Feed aggregator

China: Strikes on The Rise in China Ahead of Lunar New Year Holiday

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Radio Free Asia
Categories: Labor News

Bitter shipping battle continues at Oakland port

Current News - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 08:36

Bitter shipping battle continues at Oakland port
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Bitter-shipping-battle-contin...
By Peter FimriteFebruary 7, 2015 Updated: February 7, 2015 4:38pm
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 06: A Maersk Line container ship sits idle in the San Francisco Bay just outside of the Port of Oakland on February 6, 2015 in Oakland, California. Pacific Maritime Association announced today that terminal operators at 29 West Coast ports will be shutting down cargo operations amidst long labor negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The sniping and backbiting between dockworkers and shipping officials intensified this weekend at the Port of Oakland as the long-running contract dispute at 29 ports on the West Coast dragged on, causing crippling delays and devastating economic losses.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and terminal operators, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 dockworkers, have been at an impasse since July 1, when the union contract ran out.

Work delays and stoppages over the past three months have caused mounting problems for Bay Area importers and small-business owners, who say they are losing money as trucks line up daily outside the Port of Oakland waiting for container ships anchored in San Francisco Bay to unload.

The Maritime Association suspended vessel loading and unloading operations over the weekend at all West Coast ports, including Oakland. The move, which essentially eliminated weekend overtime work for thousands of longshoremen, was in retaliation for what association officials called vindictive work slowdowns and stoppages.

RELATED

• West Coast port employers to slash shifts amid labor dispute
• Oakland police fire shots at man armed with golf club
• Forecasters predict heavy showers for Sunday

“The member companies concluded that they will no longer pay premium pay for diminished productivity,” said Wade Gates, the association spokesman, adding that shipping lines pay time-and-a-half on the weekends.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the union, called the decision “irresponsible and damaging to people who need their containers.” The merchants, he said, “are being held hostage by these foreign-owned companies that are committing economic terrorism against workers and business owners.”

James McKenna, the maritime association president, denied rumors he was considering a lockout, but urged the union to accept what amounted to 3 percent raises over five years, employer-paid health care and an 11 percent increase in pensions. The association said the average dockworker currently makes $147,000 a year in salary.

But money isn’t the primary issue, Merrilees said. Job security and improved worker safety are the real concerns, he said, especially since dock workers are servicing larger ships, handling more cargo and dealing with increasing pressure to speed things up.

“The industry has been showing a willingness to outsource and destroy good jobs,” said Merrilees. “Our goal is to make sure the good-paying blue-collar jobs that 30 communities up and down the coast depend on today are there tomorrow.”

The steadily deteriorating situation also has affected the 28 other ports between Seattle and San Diego, delaying merchandise deliveries up and down the coast. It is so bad that McKenna said last week that a “coast-wide meltdown” is imminent if a settlement isn’t reached.

Michael Zampa, communications director for the Port of Oakland, said anywhere from a half-dozen to a dozen ships are anchored in the bay every day, waiting for a spot at the Oakland marine terminal. An equal number are stuck outside the Golden Gate because there is no room for them to even anchor in the bay. Union workers have cut production from an average of about 32 containers moved per hour in October to about 24 per hour in February, he added.

“There has been a noticeable decline in productivity and there have been disruptions,” Zampa said. “At various times, labor has walked off the job, claiming health or safety concerns, and there has often been less than the full complement of labor deployed to terminals.”

The Port of Oakland is the third-largest port in California and the fifth-biggest in the United States. Port officials lease the facilities to marine terminal operators and are not involved in the contract negotiations. Still, the impasse has had a major impact on operations.

The port employs only about 500 people, but there are at least 73,000 ancillary jobs, including crane operators, cargo handlers, warehouse crews, railroad workers, customs officials and importers, all the way down to the taco stand operator, Zampa said.

Between 7,000 and 9,000 truckers pick up or drop off cargo at the port, and many of them have had to wait as long as eight hours to get into the terminal. That’s not to mention all the merchants who purchased the goods sitting in the containers.

“Businesses both big and small are affected if this port shuts down,” he said, “and you've got the same scenario magnified in Los Angeles, Long Beach, and also in Seattle and Tacoma.”

One Bay Area importer of European antiques, who asked not to be named because of fear of retribution, recently had to wait almost a month past the scheduled arrival date for the shipping container holding goods he purchased from France. He ended up paying $5,100 more than normal because of inspection and storage fees, even though the container was not available to be picked up.

“I couldn’t get it, but they were charging me for storage, and they wouldn't let me pick it up myself until they could move it to where it could be picked up. It was a perfect catch-22,” said the importer, who owns a small store that he said barely provides him with a living. “They're sticking it to everybody. Maybe the bigger companies can absorb this, but it was hard for us.”

Pavel Hanousek, co-founder of SkLO, a glass product design and manufacturing firm in Healdsburg, told The Chronicle that his monthly container of glass from the Czech Republic was delayed for more than three weeks. While he waited, orders worth $100,000 were canceled and most of his 12 employees had to be sent home. He said he is now looking to use other ports, including Houston and those on the East Coast.

The Port of Oakland set a record for the number of freight containers it handled in 2014, in part because of diversions from Los Angeles and Long Beach. The two Southern California ports handle more imports from Asia than any others in the United States, but much of their traffic has had to be diverted because of the same shipping congestion problems that have hit Oakland.

Union officials insist that the back-ups already existed, and worsened only because the maritime association has refused to approve safety measures and make planning and infrastructure improvements that would help workers deal with the increased amount of cargo from super-size container ships.

Federal mediators are in San Francisco trying to help settle the dispute.

Peter Fimrite is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: pfimrite@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @pfimrite.

Tags: port of OaklandPMALockout
Categories: Labor News

Engineer’s Struggle to Stop Metro-North Train Federal Investigators Plan to Create Timeline of Events Leading to Crash

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 20:06

Engineer’s Struggle to Stop Metro-North Train
Federal Investigators Plan to Create Timeline of Events Leading to Crash
http://www.wsj.com/articles/engineers-struggle-to-stop-metro-north-train...
By ANDREW TANGEL and JOSEPH DE AVILA
Feb. 6, 2015 8:52 p.m. ET
For the train’s engineer, it began as a struggle in the darkness against the laws of physics.

At first, Steven Smalls, who was operating the Metro-North Railroad train in Tuesday evening’s deadly crash, saw a reflection on a road crossing ahead, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Friday.

But as soon as Mr. Smalls realized that he and hundreds of passengers were on a collision course with a sport-utility vehicle on Westchester County tracks, he triggered the commuter train’s emergency brakes, the safety board official said.

