PMA President: US government won’t allow another West Coast port crisis
Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | Jun 19, 2016 11:16AM EDT
LONG BEACH — The head of the group representing U.S. West Coast waterfront employers said the federal government and shipping public won’t again allow negotiations with longshoremen to go down the tortuous path that led to containerized supply chain disruption in 2014-2015.
“Negotiations are more visible now. There is pressure on both sides, and pressure does a lot to get things done,” Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna told the annual conference of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition in Long Beach.
The 2014-15 contract negotiations resulted in crippling International Longshore and Warehouse Union work slowdowns and a PMA response that included cessation of lucrative night and weekend work for longshoremen. The job actions began on Oct. 31, 2014, and continued until a tentative agreement was reached Feb. 20, 2015.
West Coast ports went into gridlock for almost four months. Exporters, especially agricultural exporters who must ship their perishable cargo through the closest port, are still smarting from the loss of business, some of which was lost indefinitely.
McKenna acknowledged that loss of market share is certainly possible. That was exactly what happened during the contentious 2002 contract negotiations, which involved ILWU work slowdowns, a 10-day lockout called by the PMA, and federal intervention with a Taft-Hartley back-to-work injunction. “You lose 5 percent, but only 2 percent comes back,” he said of such negotiations.
The 2014-15 negotiations spawned at least three proposed bills in Congress aimed at preventing future talks from degenerating into work slowdowns, strikes or lockouts. None of the bills have passed. The reason West Coast contract negotiations are prone to work slowdowns and lockouts is that the talks invariably extend beyond the expiration of the existing contract. When a contract expires, the union usually refuses to extend it, so the “no-strike” clause is void.
Employers always seek to extend a contract until a new one is reached, and some members of Congress think that is a good idea. One of the bills that was proposed last year would mandate that contracts be extended during negotiations to keep the no-strike clause in effect. The odds of such legislation passing are low, so if employers are ever to achieve that goal, “it would have to be negotiated,” McKenna said.
The PMA president suggested, however, that an even more favorable scenario is possible. During the 16th TPM conference in Long Beach in March, ILWU President Bob McEllrath was asked if the ILWU would agree to early discussions to extend the 2014 contract beyond its expiration date of July 1, 2019. McEllrath said that if McKenna formally requested early negotiations, he would present the proposal to the union membership.
McKenna in fact sent a letter to McEllrath, and the union is now considering the request. McKenna said he is “hopeful” that the ILWU will agree to negotiate an extension. “The logical thing is an extension of the contract for three to five years,” he said, although he gave no time frame for a response from the union or a date when early negotiations would begin.
On the other hand, neither side wants a repeat of 2014-15, when the secretaries of Labor and Commerce joined in the negotiations. “The feds didn’t broker a deal. The fear of interference forced us into a deal,” he said.
Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter:@billmongelluzzoTags: PMAilwudeal
UK Leeds bus workers strike First Bus over pay
By Barbara Slaughter
18 June 2016
More than 1,000 bus drivers and customer hosts employed by First Bus Leeds struck for 24-hours on June 13 in pursuit of a pay increase. First Bus operates 63 of the Leeds’ bus routes and almost the whole city was brought to a halt by the action, which began at 2 a.m. Monday.
Bus workers are demanding a wage increase of 36 pence per hour (51 US cents). After rejecting management’s offer of a 10 pence an hour (14 US cents) increase, in a ballot for strike action, 90 percent voted in favour in an 80 percent turnout. On June 9, management’s “final offer” was put to a branch meeting by Unite trade union officials. This represented an immediate pay increase of 16 pence per hour (23 US cents) and a further 20 pence (28 US cents) next January. The 250 workers at the meeting voted unanimously to reject the offer and begin a campaign of strike action.
On June 13, pickets were outside the garages from early morning.
One of the pickets, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke to the World Socialist Web Site about the wages and working conditions at the Leeds depots. He said that drivers could be rostered to work anything from seven to 12 hour shifts. They regularly have to sit in the cab for up to five-and-a-half hours at a stretch, with only four minutes turnaround time at the end of each run.
He said angrily, “They wouldn’t treat a tin of beans like that, but that is how they treat human beings. The schedules are worked out by computer, paying little regard to the actual conditions on the road, and as a result are so tight that it is almost impossible to maintain them and lost time has to be made up. The constant pressure affects the health of bus workers and cases of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and obesity are common.”
He explained that there is a three-tiered pay system for workers who are essentially doing the same job. New starters have to work between 42 and 44 hours for £20,000 (US$28,400).
Long-standing workers on the “A rate” work 36 hours for the same amount, but then can choose to work an extra seven-and-a-half hours of overtime, but without any kind of enhancement. He said the work was so structured, it was impossible for new starters to ever achieve the A rate of pay.
He continued, “The company is constantly having to recruit new staff because young people just can’t do it. It’s donkey work. It’s just work, sleep and back again. It messes up your body. They [the company] are always short staffed. Many of the lads pick up extra shifts because the pay is not enough to live on.”
First Bus run bus services in many other cities including Manchester, Bristol, Huddersfield, Halifax, Glasgow and Aberdeen. They also run one fifth of the UK’s passenger rail network, including Great Western Railways, Trans-Pennine Express, First Hull Trains, Train-Link in London and others. The company began with a management buyout of the Bristol Omnibus Company and expanded through purchases of formerly publicly-owned bus and rail companies in England and Wales in the 1980s. Since then, they have invested in transport companies throughout North America.
In the UK, bus workers’ wages and conditions differ from city to city. For example, drivers in nearby Halifax are paid £2 per hour more than drivers in Leeds. The Leeds drivers are among the lowest paid of First Bus operations in the county of Yorkshire. Last year, the company made £11million (15,580,000 $US) clear profit over turnover from its Leeds operation alone.
