First NYC TWU 100 MTA bus driver arrested under ‘Vision Zero’ shouldn’t have been: lawyer
By Daniel Prendergast
July 6, 2015 | 2:10am
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It’s more like zero vision.
The first city bus driver arrested for killing a pedestrian under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” policy never should have been cuffed, according to her lawyer, citing a MTA report obtained by The Post.
A broken street lamp made it nearly impossible for the veteran driver to see the man, who was on methadone at the time, the document shows.
Driver Theresa Gallagher, 62, was “put in a cell like a mugger” for fatally running over the man in the dark South Bronx intersection in October thanks to the initiative, which allows drivers to be slapped with misdemeanor charges when a pedestrian is killed crossing with the light.
“[The Bronx DA’s Office] made her surrender three months later, and they met her in the lobby of the courthouse, and they cuffed her,” said Gallagher’s lawyer, Michael Armenti.
“They had her in a cellblock, and I was sitting outside trying to accompany this nice little lady who was just utterly devastated and had no idea what was going on,” he added.
Gallagher had a green light and was making a left turn onto East 147th Street from Willis Avenue when she struck 64-year-old John Lavery, the MTA report states. But there’s no way she could have seen him in the early-morning darkness because of the faulty street lamp, Armenti said.
Photo: Victor Alcorn
“You can actually see him disappear into the shadow created by the street lamp that wasn’t working,” he said, referring to surveillance video that captured the grisly death.
“The impression that the video leaves with you is that there is no way that she could have seen him.”
The 25-year veteran driver stayed at the scene after the accident. The cops who responded to investigate determined that Gallagher had been going between 11 and 15 mph. She tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
Meanwhile, an autopsy showed that Lavery, who was in the crosswalk and had the right of way, had methadone and other substances in his system, according to the report.
The MTA concluded that Gallagher’s actions most likely caused the accident, but acknowledged that the broken street lamp contributed to Lavery’s death.
“The law has created a situation where bus operators that were not acting recklessly or negligently were arrested and treated like common thugs,’’ said John Samuelsen, president of the Transit Workers Union Local 100, which represents Gallagher.
Since Vision Zero took effect, six bus drivers have been arrested under the law.
The City Council is now floating a bill that would amend the law to make a bus driver exempt as long as it’s determined that he or she did not act recklessly. The state Senate OK’d similar legislation last month.
Delegates to the ILWU’s 36th convention in Hawaii debated union policy and made plans for the future during five days of meetings that emphasized unity over differences.
History & tradition
The group of 360 delegates joined together with 35 ILWU Pensioner and Auxiliary “fraternal” delegates, along with a host of invited guests. On the opening day, delegates met in the Sheraton Waikiki hotel in Honolulu, Oahu, where ceremonies began with ILWU International President Robert McEllrath inviting Local 142 President Donna Domingo to the podium, thanking her and the host committee for their two years of hard work preparing for the convention.
Domingo explained that they wanted delegates to experience some of Hawaii’s culture and traditions then introduced artist Aaron Sala and Local 142 member Kumu Hula Keola Kapu. The pair offered a traditional Hawaiian blessing for the convention, with Sala recounting an island legend about service, commitment and community that inspired the blessing.
Dozens of musicians from Hawaii’s Royal Band were on hand at the opening ceremony to play the national anthems of the United States, Canada and Panama. The Royal Band is a unique public treasure in Hawaii that was founded 175 years ago by King Kamehameha III, and performs 300 times a year.
ILWU International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado introduced another special guest, Hawaii Governor David Ige. The Governor welcomed delegates, acknowledged the importance of labor unions, and concluded by recalling the summers he spent working as a young man in a pineapple processing plant where the ILWU contract meant he and other workers were paid fairly.
ILWU International President Robert McEllrath returned to the podium – after receiving a gracious introduction by International Secretary- Treasurer Willie Adams – to deliver a speech outlining his views on the critical issues facing ILWU members.
McEllrath began by thanking his wife and family members who were asked to stand and received a long round of applause, then acknowledged the contributions of his fellow officers: Vice Presidents Ray Familathe and Wesley Furtado, Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams, and Coast Committeemen Ray Ortiz, Jr., and Leal Sundet. He then invited delegates to view a short video featuring dramatic highlights from ILWU struggles during the previous eight years. After the video, he noted that the union could not have endured so many challenges without strong support from rank-and-file members and dedicated local officers.
“If it’s true that fighting in these struggles makes us stronger, then we must be Hercules by now!” said McEllrath. He recalled the frustration of dealing with other unions when ILWU members were locked-out by big grain companies in the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s pretty hard to get a contract when other unions are walking through your picket lines,” he noted. McEllrath said the decision to leave the AFL-CIO, initiated by delegates at the previous 2012 convention, was correct, but said ILWU locals should remain active with other unions in their communities. “We are out of the AFL-CIO, but not out of the labor movement,” he reminded delegates.
McEllrath then addressed the recently concluded longshore contract, noting that employers had fired many workers and curtailed operations during the conflict – then blamed workers for the resulting congestion.
The contract settlement doesn’t mean the struggle is over, he said, pointing to new legislation being introduced in Congress that aims to weaken longshore union bargaining power in future contracts.
McEllrath said the proposed legislation would re-write federal labor laws by requiring regular monitoring of production levels at West Coast ports – and give state governors new power to threaten union members with court injunctions in order to maintain productions levels during a contract dispute.
“They’re coming after us, saying ‘you can’t stop work at the ports.’ They want to take away your power on the docks. This is one of the most draconian things that we’ve seen in the labor movement, and we’re going to fight it as long as we can.”
The way forward, said McEllrath, is both simple and challenging because it requires unity and support from all union members: “We’ve all got to do our jobs, maintain our jurisdiction, fight the employers and outsmart them.”
After the President’s speech, convention delegates adjourned to begin working on a committee of their own choosing. Unlike many unions, the ILWU’s democratic tradition allows individual delegates to choose which committee they will serve on. The most popular committees were Resolutions and Constitution & Programs.
Both committees heard a wide variety of proposals for new policies and procedures. In order to be considered for a vote by delegates on the convention floor, proposed resolutions were first required to win support from a majority of local union members or a majority of local union delegates attending the convention. Then each resolution was thoroughly explained, debated, amended and subject to an up or down vote in one of the committees before finally reaching the convention floor.
This requirement meant some committee meetings went late into the night to consider all of the proposed resolutions. A total of 46 proposed resolutions were heard by the Committees and most – but not all – of the proposals went on to the convention floor for further consideration by delegates.
Trade unionists from around the world attended the ILWU convention in Hawaii – part of the union’s long tradition of international solidarity – which included the following special guests:
Chris Cain, Secretary of the Western Branch, Maritime Union of Australia, explained how their union has experienced dynamic growth and involved young members into their leadership. Growing recently from 1,000 to 5,000 members, the Western Branch is being challenged by powerful employers, including Chevron. He noted the need to be politically involved and constantly organizing new members.
Stephen Cotton, General Secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), a global network of 700 unions in 150 different countries. Cotton has served as an ITF staffer for 22 years and was recently elected to the top position. Paddy Crumlin, National Secretary for the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) also serves as President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF). In Australia, the MUA is facing an anti-union government that has been waging war against workers.
Rogue operators, including ICTSI, are investing in Australian ports. In the country’s Northwest, giant corporations including Chevron are exploiting the country’s resources, threatening to undermine worker standards, and suing MUA members for over $20 million dollars because of a safety dispute. Crumlin’s leadership at the ITF has helped to coordinate actions on behalf of 4 million workers around the globe.
