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Libya: ITF calls for action after attempted murder of female union activist

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News

Colombia: Blood Coal, the Canadian Connection & International Solidarity

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Media Co-op
Categories: Labor News

FedEx Workers Stage First-Ever Strike Ahead of Busy Holiday Season

Current News - Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:11

FedEx Workers Stage First-Ever Strike Ahead of Busy Holiday Season
Kelley Davidson | November 10, 2015
FedEx has spent over $21 million to prevent truckers from unionizing.

On Monday, over 80 workers in the Gardena, California FedEx freight facility staged the first strike in FedEx’s 42-year history, and are now pushing for workers in other facilities to do the same. Complaints about pension, benefits, and union-busting led to the strike, which will affect deliveries the entire South Bay area and other regions. The workers say that the company has repeatedly violated their rights under federal labor laws.

FedEx is one of the most historically anti-union companies in America. Its administration spent years using complicated loopholes in the Railway Labor Act (RLA) to keep workers from unionizing, making it almost impossible for union organizers to distribute information to employees. Fred Smith, CEO and founder of the company, has remained vocally anti-union since the company’s inception, stating: “i did not intend to recognize any unions at Federal Express.”

The company began forcefully resisting unionization in the 1980’s, and freight facility managers often received pamphlets with titles like “Making Unions Unnecessary,” full of information on union avoidance. During one 15-month period, FedEx spent $21.1 millionlobbying against new rules that would have allowed truckers to unionize.

However, workers made some headway last year in Pennsylvania during the first successful FedEx union organization in history. A group of 47 workers voted to join Teamsters Local 107, stating that they were “tired of constantly changing unfair and unwritten work rules.”

Since FedEx’s transition from being governed by the rules of the RLA to the rules of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), union organizers report that FedEx facilities across the country are now guilty of violating workers legal union rights by still refusing to bargain with them.

“FedEx has done everything under the books to oppose workers’ right to organize,” the Teamsters union said in a public statement. This includes the use of intimidation tactics that are commonplace in anti-union companies, such as captive-audience anti-union meetings and putting pro-union workers under high levels of scrutiny.

FedEx Freight has called the Gardena strike a “coercive and potentially illegal activity,” but Teamsters Joint Council 42 — the union representing the Gardena workers — has rebuked those claims, reminding administrators of their legal obligation to the demands of unionized workers. FedEx’s confrontational public statement hasn’t stopped workers from planning further direct action and they intend to continue their strike throughout the holiday season if their demands are not met. This potentially nationwide strike could tarnish the company’s reputation and discourage shoppers from using the parcel service.

The workers in Gardena claim that this action is just the beginning, warning the company that their illegal activities must come to an end.

Tags: FedEx strikeDrivers
Categories: Labor News

Greece: Ruling party calls on workers to strike against its own government’s cuts

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Globe and Mail
Categories: Labor News

USA: Can Seattle Launch a Movement for a New Kind of Workers' Union?

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Stranger
Categories: Labor News

Global: Fears over Trans-Pacific Partnership confirmed

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 11/10/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Global: ITUC poll highlights wage stress and inequality in G20 countries

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Greece: List of unions joining Thursday's general strike growing

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 11/09/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Kathimerini
Categories: Labor News

Can “solidarity unionism” save the labor movement?

IWW - Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:56

By Eric Dirnbach - Waging Nonviolence, November 4, 2015

The debate on how to revive the troubled U.S. labor movement has been around for decades. Labor activists generally believe that much greater rank-and-file democracy and workplace militancy is the key to labor renewal. However, an essential perspective that is usually missing from the conversation is well represented by Staughton Lynd’s “Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below,” which was first published in 1992 and has been recently reissued.

Lynd is a legendary progressive lawyer and activist from Youngstown, Ohio. He is the coauthor with his wife Alice Lynd of the classic “Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers,” a collection of oral histories of militant union organizers, which informs much of the framework of “Solidarity Unionism.” At around 100 pages, the book reads more like a summary of his organizing philosophy, and many readers will come away wanting a more extensive discussion. It should be read along with several other recent books which make similar arguments: Stanley Aronowitz’s “The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,” and “New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism,” edited by Immanuel Ness, who also provided the introduction for “Solidarity Unionism.”

Lynd argues for a rethinking of the assumptions of the labor movement and for a revived version of labor organizing that was more prominent in the pre-New Deal era that he calls “solidarity unionism.” What may surprise most labor-oriented readers is that central to this kind of unionism is the absence of a contract between the union and the employer.

