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Iran: Haft Tapeh sugar workers are fighting for their wages, pensions and rights!

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

British Airways cabin crew strikers prepared for long haul

Current News - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 23:22

British Airways cabin crew strikers prepared for long haul
Mixed fleet staff have fought for better pay for six months but, despite plans for further action, the airline won’t settle
BA cabin crew demonstrate outside parliament in February.
BA cabin crew demonstrate outside parliament in February; the airline insists the action is not affecting passengers nor its bottom line. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jul/15/british-airways-cabin-c...

Gwyn Topham
Saturday 15 July 2017 11.00 EDTLast modified on Saturday 15 July 2017 17.00 EDT

The sweep of silver hair, fierce stare and rousing speech by Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner was vintage 1980s strike-era. “I’m as proud of you as I was of the miners,” he told striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrating outside parliament this week.

Most were born long after Margaret Thatcher closed down the pits, but the comparison was rapturously welcomed. If this 21st-century action, mainly organised via social media, has had little of the miners’ economic or political impact, it has already, under the radar, become a six-month-long standoff.

BA insists the action is not affecting its customers, or its bottom line unduly, even as thousands of its youngest, newest recruits angrily walk out.

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A two-week strike comes to an end on Sunday; a further fortnight of strikes has been called from Wednesday. It encompasses a significant minority of BA’s cabin crew: the “mixed fleet”, around one-third of the airline’s 16,500 crew, operating both short-haul and long-haul flights.

All new recruits join the flexible mixed fleet, set up in 2011 during the last bitter BA industrial dispute, and have poorer terms and conditions than other crew. Around 3,100 have joined Unite and voted to strike, concluding that pay on the “flexible” fleet doesn’t represent a living wage.

Pay was the trigger for the dispute: basic salary starts at £12,100, although BA said an independent audit showed full-time crew earned at least £21,000 with add-ons. The union says £16,000-17,000 is a typical figure, and crew at the Westminster rally agree: one, now a customer service manager earning £27,000, says they had worked for five years before promotion “and every P60 says I’ve earned under £20k”.

Long-haul stopovers have lost their allure for many, with allowances that do not cover the cost of the cheapest meal in most airport hotels abroad where staff stay – even before the value of the pound tumbled. “We take Pot Noodle in our luggage because food costs so much,” says Suzie, a striking crew member.

Unite reps say second jobs for supposedly full-time crew are not uncommon. Alex, a purser with three years’ service at BA, moonlights in hospitality on her days off. “They should be rest days after long flights, acclimatising to UK time. Instead, I work for £10 an hour in central London, serving drinks, on a zero-hours contract. When I joined BA I thought it would be different.” She was recently turned down for a small bank loan. “They said my payslips don’t show the figures BA tells people we earn.” Allowances, incentives and bonuses over basic pay count for little when applying for a mortgage, crew say.

People say, why don’t you quit and get a better-paid job? But I love the job. I just want a living wage
Alex, BA purser
While a pay deal of 7% over three years has been agreed in principle, crew have refused to accept sanctions against those involved in earlier walkouts: the withdrawal of bonuses and travel perks. That has been exacerbated by £250 rewards dangled before those who now come to work: paid for from bonuses stripped from strikers, as internal emails to staff show.

Labour has backed the strikers: an early-day motion tabled by Lisa Nandy MPnotes that group chief executive Willie Walsh is paid 533 times the starting basic pay of a mixed fleet crew member. Nandy says: “MPs from all parties have been shocked to hear from young women in particular, struggling on poverty wages at the national carrier, having to take out payday loans to survive. This is not an acceptable face of British business.”

She adds: “BA could resolve this simply and easily if it stopped spending time and energy on trying to break the strike and instead spent it on its own staff.”

Wet-leasing, or hiring aircraft and crew from elsewhere, has allowed BA to operate 99.5% of its flights during the recent action. Nine Qatar Airways planes, otherwise grounded by sanctions brought by neighbouring countries in the Gulf, have been flying a chunk of BA’s short-haul schedule.

The airline refuses to discuss costs, instead focusing on what it says is the most important thing: that every passenger will get to their destination during the strikes. Walsh, who has faced down strikes at numerous airlines, said earlier this year that the strike was having “no impact at all”, although he conceded that BA’s costs might run to a few million pounds. He said there are no shortage of recruits; BA puts the number of job applications at 17,000 this year.

