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Greece: Labour Minister vows collective bargaining, workers’ rights central to recovery

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 23 Pres Dean McGrath responds to Jim McKenna-Blames Foreign Companies

Current News - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 14:59

ILWU Local 23 Pres Dean McGrath responds to Jim McKenna-Blames Foreign Companies
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmZNvk8ZkHs
Published on Feb 6, 2015
Local 23's president, Dean McGrath, responds to PMA President Jim McKenna's press release regarding contract negotiations between the two parties.

Tags: ILWU Local 23Foreign enemies
Categories: Labor News

PMA, ILWU Announce West Coast Waterfront Contract FMCS, Cabinet Secretaries Played Key Roles

ILWU - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 09:24

SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 20, 2015) – The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union today announced a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports. The deal was reached with assistance from U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. The parties will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time. The agreement is subject to ratification by both parties.

“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”

Download the joint press release here. 

Categories: Unions

Issues Facing The ILWU-Local 10 Member Anthony Leviege

Current News - Sat, 02/21/2015 - 07:59

Issues Facing The ILWU-Local 10 Member Anthony Leviege
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqSJZ7XEt3o
ILWU west coast longshore workers are facing a growing attack on their union and conditions. The Pacific Maritime Assocaition is aggressively seeking to weaken the union. ILWU Local 10 member Anthony Leviege talks about these attacks and how the union should fight back. The interview was done on February 20, 2015.
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: ilwucapitalismunion democracysecret meetingsrank and file
Categories: Labor News

Shipping lines and dockworkers reach deal, port shutdown averted

Current News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 20:50

Shipping lines and dockworkers reach deal, port shutdown averted
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-port-deal-reached-20150221-story.h...
Container ships wait offshore to get into the Port of Long Beach on Feb. 11. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)
By ANDREW KHOURI, CHRIS KIRKHAM AND PETER JAMISONcontact the reporters

Shipping companies and the dockworkers union reach deal, staving off a shutdown of 29 West Coast ports
Shipping companies and the dockworkers union have reached a tentative deal on a new labor contract, union officials said Friday night, staving off a shutdown of 29 ports that would have choked off trade through the West Coast.

The new agreement, which still needs approval from union members, should start easing severe congestion that’s been building for months at the nation’s busiest ports, in Los Angeles and Long Beach, along with other major gateways. Details of the new contract were not immediately available.

The deal alleviates fears of a protracted shutdown that had intensified as negotiations stalled on the contract for about 20,000 dockworkers. In recent weeks, the employers — major shipping lines and cargo terminal operators — intermittently halted the loading and unloading of ships while accusing the union of staging work slowdowns.

Trade experts cautioned that, although a new contract will help, it won’t quickly resolve cargo delays, particularly at Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle roughly 40% of the nation’s incoming container cargo.

It will take weeks, if not months, just to clear the current backlog, port officials said.

Further, the congestion stems in part from issues unrelated to the labor dispute. Before slowdown accusations surfaced in early November, the L.A and Long Beach ports already were struggling with the worst freight congestion in a decade, in large part because of a truck trailer shortage and the increased use of mammoth container vessels that hold more cargo than the ships of old.

At the Port of Los Angeles, a single ship often carries 14,000 containers. Two years ago, a large ship would have held 8,000 to 10,000 of the steel boxes.

Cargo ships anchor offshore Monday at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where cargo movement has slowed down as port employers and representatives of the dockworkers union try to work out a new contract.
Hopes for a quick resolution were high at the end of January. The sides had agreed on key issues, including healthcare and truck trailer maintenance, but talks snagged on a union request to change rules governing the removal of local arbitrators, who settle disputes on the docks. Under the previous contract, both sides had to agree to appoint and remove arbitrators — rules employers said protected the integrity of the arbitration process for decades.

According to people familiar with the talks, the sticking point centered on the union's desire to remove one man: arbitrator David Miller, who handles disputes in Los Angeles and Long Beach. The president of the union, without naming Miller, said in a letter to members that the dispute was over “retaining arbitrators who have openly engaged in conduct that clearly compromises their impartiality.”

Miller, 64, said he was “bewildered” that union leaders want him fired.

In an interview with The Times, Miller — a former dock clerk who has been an arbitrator since 2002 — said he has a good relationship with workers and employers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“I’ve never had a problem with the people at the table,” Miller said. “I always think I'm fair.”

In a bid to avert a shutdown, President Obama this week dispatched Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to join the negotiations, which since early January were led by a federal mediator. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti dropped in Wednesday on the talks, held in San Francisco, to urge settlement.

