Are the chickens finally coming home to roost for Teamsters brass?
After a wave of anger at concessions the union forced onto unwilling members in its national contracts, some of President James Hoffa’s biggest opponents are teaming up to challenge him in the 2016 race.
Click here to read more at Labor Notes.
London Bus Strike 5/2/2015 On the Picket Line - Why is there a strike?
Pregnant Workers Backed by US Supreme Court in UPS Case
By Greg Stohr, Bloomberg
25 March 15
he US Supreme Court backed the rights of pregnant workers, reviving a lawsuit by a former United Parcel Service Inc. driver who left her job when the company wouldn’t provide the less strenuous work recommended by her doctor.
The justices, voting 6-3, sent the case back for a possible trial, which would center on UPS’s reasons for refusing to accommodate Peggy Young’s needs while giving temporary assignments to workers recovering from on-the-job injuries.
The ruling is the Supreme Court’s first since 1991 on employers’ duties toward their pregnant workers. Although it may have limited significance going forward because of legal changes at the state and federal level, the case touched on issues that have driven a wedge through the court and American society.
The justices divided to some degree along ideological lines. The court’s three women -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- joined Justice Stephen Breyer in the majority, as did two Republican appointees, Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.
Writing for the court, Breyer said the lower court that threw out the suit should have scrutinized UPS’s justification for accommodating other workers.
“Why, when the employer accommodated so many, could it not accommodate pregnant workers as well?” Breyer wrote.
The opinion adopted what Kagan characterized during arguments in December as a “middle ground” approach, rejecting more sweeping contentions from both sides. Because lower courts had generally backed employers on the issue, it gives some pregnant workers a new avenue to win cases.
UPS contended that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act leaves room for companies to have neutral policies like seniority systems and special preferences for workers who are injured on the job.
“UPS is pleased that the Supreme Court rejected the argument that UPS’s pregnancy-neutral policy was inherently discriminatory,” the company said in a statement. The company said it was confident the lower courts “will find that UPS did not discriminate against Ms. Young under this newly announced standard.”
Young worked at a UPS facility in Landover, Maryland. Her job required her to load packages onto vehicles and deliver them to their destination. Although she says the vast majority of those packages were envelope-size, her job description required her to lift parcels of up to 70 pounds.
In 2006, Young became pregnant after in vitro fertilization. Her doctor and midwife said she shouldn’t lift objects weighing more than 20 pounds during the first half of the pregnancy or more than 10 pounds for the rest.
She says UPS refused to accommodate her needs either by adjusting her job responsibilities or by temporarily assigning her to a position that didn’t require heavy lifting.
She went on an unpaid leave of absence and returned to work after her baby was born. Young later left UPS and sued the company for compensation.
UPS says it was simply abiding by its seniority system and union contract, which makes no provision for pregnant employees with physical limitations. The union agreement called for reassignments to be available to workers with job-related injuries and those considered permanently disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The accord also made provisions for people who lost their federal driver’s certification, letting them temporarily take jobs that don’t involve operating a vehicle.
The Atlanta-based delivery company shifted its policy after the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case. UPS says it now treats pregnant employees in need of special accommodations the same as workers with on-the-job injuries, giving them light-duty assignments if available. Young, now 43, continued to press her case in an effort to win damages.
UPS said one reason for the change was the increasing number of states that require accommodations for pregnant workers. At least nine states will have those requirements, up from one at the time of Young’s pregnancy.
Rights for pregnant workers may be broader under federal law in the future as well. The Obama administration says a 2008 amendment to the federal disabilities law may give additional protections to women whose pregnancies limit their activities.
The amendment provides protections for workers with temporary disabilities that aren’t connected to on-the-job injuries. The change also expands the definition of disability to make clear that an inability to lift, stand or bend is covered.
Because the UPS dispute predated that amendment, Young wasn’t able to invoke it in her case, and the Supreme Court didn’t consider it.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act says employers must treat pregnant workers the same as other employees “not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work.”
Breyer said each of the litigants -- UPS, Young and the Obama administration -- had misinterpreted that clause. His opinion instead adopted what he said was a familiar approach used by courts with other types of job-discrimination lawsuits.
Breyer said judges should assess an employer’s explanation for treating workers differently and determine whether those reasons were a pretext for discrimination. Breyer said plaintiffs can use “circumstantial proof to rebut an employer’s apparently legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons.”
He told the appeals court to determine whether Young had shown enough evidence of pretext to warrant taking the case to trial.
Alito didn’t join Breyer’s reasoning, writing separately to explain his views.
In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said the majority departed from the Pregnancy Discrimination Act’s text.