On the day of the strike, WSWS reporters distributed leaflets to pickets about the recent strike of bus workers in San Diego, California, employed by First Transit. This company is part of the same multinational, First Group plc.
Several of the pickets already knew of the San Diego dispute and were interested to read the report of the strike. One picket said, “We are facing the same battles to put food on the table for our families. All we want is a normal decent life. But that is becoming less and less possible.”
Unite is currently organising a 100,000 signature petition to present to the Conservative government, calling for a reduction in the maximum time a driver can be expected to be in the cab to be reduced to four-and-a-half hours from five-and-a-half hours. Asked by the WSWS why the union would seek to pressure the David Cameron-led anti-worker Tory government to defend workers’ conditions, Phil Bown, a Unite official, replied: “You’ve got to start somewhere.”
According to Unite, First Bus in the UK generates a third of its profits from its Leeds operation. Leeds First Bus recently pushed through redundancies when it got rid of its two-person-operated “bendy buses”, which employed a host as well as the driver. While the drivers will be absorbed into the workforce, the hosts were offered redeployment but would have to apply for any available suitable posts throughout the group’s national operation.
The vote and high turnout for the one-day strike shows the determination of the drivers to take on the company. A further 24-hour strike is planned for June 20, with negotiations between management and Unite, aimed at ending the dispute, underway.
Years After United Merger, Flight Attendants, IBT UAL Work for Two Airlines
By ANNALYN KURTZ
JUNE 16, 2016
United Airlines flight attendants, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants, outside Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday. CreditRichard Perry/The New York Times
Despite the name on its airplanes, United Airlines is anything but fully unified.
More than five years after United merged with Continental, the combined carrier’s 24,000 flight attendants are still operating as if the company were running two airlines. That disconnect has made scheduling crews and flight routes more complicated and has contributed to operational challenges, including flight delays.
Now, after three years of negotiations, the airline and its flight attendants seem to be near an agreement that could integrate the work force.
United management and the Association of Flight Attendants, the union representing the airline’s cabin workers, are scheduled to meet for four days in Chicago next week in what both parties hope is a final mediation session. A new contract would unify all the flight attendants on issues like health care plans, wages and scheduling.
“We feel optimistic,” said Sara Nelson, the union’s international president and a United flight attendant for 20 years.
Still, the union has sought to keep up the pressure. It has staged demonstrations outside major airports eight times over the last year, including informational pickets on Thursday from Newark to Hong Kong.
United said it was committed to getting the flight attendants a new contract.
While United’s pilots, dispatchers and machinists have all reached new agreements with the company, the flight attendants have operated under separate contracts. That has meant pre-merger United flight attendants working exclusively on legacy United planes, and the former Continental flight attendants on Continental planes.
New hires and new airplanes are also divided between the two.
Since the merger in October 2010, about 6 percent of United flights have been delayed because of complications within the airline’s control, like crew scheduling or maintenance problems, according to the Department of Transportation. But in 2009, that number was 4 percent.
The chief executive, Oscar Munoz, returned to his job in March after a lengthy absence during which he had a heart transplant, and industry analysts are watching for the airline to turn a corner. On-time rates started inching up earlier this year, which is one indication of improvement, said Craig Jenks, president of Airline/Aircraft Projects, an airline consulting firm in New York.
“Investors are keeping their fingers crossed that positive change is happening at United, and that comprises both employee morale and customer issues,” Mr. Jenks said.
But in other areas, the company is still struggling. United has reported declines in passenger revenue for every seat-mile, a key metric in the industry.
The airline blames a strong dollar, which has contributed to weak demand in international markets, and low oil prices, which have reduced revenue from fuel surcharges and curbed traffic in Houston, an energy center that is one of United’s largest hubs.
James Compton, United’s chief revenue officer, said in April that the passenger revenue for every seat-mile could decline another 6.5 to 8.5 percent year over year in the second quarter, which ends in June, after falling for several quarters. That is a gloomier revenue forecast than those of the two larger United States carriers by revenue, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
Both employee morale and customer satisfaction have suffered. In a survey by Skytrax, an air travel research group, passengers have given United a grade of 3 out of 10, compared with grades of 5 for Delta and 6 for Southwest. Lufthansa, the German airline, received a 7.
Labor peace is at the top of Mr. Munoz’s agenda. He was named to the post last fall after the previous chief, Jeffery A. Smisek, resigned in the face of a corruption investigation related to the company’s dealings with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
In April, United reached an agreement with its 30,000 on-the-ground airport workers, represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers. Those workers will receive a 30 percent pay raise over the next five years.
While the flight attendants are also pushing for a raise, United rejected their initial compensation plan, saying the proposal was “significantly more costly than at American and Delta and would have a negative impact on United’s ability to operate the airline.”
The Association of Professional Flight Attendants negotiated a 6 percent pay increase for American Airlines Group flight attendants earlier this year. Under that contract, American will adjust its pay scale once United reaches a deal with its flight attendants. Ms. Nelson said she hoped the provision would lead to higher wages throughout the industry.
One provision that is not an issue in these negotiations is employee seniority, a point of contention for pilots in recent airline mergers because it factors into how pilots and flight attendants can be scheduled on their preferred routes. In United’s case, the flight attendants agreed early on to base seniority on the original hire date, without regard to whether the employee worked for pre-merger United or Continental.
United also has yet to strike a deal with its 9,000 mechanics, represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. It is scheduled to meet with that group later this month.
On his first official day back on the job in March, Mr. Munoz met with the major unions, and the change from the previous leadership was like “night and day,” said Ms. Nelson, the flight attendants’ leader.