Perez then told the negotiators that if agreement wasn’t reached Friday, he would haul everyone to Washington to resolve their differences, according to a spokeswoman for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has participated in a nightly call with Perez and mayors of West Coast port cities.

West Coast port labor dispute
Employers said that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union worsened bottlenecks at the already jammed Southern California ports by refusing to dispatch skilled crane operators — a tactic they contended was used to gain leverage during negotiations.

The union, in response, said it only held back operators without the proper training for safety reasons following several accidents. It accused the employers of failing to train enough operators.

Since last month, employers have sharply scaled back operations. In January, they halted the nighttime unloading and loading of ships in L.A. and Long Beach, saying they wanted to focus on clearing the docks, while not adding new cargo to the mix.

Then they stopped unloading ships on overtime days, saying they wouldn’t pay workers extra during alleged work slowdowns. The companies stopped again over the long Presidents Day weekend at the 29 West Coast ports, which caused the line of ships stranded off the coast to grow.

On Monday morning, 33 ships were anchored outside the L.A. and Long Beach ports, waiting for a berth, six more than the Friday before the companies stopped unloading ships, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Unloading resumed Tuesday, and on Friday morning there were 27 ships waiting to dock.

Gene Seroka, executive director for the Port of Los Angeles, has said a new deal is vital to return L.A. and Long Beach to normalcy. It would, he has said, allow employers and the union to work together to find solutions to the myriad supply chain problems.

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

chris.kirkham@latimes.com

peter.jamison@latimes.com

Tags: ilwuPMAContract
Categories: Labor News

Germany: Union victory for German airport security workers

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Canadian National Workers Set Strike Vote

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:46
Transport TopicsFebruary 20, 2015View the original piece

Railway labor troubles are continuing in Canada.

Unifor, a labor union that represents about 4,800 workers at Canadian National Railway, said it will begin strike votes next week after five months of talks failed to produce an agreement.

Click here to read more at Transport Topics.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

US Presses for West Coast Port Deal Today

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 10:42
Transport TopicsFebruary 20, 2015View the original piece

Labor Secretary Tom Perez directed the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to reach a tentative contract deal today or face the prospect of talks next week in Washington’s politically charged environment, news services reported.

Perez was dispatched to San Francisco earlier this week by President Obama to resolve the long-running talks, which now are in their 10th month. Negotiations involve 20,000 workers who handle about half of U.S. containerized freight at 29 West Coast ports.

Click here to read more.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

US Labor Secretary to ILWU, PMA: Reach deal or negotiate in DC

Current News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:13

US Labor Secretary to ILWU, PMA: Reach deal or negotiate in DC
http://www.joc.com/port-news/longshoreman-labor/international-longshore-...

JOC Staff | Feb 20, 2015 7:53AM EST

The U.S. Labor Secretary on Thursday told the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association that they have until Friday to reach a contract or they’ll have to negotiate in Washington D.C.

The move is the latest sign of how the White House is ratcheting up pressure on both sides, as marine terminals and carriers warn West Coast port congestion is nearing gridlock. The Associated Press first reported Tom Perez’s ultimatum to both sides.

"If a deal is not reached today, we support the decision to move the negotiations to Washington and we call upon the president to personally engage in the discussions until an agreement is reached," Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chains and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

The White House has held back for months from getting directly involved in talks between both sides, saying it was confident the ILWU and PMA could work out a deal. But in the ninth month of talks and with shippers’ frustration with delays caused by alleged ILWU slowdowns at a boiling point, President Obama dispatched Perez to negotiations in California on Tuesday.

Wal-Mart became on one of latest retailers to warn of the damage of West Coast congstion, telling investors Thursday that shipment delays threaten its spring inventory. Ports' anger with the impasse is also building, with executives becoming increasingly vocal in demanding that both sides reach deals after seeing volumes plunge in January.

The inability of the Labor Secretary to achieve an agreemnt underscores the depth of animosity that currently exists between the PMA and ILWU, not that anyone needed any more evidence to that effect. It showed further the growing political liability the issue presents for President Obama stemming from mounting nationwide losses among businesses across many industries, including retail, agriculture and automotive.

Obama stood resolutely on the sidelines as the negotiations stretched on for months and even after they turned disruptive in late October with slowdowns by the ILWU and actions by the PMA to curtail vessel operations up and down the coast. Now with the story in the national headlines Obama is forced to act but such is the depth of the hard feelings at the negotiating table — more so than differences on the issues — that even the dramatic entry of the highest U.S. labor official into the negotiations wans't enough to immediately break the logjam.