British Airways cabin crew to stage six-day walkout in pay dispute
Read more
Compared to the damage recently caused by one technician accidentally pulling the power in BA’s computer nerve centre, which led to widespread cancellations and headline news, the strike is having relatively little immediate impact. But City analysts have expressed concern about the reputational damage.

BA insists that customer service has been unaffected, yet internal emails from managers admit that flights have operated with fewer crew than usual. Some customers who did find themselves on Qatar’s planes have enthused about the apparent upgrade: more comfortable cabins and the return of complimentary refreshments recently axed by BA.

For now, there’s little prospect of an immediate resolution to the dispute: no talks are likely, and those who have gone on strike for better pay have been infuriated by BA’s financial recriminations. Among the crew, Alex’s feeling is commonly echoed: “People say, why don’t you quit and get a better-paid job? But I love the job. I just want a living wage.”

Tags: BA Cabin Workers StrikeUNITE UnionUK BA
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Cricket's pay dispute is a wonderful ad for joining a union

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 07/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Argentina: Doctors Join Call for National Strike Against Macri

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Venezuela: Global and regional unions condemn use of violence in Venezuela

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/14/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Russia: In Russia the North Koreans Work ‘Basically in the Situation of Slaves’

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: New York Times
Categories: Labor News

USA: Gov. Coopers signs anti-worker, anti-immigrant bill in NC

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: FLOC
Categories: Labor News

China: VW workers call on parent company to assume responsibility for violations

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

7/15 ILWU Local 10 "Longshore Contract, Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives"

Current News - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 08:46

7/15 ILWU Local 10 "Longshore Contract, Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives"

24th Annual LaborFest 2017
The Future is in Our Hands
This year marks the 83rd anniversary of the San Francisco General Strike and West Coast Maritime Strike. The General Strike was not only a victory for the ILWU longshoreman but also for hundreds of thousands of workers who joined unions from hotel workers and clerical workers to public workers. (Labor Fest)
www.laborfest.net

Longshore Contract, Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives
July 15 @ 10:00 am - 4:00 pm Henry Schmidt Room, ILWU Local 10
400 Northpoint St.
San Fancisco

Longshore Contract, Automation, Technology and the Future of Our Work and Lives – Conference

The drive to automate the docks and the maritime industry is moving forward rapidly and, in some European ports, the transfer of cargo has been automated forcing thousands of longshore workers out of the industry. The capitalists are also already working on designing automated ships with almost no crews to cut their labor costs and increase their profits. This educational conference will look at the history of containerization in the past and what longshore workers face today and in the future to defend labor union and worker rights.

Initial Speakers:

Ed Ferris: President of ILWU Local 10
Bob Carnegie: Maritime Union of Australia Queensland Branch Secretary
Raquel Varela: Instituto de História Contemporânea
Honorary Fellow IISH (Amsterdam), Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Study Group on Labor and Social Conflicts
Ken Riley: President of Charleston ILA 1422 and International Dockworkers Council, North American Representative

Jack Heyman: ILWU Local 10 pensioner

Sponsored by LaborTech.net, ILWU Local 10, LaborFest, TWSC

Tags: longshorelabortechAutomationAI
Categories: Labor News

Letter To NYC TWU 100 For National March On Washington For Healthcare

Current News - Thu, 07/13/2017 - 08:43

Letter To TWU 100 For National March On Washington For Healthcare
https://campaignforamarchonwashington.wordpress.com/2017/06/15/why-union...
CAMPAIGN FOR A MARCH ON WASHINGTON
ABOUT

