UPS Fires 250 Employees for Staging a Strike
By Hayley Peterson
No walk-offs allowed.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images
This post originally appeared in Business Insider.
UPS is firing 250 Queens, N.Y., drivers for walking off the job during a 90-minute protest in February.
The company dismissed 20 of the workers after their shifts Monday and issued notices of termination to another 230 employees, notifying them that they will be fired once the company has trained their replacements, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut told Business Insider.
The workers were protesting the dismissal of longtime employee and union activist Jairo Reyes, who was fired over an hours dispute, according to Gaut. The New York Daily News first reported on the firings.
Local politicians are threatening to cancel city contracts that give UPS millions of dollars in breaks on parking fines.
“They took a grievance with one employee and turned it into notices of termination with 250 workers,” New York City Councilman Jimmy van Bramer told the Queens Courier. “That’s outrageous. These are good, hardworking employees who have a contract for UPS. To try and break this contract, break this union, is something that is unacceptable and we can’t tolerate.”
UPS fired back that it might need to terminate additional employees if the city alters its contract.
“UPS appreciates its business with the New York public offices,” Gaut said. “Ultimately if that business is reduced or eliminated, the result will be reduced need for UPS employees to serve the pick-up and delivery requirements of City offices, potentially impacting the livelihoods of the many local UPS employees that did not join in the illegal work stoppage.”
UPS employs 1,400 workers at the Maspeth distribution center where the strike took place on Feb. 26.
“When a group of 250 employees walk out for 90 minutes it is a significant disruption in the delivery of parcels or packages to customers on that day,” Gaut said. “We get penalties if we don’t deliver on time.”
For that reason, strikes are not an approved method of conflict resolution in UPS’ contract with the union, he said.
The local branch of the Teamsters union that represents the dismissed workers has described the firings as “a heartless attack on drivers and their families.”
If their union contract doesn't allow for strikes, as the article states, then it's hard to get terribly worked up about this. More...
“The company fired a group of drivers to try to divide us, create panic, or try to get Local 804 to cave in and sell out. That is not going to happen,” the union wrote on its website.
One of the workers facing dismissal had just returned to his job after a serious accident, according to the Daily News.
“Domenick DeDomenico, 40, was in a coma for 10 days after getting hit by a car last year while delivering packages for UPS,” the Daily News’ Ginger Adams Otis reported. “He fought back from serious brain injuries and needed a year of speech and physical therapy.”
See also: McDonald’s Managers Admit to Making Staff Work Without Pay
Over 220 women from 80 countries gathered in New Delhi, India January 27-28 for a conference organized by the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). Representing the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU) at the conference were IBU Secretary Treasurer Terri Mast, San Francisco Regional Director Marina Secchitano and IBU member Alison Seamans. Mast is also member of the ITF Woman’s Committee and represents the ILWU on the ITF Executive Board. The conference focused on the issues facing women workers around the world. Alison Seamans and Marina Secchitano filed the report below.
The ITF held a two-day Women Transport Workers’ Conference on January 27 and 28 in New Delhi, India. The conference focused on four themes: 1) Organizing women’s transport workers to build strong unions; 2) Building alliances with organizations at the forefront of combating violence against women to strengthen ITF affiliates’ campaigns at the global and regional level; 3) Campaigning for our public services; 4) Women in Leadership, “Leading change” to grow unions. Speakers from around the globe addressed the conference on these themes. Resolutions and conclusions from the conference will be submitted to the upcoming general assembly in August 2014, in Sophia, Bulgaria.
Our Indian brothers and sisters were wonderful hosts, welcoming us all in traditional ways. At dinner the first night we were treated to beautiful and moving performances of traditional Indian dance and music. The opportunity to make personal contact with union sisters from all over the world is invaluable. Solidarity amongst only the people in our immediate area isn’t enough.
Economic concerns are global. Labor must stand together globally if we are to have any strength at all. The threats of outsourcing, privatization, insecure temporary and contracted jobs, employer retaliation for organizing, and the short sighted attempt to “fix” failing economies by decimating the living standards of workers through austerity exist worldwide.
I was both proud and disappointed that the three of us from the IBU were the only US delegates present; it’s important that those of us from more privileged (at least so far) countries come together and stand beside those who are still struggling for any sort of place in the work force.
A strong labor force depends on women’s participation at all levels. Voiceless and disempowered women cannot contribute fully to the strength of a union. We need strong, involved women to maximize our strength. This was highlighted poignantly by a sister from India Airlines who apologized that her union had not been able to focus more on the conference. Her union is in the fight of its life against the employer and government. The women members are “standing shoulder to shoulder with the men fighting for everyone’s survival.”