The PMA is likely betting at this point that pressure from Washington plays to its advantage. The ILWU resisted and ultimately grudgingly accepted the participation of a federal mediator in early January. The PMA believes it has made the union a generous offer and has argued that case publicly, releasing details of its offer. The union, used to getting its way over many years, upped the ante early in the year with fresh demands relating to the right to fire an area arbitrator, and the PMA balked.

Tags: ilwuPMALabor Secretary Thomas Perez
Categories: Labor News

NYC Mayor de Blasio’s Traffic Law Vilifies Bus Drivers, TWU 100 Union Says

Current News - Fri, 02/20/2015 - 08:39

NYC Mayor de Blasio’s Traffic Law Vilifies Bus Drivers, UTU 100 Union Says
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/20/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-traffic-law-...
By EMMA G. FITZSIMMONSFEB. 19, 2015
Photo

A bus depot in Brooklyn where a Metropolitan Transportation Authority driver was arrested last week under a failure-to-yield law after hitting and severely injuring a 15-year-old in a crosswalk.CreditMichael Appleton for The New York Times

A new law penalizing drivers who fail to yield and injure or kill a pedestrian who has the right of way is a central piece of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to eliminate traffic deaths. But the arrest last week of a bus driver who struck a 15-year-old girl angered union officials, who sent a memo to members this week warning that bus drivers were under attack and were being treated like “criminals.”

The union, Transport Workers Union Local 100, says the arrest on Friday of the driver, Francisco DeJesus, a veteran with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was uncalled-for; it has supported a proposed amendment in the City Council to exclude bus drivers from the law. The union created a hashtag — #LetsBePerfect — for its 10,000 bus operators, protesting that the mayor’s policy, Vision Zero, unreasonably demanded perfection.

Mr. DeJesus was charged with failure to yield after his bus struck the girl as she was crossing the street with a walk signal in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on her way to school. She was pinned under the front of the bus, and her leg was severely injured.

He was at least the third bus driver for the transportation authority arrested under the right-of-way law since it went into effect in August. The law makes failure to yield a misdemeanor if the driver kills or injures a pedestrian. Drivers can face fines of up to $250 or 30 days in jail.

“The new failure-to-yield law is a vital tool in our efforts to protect pedestrians and make our streets safer,” a spokesman for the mayor, Wiley Norvell, said in a statement on Thursday. “We will work with our partners at the M.T.A. and push for the training and support drivers need to do their job safely, and we are looking closely at changes we can make on our streets to prevent crashes between pedestrians and buses.”

Police officials have said that collisions were evaluated case by case. Several other bus drivers who have struck pedestrians since the law went into effect have not been arrested. Union officials argue that accidents can happen despite bus operators’ best efforts. Making a left turn without a traffic signal can be difficult, city streets are chaotic, and there are blind spots in the bus equipment, John Samuelsen, president of the Transport Workers Union, said on Wednesday.

“In this case,” he said, referring to Mr. DeJesus, “there was no indicator, despite the heartache of the tragedy, that the bus operator did anything reckless.”

Vision Zero proponents say that bus drivers should set the standard for other drivers, and that the punishment under the law is not excessive. All drivers should be held accountable when pedestrians are killed or seriously injured, said Amy Cohen, who helped create the group Families for Safe Streets after her 12-year-old son was killed by a van in Brooklyn.

“We need every driver to drive like their child is the one in front of the crosswalk when they’re turning,” she said.

The transportation authority introduced an ad campaign in December warning pedestrians about walking and texting near buses and, according to a spokesman, Kevin Ortiz, the agency plans to outfit some buses with an audio warning system this fall.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
In 2014, at least nine pedestrians were killed when transportation authority buses struck them, usually while the buses were turning. Transit groups keep a tally of the lives lost, among them Marisol Martinez, a 21-year-old nursing student from Brooklyn, and Julian Porres, an 88-year-old from the Bronx who died nearly a month after he was struck.

Their deaths were among 132 pedestrian traffic fatalities in the city last year. City officials said the figure was the lowest on record, but warned that more measures were needed to bring the number to zero.

In December, another transportation authority bus driver, Reginald Prescott, was arrested when his bus struck a 78-year-old man in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1056 said one of its members had been charged under the law for an accident in November in Queens, but declined to give the driver’s name.