CONTACT

Why Unions Must Take the Lead and Call a March on Washington to Defend Healthcare – An Open Letter to John Samuelsen, TWU International and Local 100 President
june 15, 2017 by campaignforamarchonwashington
The following letter from TWU Local 100 members was sent to TWU International and Local 100 President John Samuelsen on May 30, 2017. For more information, and to add your name to the list of signatories, write to: campaign4amarchonwashington@gmail.com.
To:
John Samuelsen
Transport Workers Union
International and Local 100 President
May 30, 2017
President Samuelsen:
We are writing to urge you to use your position as TWU Local 100 president and as the TWU’s recently elected International president, to support the call for this country’s unions to take the lead in mobilizing a March on Washington to defend healthcare.
President Trump and the Republicans in Congress are using divide-and-conquer tactics, launching one attack after another on the rights and living standards of working-class and poor people.
First they targeted Muslims, immigrants, and Blacks and Latinos with their “Muslim travel ban,” mass deportations, and end to federal oversight of local police departments found responsible for egregious and systematic racism.
Now they are targeting healthcare, pushing for reforms that will have devastating consequences for tens of millions.
And tomorrow they promise to deal a catastrophic blow to the labor movement, including TWU Local 100, by making anti-union “right-to-work” statutes the law of the land. These statutes, of course, are more accurately referred to as “right-to-scab” laws because they deny unions the right to win the requirement that all workers in an enterprise be represented by a union and have union fees collected from them.
Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to this union-busting attack and Vice President Pence has brought prominent Republicans to the White House to discuss how to win this battle. Trump has already secured an anti-union majority on the Supreme Court and now right-wing billionaires like the oil industry’s Koch brothers and Walmart-owning Walton family are competing to bring right-to-work cases targeting public sector unions before it. Meanwhile Republicans in Congress have already introduced House Resolution 785 that would apply “right-to-work” nationwide in the private sector.[1] The consequences of these “right-to-work” attacks could be so devastating that prominent figures in the labor movement are referring to it as a potentially “extinction-level-event” for unions in this country.[2]
All these attacks are deeply connected.
Trump and the Republicans’ plan to overturn “Obamacare,” combined with their proposed budget, will:
leave an estimated 23 million people without health insurance over the next ten years;[3]
cut $1.4 trillion in funding from Medicaid;[4]
remove many of the forms of care, such as maternity care, that insurers are currently required to include in their plans as “essential coverage;”
allow states to opt out of covering pre-existing conditions and charge more to people they claim have adverse health histories
defund Planned Parenthood, which is many women’s only health care provider;
allow insurers to increase the prices of their plans; and
it will do all this so that the rich can be gifted massive tax cuts.[5]
Waiting until the next elections with the hope of voting for candidates who promise to undo this damage means accepting the suffering and death of untold numbers of working-class and poor people. Mobilizing now to defeat these outrageous attacks is a matter of life and death.
At “town hall” meetings across the country, thousands have vented their outrage at Trump and the Republicans’ plans. No matter how inspiring they have been, however, it’s clear that such scattered protests will not be enough to stop this attack. The White House’s first attempt to pass its healthcare legislation only failed because some Republicans insisted on even more draconian attacks! So the time is now, while the Senate is considering their latest legislation, to take the protests to another level. And our unions are the only mass organizations to which working-class people can turn to make that happen.
If this country’s unions announced a March on Washington to defend healthcare and then seriously organized for it, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, could be expected to rally in support. That could that deal a massive blow to Trump and the Republicans’ plans. It could create momentum to win the long-standing demand of the TWU and most other unions – quality government-provided healthcare for all, as well as embolden the struggle against Trump’s racist attacks. And it could win widespread public support for our unions – support that we will need if we are to have any hope of defeating the coming “right-to-work” attacks.
In TWU Local 100, morning- and evening-shift meetings of the Track Workers’ Division have already voted unanimously in favor of motions for you and Local 100’s Executive Board to urge all this country’s unions and union federations to call such a March on Washington, so the Division’s officers can be expected to bring it before the Executive Board for a vote at its next meeting. Meetings of the Train Operators’ Department similarly declared unanimous support for taking the idea up, with more Department meetings to come. But why wait?
President Samuelsen, you have just become president of the TWU International and so you are perfectly placed to take this initiative forward by publicly calling on all unions, union federations and councils – as well as organizations dedicated to the rights of women, Blacks and Latinos, immigrants and other oppressed people – to join and build a March on Washington to defend healthcare.
We hope you will do the right thing by advancing this call and look forward to receiving your response.
Jonathan Beatrice, NYCT​ ​Conductor,​ ​Shop​ ​Steward​ ​TWU​ ​Local​ ​100,​ ​Democratic​ ​Socialist​s ​of​ ​America*
John Ferretti, NYCT Conductor, Shop Steward TWU Local 100, Revolutionary Transit Worker newsletter
Jason Hicks, NYCT Track Worker, TWU Local 100 member, Democratic Socialists of America*
Eric Josephson, Retired NYCT Track Worker, TWU Local 100 member, League for the Revolutionary Party
Eric Loegel, NYCT Train Operator, Shop Steward TWU Local 100
Seth Rosenberg, NYCT Train Operator, TWU Local 100 member, Revolutionary Transit Worker newsletter
* Organization listed for identification purposes only
NOTES

