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Former Kansas Waste Management worker claims he was fired as retaliation for union activities

Current News - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:16

Former Kansas Waste Management worker claims he was fired as retaliation for union activities
Sarah Plake
5:22 PM, Apr 2, 2018

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- A former worker for Waste Management said he was fired as retaliation for trying to start a union to mitigate intolerable working conditions, though the company and a labor relations board say otherwise.

The two recently settled a lawsuit in Wyandotte County court.

Former Waste Management worker Anthony Lewis said his troubles with his employer started last spring and they're only now being settled.

"We looked into trying to bring in a union," Lewis said.

Lewis worked for the company as a helper to the trash truck drivers for about a year and a half. He said employees are overworked and underappreciated.

"They made the working conditions very intolerable for one, then you got these big routes that may take you 12 to 13 hours to complete and you're just one truck," Lewis said.

Lewis said, for example, his Tuesday route covered 1,700 customers.

"Some of that compost is pretty heavy. One house may have 20 bags, one house may have 50 bags. And there's compost on both sides of the street, so this one block is going to take at least about an hour," Lewis explained.

Lewis provided numerous pay stubs that show he would average anywhere from 17 to 21 hours of overtime per week. It was paid overtime, but still exhausting.

"These drivers are under these conditions, and they just quit," Lewis said.

Waste Management said overtime is common in the trash industry.

E-mails obtained by 41 Action News show that in the summer of 2017, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County fined Waste Management $67,703 for failing to pick up trash from 162 homes. Waste Management received a complaint from the UG on June 8, 2017, and the issue wasn't resolved until June 11.

The contract between the UG and Waste Management mandates that if they fail to pick up trash within 24 hours of a complaint, they will be fined $200.00 for each 24-hour period the failure continues.

Lewis said that pressure contributes to lapses in service.

"That's why they pull people from Lee's Summit, Independence, Overland Park to go to Wyandotte, but those routes they pulled us from are left on the ground," Lewis said.

Lewis and a few other workers started talking to union reps, but then noticed managers started threatening discipline and harassing them about their union activities.

"Once the company got wind of us trying to bring a union in, they brought in their HR guys," Lewis said. "You can't do that."

Lewis filed a complaint against the company to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB and Waste Management settled on the issue last summer, forcing the company to post a notice for 60 days assuring employees they wouldn't interfere in any way with union activities. The company also took back a disciplinary warning against one employee.

In September, Lewis was fired for a second seat belt violation. He believes it was retaliation.

In another complaint filed to the NLRB, Lewis mentioned examples of other employees receiving multiple written warnings but never being terminated.

"Sometimes when it's raining, I'm jumping in and out going from house to house. The rules say you have to have seatbelt on, but supervisors have said you don't need it on when you're on route, so it's definitely a gray area, Lewis said.

Waste Management's spokesperson, Paul Howe, could not go on camera with 41 Action News, but sent us a response to Lewis's claims:

"Safety is a priority at Waste Management. As such, we have adopted life critical rules, which include, for example, wearing a seat belt while operating a vehicle."

Howe went on to say, that "As a practice, Waste Management does not discuss individual personnel matters externally. However, per public record, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed the claim."

The NLRB did not find that Lewis was fired as retaliation.

Lewis said he hoped he would get more support, so he filed a lawsuit against Waste Management in January for retaliation against a whistleblower.

Last month, the parties settled in Wyandotte County court. Lewis cannot talk about how much Waste Management paid out, but says he's satisfied this has come to a resolution.

Tags: Waste Managementunion bustingdiscriminationretaliationBullying
Categories: Labor News

NY Demo Wants TWU 100 Transit Union Workers To Pay For Transportation Crisis

Current News - Tue, 04/03/2018 - 08:04

NY Demo Wants TWU 100 Transit Union Workers To Pay For Transportation Crisis
“The unions have to understand … with the deals that they have now,” she said, “you can’t hope to make improvements to the trains in a fiscally responsible way … Everybody’s got to pull together, and everybody’s got to make sacrifices.


Under Fire from Unions Over MTA Comments, Cynthia Nixon Says She Wants Sacrifices from Billionaires

Working In These Times
Friday, Mar 30, 2018, 6:08 pm

BY Kate Aronoff

Cynthia Nixon speaks to people at the Bethesda Healing Center in Brooklyn, New York on March 20, 2018 at her first event since announcing that shes running for governor of New York. (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Speaking with a local news reporter this week, recently-announced New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, an actress and education activist best known for her role as Miranda Hobbes on the HBO series Sex and the City, was asked for her thoughts on how to fix the MTA, the city’s state-funded and oft-beleaguered public transit system. “The unions have to understand … with the deals that they have now,” she said, “you can’t hope to make improvements to the trains in a fiscally responsible way … Everybody’s got to pull together, and everybody’s got to make sacrifices.