A day before Mr. DeJesus’s arrest, several City Council members introduced a bill to amend the law so that it would not apply to bus drivers. A sponsor of the bill, I. Daneek Miller, a former bus driver, said the law was never intended to be used against bus drivers. A provision in original bill says it does not apply to drivers working for the city, state or federal government who are “actively engaged” in work that requires a vehicle at a location interfering with a pedestrian’s right of way. Mr. Miller said that should include bus operators.

Bus operators involved in a fatality or serious injury cannot drive while it is being investigated, Mr. Miller said, and would face a disciplinary process. “Short of someone being on the cellphone, texting, driving on the wrong side of the street, short of drugs or alcohol — I don’t see a criminal offense here,” he said.

The ad campaign, which showed a woman texting when a bus struck her, led to outrage among transit groups because, they said, it appeared to blame the victim.

That was not the intent, Mr. Ortiz said, noting that the transportation authority had seen an increase in pedestrians distracted by their smartphones.

Drivers should stop at crosswalks until pedestrians fully reach the sidewalk, Mr. Samuelsen wrote in a message to bus drivers, even if doing so backed up traffic or caused delays in the bus schedule.

“Protect yourself,” he said. “Protect your livelihood.”

Tags: TWU 100bus driversATU 1056
Categories: Labor News

Is president considering 'nuclear option' Taft-Hartley in ports dispute?

Current News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 18:13

Is president considering 'nuclear option' Taft-Hartley in ports dispute?
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/02/18/labor-secretary-perez-west...
Elizabeth Weise, USATODAY 4:38 p.m. EST February 18, 2015

(Photo: U.S. Department of Labor)

SAN FRANCISCO — Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is meeting Wednesday with both sides in a four-month labor dispute on the West Coast ports that has disrupted shipments and is costing American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars.

Perez flew to San Francisco on Monday and spent Tuesday and Wednesday meeting with leaders from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

"On behalf of President Obama, Secretary Perez made clear that the dispute has led to a very negative impact on the U.S. economy, and further delay risks tens of thousands of jobs and will cost American businesses hundreds of millions of dollars," the Department of Labor said in a release.

It's unclear what, exactly, Perez can do that the federal mediators who've been involved in the negotiations haven't been able to do over the past several months.

"It could be a message from the White House, that the threat of a Taft-Hartley is looming," said Mark Szakonyi, an editor at the Journal of Commerce who has been following the issue closely.

Taft-Hartley refers to what some call the "nuclear option" in labor relations.

Officially the Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, it allows presidents to get involved in labor disputes. However, there would have to be either a strike or a lockout for Obama to invoke it.

The Longshoremen were involved the last time Taft-Hartley was used, when President George W. Bush forced West Coast ports to open in 2002. In that instance, port employers locked port workers out for 10 days because of what they called a union slowdown.

Perez stressed that it is imperative for both sides to come to an "immediate agreement to prevent further damage to our economy and further pain for American workers and their employers," the Labor Department's statement said.

The dispute is between the 20,000 Longshoremen who work the West Coast's 29 ports and the port owners.

The dock workers' contract expired June 30, and both sides have been in negotiations ever since.

The exact sticking points are unclear, as all negotiations take place behind closed doors. However, a current issue is a demand by the ILWU that it be allowed the right to fire arbitrators.

Under current rules, neutral arbitrators preside over labor disputes between workers and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port operators.

"The ILWU is essentially seeking the right to fire judges who rule against them," PMA spokesman Wade Gates said in a statement.

The labor issues are having a major impact on both imports and exports.

"Nothing is moving out of the ports because the cargo ships are waiting in line," said Wendy Fink-Weber, communications director for the Western Growers, which represents West Coast produce growers and packers.

In Los Angeles and Long Beach on Tuesday, she saw at least 30 ships waiting offshore as she drove along the Pacific Coast Highway, just south of the ports.

Because growers can't get their product out, "overseas buyers are looking to other sources for product," she said.

National Retail Federation vice president Jonathan Gold welcomed the administration's attention to the port issue.

He said he hoped "it recommits the two sides to reaching a deal. The slowdowns, congestion and suspensions at the West Coast ports need to end now."

Tags: ilwuPresident ObamaPMATaft-Hartley
Categories: Labor News

ILWU President blasts PMA threat to shut down US ports

Current News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 17:23

ILWU President blasts PMA threat to shut down US ports
http://www.ilwu.org/ilwu-president-blasts-pma-threat-to-shut-down-us-ports/
• FEBRUARY 5, 2015 2:58 PM

The ILWU has provided the media with several pictures disputing the PMA’s claims that West Coast ports are too congested to unload ships. In fact, they have acres of asphalt waiting for containers and hundreds of longshore workers willing to unload them.
Photos of empty docks show that PMA employers, based largely overseas, are worsening a congestion crisis at West Coast ports to pressure American workers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 5, 2015) – ILWU International President Robert McEllrath today blasted the Pacific Maritime Association for threatening to shut down West Coast ports, bargaining in the media, and distorting the facts.