This is how it needs to be and women need voice, power, and a place in leadership to make that happen. Even in the developed countries, women are underrepresented in union leadership and they speak out less than the men. In other parts of the world, the situation is much worse. An injury to one is an injury to all, and in a global marketplace, powerlessness for some is powerlessness for all.
The opportunity to hear firsthand the stories of women fighting for their rights, for a voice and for an equal place in the workforce and the union was unforgettable, inspiring, shocking, heartrending and brilliant. We heard many stories from courageous women around the world.
The moderator, Diane Holland, Chair of the ITF Women Transport Workers’ Committee, began by explaining that 20 years ago the women of the ITF first won 5 seats on the executive committee in a hard fought battle. Since women are involved in the workplace they must have a voice and thus began the long journey of setting up a network for millions of women around the world.
- One of the first speakers was Indira Jaising, the first woman appointed to the position of Additional Solicitor General of India and a lifetime activist for labor, women’s rights and the homeless and marginalized. She made the following points:
- In 1975, Indian women achieved equal pay for equal work for women, and the constitution was amended to include a guarantee of the fundamental right to form a union.
- In 1992, a woman was raped by 5 men for speaking out against child marriage, and in 1997, the Supreme Court issued the “Vishaka Judgment” identifying that sexual harassment violated a fundamental right to work.
- In December 2012, a brutal gang rape of a 23 year old woman on a bus resulted in her death 15 days later. The entire country rose up in protest demanding action from the government. Four months later, in April 2013, a new law was passed guaranteeing rights for women, and prohibiting sexual harassment, with strong enforcement.
- The violence against women must end. We must build women’s economic power, remove barriers and create safety for women. Consequently unions are adding language to their labor agreements prohibiting sexual harassment on the job. It is of great importance to provide equal education and economic opportunities.
Satich Kumar Singh, Deputy Director, Center for Health and Social Justice, New Delhi stated that studies show that nearly one in every three women will be beaten, harassed or raped in her lifetime.
“Although not all men are perpetrators, most do not speak out against this violence. All men have to speak out and oppose Violence Against Women. It is one of the biggest crimes and human rights violation on earth and the responsibility of ending violence against women cannot be put on women’s shoulders alone.” His motto was that “men of quality do not fear equality.”
We heard about the abuses at Qatar Airways and the complete powerlessness of their workers. Bette Matuga told us the inspiring story of her innovative and successful campaign to fight privatization of the Port of Mombasa, preserving the good jobs that fuel the local economy.
Rebecca Crocker shared the triumphs and continuing challenges of fighting for decent treatment of London Underground cleaners. We heard stories of the India Railways and the fight for safety and decency for the women employees there who face physical attack, lack of basic sanitary facilities, and a high rate of miscarriage due to the physical impacts of the trains, amongst other problems.
We heard from women whose safety is at risk merely for belonging to a labor organization, which must be carefully hidden. We listened to the ongoing struggle for basic worker rights at DHL Turkey, and the drive to organize fisheries in Papua New Guinea. Both were successful in organizing a union with the support of the ITF and we celebrated in their victory.
These and many more stories formed the backdrop for the work of setting goals and direction to recommend to the ITF. For every story we heard there were a dozen more waiting to be told. We came
away with an informed, global perspective on the state of our unions and labor in today’s world.
The business of the convention was to set a direction and recommendations where women in labor are concerned for the ITF, and to identify opportunities for action over the next four years. The conference tackled two major issues facing women. The first is the global economic crisis, and anti-labor responses to it, including the necessity of organizing women transport workers in a market where all workers are increasingly kept in insecure temporary and contracted jobs.
Often, women are especially vulnerable to the effects of austerity measures. They are the lowest paid members of the workforce, disproportionately affected by cost saving measures, and the first affected by lay-offs.
The second issue is that of violence against women. Women face the dual challenge of being targeted for violence (both in and out of the workplace) because of their gender, and being more vulnerable to non-gender based violence in the transportation industry. In many countries, such as India, rape, murder, violence and harassment are used as a tactic to enforce the power of men over women, limit the opportunities available to women, and keep them out of the workplace.
The conference passed resolutions calling on the ITF to recognize, recruit, promote, and continue mapping women in transport jobs and union, participate in educating male colleagues about issues facing women in the workplace, provide opportunities for women via training and information, encourage solidarity from male union members, campaign against gender based violence, and support effective networks of women in transportation.