The New York State AFL-CIO and Transport Workers Union were quick to fire back. Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, said in a statement Thursday that Nixon’s comments represented an “alarming disregard for working men and women.”

“Instead of attacking unions and the contracts they negotiated in good faith with their employers, Ms. Nixon should recognize the contributions of a highly trained and skilled workforce,” Cilento continued. “It is astounding at just how misguided and uninformed Ms. Nixon is on the vital role working men and women play in the economic and social well-being of our great state.”

The TWU issued a similar statement, with President Tony Utano scolding, “If Cynthia Nixon is talking about transit workers and wants to learn about our sacrifices, she should attend the funerals of the two transit workers who were killed on the job in the last eight days.”

Nixon—a longtime member of the Screen Actors Guild—exclusively told In These Times Friday in a statement sent over email that, “I am and have been a proud union member for forty years. My wife Christine was a union organizer. I opposed Governor Cuomo’s vile attacks against teachers and public sector unions during his first term,” referencing the governor’s active backing in 2014 of a generous set of protections for charter school operators. “I always have and always will stand with working families and my union brothers and sisters.”

On the MTA system in particular, Nixon added, “Union families should never have to foot the bill for Cuomo’s mismanagement of the MTA.” She said she is prepared to go after the “cronyism and mismanagement that has led to a neglected, congested system where transit users, taxpayers and workers are left holding the bag.”

Nixon's team said the statement provided is not meant as an apology for her previous comments, emphasizing that this statement is intended to clarify her position on fixing New York's transit system.

Nixon's statement appeared to refer to several facts uncovered by an extensive investigation by Brian M. Rosenthal for the New York Times late last year. The probe found that contracts negotiated between the state, MTA contractors and unions included payment for work, such as repairs along a 3.5 mile stretch of the Long Island Railroad, that could not be proved to have been needed. “The leaders entrusted to expand New York’s regional transit network have paid the highest construction costs in the world, spending billions of dollars that could have been used to fix existing subway tunnels, tracks, trains and signals,” Rosenthal noted.

Several transportation experts and contractors the Times spoke with observed inflated contracts and staffing. One tunnel-boring machine in the city, for example, was operating with upwards of 20 staffers, where in most cities that machinery would be run with fewer than 10. “I’m the union, and sometimes I’m saying to myself, ‘What the hell are they even doing?’” Richard Fitzsimmons, a Local 147 business manager, told the Times.

The report further contrasted the conditions governing the MTA with the Parisian Metro system, where workplace protections are notoriously strong. A construction project in Paris, France that involved similar work and goals as the Second Avenue Subway, which opened last year in Manhattan, cost $450 million per mile, compared with the $2.5 billion per mile spent on the MTA expansion project.

“Construction companies and consulting firms,” Nixon says, “drive up the costs because they get a cut as profit for themselves. Then they turn around and donate massive amounts of money to politicians like Andrew Cuomo. It’s a pay-to-play system that lines the pockets of people on top while working families pay the price. … The lack of funding to fix our subway system and shortchanged safety measures means the jobs of our union workers become that much harder and dangerous as workers struggle to keep the trains running with too few hands on deck.”

As the Times investigation also highlighted, construction companies and consultants that handle MTA contracts have donated generously to Cuomo over the course of his administration. The New York Daily News, in a recent report, found that Tully Construction Co. was recently awarded a $282.5 million MTA contract this month. After submitting the lowest bid for the tunnel repair project, they added on an additional $68 million. Company head Peter Tully has given more than $221,000 in campaign contributions to Cuomo. In total, Tully Construction has collected $468 million in state Department of Transportation contracts.

Cuomo has also collected roughly $890,0000 from two dozen of his political appointees—including to the MTA board—along with $1.3 million more from those appointees’ spouses, children and businesses.

“When I’m talking about sacrifices, I’m talking about making tough decisions about whether we prioritize the daily functioning of our crumbling subway system or throw money down the drain in pay-to-play cronyism and mismanagement,” Nixon wrote in reference to her original statement. “When I’m talking about sacrifices, I’m talking about millionaires and billionaires, real estate developers, and Wall Street bankers who are not paying their fair share.”

This week’s exchange highlights what an uphill battle Nixon could face in gaining support from organized labor in New York. Since she declared her candidacy, a number of the state’s unions, while stopping short of full-on endorsements, have issued glowing praise of Cuomo to the press. “We have to complete our internal process, but I am totally confident that the union will be 100 percent with the governor,” Bob Master, assistant to the vice president of the Communication Workers of America District 1, told Politico. “He has been a steadfast ally, he has stepped up whenever we’ve asked his assistance and he’s delivered for working people,” Master added.