“What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about one million dollars a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” said McEllrath. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”

In mid-January, PMA claimed that there was a lack of dock space for containers, and it eliminated nightshifts at many ports. Today, the union provided photos disputing the employer group’s assertion that docks are too congested to unload ships.

“PMA is leaving ships at sea and claiming there’s no space on the docks, but there are acres of asphalt just waiting for the containers on those ships, and hundreds of longshore workers ready to unload them,” said McEllrath. “The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.”

The union provided several photos of marine terminals in Southern California that show large tracts of space that would easily fit thousands of containers.

“The employers’ threat to shut down West Coast ports is a reckless and unnecessary move,” said

McEllrath. “What the employers need to do is stay at the negotiating table and work through a few remaining issues with the workers who have made them successful for the past 80 years. We are very close to reaching an agreement.”

The PMA is an employer association whose largest members include Denmark-based Maersk Line, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, Korean-based Hanjin Shipping, Philippines-based ICTSI, Japan-based NYK Line, Hong Kong-based OOCL, China-based COSCO, and other employers based in France, Norway and worldwide.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is based in San Francisco, Calif., and is negotiating a contract that has covered longshore workers at 30 West Coast ports in California, Oregon and Washington since 1934.

Tags: ilwuPMAports
Categories: Labor News

Global: Global Right to Strike Action Sends Clear Message

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

What is the White House’s message to ILWU, PMA?

Current News - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 15:03

What is the White House’s message to ILWU, PMA?
http://www.joc.com/port-news/longshoreman-labor/international-longshore-...’s-message-ilwu-pma_20150217.html
Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Feb 17, 2015 5:39PM EST

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez’s meetings with West Coast longshore union and employer negotiators have generated hope, skepticism — and questions.

The biggest questions: What did the White House authorize Perez to tell the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association? And how was his message received by the negotiating parties, particularly the ILWU?

President Obama’s dispatching of Perez to the West Coast drew positive reaction from business groups whose members are being hammered by port delays that are reaching further and deeper into supply chains.The National Retail Federation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups had been clamoring for months for White House engagement.

But even advocates of White House engagement acknowledge its limitations. Perez can’t force a settlement — that’s up to the ILWU and PMA, with help from neutral federal mediators. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service joined the talks in early January, at the negotiators’ invitation.

Jock O’Connell, a California-based trade economist who has followed the dispute closely, is skeptical about what Perez can do. O’Connell questioned what the labor secretary could contribute that the mediators aren’t already doing to try to bring the sides together.

“Both sides are represented by tough-nosed guys who aren’t going to be intimidated by Tom Perez unless he’s bringing some kind of message from the White House,” O’Connell said. He said the White House may have dispatched Perez to blunt political criticism that’s escalated since the 9-month-old dispute attracted national media attention.

Management-labor consultant Stephen Cabot, who represents employers, agreed. “To be successful, he’s going to have to get the attention of everybody, and I don’t see any circumstance where they’re going to listen to this guy,” he said. “I hope I’m wrong.”

Cabot said the only way Perez could succeed would be if he were authorized to deliver a tough message that the administration is prepared to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to force an 80-day cooling-off period, and that the administration’s support from labor makes that impossible.

Others say Perez’s involvement is unlikely to hurt and could help, and that it’s unlikely a president would put his administration’s reputation on the line by wading into a private labor negotiation if there wasn’t a good chance of success.

“I don’t think President Obama would have stuck his neck out on this if he didn’t believe they could get something done,” said Michael Belzer, economics professor at Wayne State University.

Belzer and two labor-management attorneys who spoke separately with JOC.com said Cabinet-level involvement in labor disputes is rare, and that presidents understandably prefer to let negotiating parties work out their diffferences without government interference.

Belzer said the FMCS mediators are skilled at helping negotiating parties settle issues related to miscommunication or misunderstanding.

A labor secretary who’s skilled and trusted by both sides can broaden the discussion in a way that offers possibilities beyond what may be on the table, Belzer said. He cited the late John T. Dunlop, who served every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton, and was labor secretary under President Gerald Ford, as the epitome of a leader who could deliver a tough message and push the sides to make a deal.