The ITF seeks to build ongoing alliances with organizations working to combat violence against women, encourage participation in the International Day to Say No to Violence Against Women on November 25, and explore ways to strengthen affiliates’ campaigns.
Austerity cuts to public services affect all women, who are the majority users of public transportation, child care and health care. Unions need to build and support strong campaigns to maintain quality public services. The conference endorsed recommendations to the ITF Congress to continue seeking input from the sectional and regional conferences and to set up a working group to produce recommendations for priority issues and targets for the next four years.
The conference finished with a rally through downtown New Delhi protesting violence against women. We marched through the busy train station and finished up with greetings and ceremonies by our sisters and brothers at the National Federation of Indian Railwaymen and the All India Railwaymen’s Federation.
We were privileged to an intense and moving performance of street theater in protest of a culture of violence against women. Several dozen young men and women performed passionately, sometimes interactively, with an audience drawn close to the performance. So what does this mean for the IBU?
We have opportunities to address these from within our own union. Codifying domestic violence leave into our bargaining agreements was raised, and is something we should look at for both women and men.
Working in an industry where physical demands are high can make pregnancy and child birth more challenging; we can make materials available to give workers more awareness of their rights and options. Social media and our website can be used to promote awareness of the issues facing women in transportation worldwide and how to support gender equality, by posting and following up on the challenges and situations we’ve been informed about at this conference, and reporting on actions we take within our own union. The IBU should recognize International Women’s Day on March 8 in a way that draws involvement from our women members. We should create awareness of women in our non-passenger industries especially. We need to evaluate what issues they face, or would face, and what would be needed to recruit more and insure they have an equal place and equal voice with men in the workplace.
We need to identify areas in our union where women workers are not well represented in leadership or are facing issues in the workplace that we should be helping with. We should support the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) campaign for a standard on gender based violence at work and campaign for US
support of a convention on gender based violence at work. Visit http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/stop_violence_en.pdf for more information on this. Above all we need to foster an awareness that all workers globally are in the same struggle for a decent life. We are stronger if we fight together. This was an incredible opportunity to see the solidarity of our unions and the power of our women leaders in being a part of building an International movement.
Elected officials, NYC L804 Teamsters Deliver 100,000 Signatures to UPS To
Stop The Firings
Published on Mar 21, 2014
Politicians and public supporters rally with Teamster Local 804 members and deliver over 100,000 petition signatures to management calling on the company to take back termination notices issued to 250 drivers. For more information and to sign the petition, go to www.TeamstersLocal804.org
TRANSIT TALES True-life stories and panel discussion on our public transit choices
Thursday, April 17th at 7pmThe Kaufman Center1835 Centre Ave (right by the Hill House)
Bricolage's Fifth Wall series seeks to break down the barriers between scripted storytelling and current events in the world at large.
The 2014 Fifth Wall Series continues with a panel discussion on public transit in Allegheny County. Specifically, how (or if) public input should be included in planning for public transit. Panelists include:
Lucy Spruill - Committee for Accessible Transportation
Bonnie Young-Laing - Hill District Consensus Group
Ben Samson - Architectural Designer
Tom Conroy - Amalgamated Transit Union
Grant Ervin - City of Pittsburgh
Moderated by Chris Potter - Pittsburgh City Paper
Transit Tales, a collaboration between GoBurgh, Bricolage, and Pittsburghers for Public Transit is a multimedia program of community engagement, experience documentation, and creative storytelling that aims to raise public awareness and positive perception of public transit while attracting involvement from a diversity of audiences that may not engage in traditional conversations.
Once Brassy Southwest Faces Grown-Up Woes-Bosses Attack Union Workers
By JACK NICAS And SUSAN CAREY
Updated April 2, 2014 8:23 p.m. ET
At Midway Airport here on Jan. 2, Southwest Airlines Co. LUV +0.54% canceled a third of its flights, lost 7,500 bags and, at one point, had 66 aircraft on the ground—about twice as many as the carrier has gates. Passengers were stuck on the tarmac late into the night.
A severe snowstorm was the main culprit, but Southwest managers also blamed ramp workers, suggesting that nearly a third of them called in sick to protest slow contract talks. The spat boiled into a legal battle, with the workers suing Southwest for requiring they provide doctor's notes. They say they are chronically understaffed and are being blamed for executives' mismanagement of the storm.
Labor strife has long roiled the airline industry, but not Southwest. The carrier never has laid off workers or cut their pay, and has had only one strike in its history, a six-day mechanics' walkout in 1980.
But now Southwest is asking for some of the biggest contract changes ever from employees in a bid to contain costs—and some union leaders are furious. "We built this airline," says Randy Barnes, a union representative for Midway's ramp workers. Now, he says, management is "tearing it down."