“The court seems to think our task is to craft a policy-driven compromise between the possible readings of the law, like a congressional conference committee reconciling House and Senate versions of a bill,” Scalia wrote.
The case is Young v. UPS, 12-1226.Tags: upsdiscrimination
The U.S. Supreme Court sided with a woman who was faced with the choice to either work her labor-intensive job during pregnancy at the United Parcel Service or go on unpaid leave without benefits. In an opinion issued Wednesday morning, the justices ruled 6-3 that Young should at least be given a full opportunity to make her case in court that she was not given the same accommodation as other employees considered injured or disabled.
Young was tasked with lifting boxes as heavy as 70 pounds in her job as a UPS worker. When she got pregnant, her midwife recommended that she not lift more than 20 pounds, and wrote a note asking her employer to put her on light duty. Had Young been written a similar note because Young broke her arm carrying boxes, or suffered from a disability, UPS would have put her on what is known as “light duty.” But UPS wouldn’t do it for Young on account of her pregnancy. The alternative was to take unpaid leave without medical benefits.
Click here to read more at Think Progress.Issues: UPS
Hundreds of Alameda County recycling workers filled the Local 6 union hall on March 1 to celebrate two years of hard work that yielded dramatic improvements in wages, benefits and working conditions –and opened the door to helping new workers organize and join the ILWU.
Like the historic “Alameda County Recycling Workers Convention” held in the same location two years ago, the room was filled again with family members, community supporters and political allies who came to celebrate the string of remarkable organizing victories by workers at the largest recycling operators in Alameda County.
Recycling worker Alejandra León co-chaired the event with fellow recycling worker Pedro Sanchez. Both did an excellent job and conducted most of the event in Spanish – the language preferred by a majority of recycling workers – but simultaneous professional translation services were offered with headphones to everyone attending.
Monsignor Antonio Valdivia provided an inspirational blessing to begin the event. He started by recalling that his own father had been a longtime member of Local 6, and used to bring home copies of the ILWU’s Dispatcher newspaper, which little Antonio would read out loud for his father who was unable to read. Monsignor Valdivia concluded by speaking to all the children in the room, asking them to respect how hard their parents are working at difficult jobs in order to provide bread for their families.
Local 6 Secretary-Treasurer Fred Pecker added his welcome, thanking workers and special guests. He recounted the many accomplishments made during the past two years, explaining, “you’ve done so much good work to make life better for hundreds of workers employed in this industry – but many more recyclers are still suffering, and we’re now in a better position to help them.
A surprise visit was paid by the superhero, “Recycle Woman,” who appeared at the event in brightly-colored tights and a cape, played by Jessica Robinson. After greeting the audience, she led the children into a back room where she shared games that taught “zero waste” recycling skills for the children to use at home and school.
Solidarity from Brazil & Colombia
Environmental organizer Christie Keith of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) brought a message of solidarity and support from recycling workers in Colombia, Brazil and other members of the Latin America Recyclers Network. She noted that all recycling workers share a common bond for the important environmental work that they perform – and the struggle for justice required to gain recognition and respect. GAIA organizer Monica Wilson, who serves on the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling Steering Committee, also attended.
ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe and Secretary- Treasurer Willie Adams were both on hand to lend support and encouragement. Familathe, who oversees the union’s organizing efforts, said the
International union has supported the recycler organizing project for years because it has been a good way to help workers in a partnership with Local 6. He offered his continued support and encouraged workers to maintain their organizing efforts.
Alejandra León thanked Willie Adams for appearing two years ago at the first Recyclers Convention, where he predicted: “This campaign that we’re taking on, won’t be won by speeches – it will be won by working with allies, partners and a strong commitment.”
León thanked him for supporting the project and said his words two years ago had been “prophetic.” Adams spoke briefly, thanking workers for keeping faith in themselves and their union.
Key role by workers
The heart of the event was led by workers who shared short stories about the struggles they have endured during the past two years, fighting for better wages and benefits.
“Two years ago, we came here to make a plan for improving our recycling jobs. We set a goal for better pay that some people – including some officials from the Teamster and Machinists union – told us was ‘too much, too soon.’ But we didn’t back down, and today are celebrating the many victories that came from everyone’s hard work,” said León, as she and Pedro Sanchez began introducing workers who briefly shared their stories. Josefa Solano from BLT in Fremont explained how they became the first group of recycling workers to win raises and benefits that meet the new standard. Dinora Jordan from Waste Management told of a long, difficult but ultimately successful struggle by workers against one of the largest waste companies in the world.
