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ILWU endorses Senator Bernie Sanders for President

ILWU - Thu, 03/24/2016 - 11:20

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The ILWU’s International Executive Board voted today to endorse U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders for President.

“Bernie Sanders is the best candidate for America’s working families,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath. “Bernie is best on the issues that matter most to American workers:  better trade agreements, support for unions, fair wages, tuition for students and public colleges, Medicare for all, fighting a corrupt campaign finance system and confronting the power of Wall Street that’s making life harder for most Americans.”

Many longshore union members have expressed enthusiastic support for Sanders at the local level.

The ILWU represents approximately 50,000 women and men who work in California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii – in addition to ILWU Divisions representing workers in Canada and Panama.

Categories: Unions

4/1 Chicago April 1 "Day Of Action" Teachers and Transit Workers Unite At CTA Authority North Park

Current News - Thu, 03/24/2016 - 10:06

4/1 Chicago April 1 "Day Of Action" Teachers and Transit Workers Unite At CTA Authority North Park

4/1 Solidarity Rally at Chicago CTA Bus Garage

On Teachers And Transit Workers Day of Action

When: April 1, 9:30am

Where: North Park CTA bus garage

3112 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

Picket Lines will be put up around the city’s schools and universities in an April 1 “Day of Action.” The Chicago Teachers Union CTU is without a contract and will be taking work action throughout the city.

Chicago transit workers will be joining teachers and other workers and community members in a public speak-out, press-conference and solidarity rally outside the North Park Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) North Park CTA bus garage at 9:30 AM
They will demand the rehiring of fired ATU 241 bus driver, steward and Executive Board member Erek Slater and a contract and end to union busting by Mayor Emanuel Rahm's MTA management.
Transit Workers will also be welcoming trade unionists from Korea and other countries who will join the rally and speak out for union/labor rights and against privatization. Join us!

6:30-8:30am: Roosevelt high picket line (a few blocks away from the garage)
3436 W Wilson Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
9:30 solidarity rally at North Park CTA bus garage - International transit worker speakers
3112 W Foster Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
10: 00 discussion at a restaurant next to the garage between transit workers, international transit workers and allies
12 noon demo at North Eastern University (strike) (a few blocks away from the CTA garage)
5500 St Louis Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
Afternoon downtown mass rally (details not set yet by CTU)
6:30pm Labor Notes – Meeting with international transit delegates before the labor notes international meeting Hyatt Regency Hotel O’Hare (8pm)
Red Bar and Lounge

For more information
Community Defense Committee For Union Steward Erek Slater
(773) 892-6240

Endorsed by
United Public Workers For Action www.upwa.info
Transport Workers Solidarity Committee www.transportworkers.org

Additional information

Tags: ATU 241Erek SlaterCTAunion busting
Categories: Labor News

ATU President Hanley On Bernie Sanders & Transit Workers Under Attack

Current News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 20:40

WW3 -22-16 ATU President Hanley On Bernie Sanders & Transit Workers Under Attack
WorkWeek Radio interviews Amalgamated Transit Union ATU President Larry Hanley about why their union is supporting Bernie Sanders and what political and economic attacks public transit workers are facing from firings, police repression and attacks on democratic rights. These include the attack on on students and ATU Local 836 members in Grand Rapids Michigan. Hanley also talks about the blowback from US military interventions abroad and how this has affected the global situation.
Production of WorkWeek Radio on Pacifica KPFA

Tags: atuLarry HanleyBernie Sanderstransit workersunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Unionizing Uber: New front in battle over wildly successful ride-hailing app

Current News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 20:39

Unionizing Uber: New front in battle over wildly successful ride-hailing app


CBC Mar 23, 2016

Unionizing Uber: New front in battle over wildly successful ride-hailing app

Seattle became 1st city in North America to give Uber drivers the right to unionize late last year

By Chris Brown, Chris Corday

Chris Brown is CBC's National Reporter based in Vancouver. He has a passion for great stories, and continues traveling all over Canada and the world to find and tell them.

There's a four-wheeled workers' revolution spinning through the streets of Seattle that could end up rolling over one of the most profitable business models of the so-called "sharing economy."