The recent acrimony is one way that Southwest is showing its age. Once the industry's brassy upstart, the airline, which took wing 43 years ago, has begun to resemble the mainstream rivals it rebelled against in its youth: carriers that were slow-growing, complex and costly to run.
First sketched out on the back of a cocktail napkin in 1967, Southwest was built on simplicity, thrift, labor harmony and rapid expansion. For decades, it was the fastest-growing and lowest-cost airline in the U.S., undercutting competitors' fares in new markets and sending traffic skyward—a phenomenon known in government and industry circles as the "Southwest Effect." To help keep things simple and cost-effective, the airline flew one model of plane—Boeing Co.'s 737—and stayed close to customers with wisecracking flight attendants and funny ads. For decades, that original formula helped the company soar.
Over the past year, Southwest's stock has risen 77.6% to $23.94, and the carrier remains the only U.S. airline with an investment-grade credit rating.
Still, the airline has failed to hit its long-standing goal of a 15% return on invested capital since 2000; it recently said it doesn't intend to grow overall until it does. Even with record profit last year, its return was 13%, up from 7% in 2012.
There are other big challenges. Southwest is flying fuller planes, connecting more passengers and serving bigger airports that are prone to delays. Partly as a result, some of its operational ratings have plummeted. Last year, it lost more bags per passenger than any other carrier. And after years as one of the most punctual airlines, just 72% of Southwest's flights were on time in the fourth quarter—dead last in the industry.
Southwest was "blessed for so many years with a product nobody else had and financial results that nobody else was able to touch that they kept doing things their old way," says Bob McAdoo, an airline analyst for Imperial Capital LLC. But now, industry changes and Southwest's maturation mean "there are so many areas they're under pressure to change, things the company never had to deal with," he says.
Gary Kelly, the chief executive who has run the Dallas-based company since 2004, says the Southwest model still works. He points to record profits of $754 million for 2013—up from $421 million in 2012—and a surging stock price. He argues that the launch of international flights this year will open new avenues for growth.
"Southwest is in a better position today than it has ever been in its history," Mr. Kelly says.
But the CEO also emphasized the need for Southwest to adapt. High fuel prices, for example, have forced it to "pivot" from its longtime blueprint of offering short-haul flights between midsize cities toward longer flights between bigger cities, which use fuel more efficiently. Fuel last year accounted for 35% of Southwest's costs, more than double the share a decade ago. That shift has required it to add larger planes, drop service to many small cities, and enter bigger markets while meddling with key traits like its first-come-first-served boarding process.
Other U.S. carriers, meanwhile, have bulked up and trimmed spending through mergers and bankruptcy restructurings. The three U.S. airlines larger than Southwest—American Airlines Group Inc., United Continental Holdings Inc., and Delta Air Lines Inc.—offer first- and business-class service, elite loyalty programs and global networks that capture lucrative business travelers. Ultra-discounters, including Spirit Airlines Inc., are undercutting Southwest fares while JetBlue Airways Corp. and Virgin America Inc. are competing more aggressively for the middle-class customers whom Southwest long owned.
"Not only has the world changed, but our relative position within the industry on costs has changed," says Mr. Kelly, a 59-year-old Texan and former accountant who joined the company 28 years ago. "Now we just need to make sure our labor contracts are updated to reflect the current reality."
With its growth stalled, Southwest can't hire as many new employees at the bottom of the pay scale. From 2007 through 2012, Southwest's cost to fly a seat one mile rose 42%—more than any other major U.S. airline, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology data that adjust for flight distance.
Its low fares, long the core pitch to customers, aren't so low anymore. Its average one-way fare was $144 in the year ended in September, a 21% increase over the period five years earlier, when adjusted for inflation. That compared with single-digit increases at larger rivals and big price cuts at new ultra-discounters like Spirit, according to the MIT data.
Many longtime customers remain loyal fans. "If there's a Southwest flight going to where I'm going, I'll fly Southwest" even if it's more expensive, says Joseph Coyle, a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School. "They treat everybody equally."
Mr. Kelly says Southwest's research shows that at any given time, it is the least expensive option in as few as 40% of its markets, compared with more than 50% of its markets in 2000. He notes that Southwest is almost always the best deal for fliers with checked bags, since each passenger can stash two pieces of luggage free.
While nearly all competitors impose a bag fee, Southwest has stuck by its "bags fly free" mantra—although Mr. Kelly has said he is open to charging for bags in the future.