Jose Gomez from ACI explained how workers overcame minimum wages, no benefits, no union and disrespect for immigrant workers to join Local 6. He reported that co-workers are now negotiating an ILWU contract that meets the “Alameda County Recycling Worker Standard” calling for “sorters” to earn $20.94 by 2019 along with affordable family health benefits.
“We couldn’t do all this by ourselves,” said Pedro Sanchez, who said the room was full of “compañeros” who supported the “causa” of improving conditions for recyclers. A group of special guests was then recognized and thanked – each receiving the gift of a commemorative framed poster signed by recycling workers.
Attorney Emily Maglio from the Leonard Carder law firm was recognized for helping ACI workers prevail in a class-action lawsuit that was recently settled for $1.1 million and will provide many workers with significant back-pay awards. Workers Ignacia Garcia, Maria Granados Flores and Griselda Mora were named on the lawsuit were recognized and thanked for their courage.
Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer was congratulated for hearing the concerns of recycling workers who have appeared before the City Council several times to provide updates and seek support for improvements at ACI, which provides recycling services for Alameda residents.
Recycler Ruben Ramos introduced Fremont City Councilmember Vinnie Bacon and thanked him for taking leadership to protect the environment and promote worker justice. Fremont was the first city in Alameda County to help workers reach the new pay and benefit standard. Oakland City Council member Dan Kalb was congratulated for supporting the fight to improve recycling services for Oakland residents and help workers win better working conditions.
Recycling and waste expert Ruth Abbe was honored for her service to the campaign, including her continuing role on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling.Abbe also plays a leadership role in the Sierra Club’s Zero Waste Committee and has been providing workers with invaluable advice. Other environmental support for the campaign has been offered by the Center for Environmental Health.
Community organizer Brooke Anderson, affiliated with the Movement Generation network, ran to the podium to accept her award for supporting the recycling worker campaign. She has organized workshops to train workers about the economics of the recycling industry, and serves on the Steering Committee of the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling. Other community support has been provided by Oakland’s East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE). Recycler Mirella Jauragui congratulated staff from the University of California’s Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP) for providing excellent health and safety training sessions to hundreds of recycling workers. LOHP staffers Suzanne Teran, Dinorah Barton-Antonio and Valeria Velasquez were recognized for their important work. Additional workplace safety advocacy and support has been provided by the Worksafe! organization.
The final honors were reserved for Pastor Pablo Morataya of the Primera Inglesia Prebisteriana Hispana in Oakland. A key ally in the campaign to help workers, Pastor Morataya hosted the campaign’s first major community outreach event in November, 2013, where political leaders from Oakland agreed to pledge their support for improving conditions for recycling workers. He has also been a strong advocate for immigrant workers at ACI who were threatened with discrimination and firings.
Other important support for ACI workers from the faith community has been provided by Rev. Deborah Lee of the Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights. Other faith community leadership for the recycler’s campaign has been provided by Rev. Kurt Kuhwald, Kristi Laughlin and Servant B.K. Woodson of the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy (FAME).
The afternoon event concluded with music – featuring the beautiful voices of Pedro Sanchez and Gustavo Nuñez, who also played keyboard. Family members of Rosa Delia Pérez provided the “DJ” service and more music. A buffet dinner was provided for all family members and guests.
ACI worker José Delgadillo probably summed up the feelings of many in the room, when he said: “All of us who work at ACI have seen how much Local 6 and the ILWU have done to help us. We can now see that a better life is possible – not just for us, but for other recyclers who can win if we help them.”