Cabot said Perez lacks that stature. “I see Obama sending in a fairly weak secretary of labor so he can be seen as doing something, quote-unquote,” Cabot said. “The longshoremen aren’t going to listen to a secretary of labor, particularly this secretary of labor.”

Perez, who took office in 2013, has has a relatively low profile. He’s an attorney and former secretary of labor, licensing and regulation in Maryland, and served as a county commissioner in suburban Washington.

His involvement in the ILWU-PMA talks could provide negotiators with cover for an agreement, especially if Perez is well-briefed and supported by knowledgeable staff, and dovetails his message with the mediators’ work, Belzer said.

That could take a number of forms, including tying conflicting demands that have contributed to the standoff to other issues that aren’t part of the contract but are “the elephant in the room,” Belzer said.

“If the problems are more deep-seated than what’s been discussed, that could provide the path to a solution,” he said. “Both sides have to have something that is face-saving.”

Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.

Tags: ILWU Local 10Stop Work
Categories: Labor News

PMA Bosses Say Take It Or Leave It! Companies in West Coast port dispute make appeal to workers

Current News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 19:22

PMA Bosses Say Take It Or Leave It! Companies in West Coast port dispute make appeal to workers
Companies in West Coast port dispute make appeal to workers
http://www.sfgate.com/news/us/article/US-labor-official-to-sides-in-seap...
Justin Pritchard, Associated Press Updated 6:09 pm, Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Loaded container trucks line-up at a gate at the Port of Seattle Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Seattle. Seaports in the U.S. West Coast that were all but shut over the weekend because of a contract dispute are reopening as the nation's top labor official tries to solve a stalemate between dockworkers and their employers that already has disrupted billions of dollars in U.S. international trade. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez plans to meet Tuesday in San Francisco with negotiators for both the dockworkers' union and the maritime association, which represents shipping lines that carry cargo and port terminal operators that handle it once the ships dock.

Loaded container trucks line-up at a gate at the Port of Seattle Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Seattle. Seaports in the U.S. West Coast that were all but shut over the weekend because of a contract dispute are reopening as the nation's top labor official tries to solve a stalemate between dockworkers and their employers that already has disrupted billions of dollars in U.S. international trade. U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez plans to meet Tuesday in San Francisco with negotiators for both the dockworkers' union and the maritime association, which represents shipping lines that carry cargo and port terminal operators that handle it once the ships dock.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maritime companies locked in a contract dispute with West Coast dockworkers took their case directly to rank-and-file longshoremen on Wednesday, as negotiators struggled to reach a deal and break the cargo gridlock that has stalled billions of dollars of international trade.
In a move sure to upset union leaders, employers distributed letters at major ports from Los Angeles to Washington state that detailed their "last, best and final" contract offer.
Meanwhile, negotiators for the union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, met with U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez in San Francisco.
The involvement of the nation's top labor official underscored rising political and economic pressure to reach a contract deal and free cargo bottlenecks at 29 ports that handle about $1 trillion of trade annually. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker also attended sessions Wednesday.
As negotiators met behind closed doors, with a media blackout in effect, dockworkers read the letter signed by the president of the association that represents companies that own, load and unload massive ships.
At a marine terminal in Tacoma, Washington, foremen handed out letters to dockworkers. In Los Angeles, letters were put in lunch rooms at many of the terminals.
The letter detailed a third, comprehensive contract offer employers made Feb. 12 — more recently than has been publicly disclosed.
Employers appear to hope that union members will conclude the offer — which the letter said includes wage and pension increases and the maintenance of low-cost health benefits — is strong, and dockworkers will then pressure their negotiators to accept it.
One labor expert questioned whether that would work, especially with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which has a history of fighting employers and winning contracts that are the envy of other blue-collar industries. Under the prior contract, which expired in July, average wages exceed $50 an hour, according to the maritime association.
"Handing out the leaflets is a provocative move with questionable gain," said Harley Shaiken, a professor and labor relations expert at the University of California, Berkeley. "We're in the end game, and you don't want to complicate things, and that is the risk."
The letter's "last, best and final offer" language is significant because it could lay the groundwork for the declaration of an impasse and therefore a full lockout of workers by employers.
To date, employers have done partial lockouts, principally of crews that load and unload containers at the docks using massive cranes. They cut night shifts last month and in recent weeks have not called crane crews on weekends and holidays, saying they would not pay extra to workers they believe are intentionally slowing down.
The union denies there is a coordinated slowdown and instead blames problems moving cargo from ships to dockside yards to distribution warehouses on factors including a shortage of trucks and drivers.
Problems on the waterfront have led to historically bad cargo congestion.
Dozens of ships are anchored off the West Coast. Laden with clothing, toys, televisions, auto parts and a big-box-store selection of other goods, the vessels are waiting for dock space that is taking weeks to become free. On Wednesday, the Port of Long Beach said container cargo was down 19 percent in January, compared to 2014.
The two sides already have reached tentative agreements on key issues including health benefits and what jobs the union can retain in the future.
The issue that brought talks to a stalemate is whether to change the system for arbitrating allegations of work slowdowns, discrimination and other conflicts.