It was too late. The train, which was traveling through Valhalla, N.Y., at 58 miles an hour, slowed to 49 miles before slamming into the SUV. The train traveled about 650 feet down the tracks after the collision, according to the official.

ENLARGE
NTSB officials inspect the Metro-North train involved in a fatal crash on Tuesday.PHOTO: NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
“We are going to create a timeline of everything that happened in this event to put this together,” said the NTSB official, Robert Sumwalt, in his last on-site media briefing in an investigation that could take more than a year to complete.

The wreck engulfed the SUV and the front of the train in flames, killing five passengers and the vehicle’s driver.

It came only a little more than a year after a December 2013 Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that killed four passengers, and marked another blow to the nation’s second-busiest commuter railroad.

As investigators comb through the charred Metro-North train to find out what went wrong, railroad experts said Mr. Smalls appeared to have done all he could to stop the train.

An attorney for Mr. Smalls, who was released from a hospital on Wednesday and interviewed by the NTSB the next day, said he wasn’t available for comment on Friday.

Mr. Smalls joined the railroad in 2010 as an electrician but was qualified to operate trains in March 2013, Mr. Sumwalt said.

Working against Mr. Smalls before the crash, experts said, were time, distance and the sheer momentum of the train, whose eight cars each weigh about 128,000 pounds.

“Trains have incredible velocity, and it takes a long time to stop,” said Robert Paaswell, former executive director of the Chicago Transit Authority who now teaches civil engineering at City College of New York.

Stopping a train traveling at 58 mph could mean traveling more than a half-mile from the point that its engineer activates its emergency brakes, rail experts said.

The problem is that the engineer likely can’t see that far, especially at night, said Steven Ditmeyer, who teaches railway management at Michigan State University and who has a background in railroad engineering and operations.

“The train engineer can’t see a half-mile or a mile down the tracks,” Mr. Ditmeyer said.

Slowing down a train to a speed less likely to end in death could take nearly as long, railroad experts said.

The likelihood of fatalities from crashes at railroad crossings significantly increases when trains are traveling at 30 mph or more, according to Grady Cothen, a former top safety official at the Federal Railroad Administration.

But experts said trains traveling at even 10 mph can still cause damage and death.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, right, and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut pause for a moment of silence after Schumer left flowers at the site of the crash. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Whatever it hits, it’s going to cause a tremendous amount of damage,” Mr. Paaswell said

Mr. Sumwalt said the NTSB on Friday began to conduct 3-D laser scans of the exterior and interior of the first train car, which suffered extensive fire damage.

Investigators also determined Friday that there were a dozen 39-foot sections of third rail that punctured the train. The electrified third rail powers the Metro-North in this section of the system.

NTSB officials still haven't determined what could have caused the third rail to break apart.

After the crash, Mr. Smalls helped more than five passengers evacuate the smoke-filled train, Mr. Sumwalt said.

But the fire grew too intense to help further.

“It goes without saying that he’s very traumatized,” Mr. Sumwalt said of Mr. Smalls.

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com and Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

Tags: Train engineerhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Engineer’s Struggle to Stop Metro-North Train Federal Investigators Plan to Create Timeline of Events Leading to Crash

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 19:56

Engineer’s Struggle to Stop Metro-North Train
Federal Investigators Plan to Create Timeline of Events Leading to Crash
http://www.wsj.com/articles/engineers-struggle-to-stop-metro-north-train...
By ANDREW TANGEL and JOSEPH DE AVILA
Feb. 6, 2015 8:52 p.m. ET
For the train’s engineer, it began as a struggle in the darkness against the laws of physics.

At first, Steven Smalls, who was operating the Metro-North Railroad train in Tuesday evening’s deadly crash, saw a reflection on a road crossing ahead, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Friday.

But as soon as Mr. Smalls realized that he and hundreds of passengers were on a collision course with a sport-utility vehicle on Westchester County tracks, he triggered the commuter train’s emergency brakes, the safety board official said.

It was too late. The train, which was traveling through Valhalla, N.Y., at 58 miles an hour, slowed to 49 miles before slamming into the SUV. The train traveled about 650 feet down the tracks after the collision, according to the official.

ENLARGE
NTSB officials inspect the Metro-North train involved in a fatal crash on Tuesday.PHOTO: NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD
“We are going to create a timeline of everything that happened in this event to put this together,” said the NTSB official, Robert Sumwalt, in his last on-site media briefing in an investigation that could take more than a year to complete.

The wreck engulfed the SUV and the front of the train in flames, killing five passengers and the vehicle’s driver.

It came only a little more than a year after a December 2013 Metro-North derailment in the Bronx that killed four passengers, and marked another blow to the nation’s second-busiest commuter railroad.

As investigators comb through the charred Metro-North train to find out what went wrong, railroad experts said Mr. Smalls appeared to have done all he could to stop the train.

An attorney for Mr. Smalls, who was released from a hospital on Wednesday and interviewed by the NTSB the next day, said he wasn’t available for comment on Friday.

Mr. Smalls joined the railroad in 2010 as an electrician but was qualified to operate trains in March 2013, Mr. Sumwalt said.

Working against Mr. Smalls before the crash, experts said, were time, distance and the sheer momentum of the train, whose eight cars each weigh about 128,000 pounds.

“Trains have incredible velocity, and it takes a long time to stop,” said Robert Paaswell, former executive director of the Chicago Transit Authority who now teaches civil engineering at City College of New York.

Stopping a train traveling at 58 mph could mean traveling more than a half-mile from the point that its engineer activates its emergency brakes, rail experts said.

The problem is that the engineer likely can’t see that far, especially at night, said Steven Ditmeyer, who teaches railway management at Michigan State University and who has a background in railroad engineering and operations.

“The train engineer can’t see a half-mile or a mile down the tracks,” Mr. Ditmeyer said.

Slowing down a train to a speed less likely to end in death could take nearly as long, railroad experts said.

The likelihood of fatalities from crashes at railroad crossings significantly increases when trains are traveling at 30 mph or more, according to Grady Cothen, a former top safety official at the Federal Railroad Administration.

But experts said trains traveling at even 10 mph can still cause damage and death.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, right, and U.S. Sen Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut pause for a moment of silence after Schumer left flowers at the site of the crash. PHOTO: KEVIN HAGEN FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“Whatever it hits, it’s going to cause a tremendous amount of damage,” Mr. Paaswell said

Mr. Sumwalt said the NTSB on Friday began to conduct 3-D laser scans of the exterior and interior of the first train car, which suffered extensive fire damage.