Drivers for the ride-hailing service Uber have been given the right to unionize by Seattle city council, the only jurisdiction in North America to do so.

The union drive brings the potential to achieve what regulators in cities around the world, including in Canada, have been mostly ineffective at doing — imposing local rules and labour standards on how Uber relates with its drivers.

"We have no say," Seattle Uber driver Don Creery told CBC News on a recent visit to the city. "We can email the company about issues, but they just get ignored. It seems the company has an agenda to push the prices as low as they can."

Supporters cheer during a meeting in December 2015 when Seattle's city council voted to approve a measure that would allow ride-hailing drivers for Uber and Lyft to unionize. (Matt Mills McKnight/Reuters)

Rates, benefits as contentious issues

The rates Uber pays its drivers, as well as other compensation issues, such as tipping, are among the most contentious claims.

Uber's rates vary from city to city but in Seattle, Creery says they began at $1.80 US a mile when the ride-hailing service first started up there in 2013.

But now Creery says rates are just over a dollar and can drop even lower at a moment's notice when Uber announces special pricing.

Uber counters that drivers have the flexibility to drive whenever and wherever they want, but Creery disagrees.

"When the rates were higher, that flexibility option was real. When the rates do down, there are certain hours you have to work."

Seattle Uber driver Don Creery is on the leadership council of the App-Based Drivers Association, and is an advocate for unionization. (Simon Charland/CBC)

City Coun. Mike O'Brien has championed the drivers' cause before Seattle's council and co-wrote the bylaw granting them collective bargaining rights.

"What we're trying to do in Seattle with this legislation that lets drivers collectively bargain is say we're going to acknowledge this is a new world," said O'Brien.

"We like the creativity and innovation, but we want some innovation for workers."

Hugely profitable

The obstacles to unionization are significant, but so is the potential to disrupt Uber's wildly successful business model.

One recent valuation claimed the company is worth more than $62 billion US.

The question of whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors is at the heart of the dispute.

In both the United States and Canada, federal anti-trust legislation — the cornerstone of modern labour law — prohibits contractors from unionizing so as to avoid practices such as price-fixing and to encourage competition.

Seattle Coun. Mike O'Brien spearheaded the bylaw that gives Uber drivers the right to form a union. (Simon Charland/CBC)

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has slapped Seattle with a lawsuit, claiming its local, pro-union bylaw is an overt violation of the federal statute.

But O'Brien, the bylaw's author, argues the federal law never anticipated a company like Uber, where workers meet the definition of both contractors and employees.

"In some ways, these drivers look like independent contractors. They own their own cars, they set their own hours," says O'Brien.

"In other cases they look like workers. They don't set their rates of pay. Uber can decide arbitrarily that you can't work for us. You get 'deactivated' or fired. So it's a hybrid."

Questions for Canada

Some Canadian jurisdictions, such as British Columbia, recognize a third category of workers called "dependent contractors."

An example might include truck loggers, who own their hauling rigs but work primarily for one forestry company and receive set rates.

The leadership council of the App-Based Drivers Association meets at the Teamsters Union headquarters in Tukwila, Wash., near Seattle. (Simon Charland/CBC)

Tom Knight, a professor with UBC's Sauder School of Business, says whether such employees can unionize is decided on a case-by-case basis by the provincial labour relations board.

"I wouldn't hazard a prediction as to what would be found to be the case [with Uber drivers]," Knight said.

On a recent trip to Seattle, CBC News hailed several Uber vehicles and found a mix of views among local drivers.

"They're trying to control a system that not necessarily needs to be controlled," said driver Larry Green. "When I look at a union, I look at fees. I look at a big fight."

Uber's Seattle general manager acknowledged the company has been calling drivers, urging them to say no to the unionization effort.

"We believe that flexibility and freedom of flexibility for drivers is paramount," Brooke Steger told CBC News. "All we have here is an ordinance that has some very serious legal questions."

Some Uber drivers, like Kameron Trout, say a union could ruin the "be your own boss" idea that attracted them to Uber. (Simon Charland/CBC)

Bigger than Uber

Until the legal fight is settled in court, some Uber drivers have formed the "App-Based Drivers Association" and are working alongside the Teamsters labour union to raise awareness before a potential vote.

