Feed aggregator

Australia: Embattled Australian government prepares for union protests

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Ecuador: Reinstate Jimena - a campaign for International Women's Day 2015

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News

Europe: Unhappy meal: €1 billion in tax avoidance on the menu at McDonald’s

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: McJobs/IUF
Categories: Labor News

How Certain Teamster Pensions Funds May Try to Cut Pensions

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 13:22

March 3, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund and several smaller funds in the months to come may seek to cut the earned benefits of retirees and active Teamsters. Teamster members have a right to know what the procedures would be, so that we can be better armed to fight back.

A detailed outline of the procedure and timeline is available here for review by concerned members and retirees. This outline explains that the process cannot be immediate; the law provides time for review, for the publication of opposition statements, a vote by all participants (active and retired), and in the case of large funds at least 10,000 participants, the appointment of a retiree representative.

Teamsters are not sitting back and waiting for the hammer to come down – retirees and active Teamsters are organizing now to change the law that requires the full burden of the economic meltdown to fall on working and retired Teamsters.

Last weekend the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions held their latest meeting, with a representative of the North East Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions on board to speak. The meeting received a strong statement of support from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. We are working to build a strong list of Congresspersons and Senators ready to make changes to the unjust law.

Dale Dobbs, a Milwaukee Local 200 retiree, explained “We’ve set up a Facebook page to share info and concerns about the possible pension cuts. We’ve got a committee organized in our area to make sure our voices are heard. We need to build a pressure campaign with committees from other areas.”

Could your pension fund move to cut benefits? This list indicates which pension funds could consider cuts. In addition to the Central States Fund, the list includes Western Pennsylvania Teamsters Fund and a large number of small funds in the New York - New Jersey area, especially locals in declining industries. 

Join us and help build the movement to defend pensions

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

LA Metrolink train engineer dies of injuries suffered in crash with truck

Current News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:49

LA Metrolink train engineer dies of injuries suffered in crash with truck
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-20150303-story.html

The Metrolink track at the intersection of Rice Avenue and 5th Street in Oxnard was operational Feb. 25.
By VERONICA ROCHA AND JOSEPH SERNAcontact the reporters

The engineer gravely injured in last week's Metrolink crash in Oxnard dies
The engineer who died as a result of last week's Metrolink crash in Oxnard had 42 years of experience
One week after being gravely injured in a collision between a Metrolink train and a pickup truck in Oxnard, the train's engineer has died.

Glenn Steele, 62, died early Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of injuries suffered in the Feb. 24 crash, said Ed Winter, spokesman for the Los Angeles County coroner’s office.

"The entire Metrolink family is deeply saddened by the loss of this dedicated and hardworking railroader," said Sam Joumblat, Metrolink's interim chief executive officer. "Everyone associated with Metrolink extends our most heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and coworkers. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all."

The five-car Metrolink train was bound for downtown Los Angeles when it derailed at 5:42 a.m. Feb. 24. Initially there were no fatalities, but 28 of the 50 people involved were taken to hospitals with minor to critical injuries.

lRelated
The impact of the crash sent the truck across the grade crossing, pushing it a total of about 300 feet.

The train was traveling at 56 mph when the engineer saw the truck on the tracks at 5th Street and Rice Avenue, authorities said. Seconds before colliding with the truck, he pulled the emergency brake.

Steele, of Homeland in Riverside County, had 42 years of experience and was ranked No. 1 on the Metrolink seniority list, said Robert Sumwalt, a National Transportation Safety Board member. He was an employee of Amtrak.

Spending on rail crossing safety upgrades varies widely across Southland
Last week, Ventura County Dist. Atty. Gregory Totten announced that no charges would be filed against the driver of the truck, Jose Sanchez-Ramirez, 54, at least until an investigation was completed. He added that prosecutors could still file charges in the future.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Scott Hendrickson said Totten would not comment on the case and the latest development because it was still under investigation by the Oxnard Police Department.

Prosecutors were also waiting for the NTSB to conclude its investigation before deciding whether to file charges, said Oxnard police spokesman Miguel Lopez.

Multiple agencies were working on the investigation, he said.

“I think everyone is going to proceed with the utmost caution,” Lopez said.

Sanchez-Ramirez’s attorney Ron Bamieh said his client was “upset” and “shaken” over Steele’s death. He said he and Sanchez-Ramirez expressed their condolences and said, “Our prayers and thoughts are with the family of Mr. Steele.”

“It is our hope that this will be the last loss of life the city of Oxnard will allow at this intersection," Bamieh said. “It’s unfortunate that it took this accident to bring attention to this dangerous condition that has existed for far too long.”

The derailment occurred after Sanchez-Ramirez, who was hauling a trailer with a Ford F-450 pickup, mistakenly turned onto the tracks and became stuck, Bamieh said. Sanchez-Ramirez, of Yuma, Ariz., was in the area for work and thought he was turning onto 5th Street, the attorney said.

Sanchez-Ramirez was arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run involving multiple injuries after police said they found him walking and apparently disoriented more than a mile from the scene of the derailment. He was released after prosecutors declined to file charges pending the conclusion of investigations.

A 31-year-old student engineer was operating the train at the time of the crash, federal investigators said. Both the student engineer and Steele were inside the control cab as the train went down the track.

For more breaking news, follow @VeronicaRochaLA and @JosephSerna.

Tags: Metro Linkdeath on the job
Categories: Labor News

ILWU solidarity marchers fill San Pedro streets

ILWU - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 11:25

Over 6,000 ILWU members and their families, along with community supporters and elected officials marched and rallied through the streets of San Pedro on January 22. The dramatic showing of unity and solidarity was organized by LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino to protest the employers’ cutting of night-time workers that has compounded severe congestion problems at the ports of LA and Long Beach.

“The PMA’s action in further cutting night shifts at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is another step closer to a lockout,” Buscaino said in press release before the rally. “It will only serve to worsen the slowdown and congestion at the ports, disrupt the global supply chain, and result in irreparable damage to the reputation of our ports complex.”

Marchers gathered near the Vincent Thomas Bridge on Harbor Boulevard and Beacon. As the sun set, thousands of longshore workers headed down Harbor Boulevard towards the rally point outside the Maritime Museum. The 30-minute march was led by students from Banning High School’s “Mighty Marching Pilots” band. The mood was spirited as parents marched hand-in-hand with their children. Marchers carried glow sticks which gave the event a festive atmosphere.