Joe Fleetwood, General Secretary of the Maritime Union of New Zealand, recently helped the MUNZ membership conclude a bitter anti-union campaign in which the Ports of Auckland, Limited, sought to “casualize” dockworkers by turning good union jobs into junk jobs. The ILWU and other unions mobilized quickly for solidarity rallies and marches, but the dispute required a three-year battle before an agreement was reached.
Marc Loridan, Federal Secretary for the Ports of Belgium Transport Workers Union, known as the BTB, is a frequent participant in global solidarity efforts but their union faces challenges at home from anti-union politicians who have been pushing a big business agenda to weaken unions, lower labor standards, and give more power to management. In 2013, BTB workers went on strike for 6 days after employers tried to conceal the hiring of nonunion, low-wage workers who were secretly performing union warehouse work near the docks.
Kozo Matsumoto, President of Zenkowan, the All-Japan Dockworkers Union, leads a militant, democratic, and progressive union that recently engaged in a series of one-day port strikes and provided critical support for ILWU Pacific Beach Hotel workers to reach their first contract settlement.
In a gesture that has become an important tradition, President Matsumoto brought a “Friendship and Solidarity Statement” from Zenkowan that was signed by him and ILWU President Robert McEllrath in front of delegates.
Niek Stam, General Secretary of the Dutch dockworkers union (FVN) led a successful 7-year battle to recover pension funds that were stolen from workers through an insurance swindle. With help from the ILWU and other unions, the FVN was able to eventually recover $260 million that helped restore retirement plansfor workers. Stam is also an expert about the impact of new technology on dockworkers because the ports in Holland employ some of the world’s most automated systems Steve Todd, National Secretary of Britain’s Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers’ Union (RMT), assumed his post last year, following the untimely death of Bob Crow, the dynamic militant leader who died suddenly at the age of 52. Now Todd is leading efforts to help British union members in a challenging environment where anti-union politicians are increasingly common.
Each of the special guests was presented with a bronze sculpture of an ILWU cargo hook, hand-crafted by the talented artist and Local 19 pensioner Ron Gustin. He has exhibited work ingalleries up and down the coast, and Produced 16 sculptures that were presented at the convention, each requiring more than a dozen steps to complete the unique works of art.
Global solidarity within the ILWU’s own ranks was demonstrated with exciting growth in the new Panama Division. International Vice President Ray Familathe explained how the connections between the ILWU and Panama Canal Pilots Union were first established during the 2002 lockout, when the ILWU longshore negotiating committee was seeking international support and met Londor Rankin of the Panama Canal Pilots Union. During the years that followed, Familathe and President McEllrath encouraged discussions of a possible alliance, and in September of 2011 the Panama Canal Pilots voted to affiliate with the ILWU and the new Panama Division was established.
The Pilots are now trying to negotiate a new contract with the Panama Canal Authority, which has been resisting a fair settlement. Members of the Pilots Union, including Secretary-General Raniero Salas, explained their contract struggle to convention delegates who responded with a strong showing of support by unanimously adopting a solidarity resolution.
The Panama Division has also been busy building solidarity at home by assisting dockworkers employed by Panama Ports. These dockworkers finally succeeded in forming their own independent union after rejecting a “yellow union” imposed by their employer. Dockworkers had to first win a long fight to hold an election, then found the voting process was rigged in favor of the company’s yellow union. That’s when ILWU leaders joined with the Panama Division to support an honest and open election process. When that finally happened, dockworkers at Panama Ports voted for their own independent SINTRAPORSPA union led by Secretary-General Alberto Ochoa. On December 30, 2014, SINTRAPORSPA and the ILWU signed an affiliation agreement welcoming 2850 dockworkers into the Panama Division.
After explaining this background, Vice President Familathe provided a warm introduction for SINTRAPOR who delivered his remarks in Spanish that were translated by Secretary-General Raniero Salas of the Pilots Union.
Ochoa said he brought greetings from his fellow dockworkers in Panama who just won their first independent union contract that will raise pay by 35% over the next four years, crediting the ILWU Panama Division for helping to make it possible. He noted that Panama Ports, owned by Hong Kong based Hutchinson Port Holdings, had been trying to outsource jobs which will require continued vigilance and support in order to maintain the new union’s jurisdiction.
“The ILWU has been instrumental in growing our union in Panama. We are grateful for the support you have provided us and hope to continue receiving your help which has given us great results,” said Ochoa.
During a break in the convention schedule, a good-natured surfing contest was held between MUA President Paddy Crumlin and ILWU President Bob McEllrath, who both waded into the water at beautiful Waikiki and paddled out to the surf line. They returned after both caught waves and each incurred minor foot injuries from the sharp coral that makes Waikiki waves break so smoothly over the reef. After some debate, Crumlin was declared the contest winner but immediately donated his board to ILWU Local 142 members.
New organizing challenges Convention delegates heard two detailed organizing reports, one for Hawaii and the other covering the mainland, with both emphasizing the challenges involved with organizing new workers.
International Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado delivered the Hawaii organizing report, explaining that 85% of their union campaigns have resulted in a first contract. He also noted that employers are changing tactics to make organizing more difficult by hiring workers online instead of conducting open interviews for new hotels. In the past, union organizers could go to interview sites with clipboards where “one-on-one,” and had union authorization cards ready for workers to sign. Now the union must rely more on family and friends to contact hotel workers who are hired online. Furtado said organizers try to sign up at least 70-80% of the workers in a new shop, to ensure a safe margin and overcome the employer’s anti-union campaigning.
He concluded by recognizing the staff and member organizers of Local 142 who he said have been doing an excellent job. International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe also praised his International organizing team for their hard work and dedication. He noted several recent campaigns that illustrate the challenges and opportunities facing ILWU organizing efforts on the mainland, beginning with a strategic campaign to help recycling industry workers in Alameda County win industry-leading wages and benefits.
He said the effort began with a campaign to improve existing contracts covering more than 200 Local 6 workers, and has now expanded to help non-union workers at Alameda County Industries organize and join the union.
All the campaigns required lengthy, difficult fights with multiple strikes and dozens of job actions, but workers have now secured wages that will soon pay almost $21 an hour with excellent benefits.
Familathe also pointed to joint organizing projects with the Inlandboatmen’s Union, involving strategic targets such as the first successful tugboat organizing campaign on the West Coast in 20 years, and an ongoing campaign to help fuel dock workers organize in Dutch Harbor Alaska. Even campaigns to help small units, such as the Port of Anacortes or workers at Harbor Dental, frequently involve lengthy, complex campaigns to win recognition and first contracts. He noted the recent effort to help workers organize at Catalina Express, where a strong union campaign effort was overwhelmed by aggressive anti-union consultants, concluding that these efforts frequently require multiple campaigns over many years to succeed.
Convention delegates continued debating policy resolutions throughout the remaining hours, but one of the more poignant proposals to reach the floor celebrated seven decades of union service by ILWU member LeRoy King. This was the first convention since the 1940’s that King was unable to attend, so many speakers noted his exceptional absence and praised his lifelong commitment to the union. The resolution honoring King passed unanimously after many heartfelt testimonials, including one from San Francisco IBU Regional Director Marina Secchitano who was unable to hold back tears as she described King’s role as her mentor who taught her about the union that he loved so much. After the resolution passed, King was informed by telephone of the resolution honoring his lifetime of service, while resting in his San Francisco home. The news gave him great comfort and joy, according to Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Fred Pecker, who placed the call just one day before King passed peacefully in his sleep.