Tags: PMAilwuFinal Offer
Categories: Labor News

Tacoma ILWU Local 23 President Blames Foreign Bosses For Class Struggle And Attacks On US Workers-Suppports Union Busting US Government Intervention After Role In NW Grain

Current News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 19:08

Tacoma ILWU President Blames Foreign Bosses For Class Struggle And Attacks On US Workers-Suppports Union Busting US Government Intervention After Role In NW Grain
BY DEAN MCGRATH
Contributing writerFebruary 16, 2015

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/02/16/3641943_dock-dispute-doesnt-nee...
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/02/16/3641943_dock-dispute-doesnt-nee...
• Dock dispute doesn’t need presidential fix
By Dean McGrath

Dean McGrath

Friday’s News Tribune editorial suggested that President Obama “invoke his authority as the nation’s chief executive” to relieve the port congestion stemming from a contract dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
That authority rests in his invoking powers stemming from the Taft-Hartley Act, which gives the president the ability to fix labor disputes that impact the national economy.

This is not the solution.

Taft-Hartley provisions were meant for strikes. The ILWU is not on strike. Taft-Hartley provisions clearly help the employer in contract disputes, and in no way should the PMA be rewarded for its actions, which clearly threaten the economy of our region, state and nation.

Longshore workers normally work the docks of Tacoma 24 hours a day, 360 days a year.

The PMA’s “lockout lite” of first cutting off night work and now holiday and weekend work has reduced our workforce that loads and unloads ships to a mere 32 of a possible 240 hours in the current 10-day span. Furthermore, it is not the ILWU’s fault that the PMA has mismanaged our docks, off-sourced chassis repair and not trained enough workers for the job.

This contract dispute is ultimately about foreign-owned companies determined to destroy a workforce with no regard for the impact to our community, the thousands of workers at the port and the tens of thousands of workers across Washington whose livelihood depends on international trade. They care only about their profits and the power to destroy 80 years of negotiated contracts and safety agreements that protect workers performing the second most dangerous job in America.

The greed of PMA and its member companies is profound. They have lied about our wages and contract negotiations to the press. Two K-Line officials were just sentenced to federal prison for price-fixing, and Maersk Lines was fined $8.7 million in November for false documents regarding military shipments to Afghanistan.

This contract dispute cannot be equated to a struggling industry with a union unwavering in its demands. This is about companies based in Taiwan, Denmark, England, Japan and China not worried about the safety and welfare of their workers and their families or about the short-term consequences of their actions. The greed that drives them puts our economy at risk.

The longshore workers at the Port of Tacoma are vital members of our community. We volunteer as youth coaches, serve at food kitchens and lead PTAs. We are part of our community in hundreds of other ways, including the nearly $50,000 we raise every year at Christmas in presents for hundreds of kids who would not have anything at Christmas.

We’ve been recipients of the city of Tacoma’s Destiny Awards and last month were awarded the Gold Star Award from the Tacoma Public Schools for our actions helping low-income youth in the community.

The ILWU and the PMA are close on a contract. After nine months of negotiations, we have only a few issues left. Despite having a federal mediator at the table, the PMA has been only intermittently coming to the negotiating table and now, this weekend, failed to place an order for longshore labor at the docks of Tacoma while more than a dozen ships sit idle at the docks or in Commencement Bay.

If our West Coast ports were bombed by a foreign country or terrorist group, the nation would rally, and there would not be enough little American flags or lapel pins in the marketplace to meet the demands. Instead, a consortium of foreign companies has essentially done the same thing, and yet, combating corporate greed isn’t as clear-cut as fighting a war.

We agree that something needs to be done to get our docks moving again. We sit at the bargaining table every day, wondering if the PMA will show up and have serious talks about relieving the congestion on our docks and work toward a fair contract for both sides.