1. Michael Paarlberg, With all eyes on Trump, Republicans are planning to break unions for good,” The Guardian, February 2, 2017; Walker’s Wisconsin could be a model for Trump on unions, Chicago Tribune, February 6, 2017.
2. Harold Meyerson, Donald Trump can kill the American union, Washington Post, November 23, 2016.
3. Rob Pear, G.O.P. Health Bill Would Leave 23 Million More Uninsured in a Decade, C.B.O. Says, New York Times, May 24, 2017.
4. Niv Elis, Trump releases budget that slashes government programs, The Hill, May 23, 2017, .
5. Sullivan, What the GOP’s plan to kill essential health benefits means, The Hill, March 23, 2017;
Sarah Kliff, The American Health Care Act: the Obamacare repeal bill the House just passed, explained, The Hill, May 4, 2017; Josh Barro, This chart shows why the GOP health plan will make health insurance more expensive, Business Insider, March 16, 2017; and Michael Hiltzik, All the horrific details of the GOP’s new Obamacare repeal bill: A handy guide, Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2017.

Tags: healthcareTWU 100solidarity march
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for July 8 2017

IBU - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 09:15
.
Categories: Unions

Fleet Memo for July 1 2017

IBU - Wed, 07/12/2017 - 09:14
.
Categories: Unions

Should Uber be shut down? Harvard business professor says the real problem in the tech industry is a "contagious" culture of lawbreaking that society shouldn't tolerate

Current News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:44

Should Uber be shut down?
Harvard business professor says the real problem in the tech industry is a "contagious" culture of lawbreaking that society shouldn't tolerate
http://48hills.org/2017/07/06/should-uber-be-shut-down/
BY TIM REDMOND - JULY 6, 2017
Everyone’s talking about Uber’s latest problems with management style, sexual harassment, company culture … and CEO Travis Kalanick, who embodied all of that, has been forced out.

Big investors hope Kalanick’s resignation and a deep internal investigation will help position the company for an IPO. They want Uber to go public pretty soon, and all of these scandals are tamping down the stock price.

Uber driver blocks the bike lane on Valencia — but who cares? The company was founded on a spirit of lawbreaking
But there’s another interesting perspective on Uber (and Lyft, and some of the other tech disrupters) that has appeared not in The Nation, or Mother Jones, or 48hills but in the Harvard Business Review, the voice of the eminently establishment Harvard Business School.

Harvard Associate Professor Benjamin Edelman presents what sounds like a radical hypothesis, but it actually makes perfect sense. He says that Uber can’t be fixed, that the corporate culture was poisoned from the start – and that the only solution is for regulators to shut it down.

The company’s cultural dysfunction, it seems to me, stems from the very nature of the company’s competitive advantage: Uber’s business model is predicated on lawbreaking. And having grown through intentional illegality, Uber can’t easily pivot toward following the rules.

His analysis also applies to Lyft – and to Airbnb. These companies, he argues, are the equivalent of Napster – they’ve developed a useful new application of technology, but in the process violated a long list of existing laws. Now that the tech is out there, society needs to say: No, you can’t do this.

The end of Napster, which at this point most people agree was a rogue operation, didn’t mean the end of shared online music – we have itunes, and Spotify, and Pandora. The customer still gets the advantages – but the musicians get their royalties and the system that we have carefully evolved to protect the rights of artists hasn’t been completely destroyed.

Let me talk for a second about Napster.

Wow, that was cool: Just sign up and you’ll never pay for music again. The entire entertainment industry was torn up, which is what so many tech types want. Disruption.

And some good friends of mine, who were in bands that were what writers call “mid-list” – that is, not Kendrick Lamar or Bruce Springsteen, but popular enough that they could make a modest living selling records – were totally screwed.

Suddenly, record companies weren’t paying advances any more for mid-list bands to go into the studio and record (which takes time and money). Suddenly, unless you were a superstar who could sell out huge stadiums for live shows, you were out of luck. Suddenly, you couldn’t make new music anymore.

Yeah, startups got rich, and the already rich did fine – but ordinary working musicians saw a threat to their livelihoods. That has been the model for the tech industry: Disrupt and make quick cash for a few (already rich) investors and the lucky folks who found a cool app – but destroy the lives of tens of thousands of working people who had a decent middle-class life.