Hundreds of people carried the same support signs that have been posted by local business owners in shop windows throughout the harbor; they read: “We Support the ILWU and the ILWU Supports Us.”

ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe, Coast Committeeman Ray Ortiz, Jr. spoke at the rally along with Southern California representatives from the Negotiating Committee and Safety Sub-Committee who all flew down from the contract negotiations in San Francisco to attend the event.
International Vice President Ray

Familathe said the ILWU family would remain strong and united. “The elected Negotiating Committee will continue to battle to get a tentative agreement that we can bring to the rank-and-file for a democratic vote. We need to send a message to the employers that we will last as long as needed to get the fair contract that we deserve.”

Coast Committeeman Ray Ortiz, Jr., said that he has been a part of 12 contract negations during his career. “This contract negotiation has been about endurance. The ILWU will not break and we are going to stay strong and get a fair contract and get this cargo moving.”

ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., emphasized the deep roots that ILWU members had in the harbor community, reaching back many decades. “ILWU Locals 13, 63 and 94 have been a bastion of the middle class in San Pedro for over 75 years,” Olvera said. “Long before these multinational corporations came to the port, longshoremen were moving cargo and long after they are gone we are still going to be here moving cargo.”

In his address at the rally, LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino had a message for the employers at the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA): “We say to the PMA, ‘Let the ILWU do their jobs. Let the ILWU clear our ports. Do not stand in their way. Our economy’s is here in the harbor.’”

Local 13 President Olvera thanked the thousands of families and multitude of supporters, including many elected officials, who came to show their support.

“You’re presence here tonight has sent a powerful message that the ILWU and this community are strong, united and willing to fight for what’s right – no matter how long it takes.

Categories: Unions

Negotiating Committee reaches tentative agreement on new Longshore contract

ILWU - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 10:58

United team: The ILWU’s 16-member Longshore Negotiating Committee and 8-member Safety Sub-Committee reached a tentative contract agreement on February 20 with unanimous support.

It wasn’t quick or easy, but the ILWU Longshore Negotiating Committee reached a tentative agreement for a new 5-year contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on February 20th.

ILWU International President Bob McEllrath praised the 16-member Negotiating Committee and 8-member Safety Sub-Committee for their months of hard work – and he saluted rank-and-file members and local union officials for maintaining exceptional discipline and unity during the grueling 9-month negotiating process that began on May 12, 2014.

“This was the longest contract negotiation we’ve faced in decades,” said McEllrath, “but the final result is a good agreement that wouldn’t have been possible without the unity and support from members up and down the coast.”

Next steps

The tentative agreement will first be reviewed by 90 delegates of the Coast Longshore Caucus who are scheduled to meet March 30 to April 3. Caucus delegates will decide whether to recommend the proposal to the rank-and-file. If recommended, the complete agreement will be mailed to members, followed by discussions at local union meetings. The process ends with a secret-ballot election that allows members to ratify or reject the proposal. Detailed voting results will be published in a future issue of The Dispatcher.

Milestones

The Committee approached their negotiating task with clear directions from the Coast Longshore Caucus that met for two weeks beginning February 24, 2014. The Negotiating Committee opened talks with the PMA on May 12 and continued bargaining past the contract expiration date of July 1, 2014.  Important progress was announced in late August when both sides agreed to maintain health benefits for workers, families and pensioners. The next issue tackled by the Negotiating Committee involved the problems caused by PMA companies that sub-contracted their container chassis pools.

It was also at this point that a pre-existing port congestion problem reached a crisis point. Tensions mounted as PMA companies tried to avoid responsibility for the congestion caused primarily by poor planning and bad business decisions, including:

  • Subcontracting chassis units, causing shortages and logistical problems.
  • Using massive new containers vessels without proper planning.
  • Combining containers from several carriers onto one “alliance” vessel.
  • Failing to pay port truckers a living wage, causing driver shortages
  • Failing to properly plan for record volumes of containers.
  • Failing to train enough dockworkers to operate equipment.

As bargaining continued into the fall, the PMA increasingly accused ILWU members of causing congestion at the ports and charged the union members with orchestrating slowdowns in early November – while companies put pressure on workers by cutting shifts and reducing operations, beginning in Pacific Northwest ports, then spreading down the coast.

By January 13, the PMA had eliminated night and evening shifts, slashing container and cargo loading and unloading operations by 60%. Soon the docks were empty, but employers were still insisting that no space was available to unload ships. Local 13 member and private airplane pilot Rollo Hartstrom joined with Local 94 member and photographer Bill Kirk to take aerial photos that proved PMA’s misleading claims.

Mobilization

Members in Southern California and the Puget Sound mobilized on January 22 for an impressive show of unity. Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. and Local 23 President Dean McGrath organized separate but coordinated events that brought together thousands of longshore workers, families, community leaders and elected officials who showed their support for a fair contract.

Resolution

In late January, union negotiators reached a resolution that maintained ILWU jurisdiction for inspecting chassis units at the ports. With just a few issues remaining, President Obama assigned Labor Secretary Tom Perez to the talks on February 14, joining federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh who was invited to help by the ILWU and PMA in early January. After the PMA agreed to improve the area arbitration system by making it more fair, a tentative agreement was reached the evening of February 20, supported unanimously by the ILWU Negotiating Committee.

Local agreements

In addition to resolving the “coastwise” contract agreement, separate local agreements were negotiated by union leaders to address issues at local ports. For example, Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Southern California were able to negotiate important terms to improve staffing and transparency. Local 10 was able to negotiate local improvements for manning and equalization.

“The efforts of local leaders, rank-and- file members, and our Negotiating Committee were all pulling in the same direction for the same goal,” said President McEllrath. “That kind of unity is the only way for workers to win.”

Categories: Unions

A Grand Alliance of Railroaders and Environmentalists-AHTV - Can Labor and Environmental Groups Work Together?

Current News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 06:04

A Grand Alliance of Railroaders and Environmentalists-AHTV - Can Labor and Environmental Groups Work Together?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neob_7ozMx0&feature=youtu.be
Rank and File Away From Home Televisioin
Railroad Worker John Paul Wright

A Grand Alliance of Railroaders and Environmentalists
www.railroadconference.org

http://youtu.be/neob_7ozMx0

In this Rank and File Report - (Away From Home Terminal TV) I explain the conferences that Railroad Workers United and the Backbone Campaign are organizing out in the West. Many ask, " Can Labor and Environmental - Community Groups Come Together?"