As the U.S. heads toward what some economists consider “full employment,” trucking companies tracked by the Labor Department hired an additional 2,600 workers in February, pushing the monthly JOC.com Trucking Employment Index reading up to 99.9.That means the more than 100,000 motor carriers surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for its monthly U.S. employment situation report are only one-tenth of a percentage point shy of their peak pre-recession employment level, last reached in May 2007. The prospect of near-full employment, a new employment peak in trucking and more good paying jobs in construction and other industries that vie with trucking for workers will keep upward pressure on driver wages and the truck rates shippers pay in 2015. The February Trucking Employment Index rose 0.1 percentage points from January, when the reading was 99.8, according to revised monthly data from the BLS. The index reading for February 2013 was 96.4. That indicates an annualized growth rate in trucking employment last month of 3.5 percent, the same as in January and the highest rate since late 2012. That year, the growth rate averaged 3.8 percent and was 4 percent or higher in four months. The for-hire trucking industry nearly doubled its hiring rate in 2014, expanding payroll by 46,000 jobs, compared with 24,900 in 2013, when the U.S. economy was stuck in a “soft patch.” The for-hire carriers tracked by the Labor Department agency shed 218,500 jobs from March 2007 through March 2010, and added 207,400 jobs from that date through 2014. The average monthly increase in trucking employment, calculated from the BLS data, rose from 2,075 workers in 2013 to 3,833 employees last year, an 85 percent increase that likely reflects strong recruiting efforts and higher pay. The carriers tracked by the BLS added more than 4,000 jobs in eight out of 12 months last year, compared with four months in 2013. At the same time, trucking companies say they are short by at least 30,000 drivers, while running at close to full utilization — more than 95 percent. That’s a sign demand for trucking capacity outstrips supply as the U.S. economy expands at an accelerated pace. Trucking’s latest employment gains came as the U.S. economy added 295,000 nonfarm jobs in February, driving the national unemployment rate down to 5.5 percent. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since the recession ended in 2009. The U.S. has added more than 200,000 jobs per month for 12 straight months now, the best hiring rate in the U.S. since the mid-1990s, according to BLS data. Transportation and warehousing businesses accounted for 18,500 new jobs in February, the seasonally adjusted payroll data show. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal believe the U.S. will hit “full employment” — the point where the economy is using all available labor — late this year, as the national unemployment rate drops toward 5.1 percent. The U.S. Federal Reserve considers an unemployment rate between 5.2 and 5.5 percent to be “normal,” The newspaper reported. At the same time, there were 5 million available jobs on Jan. 31, the highest level of job openings since 2001, according to BLS data. That includes 205,000 openings in transportation, warehousing and utilities, the federal agency said.
United Parcel Service Inc. on Tuesday said Chief Executive David P. Abney’s total compensation for 2014 more than doubled, including a base salary increase he received in September when he was promoted to the helm of the package-delivery giant.
Mr. Abney, who had been the company’s chief operating officer, succeeded Scott Davis, who retired as CEO but stayed on as chairman. The move signaled the U.S. shipping giant’s growing focus on its international operations.
Click here to read more at The Wall Street Journal.Issues: UPS
Former ILWU Local 34 President Frank Billeci died on February 1 at the age of 79. Frank was a member of Local 34 for 42 years and served his local in several positions starting in 1969 when he was elected to the Local 34 Investigating Committee.
In 1971 he was elected to the Local 34 Labor Relations Committee and in 1973 was a delegate to the Longshore Caucus and Convention. He also served on the International Executive Board and the ILWU Container Freight Station Committee. In1977, Frank was elected Vice President of Local 34 and after six months, he assumed the office of Local 34 President when Jimmy Herman was elected ILWU International President.
He served as Local 34 President until 1989 when he took a break from elected office to return to the docks and work on projects with the International. He was again elected Local 34 President in 1994 and served in that position until his retirement in 1999.
After retiring, Frank spent time with his wife and family. He enjoyed following his favorite teams, the San Francisco Giants and San Francisco 49ers, camping on the Sacramento River, fishing with his son and being a grandfather.
“Frank’s dedication to his work and the ILWU family was unsurpassed,” said Local 34 Secretary-Treasurer Allen Fung. “He never made himself the spotlight; instead he was always the one to give others the opportunity to shine. If there is one word that can be used to remember Frank, that word would be ‘integrity.’”
Frank is survived by Joan, his wife of 44 years, his daughter Tina, his son, Roger, his sister, Rose, and four grandchildren: Peter, Nathan, Lauren and Caroline.
. The building located at 110 The Embarcadero on the City’s waterfront will become the permanent headquarters of The Commonwealth Club of California. The 112-year old public affairs forum bought the building two-years ago but the project has been delayed by a neighborhood group that opposed the project.
The building was the headquarters for the longshoreman during the City’s historic 1934 waterfront strike and was the site of pitched battles between workers, police and private security forces. Two workers, Nicholas Bordois and Howard Sperry, were shot and killed by police on Bloody Thursday—July 5th, 1934. Their bodies laid in the longshoremen’s hall until their funeral. The deaths of Bordois and Sperry rallied public support for the strikers and eventually sparked a four-day general strike in San Francisco.
The building has been vacant for years. A previous development project, which was ultimately rejected by the Board Supervisors, proposed tearing down the building entirely and replacing it with a high-rise condominium project. The ILWU passed a resolution at its convention in 2009 opposing that project.
The Commonwealth Club reached out to the ILWU from the outset of the new project and wanted to ensure that the building’s history would be appropriately honored. The façade on Steuart Street, where the longshoreman occupied the building, will be restored to its original 1934 appearance.
The building’s history will also be commemorated with a plaque on the outside and a historical exhibit inside. The side of the building facing the Embarcadero, which no longer bears and resemblance to its 1930s character, will be replaced with a modern curtain-wall façade.