Investigators also determined Friday that there were a dozen 39-foot sections of third rail that punctured the train. The electrified third rail powers the Metro-North in this section of the system.

NTSB officials still haven't determined what could have caused the third rail to break apart.

After the crash, Mr. Smalls helped more than five passengers evacuate the smoke-filled train, Mr. Sumwalt said.

But the fire grew too intense to help further.

“It goes without saying that he’s very traumatized,” Mr. Sumwalt said of Mr. Smalls.

Write to Andrew Tangel at Andrew.Tangel@wsj.com and Joseph De Avila at joseph.deavila@wsj.com

Tags: Trainhealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Enact a Bill that Will Allow the Victims’ Families to Seek the True Cause of the Sewol Tragedy Petitioning Government of South Korea

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 11:07

Enact a Bill that Will Allow the Victims’ Families to Seek the True Cause of the Sewol Tragedy
Petitioning Government of South Korea
This petition will be delivered to:
Government of South Korea
Enact a Bill that Will Allow the Victims’ Families to Seek the True Cause of the Sewol Tragedy
https://www.change.org/p/government-of-south-korea-enact-a-bill-that-wil...
Global Citizens
United States
Although the Sewol Tragedy Victims' Family Committee has collected almost 4 million signatures for their petition which calls for the enactment of the Sewol Bill, the Korean government still has yet to pass legislation that allows for a thorough and independent investigation into the true cause behind the tragedy that took 304 innocent lives from their families. These grieving families need support from the global community to help them reach their goal of 10 million signatures. All the families want to know is how their loved ones were taken from them and also to help create a safer South Korea for its citizens and visitors. You can make a difference by signing here and sharing this petition with your friends.

What’s the Story?

This past April, the world watched as 304 individuals – most of whom were high school students – helplessly lost their lives inside a sinking ferry. The families of these victims have been asking the same question since the accident: Why was not a single person trapped inside the ferry rescued despite having ample time, resources and opportunities?

Losing a child to a deadly accident is every parent’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately, this nightmare became a reality for the hundreds of parents who lost their children to a preventable accident on April 16, 2014. Even worse, these parents continue to live through this never-ending nightmare due to a series of questionable actions committed by the South Korean government.

Instead of providing adequate support to the families and helping them heal from the trauma of losing their children, the South Korean government – using undercover police authorities – obtained the parents’ social media accounts to place them under illegal surveillance. Members of President Park’s party spread false rumors coloring the families as money-hungry revolutionaries and communists in an attempt to manipulate public sentiment against them. While ten families are still waiting to retrieve the bodies of their lost children, members of President Park’s party have told these families to quit their mourning and move on with their lives. And when the families attempted to take matters into their own hands with peaceful marches, the riot police violently suppressed these families and their supporters by setting up barricades and shooting them with high-pressured water hoses.

The families never asked for any monetary compensation or even medical help. The only thing they have been seeking since Day 1 was the truth – why was a disaster like this even allowed to happen and why weren’t any of their loved ones saved?

The families soon realized that their trust in the tears President Park shed in front of the cameras was in vain. They started a rally demanding special legislation be enacted. The "Sewol Ferry Act," which would involve an independent and thorough investigation of the accident, will serve as groundwork into finally putting an end to disasters caused by the deregulation of safety measures that enables governmental corruption and corporate greed prevalent in South Korea today. It will also serve as a corner stone in building an infrastructure that would prevent future disasters like Sewol.

What the families are asking for only makes sense. What they are asking is not much. But for some reason, the Park Geun-hye administration and majority party refuse to honor this simple request. We can't help but wonder what they are trying to hide?

At the moment, the families are urging the government to enact their proposed version of the “Sewol Ferry Act,” which provides for an independent investigative committee that has the authority to subpoena information it needs and hold people accountable for actions that contributed to the loss of innocent lives. They are arguing that such a panel, without the influence of the Park administration, must be established as it is widely accused of bungling its response to the tragedy and not being forthcoming enough with the facts. This has led to speculation of government complicity and a cover-up.

Despite the fact that over 3.6 million Korean citizens who have signed a petition supporting special legislation, the President and her Party have been ignoring this growing public interest. Many of the victims’ families are now on hunger strikes, hoping their desperate pleas for action would draw the attention of the President and her Party. Like many others, Mr. Kim Yung-oh, who lost his daughter to the accident, is going on his 34th day of hunger strike as of August 16. He says he is ready to die for this cause.

Who drove these families out on the streets to go on a hunger strike, when they should be grieving and healing from the loss of their loved ones? Yet, President Park and the Korean government are continuing to turn a blind eye. As such, we are mobilizing global citizens to show support for the families and bring change to this outrageous situation.

Why Should You Care?

In today’s global society where close to one million foreigners live in South Korea, of which 120,000 are Americans, a lack of public safety caused by the government's negligence and corrupt practices is a danger to all. In order to ensure a safer society and prevent history from repeating itself, the Sewol Ferry Act must be enacted.

Deregulation of safety measures, which is blamed as one of the causes of the ferry accident, also shows how it can breed government corruption and corporate greed, and as a consequence, lead to tragic deaths of numerous innocent lives. This issue is not unique to Korea, but also applies to the U.S. and other countries. By showing support for the Sewol Ferry Act, it could serve as a warning and a tale of caution for other government leaders.

We cannot let corruption and greed take any more innocent lives. Our fight will continue until the Sewol Ferry Act proposed by the victims’ families is enacted and justice is served to those who deserve it.

The families only wish to know how their loved ones were taken from them and also to create a safer South Korea for its citizens and visitors. You can make a difference by signing here.

• Click here to view a documentary produced in cooperation with the victims’ families that shows how 304 lives were lost even though there was ample opportunity to save many of them.
• Click here to read stories honoring those that perished needlessly in this tragedy.
• Click here to create or join an event in your region to support the victims’ families efforts in getting the Sewol Bill enacted.
LETTER TO
Government of South Korea
Enact a Bill that Will Allow the Victims’ Families to Seek the True Cause of the Sewol Tragedy by Establishing an Independent Commission with full authority to Investigate and Indict

Tags: Sewolhealth and safetyKorea Cover-up
Categories: Labor News

PMA Bosses Are "Crazy" Says ILWU When Agreement Is "close"?

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 07:10

PMA Bosses Are "Crazy" Says ILWU When Agreement Is "close"?
Employers at ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles suspend weekend shifts as contract stalemate continues
“Increasing congestion by closing the ports seems like a crazy way to solve problems that should be resolved at the table,” Merrilees said, adding that both parties are close to a contract resolution.
http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20150206/employers-at-ports-of-long-...