Labor can tackle serious issues and build strong support, but a serious conversation must be made about common goals and issues. Many issues of climate and the environment are hard for unions in the transportation sector to talk about. Oil trains are exploding almost every month and communities are reacting in many ways. Railroad Workers United seeks to educate the public about safety issues surrounding railroads and the transportation industry.

John Wright
Railroad Workers United
502-553-0495

Tags: Railroad workerssafetyderailments
Categories: Labor News

Ecuador to call on LAN Ecuador to reinstate illegally dismissed trade union leader Ximena López, General Secretary of the Aerolane Workers Trade Union (SITA)

Current News - Tue, 03/03/2015 - 05:44

Ecuador to call on LAN Ecuador to reinstate illegally dismissed trade union leader Ximena López, General Secretary of the Aerolane Workers Trade Union (SITA)
http://www.ajot.com/news/ecuador-to-call-on-lan-ecuador-to-reinstate-ill...
By: AJOT | Dec 14 2014 at 04:47 PM | Air Cargo

In a long meeting at the Ministry of Labour, trade union leaders representing workers at LAN Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador met Ecuador’s Minister of Labour to seek government mediation in attempts to secure the reinstatement of Ximena López after she was illegally dismissed in October this year. Ecuador’s Minister of Labour declared himself to be “one more soldier in this fight” and agreed to ask the company to comply with the Constitution and reinstate the leader.

Ecuador’s Minister of Labour, Dr Carlos Ernesto Marx, told a delegation of trade union leaders representing workers at LATAM Airlines Group in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Columbia and Ecuador, and Edgar Díaz, Assistant Regional Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), that he would speak to LAN Ecuador managers about the reinstatement of , who was arbitrarily and illegally dismissed by the company on 14 October this year.

At a meeting that took place on the top floor of the ministry in Quito, the minister received a delegation of at least 20 union leaders, including Ximena López, representing LAN employees in South America.

The trade union leaders explained their point of view about the company’s anti-trade union action and also pointed out the lack of a collective agreement at the company. This was backed up by Edgar Díaz, representing the ITF’s regional office.

The minister responded by promising, on behalf of the government, to mediate in the dispute and to ask company representatives to respect the union’s right to organise workers at LAN Ecuador. It is therefore hoped that there will be significant progress in the short term regarding the reinstatement of Ximena López and the negotiation of a collective agreement.

International Action

The unfair, discriminatory and sexist dismissal of Ximena López is a key case for trade union leaders throughout the region. They see it as a blatant and unpunished attempt to intimidate union members at the Chilean owned airline, which has a presence throughout Latin America.

Ximena López is a leader of international importance inside the company who, in addition to founding the union that organises LAN workers in Ecuador, is a prominent activist on labour rights, gender equality and in the organisation of the ITF’s LATAM network. Her dismissal triggered international solidarity action, resulting in flight delays, letters and protests at embassies in all the countries where LATAM Airlines operates.

Ximena López said the meeting was positive and raised hopes for her reinstatement. “The minister agreed to support us and to ensure compliance with the Constitution. He said he was one more soldier in this fight and so we are very hopeful that he will put into practice the government’s policy of protecting trade union leaders, especially those representing responsible trade unions. The minister is very supportive of this type of organisation. I am almost sure that there will be a positive response”, said López.

The ITF’s Assistant Regional Secretary agreed with López’s assessment of the meeting and said that the federation will be closely following the case. “The result was very important for the ITF. We succeeded in getting the Minister of Labour to agree to meet LAN’s local management and request the reinstatement of our colleague Ximena López. We think this is an urgent case and there is no doubt that we will continue to give this case the attention it deserves. We will follow events closely and look forward to being informed of the date for the minister’s meeting with LAN managers so we can follow up with our own action”, said Edgar Díaz.

Darío Castillo of the Federation of Trade Unions at the LAN Chile Group (FETHLAN) said there could be a successful outcome but that the unions should continue to keep the pressure up on this case. “We had to work hard to get the minister to agree to meet with LAN. He has never shown himself to be especially interested in the workers’ request. But after union pressure, he agreed to our request to meet LAN and seek the reinstatement of Ximena. We are hopeful, but this also depends to some extent on the unions continuing to put pressure on”, said the Chilean representative.

http://www.cproster.com/#!news/c1q6d
http://www.cproster.com/#!news/c1q6d
ITF, News-Press
Sam Dawson, December 2014

IThe ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) has called on the Colombian government to enforce national law and hold the Avianca airline to account over its continued use of fake ‘co-operatives’ as way of ducking its responsibilities to employees. The practice of setting up fake ‘associated work co-operatives’ has become such a problem in Colombia that the government has outlawed them. Despite being named, shamed and fined by the Labour Ministry, Avianca continues to use the tactic – leading to 130 ground staff workers taking industrial action to uphold the law last week. The airline then sacked them.

Despite having their access cards cancelled the workers are holding a sit-in at Bogota’s El Dorado airport. The Ministry of Labour had been investigating Avianca’s use of ‘associative work co-operatives’, but the company dismissed the workers when it was shut for its weekend break.

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton today wrote to the president of Colombia, stating:

We are informed of the actions that the Ministry of Labor of your country has been implementing to require the regularisation of the workers who were subjected to this situation … and we are genuinely shocked by the decision of Avianca, which has decided to use other workers to replace strikers and order the dismissal of the strikers unilaterally and abusively. For your knowledge, at the moment there is a group of workers within the internal area of the airport in terrible conditions, both precarious and inhumane, under plastic covers. Allegedly Avianca, through its subcontracted ‘co-operative’, has made known that whoever comes to give them food or supplies will also be dismissed, thus generating a climate of fear for the other workers who question the rule of law in Colombia. In addition, dozens of workers who are outside of the airport have already been notified of the dismissal and have been barred from entering to meet with their colleagues.

We therefore request your urgent and decisive intervention to ensure that the rights of workers in Avianca hired directly or through ‘associated work co-operatives’ are safeguarded, avoiding redundancies and formalising the employment relationship with Avianca, which is the corporate entity responsible for the employment relationship, and which benefits from their work.
ITF, News-Press
Isabel Cortes, December 2014

Ecuador’s government to call on LAN Ecuador to comply with the Constitution and reinstate illegally dismissed trade union leader

In a long meeting at the Ministry of Labour, trade union leaders representing workers at LAN Peru, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador met Ecuador’s Minister of Labour to seek government mediation in attempts to secure the reinstatement of Ximena López after she was illegally dismissed in October this year. Ecuador’s Minister of Labour declared himself to be “one more soldier in this fight” and agreed to ask the company to comply with the Constitution and reinstate the leader.