Pensioners & Auxiliary
After all the resolutions had been heard, Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams called Pacific Coast Pensioner President Rich Austin, Jr. to the podium, followed by Auxiliary President Ida Taylor. Adams praised both for their leadership and important organizational roles.
Austin, Jr. invited everyone to the upcoming Pensioners Convention in San Francisco on September 7-9, and finished his remarks with a reminder.
“There are a whole lot of people in this world who work hard, but don’t have the ILWU to support them. And that’s our challenge. We’re supposed to organize the unorganized. That’s what we do with our good fortune. We pensioners stand ready, to be of service whenever called upon. Pupukahi holomua – united we progress!”
Ida Taylor thanked the officers and delegates for hosting the convention, and conveyed warm regards from past Auxiliary President Carolyn Williams who was unable to attend this year’s convention. She also thanked everyone who purchased raffle tickets for the beautiful ILWU quilt assembled by Auxiliary volunteers up and down the coast that was raffled on July 5 in Coos Bay Oregon. Taylor said that Auxiliary members will be organizing and educating in the months and years ahead, and encouraged all delegates to “bring your families and have them join our Auxiliary!”
The process of nominating candidates for International office was next on the agenda, with President Robert McEllrath, Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams, Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe and Vice President (Hawaii) Wesley Furtado, all being nominated without opposition. Candidates were also nominated for the International Executive Board and Trustee positions. All candidates will appear on a ballot being mailed to members on July 27.
The final round of comments from the floor included words of appreciation from ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko. He noted that ILWU Canada members will be celebrating their 80th anniversary of the 1935 strike at Ballantyne Pier on June 18. He reminded delegates that the strike itself was broken, but workers went on to form their union and join the ILWU 12 years later. He also said it had been a pleasure to work with the International officers during his term on the Executive Board. He concluded by thanking Local 142 President Donna Domingo and all Local 142 members on behalf of the entire Canadian delegation, saying, “thank you very much for how well you treated us here. It’s been a great= Convention!”
Domingo responded by recognizing John Bush from Local 200 in Alaska, who with members of Local 514 in British Columbia, donated salmon that fed almost 1000 delegates and guests at a BBQ dinner earlier in the week. “With all people coming together, Local 142 was very happy with how the convention turned out,” she said.
As President McEllrath rose to the podium for the last time, he thanked the Hawaii delegation once more for doing such a fine job of planning all the details that made the convention enjoyable, including a memorable banquet, BBQ dinner and cultural evening – plus sightseeing events for spouses. He also called up the staff and volunteers from Local 142 and the International Union to the front of the room where they were recognized for making the convention run smoothly.
“Staying here in Hawaii has been gorgeous,” said McEllrath, “and I’d like to leave you with a couple of thoughts. It’s the ILWU way that we sometimes get upset at each other. If anybody’s feelings were hurt, I apologize.
But, this is why we’re tough, why we’re the ILWU. We fight it out here, then we go home. And when we go home, we’re united. We’re united right now. We’re going to stay united. So thank you brothers and sisters. This has been a hell of a week. The next convention will be in Portland, Oregon in 2018.”
Canadian Ottawa Taxi drivers so angry about Uber 'it’s going to be out of control,' union leader warns
Canadian Ottawa Taxi drivers so angry about Uber 'it’s going to be out of control,' union leader warns
Published on: July 6, 2015 | Last Updated: July 6, 2015 5:39 PM EDT
OTT0212(2008)-(OTTAWA)-TAXI-Vanier Parkway at Montreal Rde--a convoy of taxis arrived at city hall this morning to protest the decision by city council to have them install expensive in-cab security cameras--for CITY standalone. PHOTO by PAT McGRATH, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN (CANWEST NEWS SERVICES) ASSIGNMENT NO. 88629 ----taxis; cabs; rally; demonstration PAT MCGRATH / THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
Ottawa’s cabbies are so furious over the city’s slack treatment of car-hiring company Uber that they’re practically out of control, the leader of the union at Capital Taxi said Monday.
Georges Chamoun had just come from a meeting with Mayor Jim Watson and other city officials. He and the leaders of union units at Ottawa’s other taxi companies want more charges laid against drivers who use Uber to find paying passengers without having taxi-driving licences or the city-issued plates that are deliberately kept scarce to make sure driving cabs pays decently.
“We’re looking for more enforcement to the bylaw at the municipality level,” Chamoun said, standing in a semicircle of about eight taxi-union leaders in the atrium at City Hall. Uber began operating in Ottawa last fall and the bylaw department has laid dozens of charges against its drivers since, but it’s not enough, he said.
“We are doing all the steps before the drivers, before we will lose control (of) what the drivers are going to do in the future,” Chamoun said. “They’re not listening to us anymore, the drivers. They don’t believe that we are doing enough and we are not fast enough to get out of this crisis, because the past nine months they’ve been suffering. They’ve been losing money. They can’t any more keep up with their bills, with their mortgages. They all have families and I can see it, that in the near future, is there is not any more control. We cannot control them any more. They’re going to go on the street. They’re going to, I don’t know. I don’t know. We heard it a lot from many drivers, they’re going to go out on the street and it’s going to be out of control.”
Licensed, plate-holding cabbies have usually made big investments in their occupations: the plates that let them drive taxis legally can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The city issues them but lets them be bought and sold rather than returned when a cabbie leaves the industry. Drivers who own their own plates or pay steep monthly rents to drive have a lot at stake if they can be undercut by plateless Uber drivers.
The cabbies want more bylaw enforcement and more involvement by the police (whose enforcement of the separate Highway Traffic Act can lead to stiffer punishments). Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, who chairs the police-services board, said the bylaw and police departments have worked together on blitzes and stings and will continue to. He’ll talk to Chief Charles Bordeleau about other ways they can co-operate, he said.
“I feel for them, I really do,” he said of the taxi drivers. He’s regularly “swarmed” at church by drivers who want to know what the city’s doing about bandit cabs, Uber and not.
The cabbies also want louder support from the city for legislation at Queen’s Park to toughen the system, Chamoun and the others with him said.
Two private-member’s bills that would do that are stalled in the provincial legislature because it doesn’t sit in the summer. They’re both from Ottawa MPPs, the Liberals’ John Fraser and the Progressive Conservatives’ Lisa MacLeod. Among other things, they would let bylaw officers give tickets that include demerit points, which now only police officers can.
As it stands, the city’s bylaw regulating the taxi industry clearly forbids private drivers’ picking up passengers and driving them for money. The city’s secured guilty pleas under it from drivers who’ve used Uber to find those paying passengers. But the legal status of Uber as a company isn’t as clear. It insists it’s a technology company, not a taxi brokerage, and not covered by any city rules.
A court ruling last week, interpreting Toronto’s similar bylaw, agreed with that. Uber is more like a phone company that relays messages back and forth, not a taxi company that takes calls and dispatches drivers, Judge Sean Dunphy ruled.
“Our mayor took a strong position against Uber,” said Amrik Singh, the leader of the union covering all of Ottawa’s cabbies, standing next to Chamoun. “He told us he’s going to say in the open that Uber is operating illegally and he will do anything to stop Uber from operating in the City of Ottawa.”
Well, sort of.
“Mayor Watson was very clear in today’s meeting that Uber is operating in violation of the city’s bylaw,” his spokesman Brook Simpson said. “Representatives from the taxi industry were reassured that the city’s bylaw officers will continue to enforce the laws as they are written. Mayor Watson also told those present today that he is urging the provincial government to pass John Fraser’s bill and that the city will do what it can, within its given powers, to enforce its bylaws.”