She added, “Once he was engaged and pressing for an agreement, there was movement at the table.”
Correction: June 17, 2016
An earlier version of this article misidentified the union that negotiated a 6 percent pay increase for American Airlines flight attendants earlier this year. It was the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, not the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents United flight attendants and former Continental flight attendants.
Nearly half of NYC private garbage trucks have maintenance issues; drivers say they’re ‘unsafe for everyone’
Nearly half of NYC private garbage trucks have maintenance issues; drivers say they’re ‘unsafe for everyone’ “When a worker complains about brakes that don’t work or wheels that are missing lugnuts, it doesn’t get fixed,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813. “The companies are sending workers out on trucks that are unsafe for everyone.”
“When a worker complains about brakes that don’t work or wheels that are missing lugnuts, it doesn’t get fixed,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813. “The companies are sending workers out on trucks that are unsafe for everyone.”
Private companies' garbage trucks have been cited as hitting the streets with bald tires, faulty brakes and broken lights.
Private companies' garbage trucks have been cited as hitting the streets with bald tires, faulty brakes and broken lights. (MIKE CLARKE/KOZMOAT98/ISTOCK/GETTY)
DAILY NEWS TRANSIT REPORTER
Thursday, June 16, 2016, 6:24 PM
Trash hauling is a dirty business — and a dangerous one for crews working for private companies.
A new report has found that truck drivers are laboring on city streets with bald tires, faulty brakes and broken lights, and that nearly all safety violations against New York’s largest private sanitation companies involve basic maintenance issues.
The two groups behind the report released Thursday — Transportation Alternatives and Transform Don’t Trash NYC — back a City Council bill that would transform how business is done.
The bill proposes giving the private companies exclusive rights to pick up trash in designated zones. Proponents say this will make city oversight simpler.
Cops stun, nab naked Ga. college student in garbage truck
Truck drivers gathered at City Hall Thursday shared unnerving tales of the road.
“I’ve had trucks in rainstorms with no windshield wipers, so you can’t see,” said Carl Orlando, 24, a former driver with training in diesel mechanics. “Nighttime, no headlights, no brake lights no flashing lights, no horn.”
Orlando said he crashed his truck into a telephone pole when his brake lines froze last winter.
The two-year study that ended in February found that nearly half of all private sanitation trucks from the city’s top 20 trash haulers, on average, had to be taken out of service with maintenance problems, according to the report, which used federal inspection data.
Queens postal worker who tossed 1,000 letters gets probation
A City Council bill would give private companies exclusive rights to pick up trash in designated zones.
A City Council bill would give private companies exclusive rights to pick up trash in designated zones.(ROBERT NICKELSBERG/GETTY IMAGES)
“When a worker complains about brakes that don’t work or wheels that are missing lugnuts, it doesn’t get fixed,” said Sean Campbell, president of Teamsters Local 813. “The companies are sending workers out on trucks that are unsafe for everyone.”
The report found that companies, such as Crown Container, had a vehicle out-of-service rate as high as 86% over the two-year period.
Crown Container’s president, Gerald Antonacci, disputed that, saying his trucks are regularly inspected and that he is upgrading his fleet.
“Some of them are minor, minor things,” he said of the violations. “And none of them have resulted in any types of crashes, any harm to anybody.”
“I would put our fleet up against anybody's fleet,” he added.
Kendall Christiansen, manager of the National Waste & Recycling Association's New York chapter, disputed the report's criticism of the industry's safety record.
"While waste collection trucks are complex pieces of equipment, no company benefits from trucks that can't perform properly, or create safety hazards," Christiansen said in a statement.Tags: IBT 813NYC private garbage truckshealth and safety
Uber, Lyft drivers push to unionize
By Carolyn Said
June 17, 2016 Updated: June 17, 2016 7:00am
Photo: Michael Noble Jr., The ChronicleTeamsters organizer Misty Tanner, from one of several unions talking with drivers, meets with Uber driver Valerie Mitchell.
In five years as a union organizer, Misty Tanner has approached employees of San Bernardino and Butte counties, and school bus drivers and custodians in Clark County, Nev. But now she’s facing a unique challenge: signing up Bay Area Uber and Lyft drivers for representation by the Teamsters.
“We’re the backbone of Uber’s business; we should have some say,” said Valerie Mitchell, a San Francisco driver who met with Tanner on Wednesday at a Mission District coffee shop. “We need a force to be reckoned with to back us, so we’re not seen as just a bunch of drivers throwing a tantrum.”
The drivers are a far-flung workforce that is by definition highly mobile and extremely varied in their hours, locations, attitudes and personal situations. Unlike most union targets, they are independent contractors, not employees. That means Uber and Lyft drivers lack even basic protections that unions fought for a century ago, such as minimum wage and overtime. The conundrum for unions: Would seeking to represent drivers validate their nonemployee status?
The question of whether drivers should be employees is a major point of contention that has spurred class-action lawsuits. While Uber and Lyft have reached tentative settlements in those cases that keep drivers as contractors, some are raising objections, and the courts may end up rejecting them, throwing their status back up in the air.
Photo: Michael Noble Jr., The ChronicleUber driver Valerie Mitchell says her fellow drivers need “a force to be reckoned with.”
Whether you call them contractors or employees, though, with hundreds of thousands of drivers nationwide and tens of thousands in California, Uber and Lyft workers represent a potent new resource for unions seeking members — and hoping to get a foothold in the emerging gig economy in which online marketplaces connect workers with customers for services such as rides, cleaning or errands.