Trucks move around the stacks of cargo piled up at the China Shipping yard in San Pedro.Scott Varley — Staff Photographer
By Karen Robes Meeks, The Daily Breeze
POSTED: 02/06/15, 1:51 PM PST | UPDATED: 36 SECS AGO6 COMMENTS
The association representing employers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles announced Friday that it will suspend weekend shifts for longshore workers due to congestion in the yards.

The Pacific Maritime Association said that “in light of ongoing union slowdowns up and down the coast which have brought the ports almost to a standstill,” member companies have concluded they will no longer pay workers for “diminished productivity.”

“After three months of union slowdowns, it makes no sense to pay extra for less work,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates, “especially if there is no end in sight to the union’s actions which needlessly brought West Coast ports to the brink of gridlock.”

Work at the ports will resume Monday.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union representing 20,000 West Coast dockworkers, fired back at the announcement.

“Increasing congestion by closing the ports seems like a crazy way to solve problems that should be resolved at the table,” Merrilees said, adding that both parties are close to a contract resolution.

This is the latest in a labor drama that’s been unfolding over the last nine months. Despite securing tentative agreements on health benefits and jurisdiction over the fixing and maintaining chassis, the trailers needed to tow cargo, talks grew contentious last fall when both sides began accusing each other of creating slowdowns at the ports.

PMA said that ILWU is not dispatching enough skilled crane operators needed to move containers, forcing them to cut ship unloading night shifts to clear out congested yards.

ILWU blames the slowdowns on employers who they say refuse to hire and properly train workers for those jobs and added that employers are suspending shifts to put pressure on the union in talks.

The growing acrimony has compounded ports already bombarded with bottlenecks that stem in part from the arrival of bigger ships carrying more cargo, the uneven distribution of chassis and a shortage of rail cars.

This has resulted in truck lines at terminals, and more than a dozen ships regularly stranded at sea waiting to be unloaded. Shipment delays have stretched for weeks, with customers forced to shift their goods to other ports or ship them by air.

Jonathan Gold, vice president of the National Retail Federation, said suspending vessel operations is another example of both sides “shooting themselves in the collective bargaining foot.”

“The continuing slowdowns and increasing congestion at West Coast ports are bringing the fears of a port shutdown closer to a reality,” he said. “The entire the supply chain — from agriculture to manufacturing and retail to transportation — have been dealing with the lack of a West Coast port contract for the last nine months. Enough is enough. The escalating rhetoric, the threats, the dueling press releases and the inability to find common ground between the two sides are simply driving up the cost of products, jeopardizing American jobs and threatening the long term viability of businesses large and small.”

Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, criticized PMA’s decision Friday, calling it “deeply upsetting.”

“PMA’s decision ... will undoubtedly hurt local ILWU workers and their families in our communities with decreased work opportunities and obvious paycheck reductions. Businesses across the country who depend on cargo deliveries will experience further delays and financial loss,” she said. “Suspending weekend work is not due to a lack of space for unloaded cargo and in fact will make congestion problems even worse come Monday morning.

“I condemn this weekend lockout and urge PMA to reconsider actions that interfere with good faith negotiations.”

Contact Karen Robes Meeks at 562-714-2088.

Tags: ilwuCrazyPort Lockout
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Pres McEllrath Begs PMA Not To Lock Them Out “Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,”

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 06:25

ILWU Pres McEllrath Begs PMA Not To Lock Them Out “Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,”
Top official says West Coast ports ‘on the brink of collapse’
http://www.dailybreeze.com/business/20150204/top-official-says-west-coas...

Trucks stream into the Maersk terminal near sundown as cargo containers fill the yard in San Pedro, CA on Thursday, January 29, 2015. With port operations all but shut down during the night, the shipping yards are filled with mountains of containers as ships wait offshore to enter the harbor and unload their cargo. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze)
By Karen Robes Meeks, The Daily Breeze
POSTED: 02/04/15, 3:35 PM PST | UPDATED: 45 SECS AGO3 COMMENTS
West Coast ports are five to 10 days away from gridlock and a forced lockdown unless contract talks can be resolved with the longshore workers union, the head of the group representing employers at 29 West Coast ports said Wednesday.

Publicly discussing labor talks for the first time since negotiations began in May, Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna told reporters in a conference call that the PMA made its latest offer to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that includes raising pay by about 3 percent annually, maintaining employer paid health care and pushing the maximum pension benefit by 11.1 percent to $88,800 annually.

He described the proposed five-year contract, which was presented Tuesday to the ILWU, as “generous” and “comprehensive.” Still, he said that both sides remain far apart on six issues, including wages, pensions and the arbitration process.

McKenna said that an agreement must be reached soon because West Coast ports are on “the brink of collapse” with ships parked along the West Coast waiting to be unloaded and production slowing to a crawl. A work stoppage could drain $2 billion a day from the U.S. economy, according to the National Retail Federation, National Association of Manufacturers and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Only 50 percent of cargo is being moved through the Pacific Northwest, while yards remained crowded with containers in Southern California. McKenna blamed some of that congestion on the ILWU, which he said refuses to dispatch crane operators. (The ILWU has consistently refuted this claim, saying PMA did not train enough operators for the jobs.)

“The system can only take so much,” McKenna said. “At some point, this will collapse under its own weight.”

Seventeen container ships remained at anchor Wednesday at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

The ILWU said this is the second time in recent memory that employers have threatened to shut down the ports when negotiations are approaching their final stages and added that the union hasn’t been on strike over a contract since 1971.

Union officials said despite congestion — which they say is caused by employers — they will keep the ports open for business and keep cargo moving.

“Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,” ILWU President Robert McEllrath said in a statement.

ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said it’s important both parties remain at the table and stay focused on getting a contract resolved, adding that negotiators are actually “very close” to a resolution.

“We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled, and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved,” McEllrath said.

Since May, the union and employers have been involved in talks over a new contract covering 20,000 dockworkers along West Coast ports, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, considered the nation’s busiest seaport complex, which handles 40 percent of U.S. imports. The last contract expired in July.

At the annual Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference in Long Beach last March, McKenna was optimistic that employers and union leaders would reach a new contract by the end of July without disruption to business.

Although both sides reached a tentative agreement on health benefits and on the issue of maintaining and repairing chassis, the trailers needed to tow cargo containers, talks hit a snag last fall when the two sides began blaming each other for slowdowns at the ports.

Last month, both sides agreed to the intervention of a federal mediator in their talks.