The city’s just about to embark on a review of its taxi bylaw.
“My instinct is to approach this in the role of the regulator,” said Coun. Diane Deans, who chairs the city council committee that regulates the taxi industry. “It’s not primarily to protect the way the taxi industry is currently operating. It’s to ensure that the safety of the public and consumer protection are paramount,” she said. Nobody inspects Uber drivers’ cars or makes sure they’re insured, for instance.
“Beyond that, I think the public will drive this industry and the changes that will go forward. So to a certain extent the industry has to recognize this is a disruptive technology and it’s not going away any time soon and there are going to have to be some changes,” Deans said.
"No Peace, No Work," 2008 Mayday Longshore Strike Against the War Seattle ILWU Local 19 Stops Work Against Iraq War
"No Peace, No Work," 2008 Mayday Longshore Strike Against the War Seattle ILWU Local 19 Stops Work Against Iraq War
Uploaded on Jun 4, 2008
It was a moment without historical precedent, American workers striking against a war that their government is waging. On Mayday this year, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) shut down every port on the west coast of the United Stated--all 26 of them--in opposition to the US war against the people of Iraq. A few weeks back we reported on the struggle of Iraqi labor unions in the Basra area, who are fighting against the privatization of Iraqi ports and oil fields. As US missiles rained down on their houses, and the puppet government tried to arrest union leaders, they called for international solidarity and support from organized labor. The ILWU answered that cry bigtime. Now, on "Indymedia Presents" ----we bring you a report of the Mayday strike that completely shut down every port on the west coast for at least 8 hours. Longshoremen stayed off the job and in major port cities they marched, proud, in their union jackets, banners unfurled. In response, dock workers in Iraq shut down the port there for two hours. It was like a blinking signal light on a distant shore at night, acknowledging that the message of solidarity had been received.
The Seattle Times reported that "dozens" of dock workers protested in Seattle. In our report you can clearly see the demonstration is 5 lanes wide, stretching back past the focus of the camera. There were "dozens" just in the first row or two. PepperSpray was there to document this heroic moment. It was a bit of a cinematographer's dilemma: how do you show something like a stop work situation, where the story is "something's NOT happening." We arrived at the hall early and union members showed us where to get beautiful shots of the idle port. Later we captured the march, the music, the mood. We're proud of the ILWU, and it shows in this report.
Be the Media!
Public Access producers, community screeners, and IMCs (Independent Media Centers) are encouraged to screen or air "Indymedia Presents". To obtain the show on a regular basis, please contact us, Pepperspray Productions, at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: ILWU Local 19Iraq War Work Stoppage
Teamster Retirees’ Campaign Against Pension Cuts Draws Support from Bernie Sanders
MONDAY, JUL 6, 2015, 3:36 PM
Teamster Retirees’ Campaign Against Pension Cuts Draws Support from Bernie Sanders
BY BRUCE VAIL
Over 100 Teamsters from across the country recently protested possible pension cuts at a meeting of the Teamster Central States Pension Fund. tdu.org
Less than six months after getting started, a grassroots campaign among Teamsters union retirees to protect their pensions appears to be picking up steam, attracting the support of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and threatening to influence the outcome of the union’s own leadership elections next year.
The retirees are demonstrating in the streets and barraging members of Congress in outrage over a slow-moving plan to cut their pension benefits. Such cuts were authorized by special legislation—the Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 (MPRA)—passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama late last year. One leader of the campaign against the cuts estimates that thousands of union retirees could see their pension slashed by as much a 30 percent by the end of this year.
The campaign against cuts has seen “a big change in the six months since we started,” says Bob Amsden, a retired truck driver from the Milwaukee area. Since organizing work began in January, some 23 local committees of pensioners have been formed across the Midwest, he says. The work has been strongly supported by the union reform organization Teamsters for a Democratic Union, he adds, as well as by the Washington, D.C.-based Pension Rights Center. Some support is also building in Congress to repeal the new pension law.
In the highest-profile action yet, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Independent-Vt.) held a press conference June 18 to introduce repeal legislation.
“If we do not repeal this disastrous law, retirees all over this country could see their pensions cut by 30 percent or more. We cannot let that happen. Instead of asking retirees to take a massive cut in their pension benefits, we can make these plans solvent by closing egregious loopholes that allow the wealthiest Americans in this country to avoid paying their fair share of taxes,” Sanders said.
The Sanders repeal bill was immediately endorsed by the elected leaders of the Teamsters, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
IAM spokesperson Frank Larkin tells In These Times that the Machinists “were one of the loudest opponents” of the pension bill last year and will continue its opposition now by supporting the Sanders bill. “This law should be the concern of every union. When you open this door [to large pension cuts], we are all at risk,” he says.
The immediate threat to union retirees like Amsden is that the new law will be used to authorize cuts from the financially troubled Central States Pension Fund, a joint labor-management organization that administers pensions on behalf of more than 400,000 Teamster members and retirees. The MPRA law allows such cuts from any union pension fund, subject to government approval, if pension administrators can demonstrate that the fund is in danger of insolvency unless the cuts are made. Officials of Central States have made clear that the fund faces precisely this kind of danger and that cuts may be coming.
Recognizing the political sensitivity of the issue, the Obama administration took steps in June to deflect any potential criticism. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced June 17 that he is appointing New York lawyer Kenneth Feinberg to oversee any pension cuts to ensure there is a “balanced process” in determining which retirees suffer. Feinberg became prominent a decade ago as administrator for claims by the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and more recently played a prominent role in awarding compensation claims in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster and the General Motors ignition switch scandal.
Feinberg may well become the lightning rod for criticism as the process move forward. Amsden tells In These Times that his group is agitating for a Congressional hearing, or a Congressional investigation, into the Central States Fund. Congress should look especially at lavish compensation to fund administrators and extravagant fees to financial advisers, he says, so that improper payments can be retrieved to benefit pensioners. Meetings with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) give him hope that the Senate will hold hearings, Amsden says.
Meanwhile, the potential pension cuts are emerging as an issue in the internal Teamsters presidential election set for next year, Amsden continues.
A major challenge to incumbent union President Jim Hoffa is already underway by Tim Sylvester, president of Teamsters Local 804 in New York. The Sylvester campaign—also backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union—is currently collecting signatures from union members so the candidate and his slate can be accredited as official opponents of the incumbent administration.
Some of the pension activists are rallying to Sylvester’s support, Amsden says, because they feel that Hoffa did not do enough to protect pensions when the MPRA legislation was being considered last year. Retirees do not have the right to vote in union elections, “but that doesn’t mean we can’t campaign,” he says. And many Teamsters who can vote are just as concerned about their pensions as the retirees, he adds.
“They’re scared” that the pension issue will hurt their chances for re-election, according to Amsden, referring to Hoffa and other elected union leaders.Tags: IBTPensions
ATU Transit Union Head Applauds Bernie Sanders
Election 2016: As Labor Grapples With Candidate Endorsements, Transit Union Head Applauds Bernie Sanders
By Cole Stangler @colestangler email@example.com on July 07 2015 8:15 AM EDT
Transit union president Larry Hanley, pictured here, breaks labor leaders' silence on 2016. Image courtesy Amalgamated Transit Union
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., says he wants to fight the “billionaire class," the signature phrase of a presidential campaign that's thrived by pitting beleaguered American workers against the rich and powerful. And as the self-described socialist continues his steady rise in the polls against Democratic primary opponent and presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, he’s winning support from the American underdogs par excellence: trade unionists.