“We don’t like an independent contractor model; the Teamsters have been in the forefront of fighting that for years,” said Rome Aloise, Teamsters International vice president and president of Joint Council 7, the union’s Northern California/Nevada arm. “On the other hand, we’re not going to dismiss the reality of the world at this point. We think we’re better off being in front of it than behind. It’s new territory, and traditional answers may not fit.”
Not the only option
The Teamsters have been the most active in seeking to organize ride-service drivers in California, but other unions are also jockeying to be part of the action.
“We have met with the Teamsters, with SEIU and with the (New York) Taxi Workers Alliance,” said Gladys Quinones of Sunnyvale, an Uber driver who’s played a leadership role in the San Francisco Bay Area Drivers Association, one of several loose-knit groups now coalescing. “We’ll see who can help us the most.”
Likewise, Mitchell said she’d had contact with the various unions and was agnostic about which one to work with.
Despite differing circumstances, Uber and Lyft drivers seem unanimous on one key issue: higher pay, or at least more consistent rates.
“We would like the rates to be more stable, so they don’t drop them whenever they want,” Quinones said.
“Since I started driving 2½ years ago, fares have decreased so much,” said Edward Escobar, who is helping to organize a related group, United Drivers, under the umbrella name Alliance for Independent Workers. His group has also met with the Teamsters, SEIU and the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, he said. “You hit that button (to see the fare), and your jaw just drops.”
Adding impetus to the movement is the fact that Uber has agreed to recognize and fund peer-run drivers associations in California and Massachusetts as part of the settlement of the class-action lawsuit over employment status. So far, the Teamsters seem most interested in that opportunity.
“We think drivers are workers who need representation, and we think we can help them, especially under the proposed class-action settlement,” Aloise said.
But other labor experts question the concept of an Uber-sanctioned drivers association and slam the Teamsters for even considering participating.
“I’m very skeptical of any association financially supported by Uber,” said Veena Dubal, an associate law professor at UC Hastings College of Law. In late May she filed an objection to the class-action lawsuit settlement on behalf of five drivers, on the grounds that leaving them as independent contractors and creating “illusory mechanisms” such as the association would exacerbate economic and social inequality.
‘Undermines the idea’
“The idea that a company would be involved in facilitating a drivers association undermines the idea of an independent labor organization that can make decisions and fight for things to benefit the workers,” Dubal said.
She pointed to Uber’s recent recognition in New York of a group called the Independent Drivers Guild, to be affiliated with a local branch of the machinists union. The guild will have no bargaining power over fares and benefits. “It’s troubling because (the guild is) agreeing to not work for the one thing workers care about most, which is wages,” she said.
About 5,000 other Uber drivers in New York are working with the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which this month filed a proposed class-action saying they should be employees. It also criticized the machinists pact.
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“If a union agrees to not challenge classification or any other labor violations, not engage in work stoppages and not negotiate over economic issues, that to me is a tragic concession,” said Bhairavi Desai, a founding member of the New York group and a representative on the AFL-CIO executive council. “It’s not novel organizing; it’s just a company union.”
Likewise, she’s dubious of the Teamsters or others seeking to form an association under terms set by Uber, as could be the case in California. “Gaining numbers but losing economic power is actually a step backwards,” she said. “They would be giving political cover to the drivers’ misclassification (as independent contractors). If you give up on employee status and the right to a democratic union, workers lose far more.”
The Teamsters say they’re hardly about to roll over for Uber and that they’ve already helped drivers. This month San Francisco Treasurer José Cisneros agreed to cancel late fees and penalties for business registration permits for Uber and Lyft drivers after the city sent out thousands of notices reminding drivers that they needed to register. While his office wouldn’t say how he reached the decision, the Teamsters had set up meetings for drivers with Cisneros and all the members of the Board of Supervisors.
“The question of employee status is far from being answered, but in the meantime the workers need and want representation,” said Doug Bloch, political director for the Teamsters Joint Council 7. “We have an obligation to help these workers any way we can.” One action the Teamsters might pursue is seeking state legislation to set a single business license fee for independent drivers, rather than making them bear the expense of separate ones in each city they drive in.
Pay is dropping
As a union carpenter for 20 years, Kelsey Tilander understands the importance of organized labor, he said. After injuries stopped his career, he became a truck driver, but his family wanted him closer to home. Two years ago he leased a car to drive for Lyft at a time when it was paying $2.35 a mile. “I jumped on it and was doing fine,” he said. “Then they lowered the price some more, and some more and more and more.”
Now he’s active in trying to organize other drivers to work with the Teamsters, noting that there are dozens of Bay Area companies that use on-demand gig workers, such as Postmates and TaskRabbit.
“Those workers all need a voice,” he said. “Getting organized is what gets us in the door.”
Carolyn Said is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTags: UBER UnionizationLyft
The human cost of privatization-MARTA OUTSOURCING MOBILITY LEAVING WORKERS AND RIDERS BEHIND
MARTA OUTSOURCING MOBILITY LEAVING WORKERS AND RIDERS BEHIND
MARTA Mobility bus operator Preyonda Price loves her job helping Atlantans with disabilities and seniors get to the doctor, church, grocery store and other daily tasks. But sadly the Local 732 member and single mother, who also cares for her own mother and grandmother, may have look for a new job because she is now going to have pay more than $1,800 per month for health care costs – almost more than she makes.
Why? Because MARTA is privatizing its paratransit service, contracting it out to MV Transportation in direct violation of its contract with Local 732.
Adding insult to injury, Price and her fellow workers will also lose their pensions and hundreds could lose their jobs as a result of MARTA outsourcing this critical service that many people depend on each day.