Ecuador’s Minister of Labour, Dr Carlos Ernesto Marx, told a delegation of trade union leaders representing workers at LATAM Airlines Group in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Columbia and Ecuador, and Edgar Díaz, Assistant Regional Secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), that he would speak to LAN Ecuador managers about the reinstatement of Ximena López, General Secretary of the Aerolane Workers Trade Union (SITA), who was arbitrarily and illegally dismissed by the company on 14 October this year.

At a meeting that took place on the top floor of the ministry in Quito, the minister received a delegation of at least 20 union leaders, including Ximena López, representing LAN employees in South America.

The trade union leaders explained their point of view about the company’s anti-trade union action and also pointed out the lack of a collective agreement at the company. This was backed up by Edgar Díaz, representing the ITF’s regional office.

The minister responded by promising, on behalf of the government, to mediate in the dispute and to ask company representatives to respect the union’s right to organise workers at LAN Ecuador. It is therefore hoped that there will be significant progress in the short term regarding the reinstatement of Ximena López and the negotiation of a collective agreement.

INTERNATIONAL ACTION
The unfair, discriminatory and sexist dismissal of Ximena López is a key case for trade union leaders throughout the region. They see it as a blatant and unpunished attempt to intimidate union members at the Chilean owned airline, which has a presence throughout Latin America.

Ximena López is a leader of international importance inside the company who, in addition to founding the union that organises LAN workers in Ecuador, is a prominent activist on labour rights, gender equality and in the organisation of the ITF’s LATAM network. Her dismissal triggered international solidarity action, resulting in flight delays, letters and protests at embassies in all the countries where LATAM Airlines operates.

Ximena López said the meeting was positive and raised hopes for her reinstatement. “The minister agreed to support us and to ensure compliance with the Constitution. He said he was one more soldier in this fight and so we are very hopeful that he will put into practice the government’s policy of protecting trade union leaders, especially those representing responsible trade unions. The minister is very supportive of this type of organisation. I am almost sure that there will be a positive response”, said López.

The ITF’s Assistant Regional Secretary agreed with López’s assessment of the meeting and said that the federation will be closely following the case. “The result was very important for the ITF. We succeeded in getting the Minister of Labour to agree to meet LAN’s local management and request the reinstatement of our colleague Ximena López. We think this is an urgent case and there is no doubt that we will continue to give this case the attention it deserves. We will follow events closely and look forward to being informed of the date for the minister’s meeting with LAN managers so we can follow up with our own action”, said Edgar Díaz.

Darío Castillo of the Federation of Trade Unions at the LAN Chile Group (FETHLAN) said there could be a successful outcome but that the unions should continue to keep the pressure up on this case. “We had to work hard to get the minister to agree to meet with LAN. He has never shown himself to be especially interested in the workers’ request. But after union pressure, he agreed to our request to meet LAN and seek the reinstatement of Ximena. We are hopeful, but this also depends to some extent on the unions continuing to put pressure on”, said the Chilean representative.

Minister of Labour: LAN Ecuador’s dismissal of trade union leader is unconstitutional

On leaving a meeting with LAN Ecuador’s manager and legal representative, Max Naranjo, at the transnational company’s offices, arranged to try and resolve the dispute caused by the dismissal of the trade union leader, Jimena López, the Minister of Labour, Carlos Ernesto Marx, said he is convinced that the dismissal violated Ecuador’s Constitution and that, in the light of the company’s refusal to adopt a conciliatory position, legal action should be taken to demand her reinstatement.

After meeting with LAN Ecuador management, the Minister of Labour, Carlos Ernesto Marx, told members of the Aerolane Workers’ Trade Union (SITA) he is convinced that the dismissal of the trade union leader, Jimena López, is unconstitutional. “The dismissal is unconstitutional”, said the minister, indicating frustration at the company’s refusal to adopt a conciliatory stance and reinstate the trade union leader to her job.

Given LAN Ecuador’s refusal to reverse the illegal dismissal, the Minister of Labour said that legal action would be required to re-establish the rights guaranteed to its citizens by the Ecuadorian Constitution.

In the afternoon of Tuesday 16 December, the Minister of Labour, Carlos Ernesto Marx, met LAN Ecuador’s manager and legal representative, Max Naranjo, at the company’s offices in order to ensure “compliance with the Constitution” and to mediate between the company and the workers, who have been taking action in the country and elsewhere in Latin America since 10 October, to demand the reinstatement of trade union leader, Jimena López. The unions claimed the dismissal was illegal and designed to prevent the union from organising in the company.

Tags: Lan Airlines
Categories: Labor News

Crude on Derailed Train Contained High Level of Gas

Current News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 18:13

Crude on Derailed Train Contained High Level of Gas
Cargo would have violated new vapor-pressure cap that goes into effect in April
http://www.wsj.com/articles/crude-on-derailed-train-contained-high-level...
By RUSSELL GOLD
Updated March 2, 2015 6:54 p.m. ET

The crude oil aboard the train that derailed and exploded two weeks ago in West Virginia contained so much combustible gas that it would have been barred from rail transport under safety regulations set to go into effect next month.

Tests performed on the oil before the train left North Dakota showed it contained a high level of volatile gases, according to a lab report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The oil’s vapor pressure, a measure of volatility, was 13.9 pounds per square inch, according to the Feb. 10 report by Intertek Group PLC.

That exceeds the limit of 13.7 psi that North Dakota is set to impose in April on oil moving by truck or rail from the Bakken Shale. Oil producers that don’t treat their crude to remove excess gas face fines and possible civil or criminal penalties, said Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

The state introduced new rules on shipping oil in December, after a series of accidents in which trains carrying crude from the Bakken erupted into fireballs after derailing. As the Journal has reported, oil from shale formations contains far more combustible gas than traditional crude oil, which has a vapor pressure of about 6 psi; gasoline has a maximum psi of about 13.5.

The company that shipped the oil, Plains All American Pipeline LP, said it follows all regulations governing the shipping and testing of crude. “We believe our sampling and testing procedures and results are in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements,” said Plains spokesman Brad Leone.

Raw video: A train carrying more than 100 tankers of crude oil derailed in West Virginia earlier this month. Photo: WOAY
New information about the West Virginia accident is likely to increase regulators’ focus on the makeup of oil being shipped by train. Federal emergency rules adopted last year imposed new safety requirements on railroad operators but not on energy companies.