No major unions have made White House endorsements, and the national AFL-CIO has yet to formally back a candidate. Still, a couple of state labor federations have passed resolutions backing Sanders’ bid (even though they were rebuked in an AFL-CIO memo for breaching the federation’s endorsement process); thousands of rank-and-file union members have signed up with the grassroots Labor for Bernie network; and last week, the recently retired head of one of the nation’s largest unions joined Bernie’s campaign team as a volunteer.
In a recent interview with International Business Times -- before the AFL-CIO fired off its warning memo last week -- the head of the nation’s largest transit union cheered Sanders’ “willingness to get outside the bubble.” The Amalgamated Transit Union’s Larry Hanley did not endorse the senator, and the union, which represents some 200,000 people, hasn’t decided whom to back yet. But the ATU's Hanley credited Sanders for raising the sorts of problems, beyond bread-and-butter labor ones, that he says hurt American workers: things like unnecessary military spending, environmental degradation and prohibitively costly college tuition. Hanley becomes the first president of a major union to weigh in publicly -- and candidly -- about the Democratic primary matchup.
“This model doesn’t work,” said the outspoken labor leader in a wide-ranging conversation about national politics and the 2016 campaign. “It’s not working for our unions, it’s not working for our members, it’s not working for our people and we have to change the model. It’s not enough for us to just put our logo up on some candidate who’s gonna stand up for the status quo.”
“We are at a critical point in our history because our economy is inevitably going to be crippled by this ridiculous war spending, and our environment is teetering on the brink of disaster every day, and these are issues that have been neglected or made worse by the policies of the neocons, which obviously, includes people on both sides of the political aisle.”
Hillary Clinton vs Bernie Sanders | InsideGov
In particular, Hanley praised Sanders’ support for free education at four-year public universities -- a plan that Clinton has not endorsed.
“Everybody running for president should just check that box; it shouldn’t be a hard one, but I’m waiting to see if they will,” he said. “Certainly anybody who’s running in the party that claims to represent average working people ought to be saying, ‘Yeah, you know what? There’s no reason why we have to burden our kids with debt, why we have to make them come out of college with something comparable to a mortgage to pay before they get a job.’ I mean, come on, this stuff is obvious.”
“We live in a bubble of false discussion, and both sides, Democrats and Republicans, refuse to break out of that bubble,” Hanley continued. “I think Bernie has shown more of a willingness to get outside the bubble, outside the box and have those discussions. As a consequence of that, I think he’s a very good addition to the race. I think hopefully that he will encourage people in the Democratic Party to remember where they came from and remember their roots.”
At the same time, Hanley offered some praise for Clinton. A former bus driver from the New York City borough of Staten Island, Hanley rose through the ranks of the transit union before his election to the top office in 2010. As he was serving as president of his New York City local, in 2000, he supported the then-first lady’s successful Senate campaign. “I have a long history of fond affection for Hillary Clinton -- she has stood up and done many things in her lifetime of a historic nature,” he said. Nevertheless, Hanley added -- with a flair of ambiguity -- “the truth as I know it is much more frequently expressed by Bernie, and even more than Bernie, by Elizabeth Warren.”
But unions are in a pickle: Is it worth getting behind the underdog or does it make more sense to accept conventional wisdom and plan accordingly? After all, “if the election’s between Hillary and just about any one of the Republicans that have come forward,” Hanley said, “it’s gonna look like heaven and hell.”
“I’m going to confess to being conflicted, and I think as a matter of fact, the whole labor movement is conflicted over this,” Hanley said. “While we see Bernie being a champion for many of our issues, we’re anguished waiting on Hillary to take the lead on that, too.”
In the ATU at least, Hanley said, leaders are expressing more frustration with the general political climate than during the last open Democratic presidential primary. (Exasperation, in general, jibes more with Sanders’ calls for “political revolution” than Clinton’s mild-mannered liberalism.) In 2007, a few years before Hanley took over the reins, the union endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, eventually spending more than $70,000 on her failed primary campaign.
“People are united in the notion that we can’t accept the status quo, that the Democratic Party no longer is the party of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it’s more like the party of Nelson Rockefeller and the Republicans are more like the party of the Ku Klux Klan. That’s kinda the way America’s shifted,” he said. “There is a boil going on right under the surface in America and the advantage Bernie has, by being willing to talk about this kind of stuff, is that he may just make that pot boil over.”Tags: atuLarry HanleyBernie Sanders
Uber Seeks Police Protection in Johannesburg Local taxi drivers have coerced some Uber users to ride in their cars instead
Uber Seeks Police Protection in Johannesburg
Local taxi drivers have coerced some Uber users to ride in their cars instead
Uber has amassed its $41 billion valuation by upending the heavily regulated taxi marketplace, expanding into 57 countries in six years. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS
By PATRICK MCGROARTY And ALEXANDRA WEXLER
July 6, 2015 2:02 p.m. ET
JOHANNESBURG—Uber Technologies Inc. on Monday asked police to protect drivers and passengers using its ride-sharing service from taxi drivers in South Africa’s biggest city, who have lashed out at a company they say is cutting into their business.
“Recent intimidation...only underlines why people are increasingly choosing safe, reliable alternatives like Uber,” the San Francisco-based company wrote on its website.
Several Uber users reported being harassed into taking metered taxis in Johannesburg’s business district Sunday and Monday instead of the cars they had hailed via Uber’s smartphone app.
“They said Uber as a non-African organization was taking a significant cut of the business away from locals,” Roheid Ojageer, an analyst at a health-care nonprofit, said of the taxi drivers who coerced him to ride in one of their cars Sunday evening at three times the fare Uber charges.
Uberpop uses drivers without professional licenses, allowing it to offer lower prices.
Dozens of metered taxi drivers also protested Friday outside Uber’s offices in Johannesburg, after city officials said they wanted Uber to comply with affirmative action legislation here meant to overcome decades of racial discrimination under white-minority rule.
Uber says many of its 2,000 drivers in South Africa come from groups discriminated against under apartheid. The company is also fighting a licensing dispute in Cape Town, where officials have impounded hundreds of its drivers’ cars this year.
Alon Lits, Uber’s general manager in Johannesburg, said most of its drivers in Johannesburg were still operating uninhibited. “There have been isolated incidences. It’s not widespread,” he said.
Opa Sikhosana, chairman of the Johannesburg Regional Metered Taxi Council, condemned the intimidation Uber passengers have experienced this week, but said he sympathized with his frustrated members.
Uber, he said, should operate under the same category of license they are subjected to, rather than the charter service categorization the government has assigned Uber drivers to date.
“They go to the extent of intimidating passengers because they want authorities to apply the law equally,” he said.
The backlash in Johannesburg is the latest in a long string of battles Uber has fought with regulators and rivals from Portland to London to Beijing.
On Friday, the company suspended one of its most popular services, Uberpop, in France until a constitutional court ruling on the service’s legality later this year.
Courts in Spain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands have also banned Uberpop. Last month, Indonesian police said they were investigating Uber, and in May, authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou raided an Uber office.
Uber has amassed its $41 billion valuation by upending the heavily regulated taxi marketplace, expanding into 57 countries in six years. With its next round of funding targeting a $50 billion valuation, Uber could become the most valuable venture-backed startup in history. Only Facebook Inc. attained a $50 billion valuation before going public.