This year holds some pivotal tests. Southwest hopes to complete its integration of AirTran Airways, which it bought for $1.5 billion in 2011, by finishing up the work of training workers, overhauling airplanes and linking the carriers' networks. It plans to begin international flights under its own brand after inheriting several Caribbean and Mexico destinations from AirTran. That will require it to master marketing in foreign countries, hire overseas workers, and even make sure its flight attendants have passports.
Southwest also faces costly upgrades to its outdated computer systems—a holdover from its simpler days—to bring them in line with industry standards.
After snowstorms forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights this winter, other carriers' computers automatically rebooked many customers. But at Southwest, employees had to manually reschedule each disrupted passenger, says Teresa Laraba, Southwest's senior vice president of customers.
Another problem: Southwest's antiquated phone system limits the number of incoming calls, so some passengers were met with busy signals. Southwest says it plans to soon replace those systems. "I've been waiting a long time" for the upgrades, Ms. Laraba says.
Perhaps Southwest's biggest challenge involves its 45,000 workers, who long have enjoyed unparalleled job stability and compensation. About 83% of its workers are unionized, and Southwest is currently in negotiations with nearly all of them over new contracts—some of which seek to freeze pay scales.
The average Southwest worker earned nearly $100,000 in 2012, including pension and benefits, compared with about $89,000 at a traditional hub-and-spoke airline, according to MIT. Southwest also shares profits with employees, paying them $228 million last year, or more than 6% of their pay.
"It is harder today for us to claim that we are the low-fare leader than it was before because our cost advantage has been narrowed," Mr. Kelly says. "And that is exactly what we want to make our employees understand."
He says Southwest is seeking savings from increased productivity and more flexibility in workers' contracts—not from pay cuts.
For its nearly 17,000 ground workers and customer-service agents, Southwest wants to tighten rules on sick time and largely hold compensation flat. In prior contracts, workers generally received raises. It also ultimately wants 40% to be part-time, meaning their families would have to pay more for health benefits.
The company says it aims to do this by filling new openings with part-timers, rather than forcing current employees into part-time status. Still, unions blanch at the idea, saying they want to protect careers, not just jobs.
The ground-workers' union recently won a victory when the carrier backed off a proposal to outsource a sizable number of jobs to outside vendors.
Randy Babbitt, Southwest's senior vice president of labor relations, says Southwest's existing contracts were designed for a smaller, short-haul airline that didn't fly late at night or adjust service levels according to demand. For example, Southwest now flies to Fort Myers, Fla., 20 times a day in the winter and 10 times a day in the summer.
"You've got to have something flexible or part-time," Mr. Babbitt says. "It's what everybody else has. We just never needed to address it until now."
Union officials argue that Southwest employees have a more demanding workload compared with others in the industry. The airline carries about 3,000 passengers per full-time employee, compared with 1,350 passengers per employee at its bigger rivals, according to MIT's data.
The flight attendants' union says it has made clear to the company that it won't agree to a rule that would require its members to fly a minimum number of hours—standard practice in the industry.
Capt. Mark Richardson, president of the pilots union, said the slow pace of negotiations is "frustrating" but acknowledged that Southwest is distracted by talks with other work groups.
Some Southwest employees still pine for Herb Kelleher, the raucous co-founder who stepped down as executive chairman in 2008 after 30 years in the post. He was beloved by employees and known to spend hours in employee break rooms, smoking cigarettes and chatting with workers. Mr. Kelleher, 83, is famous for his love of Wild Turkey bourbon, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and outlandish costumes. He declined to be interviewed.
"Ever since Herb…left, this has been more of a corporation and less of a family," says Mr. Barnes.
The winter's brutal weather aggravated the labor rancor. Over the first week of 2014, Southwest canceled 40% of its flights at Midway and delayed another 40%, largely due to weather. The carrier said that ramp workers at Midway called in sick more than 450 times over that week, for about 22% of their scheduled shifts.
After Southwest began requiring ramp workers to provide doctor's notes, the union sued the carrier for breach of contract in U.S. district court in Dallas.
In court documents, Southwest alleged the sick calls were "widely perceived to be a coordinated job action to protest the slow progress" of contract negotiations.
The union said there was no work action, but rather a spike in illnesses fueled by mandatory overtime that exhausted workers. The union also produced work logs that it said contradicted the company's sick-call figures.
A judge dismissed the case in February and instructed the union to file a grievance, which it has.
Mr. Kelly acknowledges that "mistakes were made" during the operational meltdown but he disputes the union's claims that the company understaffed Midway or mismanaged the operation.