“This is devastating to me and my family. I’ve already had to give up my house, and move with my children into my mom’s apartment with my grandmother,” Price said. “I love my job and the people I pick up each day. It’s not an easy job; it’s humbling. And MARTA is trying to take it away from me. My kids have health issues and now I’m not going to be able to afford to provide the care they need. I’m one of many of my fellow workers facing this dim future.”
This is the cost of privatization – real hard working people losing their livelihood and their health care while greedy executives at private transit companies get bonuses.
Riders lose too
Riders also lose. These private companies win transit contracts with lofty promises of cutting costs and improving service, but time after time they end up costing more, leading to fare increases, service cuts, and safety and maintenance shortcuts.
This isn’t a new story at MARTA. The board and CEO Keith Parker have been scheming to dismantle and sell off MARTA to private contractors for years.
They say people learn from their mistakes, but that doesn’t seem to apply to MARTA. The agency outsourced paratransit in the 1990s, but the service was so bad the Board brought it back in-house.
Furthermore, in a previous job Parker commissioned a report sponsored by the Federal Transit Administration concluding that the quality and stability of privately operated paratransit service is extremely poor, nationwide, compared to service operated by public agencies.
This is a disturbing national trend says a new report, by the group, “In the Public Interest”, detailing the many ways private contractors harm the public, workers and the environment in their pursuit of profit.
Cutting Corners describes how companies, like First Transit and MV, have reduced the quality and accessibility of services, lowered worker wages, and sidestepped protections for the public and the environment
“MARTA once lifted a generation of workers, especially African Americans, into the middle class,” said Local President Curtis Howard. “Now, MARTA is throwing those workers under the bus by ramrodding the outsourcing of its Mobility service and leaving our city’s most transit dependent – seniors and people with disabilities – to face an uncertain and unsafe future.”outsourcing
City of Alexandria tries to censor ATU 981 transit workers
City of Alexandria tries to censor transit workers
In an attempt to illegally censor transit workers, the City of Alexandria, LA, threatened to discipline Local 981 members if they carried out plans to hold a public town hall meeting on the need to increase funding for critical bus service.
The Local invited Alexandria city councilmembers to attend the public town hall with city residents in hopes of opening a conversation about the importance of adequate funding of bus service in the city. However, City Attorney Charles Johnson contacted Local President Darnice Briggs accusing him of violating Alexandria’s civil service rules and threatening to discipline him and other workers for insubordination.
Threatened legal action
Finding no language in the civil service rules that prohibited public employees from holding “public discussion with stakeholders and community members about an important issue like funding for public transportation,” the union’s legal counsel advised the city in a letter that the Local would take legal action in response to any violation of the transit workers’ First Amendment rights.
ATU Local 981 President Darnice Briggs, Jr.
“This is flat out censorship by the city,” says Briggs, Jr. “They are violating our First Amendment rights in an attempt to silence transit workers and divide us from riders who rely on public transportation each day.
Transit union, city of Alexandria embroiled in dispute
Richard Sharkey, email@example.com, (318) 487-6490 2:04 p.m. CDT April 14, 2016
(Photo: Richard Sharkey/The Town Talk)
A union says the city of Alexandria is trying to “illegally censor” employees of Atrans, the city bus transit system.
City Attorney Chuck Johnson, however, says the city is simply trying to get transit union officials to follow proper procedures. He also indicates that the transit union is using the controversy to try to pressure the city into a new contract that would increase Atrans employees’ pay.
More than 30 Amalgamated Transit Union members from around the state held a demonstration outside Alexandria City Hall last week to try to drum up support for more state transit funding.
Darnice Briggs, a city bus driver who is president of ATU’s Local 981 in Alexandria, was among Atrans employees at the demonstration.
The union planned to hold a “town hall” meeting on the need for additional transit funding and invited City Council members to attend, but the city “threatened to discipline Amalgamated Transit Union Local 981 members” over that, an ATU news release said.
“This is flat-out censorship by the city. They are violating our First Amendment rights in an attempt to silence transit workers and divide us from riders who rely on public transportation each day,” Briggs said.
“We will not be silent. Bus riders can’t get where they need to be because bus, train and trolley service has been slashed because there is not enough money to fund public transit. It’s time for state lawmakers to invest more in public transportation. It’s good for the community,” he added.
Johnson, in a statement, said the city is not censoring anyone but is trying to ensure the union follows established rules.
Chuck Johnson (Photo: Town Talk file photo)
“No employee of the city has been threatened with disciplinary action for the lawful exercise of any constitutional rights. However, our City Charter and the rules of the Alexandria Civil Service Commission place certain limitations on contact between city employees and City Council members regarding operations,” Johnson said.
“Those rules expressly prohibit certain types of political activity. My job requires that I simply inform the employees of where the line is.
“The right of unions to bargain collectively is free speech; but bus unions do not represent riders, they represent bus department employees. Any concerns the riders have may be brought to their elected officials at any time for redress. That is not what is happening here,” Johnson said.
Antonette Bryant, an ATU international representative based in Washington, D.C., attended the demonstration in Alexandria last week. She said the message of that “rally” and similar demonstrations around the state is “transit lives matter.”
More money is need to improve conditions for transit riders, she said.
“We have a problem of passengers having to wait out in the sun, in the rain, having inclement weather, having no shelters, bus stops on the side of the road some you can’t even see, no information available to them,” Bryant told The Town Talk at the demonstration.
The ATU news release said Johnson accused Briggs of violating the Civil Service rules by inviting council members to a “town hall” meeting and threatened “to discipline him and other workers for insubordination.”
“The union’s legal counsel sent a letter threatening legal action against the city for violating workers’ First Amendment rights after reviewing the Civil Service rules and finding no restrictions for prohibiting public employees from holding ‘public discussion with stakeholders and community members about an important issue like funding for public transportation,’” the ATU said in its release.