The intensity of the talks have added to bottlenecks created by the arrival of bigger ships carrying more cargo, the uneven distribution of chassis and a shortage of rail cars. This has resulted in ships stranded at sea, long truck lines at terminals and weekslong shipment delays, forcing customers to pay the extra cost of shipping by air or reroute goods to other ports.

The Port of Los Angeles has been facing extraordinary congestion with the number of ships at berth or at anchor exceeding normal operations, said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield. He added that ships are being diverted to Canada, the East Coast and through the Suez Canal.

“It’s a serious situation that we are facing,” he said.

Los Angeles and Long Beach port officials have been pushing for a contract resolution so that stakeholders can clear the growing backlog of cargo.

“Business has already moved to other ports due to the congestion,” said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup. “It’s critical that we stop the hemorrhaging. This region simply can’t afford to lose jobs because of cargo heading elsewhere.”

Contact Karen Robes Meeks at 562-714-2088.

Tags: ILWU PresidentLockout
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Pres Can't Figure Out Why Bosses Are Playing Hardball “We’re this close,”

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 06:23

ILWU Pres Can't Figure Out Why Bosses Are Playing Hardball “We’re this close,”
PMA details ILWU contract offer in attempt to avert lockout
http://www.joc.com/port-news/longshoreman-labor/pacific-maritime-associa...
Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | Feb 04, 2015 6:40PM EST

Pacific Maritime Association CEO James McKenna on Wednesday released details of the employers’ contract offer to U.S. West Coast longshoremen, a comprehensive offer the PMA hopes will head off the need for a lockout or strike by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union during negotiations that appear to be at an impasse.

The surprising PMA offer includes an agreement by employers to continue paying 100 percent of dockworkers’ medical costs, including the Cadillac tax under ObamaCare. The employers’ proposal would increase annual pension payments to $88,800 a year, in a contract employers propose will run for five years.

“There are no take-aways,” McKenna told a press conference Wednesday, attempting to head off any concerns among the rank and file of the ILWU that hard-fought provisions from previous contracts would be compromised.

ILWU President Robert McEllrath responded that there should be no need for an employer lockout or a dockworker strike because an agreement is “extremely close.”

“We’re this close,” he said, holding up two fingers in a gesture to indicate how close the two parties are to a contract resolution.

McKenna said no one wants a lockout, but with ports at the point of gridlock and most vessels in the trans-Pacific trades stuck on the West Coast, the system will soon shut itself down. No one can predict when that will happen — five days, seven days, two weeks — but the ports will soon grind to a halt, he said.

There are six “open” contract issues that must be resolved, including details of the employers’ offers on wages and pensions that the ILWU must sign off on. One of the issues that employers find especially troubling is a new demand by the ILWU that arbitrators can be unilaterally fired by either the ILWU or the PMA.

The 50-year-old arbitration system on the West Coast prevents both parties from being able to hold ports hostage through a claim, such as for health or safety reasons. This grievance process is currently null and void because the ILWU refused to extend the previous contract when it expired on July 1, 2014. If it had been in place, employers could have immediately asked the agreed-upon arbitrators to rule on safety claims by the union that have slashed crane productivity in Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma and reduced the dispatching of yard crane operators in Southern California to a trickle.

At present, the PMA and ILWU must both agree to remove a local arbitrator at the various ports. This provides continuity and a balanced, fair approach to arbitrating waterfront claims, McKenna said. An arbitrator who could be dismissed at the whim of one side or the other would not be able to act with impartiality, he said.

McKenna has undoubtedly surprised a number of industry observers by revealing that employers have agreed to pay 100 percent of the Cadillac tax in the Affordable Health Care Act. He told the JOC Group’s Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference in March 2014 that the provision will come at a cost of $150 million a year, and that the ILWU didn’t want to pay it and employers couldn’t afford to pay it. The tax is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2018.

McKenna dropped another surprise at the press conference by saying the employers propose that the agreement will run for five years not three years as many had surmised, so employers’ exposure to the Cadillac tax will be “minimal.”

Employers have also made another significant concession in their proposed agreement, which is to give the ILWU jurisdiction over chassis maintenance and repair, including the ability to inspect every chassis before the equipment leaves the marine terminal.

This provision would preserve hundreds of ILWU mechanic jobs, but it also grants huge leverage to mechanics to arbitrarily place equipment out of service for the flimsiest of reasons. It is a highly-controversial concession given the fact that most chassis are now owned by equipment leasing companies and truckers. The Harbor Trucking Association of Southern California is on record as saying it will consider all legal options as soon as longshoremen attempt to detain trucker-owned chassis.

Employers believed as recently as last week that a contract agreement was imminent because they agreed to the concession on chassis inspections. McKenna said those hopes faded when ILWU negotiators returned to the bargaining table with a new list of demands, some of which could be devastating for employers.

McKenna was careful in handling all questions concerning an employer lockout, such as the 10-day lockout that occurred in the 2002 negotiations. He said employers can no longer afford to pay longshoremen for productivity that is down about 50 percent, but he said the reality of the waterfront is that the ports are so congested and vessels are now stuck at the ports for weeks, so the system will sooner rather than later grind to a halt.

If employers do call a lockout, it would set in motion a process that could lead to President Obama invoking an 80-day cooling off period under Taft-Hartley. President Bush invoked Taft-Hartley when the PMA lockout in 2002 reached 10 days.

Taft-Hartley is not a cure-all for poor productivity and gridlock, however. It would not guarantee, for example, that crane operators in the Pacific Northwest would overnight increase their productivity back to 28 moves per hour from about 18 at present. Nor would it force the ILWU dispatch hall in Southern California to resume sending out 110 skilled yard crane operators each day as it had done for years. On some days last month, PMA records show that as few as two yard crane operators were dispatched.

McEllrath said the union “dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled -- and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved.” He said the ILWU pledged to keep the ports open and to keep cargo flowing.

Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bmongelluzzo@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @billmongelluzzo.

Tags: ilwuWest Coast Contract
Categories: Labor News

A Harrowing Account of Working on the Docks

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 06:20

A Harrowing Account of Working on the Docks
http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/02/harrowing-account-working-docks
February 04, 2015 / Vivian J. Malauuluenlarge or shrink textlogin or register to comment
903 63
<3257802513_5ab014f1f6_o.jpg>
Longshore workers like this Long Beach swingman make their living by moving huge, heavy, dangerous cargoes in all weather—while shippers, who reap the big profits, paint workers as thieves. Photo: Fred Alvarado (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

In this excerpt from a letter to a Seattle talk-show host, Long Beach longshore worker Vivian Malauulu vividly describes the daily hazards of port work life. You can read a longer version in the Washington State Labor Council’s online publication, The Stand. Read more about the standoff between the major shipping companies and 20,000 West Coast longshore workers here. –Editor.