“The type of product the train is transporting is also important,” said Sarah Feinberg, the acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration. “The reality is that we know this product is volatile and explosive.”

Ms. Feinberg has supported requiring the energy industry to strip out more gases from the crude oil before shipping it to make the cargo less dangerous, but such measures aren’t currently included in current or proposed federal rules.

In the wake of the West Virginia accident, members of Congress have called on the White House to expedite its review of pending safety rules developed by the U.S. Transportation Department. Timothy Butters, the acting administrator of the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said the new regulations were being vetted as quickly as was practical, given what he called their complexity.

Some critics are calling for lower limits on the vapor pressure of oil moving by rail.

The lower the vapor pressure, the less explosive the oil and “the less chance of it blowing up—that should be the common goal here,” said Daniel McCoy, the chief executive of Albany County, N.Y., which has become a transit hub for Bakken crude heading to East Coast refineries.

The train that exploded in West Virginia included 109 tanker cars loaded with about 70,000 barrels of crude. It traveled from Western North Dakota across Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio before derailing in Mount Carbon, W. Va. Nearly two dozen tanker cars full of crude oil were engulfed in flames, some exploding into enormous fireballs that towered over the small community and burned a house to the ground.

The cause of the derailment remains under investigation. State and federal officials have said the train was traveling well under speed limits imposed last year on trains carrying crude oil. The train was made up of relatively new tanker cars built to withstand accidents better than older models.

A couple hours after the derailment, CSX and Plains All American Pipeline turned over paperwork about the crude to first responders and state and federal investigators. The testing document was included; the Journal reviewed it after making an open-records request.

A spokesman for CSX Corp. , the railroad that carried the oill at the time of the crash, said it had stepped up its inspections of the track along this route, a procedure that railroads voluntarily agreed to last year.

“Documentation provided to CSX indicated that the shipments on the train that derailed were in compliance with regulations necessary for transportation,” said Gary Sease, a CSX spokesman. “We support additional measures to enhance the safety of oil shipments, and continue to work cooperatively with regulators, oil producers, tank car manufacturers and others to achieve ever higher safety performance.”

A spokesman for BNSF Railway Co., which hauled the crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, where it was handed off to CSX, declined to comment on the derailment.

Intertek, the testing company, said it is abreast of the regulatory changes and “working closely with authorities and our clients to assure compliance.”

The U.S. Transportation Department is testing samples of crude that didn’t spill or burn and says it plans to compare its findings with the North Dakota test.

The fire burned for three and a half days. “If it is burning hard, you can’t put it out,” said Benny Filiaggi, the deputy chief of the Montgomery Fire Department, who responded to the West Virginia derailment. He said he received training from CSX about oil-train fires in October.

“We concentrated on evacuating everyone nearby before the first explosion,” Mr. Filiaggi said.

Write to Russell Gold at russell.gold@wsj.com

Tags: derailmentexplosions
Categories: Labor News

Oakland General Strike was nation's last in 1946

Current News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:36

Oakland General Strike was nation's last in 1946
http://www.montereyherald.com/general-news/20150301/allen-oakland-genera...
By Annalee Allen Oakland Tribune Correspondent
POSTED: 03/01/15, 12:09 AM PST |0 COMMENTS
In honor of International Women's Day on Sunday, March 8, Oakland Urban Paths and the Oakland Tours Program are co-sponsoring a free Women's History Tour in downtown Oakland. The tour begins at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall and will feature local women of note, such as writer Gertrude Stein, dancer Isadora Duncan, architect Julia Morgan, and journalist and civil rights advocate Delilah Beasley.

At the conclusion of the walk through downtown, tour participants will be invited to step into the landmark Camron-Stanford House near Lake Merritt, to view a special exhibit about one of California's oldest women's organizations, the Ebell Society, founded in 1878 and still going strong today.

According to the history files, International Women's Day first emerged from the labor movements at the turn of the 20th century in North America and across Europe. The first National Women's Day was observed in 1909 in the year following a garment workers' strike in New York, where women protested against harsh working conditions.

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A meeting held in Copenhagen in 1910 by the International Socialist Party established a Women's Day to honor the movement for women's rights and to build support for achieving universal suffrage for women. Historic accounts reveal more than 100 women from 17 countries at that conference unanimously approved the concept. Since then, more global women's conferences have been held, helping to make the commemoration a rallying point to build support for women's rights and participation in the political and economic arenas around the world.

March 8th became the official annual day of celebration forty years ago in 1975, during the United Nations' year of the woman.

Locally, a significant event occurred nearly 70 years ago when female retail clerks working for downtown department stores in the late fall of 1946, decided to try to unionize. Locked out by management, they called upon other workers to strike in support. General strikes are illegal today, but back in 1946 it was still a legal labor action, history files tell us. More than 130,000 union members walked off their jobs to protest the anti-union actions taken by local police at the behest of Oakland's City Council against the female clerks. Thousands more honored their picket lines, and for three days, no buses or streetcars or taxis ran in Alameda County. Construction projects shut down, the shipyards were idle and most gas stations were closed.

Teamster pickets kept trucks from entering the county and most grocery stores, hotels, restaurants and movie theaters were closed. Nearly all commerce in the East Bay came to a halt when the members of 142 unions struck in solidarity with the women clerks.

History files reveal that the Oakland General Strike of 1946 was the nation's last "sympathy" strike. The passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 by Congress put an end to that union tactic.

A plaque on the wall of the Rotunda Building (formerly Kahn's Department Store) in downtown Oakland, commemorating the women retail clerks actions for the right to organize a union is stop No. 1 on Sunday's Women's History Tour.

For more information about the Women's History Tour, go to www.oaklandurbanpaths.org, or leave a message on the Oakland Tours Program hotline, 510 238-3234. Reservations are recommended.

There are links to additional information on the 1946 general strike at https://oaklandwiki.org/1946Oakland General Strike.

Contact Annalee Allen at ldmksldy@aol.com

Tags: Oakland General Strike
Categories: Labor News

Germany: Week of public sector strikes starts

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Europe Online
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: FIFA awarded the World Cup to a state where slavery is actively facilitated

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Independent
Categories: Labor News

Hundreds march in Tacoma for a fair contract

ILWU - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 11:37

Telling the truth in Tacoma: ILWU Local 23 President Dean McGrath spoke at the Tacoma rally on January 22 and invited younger members to also share the podium.