SEIU 32BJ president Héctor Figueroa offered similar praise: “We are going through our internal endorsement process at 32BJ but we fully expect that the governor’s progressive record of standing with working families—the strongest of any governor in the country—will earn him our members’ support.”

A longtime labor operative in New York state, who preferred to speak anonymously given their ongoing work in state politics, wasn’t surprised by the pile-on of support. “It’s very widely known that the governor and his team are extremely aggressive in making calls to their allies to be public in their opposition” to his political opponents, the source told In These Times. “In all fairness, labor leaders have to make some hard decisions for their members, and the relationship between existing government leaders is vital.”

Given labor's close ties to Cuomo -- and that most union endorsement processes are ongoing -- finding labor operatives willing to go on record questioning union support for the governor can be difficult.

While his administration has seen the passage of a plan for $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and, just recently, a gradual increase to a $19 wage for airport workers, Cuomo’s relationship to unions hasn’t always been unambiguously friendly. Before his 2014 charter school push, Cuomo made challenging union power in Albany one of the mainstays of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. As the New York Times wrote of an interview they did with the governor shortly before that election, Cuomo pledged to “mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions.”

As “right to work” efforts were being rolled out in states like Wisconsin and Michigan, Cuomo also accepted tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from David Koch, an influential conservative donor who has funded anti-union efforts around the country. During her first speech as a candidate, Nixon quipped that “The Koch brothers donated $87,000 to Andrew Cuomo when he first ran in 2010 because they knew a good investment when they see one.”

Of Nixon’s comments about the MTA, the labor source says that the gubernatorial candidate “potentially touched on a nerve inadvertently. Because the transit system situation is so fraught, labor unions are extremely sensitive that their workers being used as scapegoats to hide what the needs are for the subway: more money for infrastructure, and more support.”

“It’s natural to have a learning curve when talking about labor,” the source continued. “Everything you say is not going to be perfect, and what campaigns do is use whatever gaffe that comes out to say this person will be anti-labor. I haven’t seen that from her.”

On Cuomo, the source said, “I think he’s nervous … the narrative here is that, ‘If she wins, the whole world will come apart. We’re delivering. We have a good plan. We’re working hard together as a movement. We can’t shake things up, and we need you to be out there. This is a candidate that doesn’t have what it takes to become governor.’ It’s not a fair way to do it. The labor movement is not at the whim of the governor, but there is pressure.”

The source also observes that Cuomo has a history of becoming more overtly pro-labor around election seasons, noting that the governor became more explicitly progressive after his primary challenger in 2014, Zephyr Teachout, garnered 34 percent of the vote that year. “I think the shift was very real when he realized the power unions and labor have,” the source told In These Times. “What he realized is that he could not take that relationship for granted.”

Tags: TWU 100Cynthia NixonBillionaires
Categories: Labor News

What will it take to win the IAM union at Delta?

Current News - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 23:30

What will it take to win the IAM union at Delta?
April 2, 2018
A campaign by flight attendants and baggage handlers at Delta Air Lines to form a union with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) is gaining ground, with a rally planned for this Wednesday, April 4, in St. Paul, Minnesota. But Delta is ramping up their anti-union propaganda, too. Danny Katch asked a Delta worker to describe the grievances that are driving the campaign and how the organizing is going.

Baggage handlers load a passenger jet at Delta Air Lines

WHY DID you get involved in this campaign and why do you think Delta ramp workers need a union?

I'VE ALWAYS thought of myself as a progressive person, someone who believes in fairness, justice and equality. I also believe that over the last 40 years, the working class has gotten poorer, while CEOs like Delta's Ed Bastian have gotten richer.

Specifically, I got involved in this campaign because, as a Delta worker, I feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick. As a Ready Reserve who does equal work for unequal pay, I constantly feel like the company devalues what I'm doing to produce tremendous profits for them.

CAN YOU explain what the Ready Reserve program is?

OVER THE last 20 years, Delta has continually replaced full-time, benefitted positions with part-time, temporary, un-benefitted employees who they call Ready Reserves. You don't receive paid vacations, flexible holidays or yearly raises. We top out at $15 an hour while full time tops out at $30.

They've gone to a model where they're continually replacing full-time workers--one full-time worker with two Ready Reserves, and I'm tired of it.

WHAT ARE some of the other issues leading workers to want to form a union?

If you're in or near the Twin Cities, join a rally for Delta baggage handlers and flight attendants on April 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, 353 W. 7th Street.
Delta workers who would like to request an election authorization card can fill out this form online.