Isn’t the whole point of forming a union to get a written collective bargaining agreement? Lynd doesn’t think so and he argues that workers fighting together with direct action on the job to make improvements in the workplace do not need a contract and may be hurt by having one. He is critical of the “management rights” and “no-strike” clauses that are standard in almost all union contracts. He believes they reduce the power of workers to influence major decisions in how the workplace is run and to solve their problems at work immediately as they arise. Contracts tend to remove agency from the workers and place it in the hands of union staff who typically bargain and process grievances while the members may be uninvolved and cynical. Lynd is also skeptical of a union’s exclusive representation of all workers in the workplace and automatic dues check-off, preferring for workers to actively join the union and pay dues because they want to.

Lynd’s view of the prevailing “contract unionism” differs from standard labor history, which considers the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, labor reforms as a progressive advance for workers. In the mainstream view, workers organizing, with the support of President Roosevelt, finally won full government enforcement for the right to organize and bargain collectively. In exercising this right, unions typically hold workplace elections and then negotiate contracts with employers that set the conditions of employment and also guarantee labor peace (no strike/no lockout) for the term of the contract. This industrial relations framework led the way for millions of workers to organize and improve their wages and working conditions. This “class compromise” held for several decades until employers changed their mind and increased their opposition to unionization again.

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Categories: Unions

Wobbling to Victory: Are militant unions anarchist wreckers or the future of the labour movement?

IWW - Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:23

By Dek Keenan - Union Solidarity International, November 5, 2015

In recent years, new or rediscovered forms of worker self-organisation have begun to appear – and often in the most unlikely of places.

Small independent unions, using a combination of often audacious direct action tactics combined with innovative campaign strategies are bringing victories to some of the most marginalised and precarious groups of workers. Punching way above their weight, these dynamic new (and some not so new) unions are fighting to win and organising with few or no full-time officials and on shoestring budgets.

Are they the work of anarchist wreckers, alien to the traditions of the labour movement, or do they offer a way out of the impasse that our movement finds itself in?

In London, new unions such as the United Voices of the World (UVW) and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have been at the forefront of precarious, out-sourced and greatly migrant labour struggles. Recent high profile fights for the Living Wage, for sick pay and the reinstatement of union activists at the Barbican and at Sotheby’s auction house have brought the UVW into the media spotlight.

The first signs in the UK of this ‘new unionism’ were seen in 2011 when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the famous ‘Wobblies’, organised a Branch for cleaners in London, recruiting dissatisfied members of Unite associated with the Latin American Workers Association (LAWA).

This Branch built on the existing community of solidarity in the LAWA and, through the establishment of workers’ advice clinics, language classes and much aggressive outreach by unpaid activists, expanded beyond the Latin American community to other groups of cleaners searching for an effective voice at work. London Living Wage victories at Canary Wharf and elsewhere followed, heightening the profile of the IWW and paving the way for subsequent initiatives from the UVW and IWGB.

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Categories: Unions

Europe: How did the first world war actually end?

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Channel 4
Categories: Labor News

Organizing the Choke Points

IWW - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:55

By Joe Allen - Jacobin, November 3, 2015

It took the United Parcel Service one hundred and eight years to get to its current position in the world today, less than half that time for Walmart, DHL, and FedEx, and just over two decades for Amazon. The speed of transformation in the global logistics industry is rapidly increasing, spurred on by Amazon’s current building spree across North America and Europe.

For example, according to Business Insider,

Amazon has added 21 new logistics facilities globally over the last 12 months, up 14% from last year, bringing the total to 173 facilities worldwide. Of the 173 facilities, 104 are in the North America region, with the rest spread across Europe and Asia. The 173 logistics facilities include the large fulfillment-center warehouse; sortation centers, where packages get presorted for shipping; and Prime Now hub, a separate building to store one-hour delivery items.

Clearly big things are afoot. Amazon’s recent job listing strongly suggests it is building a senior staff for a major logistics and transportation department that includes a “Senior Program Manager — Last Mile Transportation SME,” “Driver Experience Manager,” and “Network Manager — Amazon Logistics Freight.” A former Amazon engineer told Business Insider, “If Amazon can stop paying FedEx and start controlling their own destiny in terms of the costs of fulfillment and shipping and transportation, it increases their profit margin.”

Another sign of the rapidly transforming logistics industry is UPS’s recent purchase of the Chicago-based Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion. Coyote is a new model of freight forwarding; it has no vehicles or warehouses of its own, and instead provides logistics for 12,000 shippers with a network of 35,000 local, regional, and national carriers.

A decade earlier UPS made its largest acquisition up to that point when it bought Overnite Transportation, a huge non-union freight company. UPS’s purchase of Overnite was a major move into the traditional freight business, and followed FedEx’s acquisition of several regional freight companies and creation of FedEx Freight.

FedEx is also trying to keep up with the competitive pressures from Amazon and UPS. Earlier this year it acquired the Dutch parcel-delivery company TNT Express for $4.8 billion — giving it access to TNT’s Europe-wide road network to compete with UPS and DHL — and FedEx Ground has announced plans to build large facilities in Middleton, CT; Ocala, FL; and Hamburg, NY.