This weekend, President Obama ordered Labor Secretary Tom Perez to help facilitate an ending to these deliberations. We welcome this step and hope it helps find a solution that gets our docks moving again.

Dean McGrath is president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 in Tacoma. He served as a union representative and teacher in the Tacoma School District and has been part of the Tacoma working waterfront since 1992.

Tags: ILWU Local 23solidarityPMATom Perez
Categories: Labor News

Bahrain: Harassed Bahraini teacher unionist awarded significant international Prize

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Arthur Svensson International Prize
Categories: Labor News

Togo: Govt locks up all schools after students protest to support striking teachers

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Pulse
Categories: Labor News

Dock workers, shippers face off at the Port of Oakland

Current News - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 13:11

Dock workers, shippers face off at the Port of Oakland
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Dock-workers-shippe...
By Jack Heyman
February 18, 2015 Updated: February 18, 2015 9:32am

West Coast ports are badly congested. Ships are backed up, unable to find a berth to unload their cargo. Longshore contract negotiations are deadlocked between the shipowners and terminal operators of the Pacific Maritime Association and dockworkers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. With big retailers and agribusiness screaming, President Obama has sent in Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

The PMA’s tough negotiating ploy has intentionally created a port crisis. The PMA, echoed by the business press, claims greedy workers engaging in work slowdowns are to blame. Yet the employers, after dragging out negotiations for nine months, have closed ports this past holiday weekend. They previously had ended night work to stop paying overtime and shift premiums, thus employers have slashed available work time in one week by 75 percent. In 2002, when PMA locked out longshore workers and shut down West Coast ports, the media conflated it with a workers’ strike. Is this a bad media rerun?

What’s really brewing here is an assault on one of the last bastions of union power left in the United States, the ILWU. In the last five years, the ILWU has faced union-busting attacks by mining titan Rio Tinto and the ABCD grain monopolies (Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge Limited, Cargill Inc. and Louis Dreyfus Commodities), which control 90 percent of the world’s grain distribution. In both cases, the union conceded key contract provisions, and now maritime monopolies are smelling blood.

Two of the biggest global port employers, Ports America Inc. and Stevedoring Services of America were until recently owned in large part by the insurance monolith AIG and Goldman Sachs, respectively. This is “Wall Street on the waterfront,” and they’re out to gut the power of the ILWU, the union hiring hall, and curtail union action by using arbitrators.

Yet when longshore workers stop work, it’s often because of safety issues in a dangerous industry whose rate of work-related fatalities exceeds that of firefighters.

When Bay Area longshore workers shut down ports to protest Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting activities, that state’s AFL-CIO called the ILWU “the moral compass of the labor movement.” And when Oakland police nearly killed Iraq War veteran Scott Olsen during an Occupy movement protest, 30,000 outraged demonstrators marched into the port, closing it in protest and in solidarity with longshore workers battling the nonunion Export Grain Terminal in Longview, Wash. Shades of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike frightened West Coast port employers.

ILWU longshore jobs pay decent wages and benefits, but far less than employers claim. If a rising tide can lift all boats, then these jobs and benefits will continue to set standards for other workers. But, if Wall Street on the waterfront breaks the ILWU, wages and living standards will be driven down for all.

Don’t forget the lesson of PATCO, the air traffic controllers union destroyed by Ronald Reagan, while other unions sat idly by. The consequences devastated the entire labor movement. And, in 2012, President Obama sent Coast Guard vessels against the ILWU protesting a scab ship at the Export Grain Terminal. Longshore workers need to use their power to stop concessionary contracts, and all working people should have their back.

Jack Heyman, a retired ILWU member, has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area as a longshoreman and boatman for over 30 years. He chairs the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee. (www.transportworkers.org)

Tags: ilwuPMALockoutunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Montreal IWW Holds Disruptive Action at Canada Post

IWW - Wed, 02/18/2015 - 08:23

Laval -- On the morning of Monday, February 16, 2015, the IWW Montreal, the Student Workers Union of the University of Quebec at Montreal, as well as several other citizens, took part in the disruption of a Canada Post distribution center in Laval, Quebec.

This action in solidarity with postal workers is set in a current context of struggles against austerity, and in the scope of the campaign for a social strike on May 1st 2015.

Today, many workers are directly confronted with the effects of budget cuts to health services, to municipal employees, to firemen and firewomen, to postal workers, to students, to workers in the private sector...

Yet, resistance is organizing itself everywhere. We will not let different governments (whether conservative or liberal) and the bosses impose their anti-social measures on us. The time of a minority enriching itself on the back of an impoverished majority is finished.

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