Teamsters representative Dawn Gearhart says Uber is worried that the union idea could spread around the world as quickly as the company's app has.

"I think it's significant because more and more of the work we do is going to be dispatched through apps. Whether it's for health care, home-cleaning businesses, delivery services," said Gearhart.

"That work is going to happen over a smartphone, not on the factory floor. Still you are a worker and you need rights."

Tags: UberunionizingDrivers
Categories: Labor News

Wobbles 2016-4

IWW - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 18:11

Compiled by x344543 - March 23, 2016

The following news items may be of interest to revolutionary industrial workers:

read more

Categories: Unions

Nepal: GEFONT Forms Regional Committee for Nepali Migrant Workers in Saudi Arabia

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: GEFONT
Categories: Labor News

USA: Unionizing Uber: New front in battle over wildly successful ride-hailing app

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CBC
Categories: Labor News

Global: Vice Media unionization goes global

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Rank and File
Categories: Labor News

Iraq: Women Make Historic Gains in New Iraq Labor Law

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Solidarity Center
Categories: Labor News

Qatar: ILO Sets Ultimatum to Govt to End Modern Slavery of Migrant Workers

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Why the IBU National Convention Endorsed Bernie Sanders

IBU - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 10:03
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Categories: Unions

IBT Labor dispute threatens tech shuttle firm’s S.F. permits - Bauer Engaged In Union Busting Attack On Worker

Current News - Wed, 03/23/2016 - 08:52

IBT Labor dispute threatens tech shuttle firm’s S.F. permits - Bauer Engaged In Union Busting Attack On Worker
By Emily GreenMarch 22, 2016 Updated: March 22, 2016 6:13pm

Ray Torres leads chants as other Teamsters surround a Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation bus during a protest against the company at a Muni stop also used by tech buses at Eighth and Market streets.
A private bus company that transports tech workers to their jobs in Silicon Valley could see its permits in the city’s corporate shuttle program revoked because of a labor dispute with its drivers.

Bauer’s Intelligent Transportation, which operates buses for Zynga, Cisco and Electronic Arts, once again finds labor tensions threatening its business — two months ago the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee rejected its bid to transport workers and fans because of the threat of Teamster picketing.

That threat became a reality Tuesday morning, as roughly 100 Teamsters picketed Bauer shuttles at Eighth and Market streets as they picked up workers, purposefully causing a traffic jam in the process.

A few hours later, a cross-section of San Francisco supervisors introduced a resolution calling on the Municipal Transportation Agency to remove Bauer from the city’s commuter shuttle program because of its conflict with drivers over pay, benefits and unionization efforts. The resolution also notes the traffic disruptions caused by picketing.

The commuter shuttle program allows private bus companies to use the city’s Muni stops to pick up and drop off workers.

“We are sending a message to Bauer and their clients — Cisco, Zynga, Electronic Arts — that it’s time to get with the program and achieve labor harmony,” said Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who authored the resolution.

“Virtually everybody else has done it, and it’s time for Bauer to do right by the tech bus drivers.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener, who is often in conflict with Peskin, signed on as as a co-sponsor. Last year, Wiener authored a resolution requiring “labor harmony” for bus companies in the city’s corporate-shuttle program.

“When we passed the labor harmony resolution we meant it,” Wiener said. “These weren’t empty words.”

Cisco spokesman Nigel Glennie said the company contracts with another company that in turn contracts with Bauer.

“Although a small number of our San Francisco-based employees travel to our headquarters on their buses, we do not contract with Bauer’s directly,” Glennie said. “We respect the right of Bauer’s workers to ask questions of their employer.”

Zynga and Electronic Arts declined to comment.

The MTA issues permits to 15 bus companies in the shuttle program. Many of those companies have faced criticism over the working conditions for drivers.

In a push for higher wages, some tech shuttle drivers have joined unions, including drivers for Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Genentech, eBay and WeDriveU.

When the Teamsters began trying to organize Bauer’s drivers last year, the company hastily created a company union without proper input from employees and agreed to a contract, according to a complaint issued by the National Labor Relations Board.

Then, Bauer’s disbanded the in-house union and agreed to hold an election to determine whether the drivers wanted to join the Teamsters. The Teamsters lost, but the labor board believes Bauer’s may have illegally influenced the vote.