A FEELING of job insecurity is one. People feel like there's not going to be that full-time career around the corner. For instance, I was told in my interview that full-time would be possible after one or two years. Now Delta is telling us it's five years.

There are broken promises, like cutting our profit-sharing in half at a time when they are most profitable in their entire history. There are so many different reasons that people feel that unionizing is what's necessary.

Then there's safety--people are destroying their bodies doing this work. If you take on this job as a career you're more likely to walk away with several surgeries than no surgeries at all.

Let's just take a typical Delta flight, with an MD88 aircraft. There are maybe 100 bags that need to be loaded onto a plane. It used to be that you'd have three or four people responsible for moving those bags in order to get them into the cargo bins and the rest.

Nowadays, Delta sometimes puts one person in the bin responsible for moving all 100 bags in a matter of five to 10 minutes--and we're talking about bags that weigh 50 to 70 pounds apiece.

So people develop all types of back and shoulder injuries--and knee injuries since you're on your knees when you're in the bin.

WHAT ARE some of the ways that employees having more of a voice and rights on the job could address safety issues?

TO BECOME more profitable, management has forced fewer and fewer people to do more work in order to become more profitable and more efficient. A union would be one way to guarantee that we have more workers doing the things that are required of us in order to get flights out on time, in order to move and transport bags.

We could have a health and safety committee that essentially has the power to make sure that workers' best interests are being accounted for in the process of doing the work, so that we don't go home destroyed by the jobs we do.

HOW IS the campaign going so far?

IT'S GOING well. When I talk to my coworkers they're happy there's a campaign going on. They're willing to sign cards. They recognize their jobs are being de-skilled and devalued, and they're insecure in a lot of ways.

The main task is extending that awareness and making sure that everyone knows what's going on with the union drive.

HOW HAS the company been responding to this campaign?

DELTA RECENTLY did a mass e-mail that they sent to all of us with a bunch of anti-union propaganda. In the past, they've spent millions and millions of dollars hiring lawyers in order to convince my co-workers not to organize. And then they call people in for meetings with management, where they tell people that they can't talk about union organizing on the job.

We constantly have to push back against them in order to utilize our federally protected rights.

WHAT DO you think it's going to take to win?

IT'S GOING to take building organizing committees in all of our different stations. It's going to take organizing ourselves as if we're a union already, doing things like the profit-sharing petition we've circulated.

When Delta cut our profit-sharing, they decided to reinstate it two years later, because they "said it was a mistake." But they didn't give us retroactive pay for the two years that they cut profit-sharing--and those were the two years that Delta was most profitable.

So we made a petition to demand that we get retroactive pay for profit-sharing, which is just a way that we show what unions fight for, even though we're not unionized yet. We need to give our co-workers the practical experience of what it means to be in a union so that they understand why they need to vote yes.

Other than that, it's going to take winning public support. In a lot of ways, a passenger's conditions on a plane are an airline employee's working conditions. More baggage handlers to get bags on a plane means that fewer passengers are going to have their bags lost. More space on the plane for flight attendants means it's less cramped for passengers as well.

So there are definite reasons why the public should support us and why we need that support for our campaign for fairness, equality and justice on the job.

WHAT WOULD a successful campaign at Delta mean for the wider labor movement?

UNIONS HAVE been attacked and destroyed for the last 40 years, and the private sector in particular has taken enormous losses in terms of wages, benefits and working conditions.

A successful union drive of 40,000 Delta flight attendants and ramp workers could potentially be a catalyst for all types of workers who might be inspired to organize in their workplace to rebuild the labor movement and hopefully begin to beat back the employer offensive and build a society that's more equal and more democratic.

Tags: IAMDelta workersramp workersFlight Attendants
Categories: Labor News

Here Are The Disturbing New Details Emerging From Complaints Made By Air Canada Employees

Current News - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 17:09

Here Are The Disturbing New Details Emerging From Complaints Made By Air Canada Employees


Here Are The Disturbing New Details Emerging From Complaints Made By Air Canada Employees

This is disgusting.

Jasmine Girn
Here Are The Disturbing New Details Emerging From Complaints Made By Air Canada Employees featured image
On Thursday, we covered a story regarding allegations made against Air Canada by their employees. The union that represents Air Canada employees has filed a human rights complaint against the airline due to numerous incidents where their workers were treated unfairly.

Some of the previous allegations claimed that female attendants were encouraged to show more cleavage and to wear makeup on the job. They were also asked to line up for a physical inspection where managers made comments about how they looked.