In South Africa, Uber users requested 2 million rides in the first half of this year, compared to 1 million in all of 2014, says Mwambu Wanendeya, Uber’s communications director for Africa.
Drivers in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg cater to passengers with smartphones and a credit card, a level of affluence that excludes the millions of South Africans who rely on accident-prone minibuses known here as taxis to get around.
Those minibuses are operated by a network of powerful business owners with a history of solving disputes over routes and revenue through violence. But so far Uber had operated with little interference because the existing metered-taxi industry here is relatively small.
Now those metered taxi owners appear to be pushing back.
Mr. Ojageer, who was coerced late Sunday into taking a metered cab instead of the Uber ride he had hailed, said he would watch closely to see whether it seemed safe to try his smartphone app again.
“If there seems to be a lot of unrest I’d probably want to keep using the cab system as expensive as it is to avoid causing any more problems,” he said.UberSouth Africa
IBT BLE Railroad whistle-blower at Warren Buffet's BNSF awarded $1.25M for being bullied, targeted and terminated twice "BNSF officials in Washington colluded to provide inaccurate information to a mediator"
IBT BLE Railroad whistle-blower at Warren Buffet's BNSF awarded $1.25M for being bullied, targeted and terminated twice "BNSF officials in Washington colluded to provide inaccurate information to a mediator"
Railroad whistle-blower at Warren Buffet's BNSF awarded $1.25M for being bullied, targeted and terminated
Originally published July 1, 2015 at 6:45 pm
Jury awards former union safety official $1.25 million for retaliation and termination over reporting safety violations on tracks running from Tacoma to Vancouver.
By Mike Carter
Seattle Times staff reporter
A railroad whistle-blower has been awarded $1.25 million by a federal jury in Tacoma after a six-day trial in which the former union and safety official proved he was targeted and terminated on a pretext in 2011 after reporting dozens of safety violations to federal authorities.
The unanimous verdict, which was reached late Wednesday, includes $250,000 in rare punitive damages against Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad for its efforts to discredit Michael Elliott after he raised the safety concerns and then fired him — twice.
Those efforts, according to testimony and court documents, included evidence that a supervisor set up a physical confrontation with Elliott in a BNSF parking lot, and then had him arrested and charged with assault. Elliott spent two days in jail but was acquitted in Pierce County court. The railroad used the incident to justify his dismissal.
Evidence also showed that BNSF officials in Washington colluded to provide inaccurate information to a mediator about whether Elliott had properly reported a 2007 felony conviction for drunken driving and vehicle assault. Elliott insisted he had, and internal emails he produced at trial indicated BNSF supervisors knowingly provided the mediator with inaccurate information, according to Sara Amies, one of Elliott’s Seattle attorneys.
Gus Melonas, a spokesman for BNSF, said the railroad was “proud of its safety record” and repeated the company’s assertions that Elliott was fired for “unrelated rules violations,” which were rejected by the eight-member jury.“This is vindication for Mike after he’d been hung out to dry for four years,” said another lawyer, James Vucinovich. “The jury agreed that you can’t treat whistle-blowers like that.”
“BNSF is exploring its post-trial options,” he said.
Elliott was a 16-year veteran locomotive engineer for BNSF and elected chairman of the Washington State Legislative Board of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), which represents roughly 750 union workers at BNSF, Union Pacific and Amtrak. As such, Elliott’s focus was on worker safety, according to court documents.
According to the complaint, Elliott reported several complaints about overgrown vegetation blocking the signal system along BNSF-owned tracks between Tacoma and Vancouver, Wash., along with several potentially catastrophic signal malfunctions. The signal system is designed to keep trains from colliding on tracks that are owned by BNSF and shared by passenger and cargo trains.
The lawsuit alleges BNSF was slow to address the issue, and in January 2011, after receiving no response, Elliott bypassed the railroad and took his concerns to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The FRA conducted a six-week inspection in which it found more than 375 violations, including one that resulted in a $1,000 fine.
While minimal, the fine was the first in the area in years and “it stuck in their craw,” Vucinovich said.
Many of the violations were in territory overseen by a BNSF supervisor, Dennis Kautzmann, whom Elliott accused in his lawsuit of plotting a confrontation in the parking lot in which Kautzmann jumped on the hood of Elliott’s vehicle as he tried to leave. A scuffle ensued, and Elliott punched Kautzmann, according to court documents.
That March 2011 incident was used to terminate Elliott and have him charged with criminal assault, according to court documents. Vucinovich said there was evidence that Elliott was set up by Kautzmann, whose story was rejected by a criminal-court jury but used by BNSF to fire him.
While that incident was under internal review, BNSF officials claimed they discovered Elliott’s alleged failure to report the earlier felony conviction, and he was fired in April 2011. In September 2011, after its review of the incident with Kautzmann, the company called him in and fired him a second time, according to court documents.
The federal jury awarded him $1 million in compensatory damages, including loss of future pay, and imposed $250,000 in punitive damages against the railroad.
Vucinovich said Elliott was “ecstatic” with the verdict. He said the trial judge, U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton, will decide if Elliott should have the option of taking his job back. If he does, the attorney said the $1 million verdict will be reduced by the amount he was awarded for future wages.
Mike Carter: firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-464-3706
Boston USW Local 8751 school bus drivers step up the fight
By Joe Mchahwar posted on July 4, 2015
Garry Murchison, Steve Kirschbaum, Andre Francois, Steve Gillis
The struggle between the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Steelworkers Local 8751, on the one hand, and the Boston city administration and the international union-busting corporation Veolia — now renamed Transdev — on the other, is being taken to new heights.
The union’s new leadership, elected April 30, is bringing the demands of rank-and-file workers to the forefront. These demands center around 700 unresolved grievances, unfair labor practice charges against Veolia, winning a just contract and the company’s GPS/telematics surveillance of drivers that breaks the existing contract. A key workers’ demand is the reinstatement of four fired leaders who have been off the job for 22 months.
The four fired leaders — President Andre Francois, Vice President Steve Kirschbaum, Financial Secretary Steve Gillis and Grievance Chair Garry Murchison — were elected to these key positions by a wide margin in April.
Long hours of negotiations have transpired between the new leadership and Veolia, the city, and the Boston Public Schools. The union has brought its fighting spirit to the negotiating table, using struggle tactics to further its goals. Developments are coming by the minute, so the union hasn’t had a moment to breathe between punches.
Bus yard rallies and picket lines, a regular occurrence, have brought the fight straight to Veolia’s headquarters. An occupation of the Freeport bus yard by the entire executive board on June 22 lasted nearly nine hours — the last two while police were threatening to evict them.
“We were holding company officials in near round-the-clock meetings regarding mass noncompliance with the contract, including use of GPS and other telematic technology to route buses and pay drivers less, and Mayor Walsh’s administration was scabbing out some of our work to non-union outfits,” Gillis explained. “These meetings came in the wake of a Boston Globe investigative report about BPS/Veolia’s record of late bus routes based on GPS routing, leading up to a scheduled contract negotiations session.”
Freeport is the same bus yard where Stevan Kirschbaum was framed up on four felony charges during a demonstration last year. Kirschbaum was declared innocent in court this year, winning his case with the help of fellow workers and solidarity from the community.
On June 25, the union held more spirited rallies in all four bus yards.
Then on June 27 Veolia issued what the union called “a declaration of war.” The union received an illegal, fraudulent “last best offer” from the company, stating that if the membership did not accept this ultimatum by July 10 the drivers would not receive retroactive pay that had previously been agreed to. These pay increases date back to July 1, 2014, when the old contract expired.