Napster was shut down; the entertainment industry has a lot of clout. The cab drivers of the world don’t.

Uber, Edelman notes, wasn’t the first to come up with the idea of offering rides through a smartphone app in private cars. That was Lyft. And Kalanick, who was doing a limo service at the time, was among the first to note that it was utterly illegal:

In a remarkable April 2013 posting, Kalanick all but admitted that casual drivers were unlawful, calling Lyft’s approach “quite aggressive” and “nonlicensed.” (After I first flagged his posting, in 2015, Uber removed the document from its site. But Archive.org kept a copy. I also preserved a screenshot of the first screen of the document, a PDF of the full document, and a print-friendly PDF of the full document.) And in oral remarks at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference in June 2013, Kalanick said every Lyft trip with a casual driver was “a criminal misdemeanor,” citing the lack of commercial licenses and commercial insurance.

More:

Given Kalanick’s statements, you might imagine that Uber would have filed a lawsuit or regulatory complaint, seeking to stop unfair competition from a firm whose advantage came from breaking the law. Instead, Uber adopted and extended Lyft’s approach. Others learned and followed: Knowing that Uber would use unlicensed vehicles, competitors did so too, lest they be left behind. In normalizing violations, therefore, Uber has shifted the entire urban transport business and set an example for other sectors.

No help from City Hall

When Uber and Lyft starting violating San Francisco’s law by running illegal taxis, I met with Chris Hayashi, who was the head of the city’s taxi commission. We sat in her office and she showed me a pink Lyft mustache that she’d bought online. Anyone could buy one, she said; anyone – including criminal predators – could pretend to be a cab driver.

There were reasons that the city had regulations about who could drive a taxi. Uber and Lyft were breaking those rules every single day, with impunity.

In an interview with the Examiner after she left her job, she noted:

Here I am, trying to steer the Titanic and someone hits me over the head with a baseball bat, is pretty much what the TNC issue is like,” Hayashi said. “We were about to clear, and all of a sudden here comes billions of dollars of venture capital for people who are willing to break every law in the book.”

She had no support in the Mayor’s Office, where Gavin Newsom and then Ed Lee were all about supporting tech innovations, no matter who got hurt.

I called Edelman, who has both a law degree and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, last week and we talked for about half an hour. He told me that the most common tech-industry response to his arguments is that the laws these companies are breaking were bad laws anyway, and that consumers were better off with Uber and Airbnb.

“But a lot of laws weren’t written just to protect buyers and sellers, but to protect third parties,” he said. Car-safety and pollution regulations aren’t just in place because they’re more convenient for drivers, many of whom would never voluntarily pay for them.

“Suppose you go into a parking lot and there are six handicap spots, and nobody is using them, and you are only going to be there for five minutes,” he said. “As an individual, you might say it’s dumb for all those parking spaces to not be available to you. But you still can’t park there.

“There might be conditions – a perfect, flat highway – where it would be safe for me to drive 95, but I still can’t.”

Edelman has been researching hotel fires from the 1940s, when large fatalities weren’t uncommon. “There are reasons that we put in place laws to protect strangers,” he said. “There are reasons hotels have extra exits, sprinklers, bedding that’s more fire resistant. Those rules are basically wise. And Airbnb would prefer to get rid of them.”

Nobody, Edelman says, “wants to pay extra for safety precautions. But if your taxi service doesn’t include a surcharge for wheelchair cabs, then there aren’t going to be any wheelchair cabs.”

A climate of lawbreaking

Edelman argues that allowing one or two companies to break that law is “contagious.” Which is exactly what’s happened in San Francisco.

In the past few years, under Mayor Lee, we have had a climate of consistent, repeated lawbreaking on a level that’s hard to imagine – and was almost never reported in the mainstream news media.

Landlords violated zoning laws to replace industrial jobs with tech offices – with impunity. Airbnb convinced more than 6,000 people in San Francisco to violate the short-term rental laws, every single day – and nobody did anything about it.

Tech companies on the Peninsula chartered private buses that parked in public Muni stops, where ordinary mortals would get a $275 ticket – and City Hall under Ed Lee had a “handshake deal” to look the other way.

Is it any surprise that landlords evict tenants for bogus “owner move-in” claims? Why not? This city never enforces its laws anyway.