While he says he has no desire to replicate Mr. Kelleher's flamboyant tenure, he was recently content to call upon the former CEO to deliver one of his signature no-holds-barred insights.
On March 12, the birthday of both Messrs. Kelleher and Kelly, the two addressed employees in a video posted online. Mr. Kelly asked his predecessor, "How do you respond to employees concerned about change?"
Mr. Kelleher responded: "What I tell them is…'What we're talking about here is your future. If we don't change, you won't have one.' "
- Striking Workers At Boston Insomnia Cookies Win Settlement
- Portland IWW Fights Wage Theft
- Indiana IWW Celebrates One Year As A Branch
- Miami IWW: Fighting Back In High-End Hotels
- Exposed: The Adjunctification Of Higher Educationn
- Solidarity Unionism In Iceland
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
The ILWU joined other members of International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) on March 20th who organized a protest and negotiating session at the Honduran Embassy in London.
“We gathered in London for the ITF Dockers Section meeting to discuss important issues facing dockworkers around the world – including the abuse of workers at Puerto Cortés in Honduras,” said ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe who also serves as Second Vice-Chair for the ITF Dockers Section.
A protest was organized to seek justice for Honduran dockworkers who have suffered a host of human and labor rights abuses at Puerto Cortés where global terminal operator ICTSI won a concession in September of 2012 to privately run the former public port. Union leaders have been trying – without success – to negotiate with ICTSI’s Honduran subsidiary to reach a collective bargaining agreement for port workers.
Death threats and murder
Honduran dockworker Victor Crepso, who heads the Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM), faced repeated death threats and an attempt on his life, forcing Crespo to flee the country for his own protection. After Crespo fled Honduras, his father was murdered on January 27, 2014.
SGTM union members who participated in legitimate and peaceful protests in Honduras and at ICTSI’s terminal at the Port of Portland on March 4, were subsequently hunted down by Honduran police when they returned home. Some union leaders were detained and charged with crimes against the state.
In London, the ITF assembled a high-level official delegation to meet with Honduran Ambassador Romero-Martinez at his London embassy, while ILWU Vice President Familathe and other members of the ITF Dockers’ Section – representing port workers worldwide – demonstrated in front of the building.
“We called on Honduran officials to practice ‘negotiation, not intimidation,’” said Familathe.
Inside the Honduran Embassy, ITF President Paddy Crumlin; ITF Acting General Secretary Steve Cotton; ITF-affiliate SGTM President Victor Crespo; and ITF Maritime Coordinator Tomas Abrahamsson reviewed the recent history of worker abuse at Puerto Cortés.
Agreement to investigate
At the conclusion of the meeting, Ambassador Romero-Martinez promised to seek an investigation into the death threats and other abuse of trade unionists at Puerto Cortés.
Speaking on the embassy steps following the meeting, ITF President Paddy Crumlin announced: “We had a productive, open and frank conversation with the ambassador who agreed there should be an investigation into the abuse of trade union and human rights being reported in Puerto Cortés.
All of us agreed that engagement from all sides is essential if we’re to bring about an end to this situation.”
On Tuesday, March 4, workers from Puerto Cortés in Honduras who are union members belonging to the “Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle” (SGTM), established a picket line in front of ICTSI’s Oregon’s operation at Terminal 6 in Portland.
SGTM workers held picket signs that read, “S.G.T.M. LOCKED OUT ICTSI” and stated that they are facing murder, military repression, death threats, and anti-union attacks. ILWU workers honored the picket line in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.
Philippines-based ICTSI is a global terminal operator that began its first U.S. venture in 2010 by leasing Terminal 6 from the Port of Portland. ICTSI is the parent company for ICTSI Oregon and Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC) in Honduras. On February 1, 2013, ICTSI was awarded a concession agreement in Puerto Cortés for 29 years. ICTSI then established OPC, which imposed a sham labor agreement that was approved by the Honduran Government and ICTSI – but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. ICTSI/OPC began hiring workers under the sham labor agreement in December 2013 and, over the course of the next couple months, the company fired large numbers of union supporters. This mass firing of union supporters sparked a protest on February 26, 2014. The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, charging many with “terrorism” and “damaging the national economy.” Dockerworker union leader Victor Crespo had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing his father and injuring his mother.
International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) – the rogue Pacific Maritime Association employer operating primarily in Third World ports with one U.S. operation at Terminal 6 in the Port of Portland, OR – reported that company profits shot up 20%
in 2013 over the previous year.
The company said net revenue (profit) rose from $143.2 to $172.4 million in 2013. The company attributed their higher profits to strong revenue growth and better profit
margins at key terminals, including a new operation in Pakistan.