This so-called offer, which violates several labor laws, includes the following concessions to management: introduction of spy cameras on the buses, elimination of one of two health care plans, increased discipline and erosion of language guaranteeing flat rate pay protection. Veolia, Boston Public Schools and Mayor Walsh also stubbornly refuse to reinstate the four illegally fired leaders.
So the company ultimatum was a shamelessly transparent attempt to entice and threaten members to accept a bad contract and turn their backs on their leaders.
City concedes two vital points, but not Veolia
Local 8751 has no truck with any of this. On June 29, another marathon session/occupation took place at City Hall with the mayor’s lawyer, Paul Curran, and Chief Operating Officer of BPS Kim Rice. That ended when the city made the following two concessions: they told the union the threat to take away retroactive pay was a mistake, and the Union Security Agreement protecting jobs, seniority and 40 years of collective bargaining gains would continue.
Expressing their rock-solid solidarity, community leaders who joined these negotiations included veteran City Councilor Charles Yancey; activist Chuck Turner; Sandra MacIntosh, of Coalition for Equal Quality Education; Charles Clemons, of TOUCH 106.1 radio; Haitian community leader Jean Claude Sanon; and representatives of the International Action Center, Women’s Fightback Network and Massachusetts United Against Police Violence.
Less than an hour later, however, Veolia reinstituted the threat, overriding what BPS and City Hall conceded to. Veolia’s double-cross was not only a slap in the face to the union, but to its community supporters. Veolia is refusing to bargain in good faith, which constitutes an unfair labor practice.
But it proves the Marxist truth: Capitalists tell the government what to do, not the other way around.
In an attempt to further intimidate the workers into accepting its rotten “offer,” Veolia mailed a five-page letter, in Haitian and Cape Verdean Creole, Spanish and English, to workers’ homes.
“Veolia is running amok with a series of warlike communications and actions,” said Kirschbaum. These include threatening hundreds of workers, laid off for the summer, with discharge if they do not report for a “mandatory recall” to bid on summer work.
The new player in negotiations is Veolia’s vice president for labor relations, Thomas P. Hock, notorious for his role in the Bay Area Regional Transit strike of 2013 during which two workers died. Hock, whose Cincinnati-based law firm has engaged in professional union busting in mass transit for 40-plus years, is president and founder of Professional Transit Management. PTM’s Northeast regional manager is also Veolia’s General Manager Alex Roman. In addition to breaking unions, PTM is the subject of numerous complaints of racist discrimination and sexual harassment.
Solidarity in action
Despite having to fight for its own survival, Local 8751 continues to uphold its rich legacy of politically active unionism. Local 8751 poured out for the Haitian flag day parade on May 17, proclaiming support for Fanmi Lavalas candidate for the Haitian presidency, Dr. Marcis Narcisse. On June 13, they marched in Pride, showing the unwavering support for the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer community from one of the first unions in the United States to win contractual anti-discrimination rights for lesbian, gay and bi workers. Trans rights will be included in the new contract.
One day after Local 8751 picketed Veolia headquarters on June 18, they were in the streets again for Juneteenth to “Say no to racism, police murder and violence, racist terror from Boston to Charleston to Baltimore to Ohio!”
This is the activism the company-friendly former union officials tried to use against the Francois-Kirschbaum slate in the election. “It backfired,” said Kirschbaum. “Team Solidarity, with its militant, class-conscious program and tactics, swept all 18 leadership positions by a landslide. Our record of struggle provided the best antidote for the poison of red baiting!”
The situation is changing day by day, but the rank and file are ready to strike and have spoken as one: “No amnesty, no contract, justice — no work!”
Veolia has made a calculated effort to bleed the four fired leaders dry. The workers and leadership haven’t blinked in the face of this onslaught. Their reserves are running low, however. These leaders need solidarity and financial support now more than ever. Anything supporters can contribute will be repaid in the struggle tenfold. To send money online, go to tinyurl.com/mzbfdyu. Or send checks to Friends of the School Bus 5, P.O. Box 141, Stoughton, MA 02072.Tags: Boston USW Local 8751 school bus drivers
Ryanair threatens to exit Denmark if unions blockade flights
July 3, 2015 4:36 pm
Ryanair threatens to exit Denmark if unions blockade flights
Richard Milne, Nordic Correspondent
Ryanair is threatening to pull out of Denmark if unions in the Nordic country blockade the low-cost airline’s flights.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said on Friday the Irish airline would move its sole Copenhagen-based aircraft to Kaunas in Lithuania beginning July 14.
This follows a Danish labour court ruling this week that allowed unions to strike and blockade Ryanair aircraft if the airline refuses to sign a collective agreement with workers.
On Friday, Mr O’Leary called the ruling “bizarre” and said the company would appeal to the European Commission and courts in Brussels.
He threatened to close Ryanair’s base in Billund, home to Legoland and headquarters of the Danish toy company, with its two aircraft if unions went ahead with the blockade.
“Then we would have to close Billund, even if we don’t want to. Copenhagen is more important to us than Billund, even if we love Billund dearly. I’ve been to Legoland myself,” Mr O’Leary said in a press conference in Copenhagen.
The court ruling against Ryanair represents one of the biggest threats to the business model of Europe’s biggest low-cost airline. It opens the door to similar actions in other countries, following complaints in France and Belgium.
Ryanair has argued that its Copenhagen-based staff should be subject to Irish law. But Danish unions claim this allows Ryanair to pay its cabin crew half the salary of staff in Cimber, a local low-cost rival. Unions said they would look to strike from the middle of this month.
Ryanair is not giving up on customers in Denmark, however, as it announced it would open up three new routes into Copenhagen. All 14 of its routes to and from Copenhagen would be operated by aircraft based outside Denmark as they cannot be blockaded by Danish unions, it added.
“Sadly, Copenhagen will lose out on these high-paid Ryanair jobs,” Mr O’Leary said.
He also hit out at the ruling for allowing what he called “competitor airline unions” — those active at Scandinavian flag carrier SAS — to blockade his aeroplanes.
The dispute has taken on a personal tone as the Social Democrat mayor of Copenhagen and several others cities banned their staff from using Ryanair for official business. Ryanair hit back with mocking adverts and said their bookings in Copenhagen had risen substantially.
Danish municipalities and investors have also divested themselves of Ryanair’s shares, which have risen 75 per cent in the past year.
Kenya's main port sacks 27 strike leaders as losses hit $2 mln
By Joseph Akwiri
By Joseph Akwiri
MOMBASA (Reuters) - East Africa's biggest port in the Kenyan city of Mombasa said on Saturday it had dismissed 27 workers it believed were behind a strike this week that paralysed operations for two days and cost the port at least $2 million.
Over 2,000 workers went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday in protest against higher deductions for the government's national health insurance scheme, prompting port management to threaten to fire them, having advertised their positions.
The work stoppage has disrupted business at the biggest port in the region, which handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
"The management has identified the organizers of the strike and they have been summarily dismissed," the port's managing director, Gichiri Ndua, told a news conference in Mombasa, adding that the strike was illegal and more workers could be dismissed.
He said losses suffered by the port as a result of the strike had reached 200 million shillings ($2 million) with the work stoppage costing the entire region served by the port an estimated 1 billion shillings.
The strike also resulted in a backlog of 2,500 containers at the port, said Ndua, but added that nearly all the striking workers had resumed work after the sacking warning, and that they would clear the cargo by Monday.