Napster wasn’t legislated out of existence – what it was doing was already illegal. When the lawsuits started piling up, though, the company’s assets were soon less than its liabilities.

Edelman suggests that every city where Uber has illegally run taxis (and the same could be applied to Airbnb) should file suit and seek $1,000 in damages for every unlawful ride. That would be enough to force the companies to shut down.

It wouldn’t be the end of the model they have developed; it would just leave room for a service that follows that same model to do it legally.

The result wouldn’t be a cheap as Uber (or Napster) – but he argues that all of us, society as a whole, would be better off.

But making society better off doesn’t seem to be a part of the — yeah, let’s just say it — uber-capitalism that has been driving public policy in this city. It’s not just generic lawbreaking; it’s this idea that the rules don’t apply to the tech masters, because they are better than the rest of us. And that’s what needs to get disrupted.

Tags: UberCriminal Enterpriselawbreaking
Categories: Labor News

Kenya: Equal Pay for Equal Work? Kenyan Nurses Push the Envelope

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Sentinel
Categories: Labor News

Somalia: Somali journalist detained without charge

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IFJ
Categories: Labor News

Morgan Southern At LA Port fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

Current News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 10:31

Morgan Southern At LA Port fires trucker who spoke about 20-hour workdays

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/07/10/morgan-southern-fires-tru...

Brett Murphy, USA TODAY NetworkPublished 9:50 a.m. ET July 10, 2017 | Updated 11:51 a.m. ET July 11, 201

A USA TODAY Network investigation found a predatory scheme that ensnared thousands of immigrant truck drivers at the port. Scott Hall

Rene Flores lost his job, his truck and $60,000 he paid toward buying it after he spoke to reporters about working conditions

Rene Flores said he regularly broke the law as a port trucker in southern California, hauling shipping containers up to 20 hours straight between Long Beach and Phoenix.

He kept a fake logbook tucked beneath his seat so regulators wouldn’t know he was violating federal fatigue laws for commercial truckers.

He said his company paid him so little -- and charged so much for his leased truck -- that he had no choice.

Flores said his managers at Morgan Southern knew about his hours, but for years the trucking company looked the other way.

Then, the 36-year-old father of two talked publicly about his illegal hours in a USA TODAY Network story.

On June 17, the day after the story published, Morgan Southern fired him.

Flores couldn’t afford to pay off the $30,000 balance on his leased truck, so the company took that too. Flores lost $60,000 in lease payments he had made since 2013.

What happened to Flores is just the latest episode in a decade-long struggle that has seen hundreds of port truckers in California turned into modern-day indentured servants.

As the USA TODAY Network reported last month, many of these drivers say they were forced by their bosses to sign lease-to-own truck contracts, putting them in debt to their own employers. The trucks are so expensive – up to several thousand dollars a month for payments and maintenance – that some drivers say they have no choice but to work 15 to 20 hours a day.

As part of a yearlong investigation into port trucking, the USA TODAY Network interviewed Flores and reported his story. He said that he regularly worked up to 20 hours a day and that he used a fake log book to avoid detection by federal regulators.

“Of course they (his employers) know,” he was quoted as saying in the original story. “But the company doesn’t care.”

Robert Milane, a spokesman and lawyer for Morgan Southern’s parent company Roadrunner Transportation, confirmed that Flores’ public criticism, coupled with the fact that he refused to use electronic logbooks, forced the company to act.

“The fact that he stated that in his interview, we had no choice to terminate his lease,” Milane said.

“He brought this on himself.”

Milane also denied that Flores drove more than federal law permits. He said Morgan Southern’s electronic time logs prevent any driver from doing so.

“What he says wasn’t true,” Milane said. “I know he wasn’t running over hours.”

But Flores said he would simply switch over to paper logbooks when he knew he would be working past federal limits.

Another Morgan Southern driver, Jose Juan Rodriguez, told reporters in December that when he was still leasing his truck he, too, often drove well past the legal limit. "Many times,” he said, “we complain to the supervisor but we’re told that if we aren't willing to work, 'there is the door.'"

Since July, 2015, Morgan Southern has been cited 15 times for hours violations in California, according to Department of Transportation inspection reports.