ATU International President Larry Hanley said in a statement that any attempt to “trample on the free speech rights of transit workers … is a real abuse of power and unlawful. Transit workers will continue our campaigns to expose the truth and protest as long as it takes to protect our livelihoods and those of our riders and our community.”
Bryant said Mayor Jacques Roy's administration has “tried intimidation factors and tactics to prevent us from speaking on it, which is a direct violation not only of union business … but also the freedom of speech.”
Alexandria budget includes 3 percent pay raises
Johnson’s statement indicates he thinks the union’s actions are a ploy to try to get more money for Atrans workers.
The 2016-17 city budget, which takes effect May 1, includes 3 percent pay raises for all workers.
“Atrans provides an important service to the community. I do not wish to see it imperiled by Mr. Briggs’ contract (salary) demands. We have been told — through negotiations — that if the city will not approve the deal the union wants, they will seek to eliminate our federal funding for transit. This will only hurt the people, approximately 10,000 per year, most in need of public transportation,” Johnson said.
“The city would like to receive more funding for transit, if available, and we would be glad to partner in such efforts. We have never been asked to do so by the union or the riders, and we were not invited to join the discussion.
“Don’t be confused by misinformation and the rhetoric of self-interest. We stand firm in our commitment to providing quality bus service, but we must do so within the limitations of the annual budget appropriations adopted by the City Council,” Johnson’s statement concluded.
In the current fiscal year, the city budget’s Municipal Bus Fund revenue totals about $3.2 million. More than $2 million of that comes in a transfer from the Utility Fund.
Councilman Ed Larvadain III said more transit funding is needed in Alexandria and statewide.
Ed Larvadain III (Photo: Courtesy)
“We want to encourage folks to use public transit. It’s good. It’s healthy. It’s inexpensive, and it’s good to move people throughout the city,” Larvadain said.
Briggs said the Atrans system has very few bus shelters. “We have about a thousand stops throughout the city of Pineville and Alex. Out of those thousand, we may have a total of 10 shelters,” he said.
Larvadain said the city is in dire need of more bus shelters.
“You have people in wheelchairs. You have people who have physical handicaps, and they’re forced to sit or to stand ... in horrible weather conditions. You want to make sure people are comfortable, because we want people to use the mass transit,” Larvadain said.Tags: ATU 981 transit workerscensorship
6/17/16 Announcement of the 2016 Railroad Workers Memorial Day
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Friday, June 17, 2016
Every year since 2009, Railroad Workers United has recognized the Friday prior to Fathers' Day as "Railroad Workers Memorial Day". All rails are encouraged to wear black to work on this day in honor and remembrance of our fellow workers killed on the job.
RWU has stickers, flyers and posters like the one depicted to the left available. Click HERE if you would like to place and order for some.
To see the history of this action, click HERE.
Railroad Workers Memorial Day is Friday, June 17th
Railroad Workers United will observe Railroad Workers Memorial Day once again this Fathers’ Day Friday, June 17th, 2016. This will be the eighth year that we have observed a day in honor of all fellow railroad workers killed on the job. The initial inspiration for Railroad Workers Memorial Day came when Jared Boehlke, a young conductor, was killed on Mothers’ Day, 2009 while working a single employee RCO job in the bowl in Selkirk, NY. RWU called for a day of remembrance and action for that Fathers’ Day Friday a month later.
Since then, we have called on railroad workers and their allies to wear black shirts every year on this date as a way to not just remember and honor those killed on the job, but to take action in support of better safety measures to prevent such tragedies. Click HERE to learn more about RWU's Campaign Against "Blame-the-Worker" Safety Programs.
The History of Railroad Workers Memorial Day
Order Your Stickers and T-shirts
Listings of Railroad Workers Killed on the Job
RWU Campaign Against "Blame-the-Worker" Safety Programs
LA UNIÓN NOS HACE MÁS FUERTES -Portugal Docker Fight Back
Published on Feb 27, 2015
ESTIBADORES PORTUARIOS, (la unión nos hace mas fuertes)
US Government Pushes UBER Automated Cars But No Planning Or Funds For Workers Who Will Lose Jobs
This US government competition could completely change the American city
US Government Pushes UBER Robot Cars But No Planning Or Funds For Workers Who Will Lose Jobs
By Michael Laris June 9
The Duquesne Incline has been transporting people from Mount Washington since 1877. Pittsburgh's geography necessitated innovative transportation solutions during the Industrial Revolution. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
PITTSBURGH — Uber is about to build a vast, high-tech playground in one of this city’s poorest areas.
The ride-hailing giant wants a protected place to test driverless Ubers, part of its effort to replace costly human drivers.
So on the site of an abandoned steel mill south of the Hot Metal Bridge, the company will carve out a 20-plus-square-block, Pac-Man-like maze lined with trapezoidal obstacles. It is the same place where thousands of workers once streamed in to take punishing jobs at beehive-shaped ovens for baking coal and the furnaces that were fueled by it.
The test course in the impoverished Hazelwood community is part of a broader plan by Pittsburgh to bring green housing, tech jobs and an autonomous shuttle to the site. That is all at the center of Pittsburgh’s push to transform itself.
The public-private effort reflects a surge of similar ambitions elsewhere. Cities across the country, with a nudge from Washington, are trying to remake themselves by taking an expansive view of the role of transportation in their civic lives.
They say that they can tackle the era’s big issues — traffic congestion, poverty and climate change — by melding technology with the work of private firms and innovative planners.