Local 10 member Felipe Riley, Bay Area pensioner John Fisher and ILWU historian Harvey Schwartz spoke in favor of the project because of the Commonwealth Club’s commitment to honoring the history of the ILWU and the important role the 1934 waterfront strike played in the City’s history.
The Commonwealth Club will be working with the ILWU to design the marker and exhibit detailing the building’s history that will be seen by thousands of people attending the Club’s events every year.
The Tamarkin union members overwhelmingly voted in favor of Giant Eagle’s severance package Wednesday.
The vote was 129 to 4. Teamsters Local 377, which represents the workers, has been told by the company with passage of the package the plant employees will be able to stay through June.
Click here to read more at The Vindicator.
March 24, 2015: Over 200 active and retired Teamsters packed the Cincinnati Local 100 hall for the monthly Retirees Club meeting to hear speakers address the pending cuts to Central States pensions. Mike Walden, chair of the Northeast Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions, told a standing room only audience that it was time to organize to push back the attacks on retirement security.
That same day, 150 Teamster retirees met at the Columbus union hall and heard Greg Smith, an Akron Local 24 retiree, speak on the pension issue. Representatives from U.S. Senators Brown and Portman’s staffs were also present to hear retirees speak out on the importance of maintaining the pensions they rely on for their retirement. See the article covering the meeting in the Columbus Post Dispatch.
Tom Kreckler, a retired Local 114 Teamster and Secretary-Treasurer of the retirees club, said, “Out of this meeting, we’re organizing a pension committee. We need to get the word out to hundreds of members who know nothing about what’s coming. We got a number of volunteers to sign up to help out. Spouses are getting involved too. We need to let Central States know that we won’t accept cuts without a fight.”
A committee was also formed in Columbus to carry forward the struggle to protect pensions. On March 21, a conference call of 100 pension committee and activists, convened by TDU, got reports from some committees and from the staff of the Pension Rights Center in Washington DC, on where the grassroots campaign is headed.
The campaign is spreading throughout the Central and Southern regions, and beyond.Pension and Benefits
March 24, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund trustees have set up a briefing for local union officers on April 8. Will this be the big announcement regarding their proposed pension cuts – or a background briefing?
The announcement states only that they will “provide Local Union officers with background information on the MPRA [pension cut legislation], review the process and timetable…and outline a communication plan for our participants.” It goes on to state that the Board of Trustees [four Teamster officials and four management reps] are “currently reviewing options.”
We believe that review needs to be expanded.
The Fund has stepped up security at their building in Rosemont Illinois, and this announcement states that only pre-registered union officers will be allowed in the meeting, with “no walk-ins.”
We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Teamster retirees and members are fighting back against cuts, and for better and more equitable solutions. If you think there should be an independent audit before any cuts are proposed, and that the process should be more equitable, then find out how you can be part of making it happen.Pension and Benefits
Which Way for The ILWU-
Militant Unionism or Business Unionism?
* Hear ILWU Activists Speak on the Recent Longshore Contract Negotiations
* Open Discussion on the Tentative Agreement
* Longshore Members & Caucus delegates invited
WHEN: Tuesday, March 31, 7PM
WHERE: First Unitarian Universalist Church
1187 Franklin St., SF
(Facing ILWU International Headquarters)
￼￼ILWU members stop scab grain train in Longview
The ILWU has a proud history of class struggle and the fight for democratic principles codified in the Ten Guiding Principles of the ILWU. Today ILWU officials flaunt these union principles, using top down control to direct longshore workers to cross picket lines and keep contract negotiations secret while the PMA gives the contract to the maritime employers’ Journal Of Commerce. This contract
PMA head McKenna and ILWU Pres McEllrath both get Shippers’ Award.
gives employers a free hand to automate without counter demands of shorter shifts tied to wage in- creases and follows on the tail of the concessionary grain contracts at EGT and the Northwest Grain agreements. Left unchecked, it will gut ILWU’s coastwide power and bury the last militant union in the U.S.
Anthony Leviege, activist member ILWU Local 10
Stacey Rodgers, Executive Board member ILWU Local 10
Jack Mulcahy*, member ILWU Local 8 Portland, grain negotiator
Dan Coffman*, former president of Longview ILWU Local 21
Howard Keylor, retired member of ILWU Local 10, an organizer of the historic 1984 longshore
Jack Heyman, retired member of ILWU Local 10, organizer of militant port actions
(* speaking via skype)
Organized by the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee (www.transportworkers.org)
For information: (415) 282-1908 Labor Donated