@aircanadaembedded via

According to Global News, the last complaint is much more concerning than we originally thought. According to a complaint filed on March 7th, flight attendants were lined up in a hallway and individually marked on their appearances. They were literally graded on their looks.

The attendants were displayed in a "runway" type of show where they were expected to display their flight attendant outfits for their peers to see. They were graded on how they wore the uniform, their bodies, makeup, clothes and nails.

@aircanadaembedded via

The worst part about the allegations is that during the ritual "runway" training sessions, there was allegedly racist comments made about the Air Canada employees.

According to the claim, comments were made about their "eyes were too small" or skin colour was "too white". Even further, flight attendants are also claiming to have endured incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination.

@aircanadaembedded via

One pregnant attendant was reportedly told during her debriefing that her pregnancy could cause "negative alterations on her mood" and she should be aware of it so it doesn't affect her work.

The new details coming out from Air Canada employees are very troubling. Click here to read the full report by Global News on the latest claims made by their flight attendants.

Tags: Air Canada EmployeesdiscriminationSexual Harassmentfemale attendants
Categories: Labor News

UK: Education unionists in solidarity with Iranian and Argentinian colleagues

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Education International
Categories: Labor News

Norway: LO union threatens strike by almost 37,000 workers

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Reuters
Categories: Labor News

France: Country faces transport chaos as unions protest Macron's plans to strip workers of benefits

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: National Post
Categories: Labor News

PSR Fleet Memo - March 30 2018

IBU - Mon, 04/02/2018 - 16:24
Categories: Unions

Chicago Railroad Workers Protest over Safety & Deaths at Executives Conference

Current News - Sun, 04/01/2018 - 19:36

Chicago Railroad Workers Protest over Safety at Executives Conference
Published on Mar 15, 2018
As railroad industry corporate executives held their conference at the Union League Club of Chicago, a militant protest took place outside on the sidewalk. It was organized by BMWED - IBT, other railroad workers groups and community activists on March 12, 2018. They alerted the public to the alarming statistics on railroad safety, taking the lives of railroad workers and of people living in communities the trains travel through. Chicagoland, they pointed out, “is the primary rail hub for North America’s sensitive cargo supply chains". Deaths and injuries could be avoided if the industry were forced to stop skimping on needed maintenance in their gluttony for profits.

Tags: Chicago Railway WorkersUnion League Club
Categories: Labor News

Israel: ITUC Condemns Israel Over Gaza Killings

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 04/01/2018 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

India Blacklists Two UAE Companies for Abandoning Seafarers 10 Seafarers the crew of ‘ABS-1’ Abandoned on unseaworthy ship owned by ‘ALCO Shipping Services LLC http://alcoshipping.com in UAE waters for over 2years, salaries unpaid since 2015 in 2 cases

Current News - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 17:36

India Blacklists Two UAE Companies for Abandoning Seafarers

10 Seafarers the crew of ‘ABS-1’ Abandoned on unseaworthy ship owned by ‘ALCO Shipping Services LLC http://alcoshipping.com in UAE waters for over 2years, salaries unpaid since 2015 in 2 cases. Deprived of fresh food and drinking water. #Abuse #Torture #Slavery


The Government of India has blacklisted two companies from United Arab Emirates (UAE) for seafarer abandonment.

The companies in question are shipping and management firm Shah Al Arab Marine Agency and M/s Alco Shipping Services LLC, the Directorate General of Shipping said in a circular on Monday.

The decision was prompted after Indian seafarers were left stranded in Dubai for 22 months on board eight ships.

These include oil tankers Enjaz 1 and 2, MT Dharma, M.T. Ocean Prestige, Ocean Grace, general cargo vessel Ajwa, production testing vessel Sharjah Moon, and M.V. Azab.

The directorate said that seafarers were unpaid for months and hadn’t been repatriated after their contract completion. However, despite these issues being public, the companies in question continue to recruit Indian seafarers and several recruitment agencies have been found to have deployed seafarers to these vessels.

“Since the above-listed companies/recruiting agents have been found to be habitual defaulters in terms of payment of seafarers wages and basic provisions, it has been decided to blacklist them,” the circular reads.

As a result, the recruitment and placement agencies who have recruited and placed Indian seafarers on board the above-said vessels were ordered to immediately withdraw Indian seafarers and repatriate them. The government also warned that future recruiting should not be conducted for the said ships and companies.

“The immigration authorities are also requested not to give immigration clearance to the seafarers for boarding above said vessels,” the directorate added.

Alco Shipping is a repeat offender with regard to seafarer abandonment.

As World Maritime News reported in July last year, seafarers, comprising nine Indian, three Pakistani, one Sri Lankan and one Myanmarian national, manning the UAE-flagged products tanker MT IBA, owned by Alco Shipping Services, had their basic human rights breached.