Hundreds of longshore workers, families, and community supporters held a nighttime rally and march in downtown Tacoma. The goal was to show unity and solidarity for a fair contract – and set the record straight about the companies’ role in causing port congestion and delays.

When they arrived at Tollefson Plaza, many marchers wore their safety vests and hard hats on a cold dark night with light rain. Members and supporters came from throughout the Puget Sound region, plus Portland, Longview and Vancouver along the Columbia River and up north to Canada.

Long-distance attendees included Alaska Longshore Division President Chuck Wendt and Juneau President Dennis Young.

“Shutting down the ports by cutting shifts and sending workers home is not a solution to the congestion and delays – it’s only making things worse,” said Local 23 President Dean McGrath who welcomed a short list of speakers who were notable for their strong Local 98 member Zeek Green brought his family to the podium as he shared a clever and hard-hitting “rap” about the lengthy longshore contract struggle.

Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson noted that former ILWU President and co-founder Harry Bridges, said that workers must always struggle against corporate greed. And local 25 year-old member Meghan Mason led the crowd in a chant; “Union town, through and through, you for me, and me for you!” before delivering a strong speech.

When the rally ended, the march took shape with a new twist: a set of battery-powered electrified letters, each carried by a marcher, spelled out an important message when carried in formation: END PORT LAYOFFS.

This “light brigade” led marchers on a short walk to the Glass Bridge, a pedestrian overpass spanning Interstate 705, where the lighted message and throngs of marchers were visible to thousands of cars passing below.

The well-organized and tightly timed event lasted just 90 minutes, but many reported that it boosted spirits – and scored positive media coverage in local TV, radio and newspaper outlets.

Local 19 worker Leith Kahl came down for the rally from Seattle carrying his banjo that he used with his powerful voice to serenade supporters at the end of the march with union solidarity songs, including one that he’d written about the cancelled shifts and employer firings that became routine in the Northwest beginning last fall. “It’s all part of making history, and always better when our voices are heard in the process.”

Categories: Unions

The Working Longshoremen (1991)

Current News - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 09:37

The Working Longshoremen (1991)
http://depts.washington.edu/dock/magdenTacoma.shtml
University of Washington
Ronald E. Magden The Working Longshoremen
[Ronald Magden Archive] [Publications] [Magden interview] [Photos] [Film: 1934 Strike]
Ron Magden is the author of several books, including The Working Longshoremen (written with Art Martinson) based on extensive oral history interviews with several generations of Tacoma longshoremen. Click the links to read the chapters (pdf files):

The Working Longshoremen (1991)

• Ch1: The First Tacoma Longshoremen
• Ch2: Boom and Bust
• Ch3: A New Beginning
• Ch4: The Time of Troubles
• Ch5: Fight to the Finish
• Ch6: The Scab Hall
• Ch7: Postwar Turmoil
• Ch8: Tacoma Reorganizes the Northwest
• Ch9: The 1934 Maritime Strike
• Ch10: Into the Lion's Mouth
• Ch11: Technology and Change on the Tacoma Waterfront
• Sources/ Labor and Waterfront Terms

See other Ronald Magden publications

Tags: Tacoma Working Longshoreman
Categories: Labor News

Industrial Worker - Issue #1772, March 2015

IWW - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 10:15

Headlines:

  • Fired Hospitality Workers Fight Back With The London IWW
  • Montreal Wobblies Participate In Disruptive Action At Canada Post
  • IWW Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Win Pay For Fired Organizer

Features:

  • Why Incarcerated Workers Should Join The IWW
  • Celebrating (Working) Women’s History Month
  • Review: Staughton Lynd On War & National Identity

Download a Free PDF of this issue.

read more

Categories: Unions

ILWU Longshoremen maintain clout in era of globalization and automation

Current News - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 09:00

ILWU Longshoremen maintain clout in era of globalization and automation
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-dockworker-pay-20150301-story.html...
The continued strength of the longshoremen's union was made evident in the recent labor dispute at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan, Los Angeles Times)
By CHRIS KIRKHAM AND ANDREW KHOUR

Longshoremen have avoided the fate of most other shipping industry workers in era of globalization
Shipping industry data on dockworker wages omit thousands of part-timers, union leader says
Longshoremen have maintained pay, clout largely because of contract deals in the 1930s and 1960s
More than 4,400 ships bring nearly $400 billion worth of goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach every year, a crucial link in the global supply chain of factories, warehouses, docks, highways and rail lines.

Most blue-collar workers along the chain have seen their wages slashed with the quick rise of global trade. But the longshoremen who move the goods the shortest distance, between ship and shore, have shrewdly protected pay that trumps that of many white-collar managers.

About half of West Coast union longshoremen make more than $100,000 a year — some much more, according to shipping industry data. More than half of foremen and managers earn more than $200,000 each year. A few bosses make more than $300,000. All get free healthcare.

How much can a longshoreman make?
Longshoreman pay dwarfs that of almost all other transit employees, such as trucking, railroad or airline workers. At massive warehouse complexes in the Inland Empire, just an hour's drive from the ports, goods for the nation's largest retailers are shuttled around by temporary workers making as little as $10 or $11 an hour, with no benefits or job security.

The unique clout of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union came into sharp relief recently with the partial shutdown of 29 West Coast ports. The crisis passed with a contract deal a week ago, but it will take up to three months to clear the backlog of cargo on the docks and ships stranded offshore. Many businesses and workers won't recover the money they lost because of port gridlock.

lRelated

Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said the shipping companies' pay figures fail to account for the more than 8,000 so-called casual workers — part-timers who don't receive benefits and often work for years to become registered union members. The data, released by the Pacific Maritime Assn., reflects 90% of the "registered" union members, or more than 12,000 workers.

The association declined a Times request for similar pay data for casual workers and about 1,100 lower-tier union members.

"They don't want to talk about the other workers," Merrilees said. "I don't think it's responsible."

How the Pacific longshoremen have weathered forces that have crippled many unions is a tale of foresight, geography and technology.

A deal cut by union leaders half a century ago allowed workers to share in the gains from innovations in efficiency, such as modern shipping containers. Another key move: organizing all West Coast ports in the 1930s under a single contract, which prevents shipping companies from pitting workers at neighboring ports against one another.

More recently, longshoremen benefited from the rise of U.S. trade with other Pacific Rim countries, positioning the ports as a strategic nexus, another key leverage point in wage talks.

More than 4,400 ships bring nearly $400 billion worth of goods through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach every year, a crucial link in the global supply chain of factories, warehouses, docks, highways and rail lines. (Christina House, For The Times)
"So many labor unions don't have that power anymore," said Ruth Milkman, a professor specializing in labor movements at City University of New York. "Here's a place where globalization has benefited the union, whereas the opposite is true in manufacturing."