DHL — formally DHL Express, a division of Deutsche Post — is also reinvesting substantially in its US operations, including a $108 million upgrade to its Cincinnati air hub that processes about 46 million international shipments each year. Though it is smaller than UPS’s nearby Worldport or FedEx’s Superhub, DHL’s Cincinnati operations primarily focus on international shipments from Asia and Europe.

“If DHL is making investments in infrastructure expansion in Cincinnati, that means they’re very confident that they’re going to continue to grow their intercontinental network,” says Brian Clancy, a managing director with Logistics Capital & Strategy, a Virginia-based transportation consulting firm.

Meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding signed an agreement with a Kazakhstan-based express company to speed the transit of rail-based freight across the Eurasian continent as an alternative to traditional sea and airfreight. In addition, it announced plans to establish its own parcel network in Austria by 2016 and to invest €47 million in sub-Saharan Africa as part of an effort to derive 30 percent of its revenue from emerging markets by 2020.

Not to be left out of the scramble, the United States Postal Service (USPS), the venerable, much-derided, and constitutionally mandated mail carrier, has emerged as a major player in the logistics industry.

This summer, Bloomberg Businessweek called the USPS “an extension of Amazon” and noted that “Amazon receives a deep discount from the post office because the e-tailer does so much of its own processing — including providing computerized address lists to make it easier for carriers to tailor their delivery routes for faster drop-offs.” A 2014 estimate by Bernstein Research, which tracks the shipping industry, put the USPS’s shipments and deliveries at 40 percent of Amazon’s volume, or almost 150 million items (UPS accounted for 20–25 percent and FedEx 15–20 percent).

While UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the USPS are fierce competitors, many people would be surprised by the cooperation between the logistics giants. Both FedEx and UPS have discounted residential package delivery services with the USPS called, respectively, SmartPost and SurePost. And the volume is enormous. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported:

For FedEx alone, the post office delivers an average of 2.2 million packages a day, or about 30% of the express-mail company’s total U.S. ground segment. UPS won’t specify how many of its shipments go through the post office, but a regulatory filing indicates those types of lightweight shipments accounted for 40% — or about 37 million packages — of its total increase in ground shipments in 2012.

Both SmartPost and SurePost services are designed to deal with the unwanted costs of the “last mile” — the industry term for the final step in the delivery process, handing over the package to the recipient. FedEx or UPS may have every address in the United States in their databases, but neither wants to go to every address every day, and they certainly don’t want to make a second attempt if the recipient isn’t home the first time around. The USPS, on the other hand, has to go to each address daily to delivery first-class mail.

Ultimately, UPS and FedEx want to snatch up the most profitable areas and dump the rest. For example, FedEx beat out UPS in 2013 for a seven-year, $10.5 billion contract with the USPS to fly its mail between US airports.

The rising volume of packages has transformed the USPS, necessitating major capital investment. In 2013, the post office spent $200 million to furnish its delivery vehicles with handheld scanners to provide real-time package tracking. And its plan to replace its fleet of 163,000 delivery trucks, which were not designed to hold packages, could cost as much as $4.5 billion.

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Categories: Unions

Victory as People Power Forces Liverpool Council Homeless Fines U-Turn

IWW - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:48

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 5, 2015

Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World unreservedly welcomes the sensational decision of Liverpool City Council to scrap their consultation on plans to fine the homeless a whole eight days ahead of its planned conclusion. We are delighted that homeless people now no longer face this added threat of being penalised for the social crime of homelessness.

Like Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe authority before them, Mayor Joe Anderson’s council has floated the idea, hoping it will go through, only to be overwhelmed by the public backlash against it. In doing so, the council has shown the potential of mass working class action to make changes in the world. Anderson and Liverpool Labour have given way on this one issue, because it risked jeopardising the rest of their austerity agenda.

Only yesterday morning, Liverpool IWW started a Facebook event page proposing a demonstration against the homeless fines. Within hours, scores had pledged they would attend, hundreds of people had been invited, and many were leaving comments on the page. Some raised their own demands, such as Joe Anderson paying back the £89,000 of public money he received from the council for legal advice on a private matter (he’d been sacked by a school he did no work for).

The homeless fines threatened to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. When asked by the media for a reaction in response to Liverpool IWW’s press release, the council retreated a step. The council’s deployment of pro-cuts Councillor Rachael O’Byrne to the Facebook event page confirms this.

Liverpool Labour’s explanation for the whole affair beggars belief. According to Liverpool Confidential , “Anderson intervened to have the scheme scrapped after hearing about the proposals yesterday [Wednesday]”. Councillor Steve Munby went on, “The proposal was not a decision by the council cabinet, but was drawn up by officers following complaints from residents and the BID [Business Improvement District].”