Maritime charity Human Rights at Sea (HRAS) informed that the crew had been stranded on an unsafe vessel, anchored off the coast of UAE, without fresh food or fresh water, unpaid and denied access to medical treatment.

Furthermore, in July 2017, the stranded Indian crew members of MV Sharjah Moon managed to return home after several months of ordeal in UAE.

The sailors had been abandoned by the shipowner, who was refusing to cooperate on the matter and had not been paid their salaries for over six months.

The five Indian men were among almost a hundred of Indian seafarers left stranded in the UAE waters, according to India’s Consulate General in Dubai.

World Maritime News Staff

Tags: abandoning seafarersUAE mistreatment of sailors
Categories: Labor News

South Africa: Union calls for ban on child labour following StatsSA report

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Sowetan
Categories: Labor News

San Francisco MTA let Uber, Lyft kill taxi market, SF Fed Credit Union lawsuit says

Current News - Fri, 03/30/2018 - 16:37

San Francisco MTA let Uber, Lyft kill taxi market, SF Fed Credit Union lawsuit says
By Carolyn SaidMarch 29, 2018 Updated: March 29, 2018 2:40pm
Photo: Michael Macor / The Chronicle 2017San Francisco Taxi cabs line up in front tot the Westin St. Francis Hotel in Union Square in San Francisco. The San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which made loans to cabbies to buy expensive medallions, is suing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, saying the transit agency let the taxi market collapse.
San Francisco taxi medallions have nose-dived in value since the advent of Uber and Lyft.

Now the San Francisco Federal Credit Union, which made loans to cabbies to buy the $250,000 medallions, is suing the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, saying the transit agency let the taxi market collapse, walking away from promises that it would guarantee the medallions’ value.

The suit, filed this week in San Francisco Superior Court, said the credit union backed $125 million worth of loans for more than 700 of the medallions and has had to foreclose on 99 of them, while hundreds more drivers are seeking to surrender their medallions. It seeks $28 million in damages and wants the SFMTA to pay millions more to repurchase all the medallions.

The SFMTA “elected to stick its head in the sand while the credit union and hard-working taxi driver medallion owners are saddled with all the burdens,” the suit said.

John Coté, a spokesman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the city has received the case and is reviewing it.

Some of the lawsuit’s allegations may be hard to prove. San Francisco and the SFMTA have no jurisdiction over ride-hailing services, as they are regulated at the state level. Taxi companies long complained that the lighter state regulations allowed the startups to erode their business.

But other allegations, such as that SFMTA reneged on specific financial guarantees to the credit union, may have more teeth.

The city realized $64 million in revenues from the sale of the medallions backed by the credit union, the lawsuit said.


Uber settles with Arizona self-driving car crash victim’sUber puts the brakes on testing robot cars in California afterLyft tests monthly subscriptions starting at $199
San Francisco medallions used to be free, granted to drivers after they spent 15 or more years on a waiting list since the total number was capped. Since medallions became available only when drivers died, retired, became disabled or lost their licenses, more than 3,000 people were on the list. In 2010, the city started to sell medallions for $250,000 each to create “a money-making machine” to help with budget shortfalls, the suit said.

“The SFMTA created an expensive asset out of thin air,” the suit said — but the plan relied on finding a lender to finance medallion purchases, since most cabbies couldn’t afford $250,000.

San Francisco approached numerous lenders and got many rejections, but the credit union eventually agreed to back the purchases, although it was concerned about the risks. The SFMTA gave it confidential data on taxi-driver income, agreed to facilitate a way for drivers to resell the medallions, guaranteed that the price would not fall below $250,000, and said it would retransfer foreclosed medallions, the lawsuit said.

In 2012, taxi drivers with medallions could bring in an average $9,500 a month, both by their own driving and by renting their medallions and cabs for second daily shifts, the lawsuit said. But by 2016, that number had plunged to $4,500, as cab revenues declined and “it became nearly impossible to find a second driver” for a second shift.

“Some days a taxi driver was lucky to earn $50” after expenses for a 10-hour shift, the suit said.

Starting in 2013, as Lyft and Uber began to win market share, the credit union started to worry and repeatedly asked the SFMTA how it would respond.

“We can’t fund taxi loans if (the SFMTA) are going to let the business erode away,” Credit Union CEO Steven Stapp wrote in an email to a colleague in 2013.

Throughout 2016, “the SFMTA repeatedly promised the credit union that it would take steps to reinvigorate the taxi industry,” the lawsuit said. It promised actions such as reforming the transportation code, aggressively marketing medallions and commissioning expert studies, but never brought those up at board meetings, the lawsuit said.