Columbus, Ohio, wants driverless vehicles to speed travel to jobs by people from neighborhoods with chronic health concerns. Portland, Ore., is trying to cut pedestrian road deaths in its less-well-off reaches, potentially with platoons of connected vehicles. Denver hopes to link tractor-trailers wirelessly to prevent poorer areas from being jammed with idling trucks.
How seven cities are inventing the future of transportation VIEW GRAPHIC
To speed that work, and learn from the places that are trying to do it, the Transportation Department launched a competition, and in March chose seven finalists out of 78 applications: Pittsburgh; Kansas City, Mo.; San Francisco; Columbus; Denver; Austin; and Portland.
In an unusual partnership, the federal officials matched the cities with government researchers, regulatory wonks and private firms to offer practical advice as the teams developed plans to remake themselves. The federal government goaded the teams to talk to each other about the effort and to incorporate three big-picture themes: automation technology, slashing greenhouse gases and improving disadvantaged communities, which were paved over or shut out in earlier eras.
And they brought a pot of gold. The final winner of the Smart City Challenge will get a $40 million federal grant to test its ideas, plus $10 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and technology support from companies brought in by Washington.
[Rail officials pondering future of transportation in the Northeast]
The “incentivized prize model,” as some call it, is just a fancy way of saying something simple: Competition helps make hard-to-do things happen.
In 1919, a French immigrant and former hotel waiter, Raymond Orteig, offered $25,000 to the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris. A procession of men died trying before Charles Lindbergh made it in 33½ hours in May 1927.
In 2004, the Ansari X Prize paid $10 million to the winner of its 1996 competition to build a private spaceship. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency followed with its Urban Challenge in 2007 to build and race a self-driving car.
All three helped spawn new industries.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (Larry Downing/Reuters)
But the gamification of government has rarely had higher stakes than in the competition that came to a head this week. Seven mayors made a pilgrimage to the Long View Gallery in downtown Washington to pitch Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in person. It was like a wonked-out episode of “Shark Tank” or an amped-up “TED Talk” with the future of the American city at stake. Transportation officials say they had never done a live-streamed public face-off over a government grant. One winner will be chosen later this month.
For Foxx, a former mayor of Charlotte, the hands-on work with cities has been an upbeat note in a job that often entails presenting grand plans and being rebuffed by Congress. The Obama administration’s latest proposed transportation budget, which included a $4 billion, 10-year plan to spread autonomous-vehicle technology, landed with a thud on Capitol Hill.
Given a “chronic lack of investment” in a stressed transportation system, Foxx said, adding an expected 70 million people and 45 percent more freight over U.S. roads in the next 30 years will be debilitating if more isn’t done. “All of these things are converging to make life hell for people who are trying to get from one place to another. That’s the bottom line,” Foxx said.
So working with cities, and helping to draw out — and feed off of — their ideas for the future, has been an exhilarating shift.
“That’s exciting to people. Think about when President Lincoln put a marker down to create the transcontinental railroad or when Eisenhower decided to support the interstate highway system. These were big, seismic moments in our country’s transportation system,” Foxx said.
And this is another one.
Blurring traditional roles, the feds are serving both as seed-funder and midwife, trying to help develop a list of great ideas that prove strong enough to spread elsewhere.
“When one city does something successful, it’s the single best way to get it adopted more broadly,” said Dan Doctoroff, a former deputy mayor of New York City and chief executive of Sidewalk Labs, a firm started by Google that markets technology to cities and is partnering on the federal effort.
When New York’s High Line park — an elevated ribbon of green on a former freight rail line in Manhattan — opened to the public in 2009, the idea took off, Doctoroff said. By the next year, “there were 36 High Lines under development around the world.”
The same thing will happen when a city figures out how to use technology to squeeze the most out of its transportation networks, Doctoroff said. Sensors, cameras and computers are powerful and cheap, and can be distributed widely and connected easily. Artificial intelligence can help channel more cars through the same tight roads. But, “in order for this stuff to happen, government has to understand it,” Doctoroff said. And that requires bridging the “very wide gulf” between tech people and the “urbanists” who run city governments, he said.
John Kozar, an electrical and mechanical engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, is seen with two of the university's autonomous cars. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
Perhaps as important as the money at stake, some see a shift in a federal agency that has been slow to adjust in the past.
“I’ve been doing this for nearly 30 years. It was really hard to get them to understand the value of biking,” said Timothy Papandreou, chief innovation officer for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. But with the potential for automated vehicle technology, he added, “I’ve never seen such a rapid understanding. . . . This is deeply rooted now in the federal government’s consciousness.”
Mark Dowd, a top U.S. transportation official who has been a key architect of the competition, said drawing city representatives together for joint sessions in recent months was part of the strategy.
“If you ever played on a sports team, you understand the purpose of competing and collaborating at the same time,” Dowd said. “If we can do this correctly, we will have done a very good thing for the country.”
[The 30-year outlook for transportation]
The federal government is often criticized for its top-down approach, Dowd said. So the department left the details to local imaginations. “We built it to be not top-down,” Dowd said. The basic goal, he said, was “to make the cities the laboratories for these things while still keeping it safe.”
Federal officials also partnered with private firms that promised more than $20 million in software, services and equipment to the winner, including Sidewalk Labs, chipmaker NXP, 3-D design software firm Autodesk, crash-avoidance company Mobileye and Amazon Web Services. (Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post. He also is an investor in Uber.)
The cities have woven local narratives that reflect different back stories and places in the nation’s development. There is a division between boomtowns overwhelmed by development, and cities on the rebound or chasing economic rejuvenation.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler says soaring growth has made congestion an “existential” threat there.
Kansas City says it wants to link job-search and transportation data and provide new WiFi access along a key thoroughfare through poorer areas.