Using California’s open records law, reporters obtained a port authority database that records the exact time a truck enters or exits the gate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

A USA TODAY Network analysis of the data shows that Flores’ truck was in operation for at least 14 hours without the required 10-hour break at least nine times between 2013 and 2015. That number is likely an undercount because one of his most frequent routes took at least 13 hours, meaning he wouldn’t pass through port gates enough to be flagged as working too long.

Other Morgan Southern trucks appear to have exceeded hours limits more than 500 times from 2013 to 2016, the data show. Three out of four of the company’s rigs went over hours at least once.

It is not clear whether these instances are violations because two drivers might divide time behind the wheel of a single truck.

Trucking experts and regulators say it can be a federal crime for company managers to knowingly send drivers on the road past federal limits.

Companies are responsible for tracking their workers’ hours, even if they’re classified as independent contractors, said Craig Weaver, a motor carrier safety specialist with the California Highway Patrol.

“They know how many hours their guys are working,” he said. “Or they should.”

Kelsey Frazier is a Teamster trustee and foreman at another California port trucking company, Pasha Hawaii. He said most companies have safety managers whose job is to track how long truckers have been on the road based on their pickups and drop offs, which get called into the office.

Frazier said companies should know if drivers are over on their hours because they control when drivers are dispatched.

“I can promise you the company is tracking this,” he said. “Because you’re liable if you don’t.”

Tags: LA PortTruckers discriminationsolidarityindependent contractors
Categories: Labor News

Chicago ATU 308 CTA rail union workers favor strike in preliminary vote "Our labor is our weapon."

Current News - Tue, 07/11/2017 - 08:23

Chicago ATU 308 CTA rail union workers favor strike in preliminary vote "Our labor is our weapon."
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-cta-strike-vote-071...
CTA

An outbound Green Line train approaches the 35th Street stop of the CTA 'L' on June 1, 2017, in Chicago. CTA rail workers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in a preliminary, unofficial vote, union representatives said on July 10, 2017. (John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune)
Mary Wisniewski Mary Wisniewski Contact Reporter
Chicago Tribune
Frustrated after 18 months of negotiations for a new contract, CTA rail workers have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a strike in a preliminary, unofficial vote, union representatives said Monday.

About a third of 3,000 union members cast their ballots last week, with 98 percent favoring a strike, said Kenneth Franklin, president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 308. Members of the union include those who operate "L" trains, janitors, track welders, car repairers and other rail system workers.

Franklin called the preliminary vote, which has not been tried before in Local 308 history, a "good litmus test" to sound out membership on the possibility of a strike. He could not say when an actual, official strike vote could be taken.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele said a strike would be illegal, under state law and the current collective bargaining agreement, which still applies even though it has expired. Franklin disagreed, noting that the union has consulted lawyers on the issue. Franklin said the Chicago Transit Authority's offers have been "disrespectful."

"Their proposals basically gut our rights," Franklin said. "One of the negotiators for the CTA has stated on more than one occasion that they're in the business of saving money."

One issue cited by the union is a CTA proposal to increase employee contributions to health care costs. "It's a real sore subject for our members," Franklin said.

Franklin said the union also wants better working conditions. He said the "swing shift," which has some operators working from 6 to 10 a.m. and then again from 2 to 6 p.m., compromises quality of life.

Franklin said the union also wants CTA President Dorval Carter and Chicago Transit Board Chairman Terry Peterson to participate in negotiations.

"I'm not afraid to discuss striking," Franklin said. "Our labor is our weapon."

Steele said swing shifts are necessary in transit, because peak hours of operation are during the morning and afternoon rush hours. He said the CTA is showing respect in negotiations and wants an "open dialogue" with the union. The transit agency requested arbitration last month.

"We have negotiated in good faith — fairly, openly and honestly," Steele said. He said the agency is looking at some practices and work rules that are "inefficient and costly."

Steele said CTA rail operators are among the highest-paid transit workers in the country and have "generous benefits." The average wage for a CTA rail operator ranges from $21.33 to $32.82 per hour.

CTA rail operators last went on strike in 1979, Franklin said.

The CTA bus driver union, ATU Local 241, said it "fully supports the positions taken by its sister Local 308 with respect to the bargaining process and its expression of frustration on behalf of the hardworking members of both locals." The union is also in negotiations for a new contract.

mwisniewski@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @marywizchicago

Tags: ATU 308Contractunion bustingstrikeRalm EmanuelCTA
Categories: Labor News

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Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

Current News - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 16:25

Chicago ATU 308 CTA train operators vote in favor of strike

http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

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The Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a srike, as contract negotiations continue.
By Sarah Schulte and Laura Podesta
Updated 1 hr 27 mins ago
CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Transit Authority train operators voted to authorize a strike, their union announced Monday, as contentious contract negotiations continue.