By fall 2016, 485 medallion holders were on a wait list to surrender their medallions; the SFMTA is supposed to pay them $200,000 each, so medallion holders presumably could use that money to repay their loans from the credit union.

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

Tags: UberLyftderegulationMTA
Categories: Labor News

New ACLU Charges Allege Pregnancy Discrimination Against Dockworkers at West Coast Ports & Challenge By ILWU

Current News - Thu, 03/29/2018 - 16:08

New ACLU Charges Allege Pregnancy Discrimination Against Dockworkers at West Coast Ports & Challenge By ILWU

New ACLU Charges Allege Pregnancy Discrimination Against Dockworkers at West Coast Ports
by American Civil Liberties Union
Thursday Mar 29th, 2018 9:54 AM
Policies Block Women from Higher Wages and Union Membership
LOS ANGELES, March 29, 2018 — The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, the law firm of Outten & Golden LLP, and Los Angeles attorney Brenda Feigen filed pregnancy discrimination charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission today on behalf of female longshore workers across ports on the west coast.

The charges against the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents west coast shipping and terminal companies, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) challenge unequal policies allowing workers who are absent to accrue the work hours necessary for promotion to higher wage brackets and union membership. Those who miss time due to on-the-job injuries or military service are awarded such time, but women absent due to pregnancy and after childbirth are not.

“This policy penalizes female longshore workers for having children,” said Gillian Thomas, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. “By bumping women who are pregnant or who have recently given birth to the end of the line, PMA and ILWU are systematically blocking women from the high wages and excellent benefits that offer a path to economic security for them and their families.”

The women whose individual stories are outlined in the charges represent a group of thousands of non-union dockworkers known as “casuals” — the lowest rung on the port employment hierarchy. The class includes workers in 29 ports from north of Seattle down to San Diego.

So-called casual workers can only receive higher pay and ultimately coveted union membership by accumulating thousands of work hours. While the PMA and ILWU grant hours credit to workers who are unable to work due to job-related illness, injury, or disability, as well as military service, there is no such credit for absences due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. That means that pregnant women and new mothers who cannot work lose hundreds of hours and fall far behind their peers, losing a year or more of work credit per pregnancy and jeopardizing their chances of advancing to higher wage levels — from $31 an hour and up — as well as union membership, which brings job security and benefits like a pension and medical coverage. The union elevates casual workers on an ad hoc basis, sometimes waiting as long as a decade to open its ranks to new members.

By refusing to extend the same work hour accrual policy to workers absent due to pregnancy and childbirth as other absent workers, the ILWU and PMA are in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the charges say.

“The Pregnancy Discrimination Act requires employers and unions to give pregnant workers the same opportunities as those provided to non-pregnant employees,” said David Lopez, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP and former general counsel of the EEOC. “These charges are a necessary first step to ensure PMA and ILWU’s policy complies with the law.”

This is not the first time the PMA and ILWU have been the subject of class-wide sex discrimination claims. In 1983, they settled a lawsuit by 500 female longshore workers alleging systematic exclusion from union membership. At the time, just seven women were ILWU members. The settlement resulted in a consent decree — known as the “Golden Decree,” named for the lawsuit’s lead plaintiff — that stayed in effect for 16 years and resulted in as many as 1,000 women joining the union.

“As a casual longshore worker, the prospect of falling so far behind my coworkers in the long road toward joining the union, just because I had a baby, is heartbreaking. You work toward that goal for so long,” said Tracy Plummer, whose treatment as a longshore worker at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports is outlined in a charge to the EEOC. “Having a family means I need good wages and benefits more than ever. I look forward to the day when the PMA and ILWU recognize that mothers should be treated the same as our coworkers.”

Plummer’s full amended charge can be found here:


Statement from the ILWU
by Jennifer Sargent Bokaie Thursday Mar 29th, 2018 11:42 AM
We were surprised to read about the ACLU’s allegations in the media because we have not yet seen the charges, nor have we been contacted by the ACLU. Had the ACLU talked to the union before going to the media, they would have learned that the ACLU lawyers have the facts wrong. In reality, there is no policy or practice of granting hours credit for absences of any kind, except for military veterans as required by federal law. The ILWU and our employers have a liberal policy of allowing longshore workers abundant leave as needed for pregnancy.

Tags: ILWU Sex Discriminationpregnancy discriminationPMA
Categories: Labor News

New Leadership Has Not Changed Uber Its modus operandi is to subsidize fares and flood streets with its cars to achieve a transportation monopoly. In city after city, this has led to huge increases in traffic congestion, increased carbon emissions and the

Current News - Wed, 03/28/2018 - 22:13

New Leadership Has Not Changed Uber
Its modus operandi is to subsidize fares and flood streets with its cars to achieve a transportation monopoly. In city after city, this has led to huge increases in traffic congestion, increased carbon emissions and the undermining of public transportation.