“We have one group in one part of town that reads all their stuff on email or Twitter or Facebook,” said Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James Jr. “On the other side of town, we need to put something in the water bill to make sure they see it.”
Derek Mathis, 23, who lives in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood community, works on a project that is to be a sustainable, mixed-use innovation center built on the former site of a steel plant. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
Cyclists move faster than the traffic backed up on the Hot Metal Bridge crossing the Monongahela River. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
On a recent afternoon along an industrial strip near Pittsburgh’s Allegheny River, a woman walked her dog between a Chinese grocery store and a cavernous, block-long building with no sign out front. The only hint of the research going on inside the Uber Advanced Technologies Center was a maroon Chevy Suburban parked in a side lot, with telltale spinning navigation equipment and other clunky electronics grafted to the roof.
“You see them working on driverless cars, with that spring on the roof and the popcorn maker,” said Rick Tibensky, who co-owns the metal recycling warehouse across the street. He has seen ordinary-looking sedans lined up, waiting for a surgical transformation that reminds him of the part-flesh, part-machine hybrids of science fiction. “They take them inside and connect them, sort of like the Borg in ‘Star Trek,’ ” Tibensky said.
Last year, Uber put its self-driving headquarters in the city and poached dozens of specialists from Carnegie Mellon University, considered the cradle of robotic car research. The firm, which some investors value at more than $60 billion, is locked in a technological arms race with Google, General Motors and others, and has added hundreds of employees. Some companies say that their automated vehicles will be safe and ready to carry the public sometime during the next president’s term.
Uber’s 40-acre test track is going in what has at times been a rough area beside another river to the south, the Monongahela. “My friend got shot off his bike. I mean, right here,” said Keyon Walker, as his daughters Makeyla, 5, and Kiseana, 7, played on railroad tracks beside Uber’s site.
Some question Uber’s ambitions and what the gig-economy behemoth can really do for a place such as Pittsburgh.
“It’s supposed to be a driverless vehicle — I don’t know how it’s going to help the people in this neighborhood who need jobs,” said Gailen Hines, a retired receptionist who has lived in Hazelwood for 36 years.
Joseph Kelch, 12, helps his grandparents, Rich and Mariana Kelch, plant a garden in a vacant lot adjacent to their home in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood community. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
Joseph Tasosa, 41, a physician in Pittsburgh, walks his children, Isabel, 6, and Gwin, 3, along an alley in the Shadyside neighborhood on his way to the park. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
An Uber spokesman says a wholesale move away from human drivers will not happen overnight. “That transition, for technical, regulatory and adoption reasons, at scale, will take some time,” the spokesman said. “In the meantime, we are focused on creating flexible earning opportunities for as many people as possible.”
The company, which is headquartered in San Francisco, says that “self-driving cars can help save millions of lives as well as cut congestion in our cities. That’s an exciting future.”
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick has described plans to keep pouring resources and hundreds of employees into the effort. “He said to me, ‘Have you ever heard of the Manhattan Project?’ I said, ‘Yeah,’ ” Peduto recalled. “He said, ‘In California, we call it the Pittsburgh Project.’ ”
But San Francisco, Uber’s home town, is conceding no ground.
San Francisco officials have taken another part of the contest — an appeal for private-sector help — and barreled ahead.
They say they have secured game-changing pledges from top firms that would allow them to roll out a network of shared electric vehicles — either connected wirelessly to the roads or with no drivers at all — that would make the city safer, less polluting and more efficient.
“This is a place of genesis,” said Jay Nath, chief innovation officer for San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “It’s less around economic development. It’s around being able to deliver. If you think about where change has happened, it’s been here in the Bay Area.”
An Uber automated vehicle is taken for a test drive on the 31st Street bridge in Pittsburgh. (Jeff Swensen/For The Washington Post)
Dowd said the seven cities netted pledges of about $500 million from a diverse group of 150 partners, most of them private, if they win the federal contest. Columbus, for example, has raised $90 million, officials there said.
San Francisco says it has secured written commitments from 70 companies totaling more than $150 million, outpacing any other city. The precise mix of firms San Francisco would use remains in flux, the city says, pending its own competition to see which neighborhoods want to host pilot projects.
Among San Francisco’s backers is Zoox, a potential Uber competitor that has been secretive about its work developing automated vehicles. But a company document submitted as part of the federal contest contains key details.
“For the Smart City Challenge, Zoox will reveal an autonomous, shared, and electric mobility service in San Francisco,” the company wrote in a May 11 letter. “The direct costs Zoox will incur in launching and operating two phases of the pilot service is at least $30M over the 2017 and 2018 time frame. This comprises labor, hardware, and service operations.”
As the Obama administration winds down, Foxx has emphasized the need to redress decades of federal highway policies that marginalized many.
“In place after place, highways cut the heart out of low-income and minority communities,” Foxx said this spring.
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After cities were selected in March, their officials were asked to think more about how they can lift the underprivileged as part of their technology push.
“Some people say, ‘What the heck does infant mortality have to do with transportation?’ I say, ‘Everything,’ ” said Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.
“We’re learning from this, too,” Foxx said. “Trying to figure out the technology in isolation is different than trying to understand how we play a role in technologies that cities gravitate toward. It helps us understand more of the specific types of problems cities are trying to tackle.”
Foxx is 45, and “for most of my lifetime, our transportation system has been on a decline, in terms of our investment, in terms of travel times, in terms of congestion,” he said. Countless cities have conventional construction plans to try to address that. But scores of them have “spent time, energy and resources thinking about how innovation can help them move forward,” he said, and that’s “giving us a sense” things can turn around.
“This is going to be an era when transportation is going to literally change in front our eyes,” Foxx said.Tags: UberObamaAutomation