Gary Bauer, the company’s CEO, denied that the company lacks labor harmony.

“The bottom line is we have been in labor harmony,” he said. “We’ve worked with them. We went to a vote. The employees voted. And they chose not to have the Teamsters come in. I don’t know what more we can do to have labor harmony.”

Bauer said he hasn’t decided whether to have another union vote, as the Teamsters have called for.

The Teamsters union is making no secret of what it wants to achieve by picketing the company.

“We are trying to put some pressure on MTA to enforce their policy,” said Doug Bloch, political director of Teamsters Joint Council 7. “None of us think Bauer is ever going to come around on its own.”

MTA spokesman Paul Rose said the agency is in the process of reviewing the permits for the shuttle bus program and will make a decision by April 1 about which to permit. He said the agency is committed to preventing service disruption and furthering labor harmony.

“Anyone who doesn’t meet the requirements may not receive a permit for the program,” he said.

Emily Green is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: egreen@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @emilytgreen

Tags: IBTBauer Bus Driversunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Belgium: UNI Global Union condemns Brussels’ atrocity

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

USA: New AFL-CIO TPP Video Addresses Potential Deadly Consequences of Trade Deal

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

"Michigan is on Fire": Historic Fare Strike Hits Buses in Grand Rapids, MI

Current News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 15:30

"Michigan is on Fire": Historic Fare Strike Hits Buses in Grand Rapids, MI
Union calls on Obama, presidential candidates to address state crises
JAN 27
"Michigan is on Fire": Historic Fare Strike Hits Buses in Grand Rapids, MI
Union calls on Obama, presidential candidates to address state crises

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Bus riders in western Michigan are making history today with the first-ever fare strike in the state, launched to show support for the city's bus drivers as they enter their 13th month of negotiations with the area's transit agency, The Rapid.

Outraged by growing threats against transit worker pensions and violations of the workers' First Amendment rights, a recent 16% fare hike, and a generous raise for the agency's CEO, community activists led by United Students Against Sweatshops are boarding buses en masse and refusing to pay their fares.

ATU International President Larry Hanley, whose union Local 836 represents Grand Rapids' more than 300 bus drivers, called on President Obama and all presidential candidates to come to Michigan to bear witness to a state "on the brink of collapse." "Michigan is on fire," Hanley said. "We've got children poisoned in Flint, teachers on strike in Detroit, and bus riders and drivers rising up in Grand Rapids. They're all connected by one thing: crusading politicians who think that a dignified retirement, quality education, and clean drinking water are luxuries that American citizens do not deserve."

In a leaflet being handed to bus drivers, the community coalition states: "The Rapid’s recent actions toward you and your riders is a form of economic violence that I won’t condone. Because it is illegal for union bus drivers like you to go on strike in Michigan, I am doing the closest thing that I can as a rider by engaging in this one-day fare strike."

Fare strikes in cities like Chicago, San Francisco, and New York have grown in popularity as economic conditions and transit systems deteriorate. In Grand Rapids, it is part of a day of action organized to demand that The Rapid, a public agency that has two federal injunctions against it for its violation of employee free speech rights, settle a fair contract with its workers.

Before the fare strike began, activists unrolled banners from highway overpasses. The day ended with a joint action involving the transit workers union, ATU Local 836, and community groups overwhelming a meeting of The Rapid's Board of Directors.

ATU Local 836 President RiChard Jackson, who last week called for the resignation of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder over his handling of the water crisis in Flint, expressed his members' appreciation for the community's support. "While we didn't organize this fare strike, we are humbled that our community is sticking its neck out to do what's right," he said. "The responsibility here lies at the feet of Rapid CEO Peter Varga and the Board of Directors, including Mayor Bliss and former Mayor Heartwell. Like Snyder, they have adopted a 'cheaper is better' philosophy that will impoverish bus drivers tomorrow just to save a buck today. This could end right now if they would come to the table with a fair proposal."