By Steven Hill
March 26, 2018
The recent killing of a pedestrian by a self-driving Uber vehicle is the source of the latest negative headlines about this company. But there’s a much deeper problem. While the leadership has changed — Dara Khosrowshahi replaced Uber’s co-founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive last August after a series of scandals — the company itself has not evolved.

The problem with Uber was never that the chief executive had created a thuggish “Game of Thrones”-type culture, as Susan Fowler, an engineer, described it in a blog post. The problem was, and still is, Uber’s business model: Its modus operandi is to subsidize fares and flood streets with its cars to achieve a transportation monopoly. In city after city, this has led to huge increases in traffic congestion, increased carbon emissions and the undermining of public transportation.

Most customers who love Uber don’t realize that the company subsidizes the cost of many rides. This is likely a major factor in Uber’s annual losses surging from 2.8 billion in 2016 to $4.5 billion in 2017. This seemingly nonsensical approach is actually Uber’s effort to use its deep pockets to mount a predatory price war and shut out the competition. That competition is not only taxis and other ride-sharing companies, but public transportation.

Studies have found that half to 61 percent of Uber passengers in the United States say that they would have used public transportation, ridden a bicycle or walked, or not have made the trip at all, if Uber had not been available.

Thanks in part to Uber, people are turning away from forms of transportation that are better for the environment.

Recently I asked a colleague why he used Uber. He said that the bus would cost $2.25, and Uber would cost about $5. So I asked him, “What if the price for Uber was $10?” He said he would take the bus. So because he was only paying half the cost of the ride, he used Uber.

He’s not alone. Ridership on public transportation is down in nearly every major American city, including New York City (which recorded its first ridership dip since 2009). This is hurting the revenue that public transportation needs to sustain itself. Uber passengers and public transportation users alike now find themselves stuck in heavy traffic for far longer because of what’s been called “Uber congestion.” In Manhattan, there are five times as many ridesharing vehicles as yellow taxis, which has caused average speeds to decline by 15 percent compared with 2010, before Uber.

The company’s new leadership continues to deny that it is contributing to these ill effects. Mr. Khosrowshahi even insists that Uber can help solve congestion by adding a small number of electric cars, and that it could start using flying taxis in five to 10 years (which is preposterous — Uber doesn’t even have a prototype).

But a study of the effects of ride-sharing by researchers at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis, found that ridesharing has resulted in a significant rise in the number of trips made and miles driven in an auto. The study also found that the vast majority of ride-sharing users (75 percent) still owned a car, and the small number who have eliminated their own vehicle (9 percent) have merely swapped it for someone else’s car — their ride-sharing driver’s. From an environmental standpoint, Uber is taking us backward.

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Ride-sharing services could potentially add something positive to our transportation options, but only if they are regulated properly.

First, regulators should limit the number of ride-sharing cars. Traditional taxis already have a sensible limit to minimize congestion. A balance must be found between having enough taxi-type vehicles but not so many that the streets are choked with traffic. Fix NYC, a panel appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, has called for all Ubers, Lyfts and taxis to be outfitted with GPS technology to track congestion and to charge a fee on for-hire vehicles that could help reduce traffic and generate hundreds of millions of dollars for public transportation.

Second, Uber should be prohibited from subsidizing its fares. It should be required to charge at least the true cost of each ride. If Uber refuses, a “fairness fee” should be added to each fare.

Third, ride-sharing companies and their vehicles should be required to follow the same laws as traditional taxis, especially in terms of background checks for drivers and insurance requirements.

Fourth, Uber should be required to share its data with regulators, including information about its drivers and their contact information, so that members of this “distributed work force” can more easily contact one another and organize collectively if they choose.

Finally, regulations should ensure that Uber treats its drivers fairly. Mr. Khosrowshahi asserts that drivers’ wages are adequate, but according to one study, more than half of Uber drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state, and some even lose money once the costs of driving are taken into account. That helps explain why, according to Uber’s own internal study, half of its drivers leave after a year.

When he took on his role, Mr. Khosrowshahi said he would learn from the company’s mistakes. But it remains to be seen whether he is willing to fix Uber’s biggest misstep: a business model that harms drivers and the environment, and drains away passengers and revenue from public transportation.
Steven Hill, a journalist in residence at the Berlin Social Science Center, is the author of “Raw Deal: How the ‘Uber Economy’ and Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers.”

Tags: Uberderegulationflood streets
Categories: Labor News

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