ICTSI is run by Enrique K. Razon, Jr., said to be ranked as the thirdrichest
tycoon in the Philippines with personal wealth estimated by Forbes Magazine at $4.2 billion dollars. Razon acquired his fortune the old-fashioned way – by inheriting the family business.
He serves as Chairman or Director of a dozen companies, and has invested in mining, oil & gas, utilities, real estate, golf courses, resorts and gambling – in addition to container terminals.
In June 2012, in response to the PMA and ILWU’s effort to seek court enforcement of the parties’ collective bargaining agreement against PMA member company ICTSI at its Terminal 6 facility in Portland, Oregon, ICTSI took the extreme and unprecedented step of suing the PMA and ILWU for alleged federal antitrust violations.
On March 24, 2014, a Federal District Court Judge dismissed ICTSI’s scurrilous antitrust claims. In his Opinion and Order, Federal Judge Michael Simon upheld the well-established statutory exemption from antitrust scrutiny of traditional union activities and acknowledged the ILWU’s legitimate interest in engaging in activities normally associated with labor disputes. The Judge also rejected ICTSI’s absurd monopoly claim and recognized the valid work preservation intent of applicable sections of the ILWU-PMA contract.
In addition to dismissing ICTSI’s antitrust claim, the Federal District Court Judge dismissed the Port of Portland’s claim that PMA and the ILWU had intentionally interfered with the Port’s contractual relationship with ICTSI and IBEW Local 48.
Working at UPS is exhausting and the company always wants it done yesterday. It can be tempting to look at supervisors working as a necessary evil, even a helping hand.
But supervisors aren’t helping us when they do bargaining unit work. They’re taking money out of our wallets. Whenever a supervisor works, a Teamster loses the opportunity to get extra hours, and extra money in their paycheck.
Management always has an excuse for supervisors working, like blaming attendance.
But the contract clearly puts the burden on the company to “maintain a sufficient workforce to staff its operations” with Teamsters and not to “send any employee home and then have such employee’s work performed by a supervisor.” (Article 7, Section 3).
The contract only works if we make it work.
TDU members have won tens of thousands of dollars by filing Supervisors Working grievances. You can get double-time pay for supervisors working violations too.
Use the TDU Guide and get UPS to pay for supervisors working.UPS Member's ToolboxIssues: UPS
Click here to download tips on fighting production harassment for inside workers.
Is management handing out excessive discipline for misloads or missorts? Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself and your fellow Teamsters.
UPS has the right to expect employees, in this case preloaders and loaders, to work accurately. This is just common sense. But management frequently goes overboard from common sense to nonsense.
In this article, we'll review how members can defend themselves in the office and through the grievance procedure. Of course, the most powerful union response is a group response. So we'll talk about that too.
Before accepting discipline for misloads or missorts, stewards have to consider several factors including:
- Was the preloader or loader the only person covering the assignment or did a supervisor continue loading when the employee used the bathroom or went on a break?
- Did the preloader or loader come late to work or leave early, leaving someone else working the assignment?
- Did the loader load the truck or sort the packages in question by themselves or did any other person, i.e. a driver, supervisor, or co-worker, do any of the work?
- What was the frequency of missorts or misloads and the overall accuracy percentage? Use a percentage when considering the amount of mistakes to total packages handled. For example: ten misloads out of 1,000 is still 99 percent accurate and does not warrant discipline.
Be careful when arguing frequency—and be wary of management data.
Management will try to use records to show that a member has a longstanding problem with accuracy. But those numbers, while reliable for tracking packages, are not reliable for tracking an individual employee’s performance for purposes of discipline.
Remember, management's records on misloads do not go on a rolling nine months and they do not exclude the days when the employee's assignment was partially worked by someone else.
Filing a Grievance
If management won't back down from unreasonable discipline, a grievance should be filed always and without exception.
If a grievance is not filed in a timely manner the discipline stands and any future protest will probably not be allowed.
Article 37 of the national contract should be cited: dignity and respect, harassment and intimidation, over-supervision, and a fair day’s pay for a day's work.
Remember, there is no accuracy standard in the contract except the general "fair days' work for a fair days pay." The company has the right to expect accuracy, but not a specific number and not different levels of accuracy from one employee to the other.
As a final defense, if it is clear the member has a problem with missorts or misloads, it may be appropriate for a steward to suggest training or, in the worst case, reassignment to a different job.
Taking Action Together
Management often makes contradictory demands. They demand maximum production with high numbers of packages loaded per hour in multiple cars—and at the same time they want no missorts or misloads, or near perfect accuracy.