In response, CTA management claims that the union does not have the right to strike.

Working without a contract for 18 months, train operators have apparently had enough. Amalgamated Transit Union Lcal 308 is hoping a preliminary strike vote will put some pressure on negotiations with the CTA.

"We do not want to cause the city a heart attack, but our patience has worn out. Our anger is growing," said Kenneth Franklin, president of ATU Local 308.

One-third of union members participated in the vote, which was 98 percent in favor of strike. No strike date has been set.

Calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CTA President Dorval Carter to come to the negotiating table, the union accuses the city of being disrespectful by offering proposals that Local 308 says would increase part-time workers and diminish pensions.

Train operators said their jobs have never been more stressful.

"Now with the violence that is on the uprise, the homeless we deal with on a daily basis, it is stressful as an operator," said train operator Deborah Lane.

"You have to deal with human feces in the motor cars, you have to deal with drug needles, drug addicts on the train," operator Kevin Wilson said.

While CTA riders are sympathetic, many said a strike would be devastating for their daily lives.

"It would be extraordinarily difficult to get from this location down to the Loop everyday," said rider Melissa Urbanski.

"I would probably lose my job, If couldn't get to work," said Robert Neason, a CTA rider.

The CTA said a strike can't happen because the union contract prohibits its members for striking for any reason. They call the strike vote a publicity stunt.

The transit authority said workers are not being disrespected.

"Our operators are among the highest paid in the nation. They have great wages, good working environments, good benefits and generally supportive management," said Steve Mayberry, a CTA spokesman.

Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

July 10, 2017 - please forward

[warning: they're not neutral]
Statement on ABC’s coverage of today’s ATU 308 press conference

ABC at the git-go here attacks the union, going for a strategy of turning the riding public against ATU 308. Corporate media is not neutral in its reporting the news. It takes pains to turn other parts of the working class against the union. And they find their perfect interview:

"Probably lose my job, not being able to get to work. I have to ride the train. I live out south...two trains and a bus," said commuter Robert Neason. [abc7chicago]

This is why the labor movement in Chicago needs its own 21st-century media apparatus, and why it should not simply rely upon the corporate media to report things fairly. The worker quoted above would not face getting fired for missing his job due to conditions he can’t control, IF he had a strong union to represent him where he works. That is what this possible strike is really about: working people need a good union contract to protect them against unjust management decisions.

The CFL should make a public offer that it will send a union organizing team to the place where this unfortunate worker is employed, to make sure that it becomes unionized so that Robert Neason cannot be victimized unfairly if the ATU has a strike. And it would be best if the CFL also had its own robust media outlet to announce this, so that the statement isn’t undercut in some way.

The Chicago Federation of Labor had at one time its own radio station in the late 40s (WCFL) which reported on labor news, and also a newspaper, the Federation News. It has over the years allowed these two media resources to go defunct. Its sole strategy today is to rely on the ‘fairness’ of corporate media (a real throw of the dice!) and a handful of small-size social media-type pro-labor reporting outlets. It has neglected to develop any cable-tv series through utilizing the public access center CAN TV. The CFL has not invested over the years in beefing up its own, serious labor media defense strategy.

Although Labor Beat is a small media organization and is hardly the answer to filling in this gap, we would be glad to meet with and talk with any representatives of the CFL or ATU, or other unions and share what we know about producing a regular labor tv series and YouTube channel. We would also like to benefit from hearing the creative thinking on this from the rest of the labor movement.

This emerging situation over a possible ATU strike is a chance for all of us together to seriously drill down on this problem so that we are not left defenseless when ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox come after the transit union by using their media muscles to underhandedly torpedo organized labor.

In solidarity,

Larry Duncan
Labor Beat co-producer
www.laborbeat.org

abc7chicago report:
http://abc7chicago.com/traffic/cta-train-operators-set-to-announce-resul...

Labor Beat’s report: ATU 308 Preliminary Strike Vote
https://youtu.be/rrvib4rLpYo

Tags: ATU 308right to strikeRahm Emanuelunion bustingcontract fightAmalgamated Transit Union
Categories: Labor News

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