Since 1980, container traffic through West Coast ports has grown more than sixfold, according to the most recent data from the American Assn. of Port Authorities. Pacific ports now handle 52% of U.S. cargo volume, compared with 41% at East Coast ports.

Unlike factories, ports can't be moved to low-wage countries. The jobs are "impervious to outsourcing," said John Ahlquist, a political science professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has studied port unions worldwide.

The longshoremen's union has served as a gatekeeper for new entrants to the industry. There are more than 13,000 registered union longshoremen, clerks and foremen, according to West Coast shipping industry data from 2013.

But the more than 8,000 casual workers compete daily for hours of dock work, hoping to snag leftover shifts after union members get first pick. Many toil for years in a part-time holding pattern, waiting for a new round of hiring.

Patience can pay off. Full-fledged union members are divided into three classes: longshoremen, clerks and foremen/walking bosses.

The majority are longshoremen, about half of whom — 4,900 — made more than $100,000 in 2013, according to shipping company data; 1,400 longshoremen made more than $150,000 in 2013, according to the data.

More than half of the 600 foremen and walking bosses took home more than $200,000. At the top end, 85 of them earned more than $250,000.

Overtime, paid at higher rates, accounts for about a third of all hours worked, according to the shipping industry. Longshoremen also get bonuses for specific skills and night shifts.

West Coast port union pay, 2013
Michael Dimon got his start on the docks in 1978, following his father and great-grandfather. He's proud of the wages he earns, and credits collective bargaining for allowing him to buy a home and save money for his two children to attend college. Dimon never finished high school.

Before 2013, he said, he never made more than $100,000 a year. That year he made $117,000, he said. Last year, he made more, as port traffic at Los Angeles and Long Beach surged to the third-busiest year on record. He declined to say how much.

"I would never pretend to be ashamed of the wages that we negotiate and fight for — absolutely not," Dimon said. "What it allows me to do is live the American dream. And sadly to say, it's dying here in America."

The longshoreman's dream was forged by a series of strategic decisions that have given the ILWU unparalleled strength.

In the 1930s, West Coast port union leaders succeeded in negotiating a single contract that linked ports from the Pacific Northwest to San Diego.

In 1960, the ILWU cut a deal that paved the way for a revolution in shipping. For centuries, longshoremen had used highly labor-intensive methods when loading and unloading ships — nets, metal hooks and pallets. The union offered to embrace use of containers in exchange for higher pay and benefits, along with richer pensions and buyouts for displaced workers.

The strategy continues to define the union's approach. In 2002, contract negotiations broke down in part over computer systems intended to replace clerical workers who tracked cargo. The deal led to the elimination of hundreds of clerical jobs, but the union negotiated substantial increases in pension benefits and held on to free healthcare.

In the contract talks resolved last month, one of the main sticking points was over who should maintain and repair the trailers that truckers use to haul goods from the ports. Shipping lines recently outsourced the equipment to third-party firms, threatening the union's maintenance jobs.

Merrilees, the union spokesman, said the union retained the right to do some inspections and repairs on the trailers. But trade experts said the presence of third-party firms could continue to complicate the issue.

Experts point out that the ILWU's unique place in the supply chain has allowed it to benefit despite automation. But it's unclear how long the union can prevent technology from eroding pay and job security.

Cargo ships anchor offshore Monday at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, where cargo movement has slowed down as port employers and representatives of the dockworkers union try to work out a new contract.
The union may struggle to maintain high wages in the middle of a low-wage transportation network, said Nelson Lichtenstein, a history professor and director of the Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy at UC Santa Barbara.

"The nail's sticking up," he said, "and people have hammers."

chris.kirkham@latimes.com

andrew.khouri@latimes.com

Tags: ilwuCoast ContractAutomation
Categories: Labor News

Giant ships in West Coast ports' future

Current News - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 08:35

Giant ships in West Coast ports' future
http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27616993/giant-ships-west-coast-p...
By Pete Careypcarey@mercurynews.com
POSTED: 02/28/2015 12:55:32 PM PST0 COMMENTS| UPDATED: ABOUT 14 HOURS AGO
1

The mega ship MSC Sola waits to be off loaded at berth 25 at the Ports of America at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)
‹›
With a bitter battle over a dockworkers' contract tentatively resolved, West Coast ports and their terminal operators are back dealing with an even bigger challenge -- the mega-ship.

Bulked up like weightlifters on steroids, the new container vessels have set off a competitive scramble by the ports, which are dredging new channels, buying equipment and planning vast additions to warehouse space to accommodate the mega-ships, with the price tag for improvements running into billions of dollars.
"There are monsters out there, and unless we learn how to deal with these monsters, we're going to lose business and tremendously affect the economies of the ports and the regions around them," said Jock O'Connell, international trade adviser for Beacon Economics.

The megaship MSC Sola waits to be off loaded at berth 25 at the Ports of America at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (Laura A. Oda)
Staying competitive with ports elsewhere is crucial for this region's economy. The West Coast ports handled 43.5 percent of U.S. containerized imports in 2013, down from 50 percent in 2002, according to the Pacific Maritime Association. The good news is that the recovering economy has increased the flow of goods across the Pacific as retail sales bounce back in the U.S.
For ocean carriers, building bigger ships is a matter of economics: The larger vessels are, the lower the cost of moving a container. The trend began as the industry recovered from the recession, which had hammered revenue and profits. Experts say the message from the shipping lines to the ports is this: Get ready for us or we'll find a port that is.

West Coast ports returned their attention to mega-ships after a nine-month labor dispute that bogged down the flow of cargo, sending some shippers to ports on the Gulf and East Coast and forcing some importers to air express shipments. Although they're working through a two- to four-month backlog of cargo, the ports are wooing importers to return. The West Coast is still the fastest route to the inland U.S., and Los Angeles boasts a big local market of 13 million people.
To prepare for the big ships, berths at the Port of Oakland have been dredged to a depth of 50 feet. Cranes have been raised by terminal operators to reach over taller, wider loads. Railroads that operate out of the port have increased their capacity to deliver imported products across the U.S. A $1 billion project for new warehouses and a facility to ready imported goods for domestic shipment is planned on port property and the old Oakland Army Base.
The new warehouses will be a selling point the port can use to convince shippers to unload more of their cargo in Oakland rather than Long Beach and Los Angeles, said Chris Lytle, the port's executive director. "We think it's a great advantage for shippers," he said.
The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are each spending $1 million or more a day on ambitious plans to get ready for all but the biggest of the mega-ships. Long Beach plans to spend $4 billion over 10 years on improvements.