Most people cannot satisfy both of these demands at the same time. If the preloader tries to load too fast, accuracy will suffer. If the preloader goes for 100 percent accuracy at all times then production will drop. What is a worker to do?
The most effective response is a group response. If management is giving out discipline for every misload, they are sending a clear message that accuracy is their top priority.
In such a case, each preloader is well advised to work at a pace where they can achieve zero or near zero misloads. Of course, the supervisors will scream that they want the preloaders to work faster.
Members should calmly point out that they are going as fast as they can to ensure accuracy because they do not want to be disciplined for errors.
Let the supervisor try to discipline workers for low production under these circumstances where they have already issued a pile of warning letters for missorts or misloads. Those very warning letters provide the perfect defense.
As a bonus, members should file a pile of harassment letters if the supervisor(s) cross the line and demand more production in the face of all the disciplinary warnings.
Going on Offense
The best defense is a good offense. Supervisors work, they harass, they violate seniority and the list goes on and on. Center management that churns out warning letters and discipline is sending the message that they like paperwork, so give them some more—in the form of grievances.
Wallpaper their offices with every violation possible: supervisors working, safety violations, harassment, seniority violations, over-70 violations, the list goes on and on. The supervisor might not get the message but the center manager will.Rights & Resources: UPS Member's ToolboxIssues: UPS
In February, the Puget Sound District Council (PSDC) donated $1000 to public radio station KSVR-FM in Washington State’s Skagit Valley where the radio program, “We Do The Work,” is produced. The weekly half-hour show is co-hosted by Pacific Coast Pensioner President Rich Austin.
“Our ILWU District Council understands the importance of supporting community organizations that speak to the needs of America’s working class,” said PSDC President Dan McKisson. “The folks who broadcast “We Do The Work” believe that workers are the heart and soul of our economy and culture – and that all workers deserve dignity, economic security, respect, and a decent family wage. Because our District Council shares that view, we decided to support this valuable community resource,” said McKisson.
During the next several months, KSVR will air hundreds of public announcements provided by the District Council. McKisson says the donation serves two purposes; allowing the ILWU to underwrite progressive radio programming – and getting the ILWU’s message out to the local community about efforts to help fellow workers.
“We hope other District Councils will urge their local public radio stations to carry “We Do The Work” shows each week. These programs are relevant, and speak to issues that are important to the working class.
We rarely hear these kind of ‘pork chop issues’ discussed from a working- class view on commercial stations.”
For more information about the show and how to contact your local station, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
“We Do The Work” is also carried on: WXOJ (Florence, MA) WPRR (Grand Rapids, MI) KOWA (Olympia, WA) KUGS (Bellingham, WA) KKRN (Redding, CA) W237CZ (Hudsonville, MI) WPJC (Pontiac, MI) WXPZ (Clyde Township, MI) KSVU (Upper Skagit River, WA)
April 2, 2014: Had enough of Hoffa, Hall and contract givebacks? It’s time to take back our union.
Teamsters members Voted No against concessions at UPS, UPS Freight and YRC. The Vote No movement armed James Hoffa and Ken Hall with leverage to go back to the table and negotiate contract improvements.
Instead, Hoffa and Hall have worked hand-in-glove with management to re-vote weak contracts and push through concessions.
Fed up with Hoffa, Hall and their contract givebacks, Teamster members are building a movement to take back our union.
From Vote No to Take Back Our Union
During the Vote No movement, thousands of Teamsters networked on Facebook pages like “Vote No On UPS Contract” and “No Freight Concessions.” Now these Teamsters are uniting their efforts.
“We’ve got the numbers and we’ve got the power to vote out Hoffa and Hall,” said Mark Timlin of New Jersey Local 177. “But we’ve got to get organized.”
Timlin started the 5000-member Facebook page Vote No on the UPS Contract.
Now he’s organizing with his eye on the 2016 Teamster election. Freight and UPS Freight Teamsters are also joining forces.
“Freight Teamsters are fed up with Hoffa and we are all in on an effort to dump him for good, elect new leadership and save our union,” said Bret Subsits, an ABF road driver in Chicago Local 710.
The first elections for IBT Convention Delegate will be held in 18 months. Delegates vote to officially nominate candidates for IBT office and get them on the ballot.
“When Hoffa and Hall sold out the members in our contract, they woke up a lot of people. Now we’re going to take back our union,” said Rob Atkinson, a UPS driver in Local 538 in Worthington, Pa.
Contact TDU to get involved in the movement to Take Back Our Union in 2016.Issues: TDUTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 289 April 2014