This is MY reply to Dori Monson, host of a self-titled talk show on Seattle’s KIRO Radio 97.3 FM, who referred to longshore workers as “thieves” and “criminals” in a segment aired January 20.

Dear Mr. Monson:

My name is Vivian, and my husband George and I have been married for almost 17 years. We have four children ages 6, 9, 12, and 14. Our family lives in Long Beach, California, and we do just about everything within a 10-mile radius of our home.

We shop at local stores and frequent nearby restaurants, our kids attend area schools, we worship and serve the children’s ministry of our church, we support our local parks and recreation by allowing our children to play sports and by coaching their teams, and we participate in a wide range of community activities…

Yet I heard a radio broadcast in which you referred to us as thieves. THIEVES! You also called us criminals, even though neither one of us has any criminal history. All because we are longshore workers…

When my husband comes home at 5 a.m. after 10 hours straight of lashing dozens of containers to bug-and-germ-infested vessels, with bruises all over his body and an occasional broken finger, all so consumerism the world over will continue through one more “peak season,” the last thing I would call him is a thief.

His modest wages do not compare to the ridiculous profits enjoyed by the steamship owners—who barely pay the shipmates, working those vessels for six months straight without leave, enough for a weekly bag of rice in their native countries.

When he came home with blood crusted around a two-inch gash on his scalp from hitting a low-lying bar while crawling on his hands and knees untying cars for eight hours in the hold of a six-story auto carrier, or when he had to have metal particles surgically removed from both of his eyes after cleaning up the chutes and tunnels of the largest coal dock on the West Coast, calling my husband a “hard worker” would have been more appropriate than calling him a criminal.

HAZARDS AND HARDSHIPS

Let me tell you about some of the hardships I have endured while working on the waterfront, and then you tell me if you still think I’m a thief or a criminal when I’m done.

For many nights in a row, I often drove a forklift in reverse, carrying pallets of fruit through narrow passageways in large, freezing cold, rodent-infested warehouses, with chemical preservatives dripping on me from the low-hanging tarps above me, and surrounded by unstable boxed piles I couldn’t even see over.

What about the nights I moved humongous, unsteady cargo like coils, pipes, plates, and tires across uneven terrain and stacked them perfectly in the dark, with nothing but the dim light of my heavy lift to guide me? Was I a thief then—sometimes moving 500 pieces of steel that would only take ONE small piece to maim or kill someone if it slid off my lift and landed on a dockman working nearby?...

We work in an environment that is uber-dangerous to the Nth degree. Injuries on our jobs are not paper cuts and stress headaches. We lose limbs, and we lose lives.

We suffer from chronic pain due to repetitive motion. Our bodies show evidence of years on the job in our posture, our gait, and our immune systems. Most of our retirees leave the industry with partial, if not total, hearing loss, and many of our colleagues injured on the job are often permanently disabled.

We work around equipment with large moving parts, around the clock (24 hours a day, for 361 days of the year) in every possible type of inclement weather you can imagine. We inhale cancer-causing toxins from vessels, trains, big rig trucks, cranes, and highways every second that we are at work.

Our crane operators have to “hold it” until their shift ends because the closest bathroom is 90 feet beneath them.

THE REAL THIEVES

If you want my honest opinion, all things considered, we should be compensated more for the hazards we endure, when compared to the profits we make for the executives who operate the terminals…

The average $75k our workers earned last year—working our butts off five to six days per week, eight to 10 hours per day, climbing slippery gangways, hoisting greasy lashing bars that weigh more than 50 pounds each above our heads until they lock into tiny holes on containers, and being tethered to a cage 100 feet above sea level while lying flat on our stomachs on top of a seven-high container ship looking down into the dark waters of the Pacific while unhooking safety lashing pins with our bare hands—is nothing, NOTHING compared to the $900k the president of the Pacific Maritime Association earned last year sitting behind a mahogany desk trying to figure out how to exploit more foreign workers by cutting more American jobs. Now THAT is criminal…

You tell me, who are the real thieves? The hardworking men and women who risk their health and lives DAILY to move goods in and out of our ports, or the machines that terminal operators are trying to replace us with?

Robots will not dine at local restaurants and buy supplies at your neighborhood stores. Robots will not teach your kids in Sunday school or coach your kids at the park… Robots will not stand up for any worker, anywhere in the world, to defend him against unfair practices from his employer. But the hardworking men and women of the West Coast ports will, and do.

AN INVITATION

You also mention that we display a lack of effort while on the job. Have you ever stepped foot on a West Coast terminal and watched us work? Mr. Monson, I’d like to invite you to join us at work one day… I’ll even offer you the choice of which job you’d like to take.

Would you like to stand all day on a dock facing away from a giant vessel while seven cranes move containers on and off the ship to and from utility tractor rovers—as many as 60—which are driving past and all around you while you remove universal stacking cones from cans as they are suspended by thin cables right above your head?

Maybe you’d prefer to stand on the hatch of a ship in the pouring rain at 3 a.m. while the rough waters below rock it back and forth, making sure your lashing crew is safe and the catwalk is not too slippery for the heavy gear all around you.

How about if you crawl down four stories deep into a break bulk cargo ship at 1 p.m. in the heat of the day, to degrees above 130 F, and untie fastening belts and undo hooks and then stand absolutely still, holding your breath against the hatch, while a wench claw grabs the cargo and hoists it directly above you, knowing it could snap and kill you if something went wrong?

EVERYDAY HEROES

You sound like the type of guy who can easily climb 300 steps vertically in a narrow shaft to get to a hammerhead crane and then execute 250 moves perfectly from a glass-enclosed cab that trollies back and forth and gantries side to side every second you’re up there, while as many as 100 of your brothers and sisters work directly below you, utilizing unbelievable accuracy to load a 30-ton container precisely, because if it falls, people will die.

You will be paid minimum wage for doing that, because you are the type to purport that our salary should be commensurate with experience.

If none of these longshore jobs interests you, we can offer you at least 50 more from which to choose—but I warn you, they are all dangerous and they all require dexterity and skill unlike any required for your radio job. I know, I worked in radio and I left my on-air job for longshoring…

My union brothers and sisters—many of whom are VETERANS—and our fellow working Americans are neither thieves nor criminals. We are everyday, working heroes... You owe ALL OF US an apology.