If we are charitable to Anderson, it still looks devastatingly bad. He is the mayor of the city, he is paid a large salary, and he dines with the greedy business owners who were pushing this scheme on a very regular basis. If the official story is to be believed, he was somehow unaware of the council consultation nearly a month after it began on 9th October. He is therefore totally out of touch with the affairs of his own council, and totally incompetent.

The far more likely explanation, of course, is that Anderson, O’Byrne, Munby and colleagues are simply lying through their teeth.

Liverpool IWW will continue to fight for the interests of all working class people in the local area, so we can guarantee that this is not the last that Mayor Anderson and all his bloodsoaked poverty pimps will hear of us.

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Categories: Unions

Pres. McEllrath: ILWU will fight all attacks on safety, collective bargaining rights

ILWU - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:28

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Nov. 6, 2015ILWU Brothers and Sisters:

As you know, politicians have been publicly and inaccurately blaming congestion at the ports on those of us who work on the docks. They are opportunistically using industry-caused congestion as an excuse to introduce legislation that attacks workers’ collective bargaining rights, threatens our safety, wastes taxpayer dollars — and fails to address the actual root causes of congestion.

On November 4, two U.S. Representatives proposed misguided and dangerous amendments that would have forced unsafe speeds on the docks and hijacked the transportation bill to reexamine past labor talks.

Fortunately, with hard work from our Longshore representatives in D.C., our Legislative Action Committee, and a unified voice from longshore workers and our friends and allies, both amendments were defeated. The amendment proposed by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) was withdrawn for lack of votes, and the amendment proposed by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) was defeated in a House floor vote.

While we prevailed in this round of attacks on our workplace safety and collective bargaining rights, politicians have already fired another round. Just hours after the Newhouse and Reichert amendments were defeated, two anti-union Congressmen from Washington and Oregon held a news conference and introduced another misguided bill called the “Economics Act.” At first glance, this bill seems to be a rehash of already rejected ideas. More details on the act will be forthcoming.

The ILWU will be educating members of Congress on the dangers of this bill and any others that arise. We need your support to defeat them. Listen to your local officers’ updates, and if you use social media, stay tuned to the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s page on Facebook. If we issue an action alert, it’s important to respond immediately by contacting your elected officials in Congress and respectfully urging them to vote according to the action alert.

It will take continued hard work and vigilance to ensure that opportunistic politicians do not erode our rights. We have been fighting this fight since 1934, and we must continue to beat back these attacks. Thank you for your support to defeat the amendments, and stay tuned to make your voice heard again.


Robert McEllrath
International President

Categories: Unions

Global: Boost for Climate Action as ILO Adopts ‘Just Transition’

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Industrial Worker, Fall 2015: 'In November We Remember'

IWW - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:05

In this issue:

* Legal victory over police repression of union activity & free speech in Boston
* Boycotts, pickets in support of Familias Unidas farm worker union intensify
* In November We Remember: Fellow Worker Ed Mann, Federico Arcos, Krazy Bill and incarcerated workers
....and more!

View and download the issue on Scribd.com.

Email iw@iww.org to order your copy today! 

Categories: Unions

Vietnam: Union Reform in Vietnam, Tied to Pacific Trade Deal, Depends on Hanoi’s Follow-Up

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 11/05/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Times
Categories: Labor News

Sex workers of Rhode Island, unite!

IWW - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:15

By Andrew Stewart - RIFuture.org, November 3, 2015

It is called the oldest line of work in the world and yet it is consistently denied legitimacy. But here in Rhode Island, where prostitution was legal from 1980 until 2009, some local sex workers are re-asserting their agency by organizing a labor union.

“You see women get raped, you see women get murdered,” said Madeira Darling, an organizer, whose name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. “Criminalization itself is violence. It means women can’t seek protection either from the law or from one another. Occasionally you will get guys who think they are in love with you stalking you. And police will often blame sex workers for violence even if they aren’t in criminalized industries.”

Madeira began work as an exotic dancer at age 19 in New York before becoming a dominatrix and relocating to Rhode Island, labor she continues to perform here. She and several of her colleagues are working towards something radically inclusive: the creation of a statewide sex worker labor union.

Interested in creating a truly industrial union, the group is open to allowing all sex workers join her in the effort, reaching out to strippers, escorts, camera/phone workers, porn stars, strip club bouncers, bar workers, masseurs/masseuses, actors, directors, and crew in adult films, and any other laborer in the industry, including the internet workers. As of this point she has contacted four other workers, but hopes that publicizing this effort my grow the ranks.

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Categories: Unions

Press Release: Liverpool IWW Calls For Demonstration Against Fines for the Homeless

IWW - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:07

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 4, 2015

Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order”, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.

It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.

If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.

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Categories: Unions


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