Union officials vowed to fight on.
"It is going to result in the calling of another bigger industrial action," Simon Sang, the union secretary general, told Reuters, as he went into a crisis meeting with other union officials.
At a nearby college owned and run by the port, at least 10 people were injured in a stampede on Saturday morning, as thousands turned up for the advertised interviews to replace the earlier striking workers.
The strike was to protest the government's decision to increase the monthly National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) deductions from 320 shillings ($3.22) to 1,700 shillings without increasing their salaries, union officials say.
($1 = 99.4000 Kenyan shillings)Tags: Kenya port workersstrikefirings
Uber to Suspend One of Its Main Services in France “Uberpop needed to be banned.”
Car-hailing service to suspend Uberpop immediately in response to violence against Uber drivers
A taxi in the area of Porte Maillot in west Paris, on June 26, bearing a banner against Uber. Taxi drivers protested what they saw as unfair competition from the car-hailing service. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
By SAM SCHECHNER
Updated July 3, 2015 12:05 p.m. ET
PARIS—Uber Technologies Inc. said Friday it is suspending one of its main services in France, caving in to authorities’ demands to stop operating days after French prosecutors indicted two top Uber executives on charges of helping unlicensed taxis cheat regulations.
Uber said it would suspend the service called Uberpop immediately in France, while awaiting a constitutional court decision due in late September on the service’s legality. Uberpop uses drivers without professional licenses, rather than licensed taxis or car services, allowing it to offer lower prices.
Previously, Uber had rejected government declarations that Uberpop is illegal, and said it would continue to operate the service until a court ordered it to stop.
Thibaud Simphal, General Director of Uber France, at the company’s French headquarters in Paris.
“Today is a black day for the 500,000 regular users of Uberpop in France, as well as for the drivers that regularly use the platform,” Uber said, adding that other Uber services using professional drivers are unaffected. “It is now up to us to explain what we are doing and the advantages of the Uber platform.”
Uber attributed its about-face to an effort to protect some 10,000 Uberpop drivers and their passengers, after a series of violent protests last week by taxi drivers across France. During those protests, in which taxis demanded swifter action against Uberpop, and several Uber vehicles were attacked.
Mark MacGann, Uber’s head of public policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the company also made its decision to suspend Uberpop after several days of intense discussions with the French government.
“We think everyone needs to move forward with a more cool head,” Mr. MacGann said. “What we want is a positive conclusion to the current situation.”
Uber said the suspension would take place over several hours for logistical reasons and would be complete by 8 p.m. Paris time.
“This decision demonstrates that the government’s resolve has paid off,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, according to his office, adding: “Uberpop needed to be banned.”
Taxis also expressed satisfaction with Uber’s retreat. Paris firm Taxis Bleus on Friday said it “salutes the work of public authorities” in “restoring public order by applying the law.”
Uber’s services that use nonprofessional drivers have been a flash point globally, leading to protests and lawsuits from taxis. In Europe, where those services are called Uberpop, courts have ordered bans on the service in several countries, including Germany and Spain.
In France, under a new transport law aimed at reining in companies like Uber, operating a system like Uberpop is punishable with a fine of as much as €300,000 ($332,000) and two years in prison.
On Tuesday, French prosecutors ordered Uber executives Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Thibaud Simphal to appear before magistrates on Sept. 30 to face charges of breaking that law, as well as charges of deceptive commercial practices, and illicit storage of personal data. Uber as a company was also charged.
Despite the retreat on Uberpop, the company isn’t abandoning its combative posture. Mr. MacGann reiterated Uber’s position that the new transport law being used to charge its executives is ill-conceived and will be thrown out. The firm has challenged multiple elements of the law before France’s constitutional court, and has also made a complaint against France to the European Union.
On Friday, Uber also launched a new social-media campaign to marshal public support. The company sent French users an email urging them to contribute testimonials to a new website named uberetmoi.com, meaning “Uber and me.” The site also encourages users to send tweets to accounts of several government officials, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the head of communications for President François Hollande.
Despite facing indictment, Uber is demanding changes to French transport laws to make it easier for individuals to become licensed car-service drivers. The company argues expensive licensing requirements and a backlog for allowing new car-service drivers was what made Uberpop necessary.
“We are confident that the government is going to take its responsibilities with regard to those drivers that want to drive for a living,” Uber’s Mr. MacGann said. “The current regulatory regime is locking them out of the market.”
Write to Sam Schechner at email@example.comTags: Ubercriminaltaxi workersPrision
ILWU Local 10 leads protest against police brutality
• FEBRUARY 2015 DISPATCHER
Local 10 leads protest against police brutality
• MAY 20, 2015 11:21 AM
On May 1, 200 ILWU members from Locals 10, 34, 61, 6 and the Inlandboatmen’s Union joined with hundreds of community members to march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland’s City Hall
Local 10 leads protest against police brutality
• MAY 20, 2015 11:21 AM
Solidarity from the Southland: (Left to right): Local 63 Secretary/Business Agent Richard Finlay, Local 13 member Adelita Finlay and Local 10 President Melvin Mackay.
On May 1, 200 ILWU members from Locals 10, 34, 61, 6 and the Inlandboatmen’s Union joined with hundreds of community members to march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland’s City Hall. Their purpose was to protest violent and racist actions by abusive police officers.
The protest was sparked by a series of high profile killings of unarmed Black men by police in cities across the country, some of which were caught on video. Estimates on the size of the march ranged from 800 to 2,000. Local 10’s membership and Executive
Board initiated the action by voting to move their regular “stopwork” union meeting from Thursday evening to the following Friday morning on May 1. The contract requires such changes to be approved by PMA employers, which they agreed to do.
The show of solidarity was prompted by the shocking murder of Walter Scott, an unarmed African American man who was shot eight times in the back by a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina. Dramatic video of the event went viral and sparked conversations and consciousness- raising across the country.
Walter Scott had several relatives who were members of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) Local 1422, based in Charleston, South Carolina. Local 10’s decision to march and protest were praised by leaders of ILA 1422 and officials from the South Carolina AFL-CIO.
Local 10 Executive Board member Stacey Rodgers helped initiate the protest, explaining that “Local 10 members had been talking about the murder of Walter Scott, and about other people getting shot by the police. I felt that we needed to do something.”
Some Local 10 members have been directly affected by police violence, with two relatives killed by law enforcement in recent years. Jeremiah Moore was killed by Vallejo police who responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home in 2012. One of the police officers involved had already killed two suspects in less than 6 months, was named as a defendant in two “excessive force” lawsuits – yet received a promotion by the Department who cleared him of any wrongdoing, along with the County District Attorney.
Richard “Pedie” Perez was killed by a Richmond, CA police officer who stopped the 24-year-old man in 2014 for allegedly being intoxicated and resisting arrest. Both cases are the subjects of lawsuits that dispute police accounts of the shootings.
ILWU Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said the march was peaceful, orderly and praised members for initiating the action and showing their concern. Mackay handled over a dozen inquiries from the news media, most calling to ask why workers organized the action and whether circumstances justified protesting instead of working the day shift on May 1.
“I told them that longshore workers have a long tradition of protesting injustice in the community, and that recent events deserve a strong response from all Americans.”
On the day of the event, Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said, “We aren’t out here saying all cops are bad. We respect the hard job that they have. But at the same time we are here to say that police misconduct and the improper use of deadly force by the police cannot go unpunished. The public shouldn’t be afraid of the people who are supposed to protect them.”Tags: ILWU Local 10Police TerrorRacist Terror