Vivian J. Malauulu is a longshore worker in Long Beach, California, and serves on the executive board of ILWU Local 13.

- See more at: http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/02/harrowing-account-working-docks#stha...

Tags: longshorehealth and safetyosha
Categories: Labor News

US Congress steps up pressure on ILWU, PMA to reach deal

Current News - Sat, 02/07/2015 - 06:19

US Congress steps up pressure on ILWU, PMA to reach deal
http://www.joc.com/regulation-policy/transportation-policy/us-transporta...
Joseph Bonney, Senior Editor | Feb 02, 2015 3:01PM EST

The U.S. Congress is stepping up its pressure on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to reach a “swift resolution” to their 9-month-old contract negotiations.

Eighty-four U.S. House members have signed a letter urging the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to reach a deal to end the economic pain rippling through supply chains. Although more members of Congress are wading into the the issue, there’s little that lawmakers can do except to urge the two sides to reach agreement.

The most recent letter was organized by Reps. Dave Weichert, R-Wash., and Kurt Schrader, D-Ore. It followed a letter by the co-chairs of the bipartisan, 90-member Congressional Ports Caucus urging both sides “to reach a mutually acceptable resolution.”

Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., whose district includes the Los Angeles-Long Beach port area, later criticized employers when they quit hiring night work gangs in response to what the PMA said were ILWU-orchestrated slowdowns.

Last November, the six U.S. senators from California, Washington and Oregon signed a letter urging the two sides to reach agreement.

There’s been some discussion of bringing longshore labor relations under the Railway Labor Act, which covers the railroad and airline industries, but such a change would encounter strong opposition and has not been seriously pursued.

Former Rep. Jack Kingston, a Republican who represented Georgia's first congressional district from 1993 until this year, said West Coast congestion and longshore labor get little attention in comparision with other subjects. "I think right now things are kind of quiet and focused on the world of other issues, like Isis and healthcare and things like that, so it's not a top-tier issue," he told JOC.com.

The letter from the 84 House members to ILWU President Robert McEllrath and PMA President James McKenna indicated that some lawmakers are paying attention. The House members said port delays are being “felt in all parts of the supply chain and across the entire country. Our constituents are losing business, letting employees go, and worrying about the future.”

The letter cited a report last year by the National Retail Federation and National Association of Manufacturers estimating that a 10-day shutdown of West Coast ports would cost the economy more than $21 billion.

Even without a port shutdown, companies are incurring costs and lost sales from delays at the ports. Retailers and manufacturers have had to reroute shipments, and agricultural exporters say they’re being shut out of overseas markets. Meat and poultry producer Tyson Foods said last week that the delays are affecting export supply chains and soon could be felt by livestock producers

Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.

Tags: US Congress
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: Rana Plaza, Tazreen victims still waiting for compensation

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Daily Star
Categories: Labor News

In Most States, Trucking is the Most Common Job

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 12:43
Quoctrung BuiNPRFebruary 6, 2015View the original piece

This gives our union leverage; it's time to use it: "Driving a truck has been immune to two of the biggest trends affecting U.S. jobs: globalization and automation. A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can't drive cars."

Click here to view the interactive map and read the full story.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

Support the IWW Toronto Harm Reduction Workers!

IWW - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 11:59

Close, oh so close. How about helping the Fellow Workers at Toronto Harm Reduction Worker Union - IWW reach their goal? Every dollar that you can spare helps. Show your support!: http://www.gofundme.com/THRWU

Background

Harm reduction saves lives.

Harm reduction workers make harm reduction work.

Over the last year, harm reduction workers across the city of Toronto have been organizing the world’s first harm reduction workers’ union. We are the kit makers, outreach workers, community workers, and coordinators that reduce the harms associated with bad drug laws, poverty and capitalism.

read more

Categories: Unions

West Coast Port Lockout Threatened, Though Union Says Deal Is Close

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 09:30
Transport TopicsFebruary 5, 2015View the original piece

The top negotiator for West Coast terminal operators and ocean carriers said the region’s docks are nearing “complete gridlock” and raised the prospect of a lockout in as few as five days unless a contract deal is reached.

Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna told reporters productivity has declined 50% because of International Longshore & Warehouse Union slowdowns. As congestion builds, and several dozen ships can’t reach the docks to unload, the union is forcing management’s hand, he said.

The union’s response struck a different tone, saying a deal was “extremely close” after nearly nine months of talks.

PMA presented a new, “best offer” proposal Feb. 4, McKenna said, describing it as “a true goodwill gesture to get the West Coast ports going again.”

The five-year proposal includes 3% higher wages, 11% higher pension benefits and no givebacks. Wages now approach $150,000 annually, and pensions average $80,000 a year, he said.

“We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled — and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved,” ILWU President Robert McEllrath said in the statement. “Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible.”

The union represents nearly 20,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports.

McKenna stressed that management preferred a settlement and didn’t want to lock out workers. His news conference was the first since talks began nearly nine months ago.

“We are at a critical time right now,” McKenna said during a conference call that lasted nearly an hour. “It can’t keep going on forever. We are trying to give enough notice and lead time for businesses to make the best decisions they can.”

The parties’ six-year contract expired July 1. The recently expired deal was reached without a lockout or strike. In 2002, President George W. Bush had to intervene to stop a 10-day lockout.

“A shutdown is a nuclear option that no one wants to take,” McKenna said. “We will keep talking. The last thing we want is to close this thing down. We are not doing anything rash.”

McEllrath noted that management previously has threatened to shut the ports during the final stage of talks in a reference to 2002. ILWU’s last strike affecting all West Coast ports was in 1971, the union said.

The union’s statement again blamed management for dock problems, which were made worse by the absence of chassis for truckers to move cargo off the docks.

McKenna blamed the union for the slowdowns, saying they weren’t allowing enough workers to report for jobs.

“A lot is at stake here,” McKenna said, noting that trade through West Coast ports accounts for 12% of the U.S. gross domestic product. “It is important for both parties involved and for the nation.”

Customers and industry trade groups ranging from U.S. beef farmers to toy importers have bombarded the parties for months with pleas to resolve their differences so that cargo flows normally again.

A federal mediator has participated in the talks for about one month.

Since May, the parties have acknowledged agreement on two issues – health-care costs and chassis-handling practices. Health-care costs matter because union members could face higher taxes in 2018 under the Affordable Care act.

Chassis are an issue because leasing companies and others have acquired chassis that ocean carriers used to provide. That move injected a new element into chassis supply, since the owners of the equipment now aren’t directly involved in contract talks.