"The challenge for Los Angeles and Long Beach and the terminals around the country is adjusting to this new reality, these larger ships," said Phillip Sanfield, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles.

The terminals were built to handle smaller ships, he said. Although the port has dredged deeper channels and raised its cranes, "the logistics of the terminals are a work in progress."

In the past, shipments at the port might peak a couple times a year, said Noel Hacegaba, chief commercial officer at the Port of Long Beach. "Now, it's happening every time one of these big vessels arrives." Also, he said, unloading cargo has become more complex as alliances of ocean carriers pool their loads on a single mega-ship. The port has 4,000 vessel calls a year, with about two mega-ships a week, a frequency that is expected to increase in the coming years.

"The emergence of the big ships, the mega-vessels, comes down to simple economics," said Hacegaba. "Ocean carriers will continue to invest in larger and larger ships in years ahead to reduce cost per container and to reduce costs to customers. It's good for them and their customers, but the terminals and the ports where these big vessels call have to make drastic changes to be able to accommodate the surge in volume."

Container ships have grown from those capable of carrying 8,500 20-foot-long containers in the early 2000s to one on the drawing boards today expected to haul almost 24,000 containers. Anything exceeding 10,000 containers is considered a mega-ship. Regardless of the vessel's size, shippers want them unloaded quickly, so they can return to Asia for more cargo. And they just keep growing in the number of containers they can carry.

The 1,191-foot-long MSC Sola, which berthed at the Port of Oakland this week, was one of the largest when it was built in 2008. It is just 14 feet short of the maximum length the port's berths can handle.

Able to carry 11,660 containers, MSC Sola has since been outstripped by newer vessels, including the recently launched 1,300-foot MSC Oscar. The Oscar can carry 19,224 20-foot-long containers, and will, like the largest of the mega-ships, ply the route from Asia to Europe trade via the Suez Canal.

But as vessels grow ever larger, the Oscar conceivably could be diverted to the Asia-Pacific routes served by California ports, O'Connell said.

"It's not going to be tomorrow," said O'Connell, adding half-seriously, "but in the fullness of time, which in the maritime industry seems to be about a year and a half."

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419 Follow him on Twitter.com/petecarey

Tags: transportationmeg-ships
Categories: Labor News

Aging Track Caused Canadian National Railway Fiery Derailment – Gainford

Railroaded's Blog - Sun, 03/01/2015 - 07:07

Deteriorating rail infrastructure caused 13 Canadian National Railway tank cars to derail and explode in a fireball October 19, 2013 in Gainford, Alberta (Edmonton Journal). The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada recently released its investigative report on the accident that resulted in a local state of emergency and evacuation of 106 nearby homes. 138 people were evacuated for 4 days and one house was damaged by the intense heat.

Four tank cars loaded with crude oil and 9 pressurized tank cars loaded with liquefied petroleum gas (propane) fell off CN’s mainline in a curved section of the tracks. Two of the propane tank cars broke open and caught fire, causing a huge explosion that lit up the night sky. A third tank car released propane from its safety valve, which ignited.

TSB investigators found 16 transverse cracks in old rails, one of which actually split the track. The high (outside) rail in the track curve that broke was marked by visible surface cracks and chunks of rail falling out, said George Fowler, a TSB investigator. The track, made in the 1970s, was due for replacement. The low (inside) rail in the curve had been replaced in March 2013. The new rail sat taller than the old worn rail it replaced, which put more pressure and stress on the older high rail that also needed replacement. Replacing only the low rail “obviously…wasn’t the right decision based on the derailment” said Fowler. “Railroads are good businesses. They are not going to replace an asset before they have to”, Fowler continued.

The TSB’s comments certainly highlight one of the main causes of derailments and other accidents, namely that railway corporations let their rail infrastructure deteriorate to the point where it falls apart. If regular and adequate safety monitoring and maintenance were conducted, the number of derailments would be significantly lower; however, adequate monitoring and maintenance cost money and time, which affects the bottom line of railway companies like Canadian National Railway. Transport Canada has also been repeatedly criticized by the TSB and rail safety experts for inadequate oversight of companies’ rail safety programs. In many cases, federal legislation already exists to address rail safety issues; unfortunately, the legislation is poorly enforced by the federal government. In other cases, new legislation is required to address shortfalls in rail safety measures.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional examples of CN derailments, spills, explosions and fires.


Filed under: Derailment
Categories: Labor News

More Canadian National Railway Derailments in Pennsylvania and Alberta

Railroaded's Blog - Sat, 02/28/2015 - 17:55

Canadian National Railway is having trouble convincing the public that they run a safe railway, considering the number of reported CN derailments during an 11-day period from February 14 to February 25. Railroaded has already reported on CN derailments February 25 near Duluth, Minnesota; and February 14 near Timmins, Ontario.

Another Canadian National Railway derailment occurred February 25 in Butler County, Pennsylvania, the same day of the Duluth, Minnesota derailment. The Pennsylvania derailment involved 27 cars loaded with iron ore falling off the tracks about 35 miles north of Pittsburgh (Daily Journal). The rail line had to be closed for at least 2 days while the derailed CN cars and loads were cleaned off the tracks, and the damaged tracks repaired. The train was traveling from Conneaut, Ohio to Pittsburgh.

On February 14, the same day of the Timmins, Ontario CN derailment, several cars of a CN train went off the tracks in a Jasper, Alberta rail yard (Fitzhugh). Although CN provided no information to the media, they did park a train in front of the derailed cars to obstruct the view of the accident from the Jasper townsite. A crane was observed helping to get the cars back onto the tracks. CN employees were still working on the tracks where the derailment occurred 3 days following the accident.

During the same 11-day period, a CSX oil train derailed near Charleston, West Virginia on February 16 involving 27 tank cars loaded with Bakken crude oil, about 15 of which caught fire and several plunged into the Kanawha River, spilling crude oil. Two Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives and 13 cars derailed on February 4 north of Dubuque, Iowa. 3 of 11 derailed tank cars loaded with ethanol caught fire and another 3 tank cars plunged into the Mississippi River.

Read CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents  for many more examples of CN derailments in Canada and the U.S.

 


Filed under: Derailment
Categories: Labor News

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