa Gurung, 30, said.

Uber contends that cheaper rides for customers means more trips, so workers will make up the lost income.

Victor Salazar holds up a “Driver Power” sign at the Queens protest.
A spokesman said Uber will try to show drivers the benefits of lower fares.

“We are offering to meet individually with every driver who wants to discuss their concerns and review their earnings to show how we think this is helping their business,” the spokesman said.

drivoli@nydailynews.com

Tags: Uber driversProtest NYC
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Carlsberg/Cambrew dismisses striking beer promotion women in Cambodia!

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 02/01/2016 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

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