Categories: Labor News, Unions

YRC Worldwide posts a stronger fourth-quarter profit of $6.2 million

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 02/06/2015 - 07:17
Mark DavisThe Kansas City StarFebruary 6, 2015View the original piece

Trucking giant YRC Worldwide Inc. on Thursday reported a $6.2 million profit in the final months of 2014 as its national freight business turned in stronger operating results.

The fourth-quarter profit compared with a $400,000 profit in the same quarter a year earlier.

Click here to read more at The Kansas City Star.


Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/news/business/article9354956.html#storylink=cpy

 

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

ILWU President blasts PMA threat to shut down US ports

ILWU - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 14:58

 

The ILWU has provided the media with several pictures disputing the PMA’s claims that West Coast ports are too congested to unload ships. In fact, they have acres of asphalt waiting for containers and hundreds of longshore workers willing to unload them.

Photos of empty docks show that PMA employers, based largely overseas, are worsening a congestion crisis at West Coast ports to pressure American workers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (February 5, 2015) – ILWU International President Robert McEllrath today blasted the Pacific Maritime Association for threatening to shut down West Coast ports, bargaining in the media, and distorting the facts.

“What the ILWU heard yesterday is a man who makes about one million dollars a year telling the working class that we have more than our share,” said McEllrath. “Intensifying the rhetoric at this stage of bargaining, when we are just a few issues from reaching an agreement, is totally unnecessary and counterproductive.”

In mid-January, PMA claimed that there was a lack of dock space for containers, and it eliminated nightshifts at many ports. Today, the union provided photos disputing the employer group’s assertion that docks are too congested to unload ships.

“PMA is leaving ships at sea and claiming there’s no space on the docks, but there are acres of asphalt just waiting for the containers on those ships, and hundreds of longshore workers ready to unload them,” said McEllrath. “The employers are deliberately worsening the existing congestion crisis to gain the upper hand at the bargaining table.”

The union provided several photos of marine terminals in Southern California that show large tracts of space that would easily fit thousands of containers.

“The employers’ threat to shut down West Coast ports is a reckless and unnecessary move,” said

McEllrath. “What the employers need to do is stay at the negotiating table and work through a few remaining issues with the workers who have made them successful for the past 80 years. We are very close to reaching an agreement.”

The PMA is an employer association whose largest members include Denmark-based Maersk Line, Taiwan-based Evergreen Marine, Korean-based Hanjin Shipping, Philippines-based ICTSI, Japan-based NYK Line, Hong Kong-based OOCL, China-based COSCO, and other employers based in France, Norway and worldwide.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union is based in San Francisco, Calif., and is negotiating a contract that has covered longshore workers at 30 West Coast ports in California, Oregon and Washington since 1934.

Download the press release here. (PDF)

Categories: Unions

Canadian Pacific Railway Derailment in Iowa – Ethanol Loads Catch Fire

Railroaded's Blog - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 11:48

Two Canadian Pacific Railway locomotives and 13 cars derailed yesterday in a remote location north of Dubuque, Iowa (Telegraph HeraldRaw Story). At least 11 of the derailed tank cars were loaded with ethanol – 3 of the tank cars caught fire and were still burning this morning. Local firefighters decided to let the fires burn themselves out.

Another 3 cars plunged into the Mississippi River. Ethanol spilled into the river, and downstream communities were notified by the Department of Natural Resources. Emergency officials established a ½-mile evacuation zone around the train. The remote stretch of track where the derailment occurred made access difficult for emergency crews who were worried about water contamination and the possibility of an explosion. The local fire chief said he expected the clean-up to take days to complete. The extent of environmental damage has not yet been determined.

Ethanol is highly flammable and explosive, and derailments of ethanol tank cars have caused deaths, injuries and serious damage in the past. One such incident in Cherry Valley, Illinois in 2009, saw the derailment of 19 Canadian National Railway tank cars loaded with ethanol, resulting in explosions and fires that killed a person and injured 7 to 10 others who were stopped at a nearby railway crossing. A total of 60,000 gallons of ethanol spilled into a local river and resulted in the single-largest fish kill that was not a natural fish kill in the history of Illinois.

This latest derailment, spill and fire will undoubtedly add to the growing debate about the dangers of transporting dangerous goods by rail.


Filed under: Derailment
Categories: Labor News

London IWW To Hold Fifth Action in Suport of Sacked Zero-Hours Workers at Friends House

IWW - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 18:30

Fellow workers, this Thursday London IWW will be holding our fifth demonstration in support of the three sacked zero-hours workers at Friends House London.

When: Thursday, 5th February, 4:00pm - 6:00pm
Where: Friends House, 173 - 177 Euston Road, London

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/595381487230430/
For the latest news and background to the campaign check out our website:
http://iww.org.uk/friendshouse

Last Thursday we had a fantastic, loud demonstration outside Friends House. The Quaker boss, Recording Clerk Paul Parker, refused to come out and meet us (more on this soon), so we'll be back this week to up the ante.

Management’s tactic so far has been to ignore us and hope the problem will disappear, so we intend to make this difficult by being as loud and as visible as possible.

read more

Categories: Unions

ILWU tells employers:  finish negotiations, don’t close ports over only a few remaining issues

ILWU - Wed, 02/04/2015 - 16:44

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ILWU is trying to keep dock employers at the negotiating table to finish an agreement that is “extremely close.”

“We’re this close,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath, who held up two fingers in a gesture indicating how close the parties are to reaching an agreement.

“We’ve dropped almost all of our remaining issues to help get this settled – and the few issues that remain can be easily resolved.”

The ILWU pledged to keep the ports open and keep cargo flowing, despite the massive, employer-caused congestion crisis that has delayed shipping for most of 2014.

This is the second time in recent memory that the employers have threatened to close ports at the final stages of negotiations. The union has not engaged in a port strike over the coast longshore contract since 1971, 44 years ago.

“Closing the ports at this point would be reckless and irresponsible,” said McEllrath. The ILWU urged the Federal Mediator to keep both parties at the talks until the nearly-finished agreement is concluded.

If the PMA closes the ports, “the public will suffer and corporate greed will prevail,” said McEllrath, who noted that the major powers on the employer side are multi-national corporations who are foreign-owned.

“These foreign-owned companies make billions of dollars and pay their executives millions to do their bidding.”

The ILWU Longshore Division represents 20,000 dockworkers at 29 west coast ports.

Download the press release here. (PDF)

Categories: Unions

Pages

Subscribe to Transport Workers Solidarity Committee aggregator