Tags: ATU 286fare strike
Categories: Labor News

Boston-area mass transit: Fare increases, service reductions and attacks on pensions

Current News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 10:44

Boston-area mass transit: Fare increases, service reductions and attacks on pensions
By John Marion
22 March 2016
Attacks on public transportation in the Boston area are continuing, with a series of decisions in recent weeks by the unelected Fiscal and Management Control Board (FMCB) created by Governor Charlie Baker after the February 2015 systemic breakdown in the face of record snowfall. While that board has voted to increase Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) fares more than allowed by current state law and subsequently voted to end late-night service, attacks on MBTA workers’ pensions are being prepared behind the scenes.
Fare Increases
Despite loud protests in the chamber, the FMCB voted unanimously March 7 to adopt a fare hike scheme containing only slight changes from the more draconian of two proposals it had presented before a series of pro-forma public meetings. The meetings, required by state law, were seen by the FMCB not as an exercise in public participation but rather as a valve for letting off steam. Of nearly 3,000 comments recorded at the meetings and online, 75 percent were described by the MBTA as expressing negative opinions of the proposals. Only 4 percent were positive.
Of the two proposals originally advanced, one would have increased fares system-wide by an average of 6.7 percent and the other by 9.77 percent. The average increase in the adopted plan will be 9.3 percent. In one example, student passes will be increased from $26 to $30 instead of $32 and there will be a “bulk discount” for schools buying more than 1,000 per month. Given the austerity also being imposed on the Boston Public Schools, this hike will add insult to injury.
The fare increases are in violation of a 2013 state law that limited hikes to 5 percent every two years. During the public meetings, legislators, including Senator Thomas McGee and Representative Brendan Crighton, confirmed this fact and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz had already done so. However, the FMCB and Secretary of Transportation Stephanie Pollack devised a series of excuses for ignoring the law.
The fare hikes are part of a strategy by local elites to pit riders against transit workers. In a craven response, the Executive Board of Carmen’s Union Local 589 represent MBTA workers attended the March 7 meeting but remained “neutral,” according to a subsequent report by its vice president.
Late-night service
On February 29, the FMCB voted to end a late-night weekend service pilot program that had been in effect for only two years. The service ended this past weekend.
It was already inadequate for a major American city: “late-night” meant that the last subway trains left at 2 a.m. instead of the standard 12:30 a.m., while similar service was provided on only 10 bus routes. Even so, it had an average of 13,000 passengers per night in December 2015 and a substantial percentage of them were low-income workers commuting home from work who must now find alternative, higher-priced transport.
The $14 million per year cost of the service paled in comparison to the more than $400 million paid by the MBTA for debt service every year.
The decision was reported in the Boston Globeon February 15 after MBTA workers revealed that the schedules they were being offered for bidding contained no late-night routes after March 19. MBTA management and the FMCB claimed falsely at the time—two weeks before the latter’s formal vote—that they had made no decision.
On March 3, an administrator at the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Office of Civil Rights wrote a toothless letter to the MBTA’s General Counsel complaining that a service equity analysis had not been conducted. The MBTA then released such an analysis, but the late-night ridership data was from 2008-2009 and from a previous late-night pilot called Night Owl. It has given no explanation of why more recent data is not available. In the data given, 64.4 percent of late-night bus customers were low income as were 59.2 percent of late-night subway riders.
Piling one lie on top of another, the MBTA also claimed that an equity analysis was not needed because the elimination of the late-night program was not a “major service change.” However, its own policy on such changes requires an analysis even if one route is to be eliminated or service cut by more than one hour.
The equity analysis hurriedly released after the FTA letter pretends to solicit public input on “mitigation strategies” which will be decided at an FMCB meeting on Wednesday. However, WBUR has reported that the likely “mitigation” will be a privatization consisting of MBTA contracts with Bridj, which sets fares and schedules using demand from smartphone apps and has already responded to an FMCB Request for Information. Bridj has set up a web page gloating that “we’re beginning to outline the much-rumored plan for Bridj to take over late night ‘T’.” Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft are rushing to make a quick profit by offering discounts for the next few weeks.
Attacks on pensions planned
On June 26, 2015 Harry Markopolos, a forensic accountant who was instrumental in exposing Bernie Madoff’s fraud, met with FBI agents and staff from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, the Massachusetts Inspector General’s Office, and US Attorney Carmen Ortiz to accuse the Board of the MBTA Retirement Fund (MBTARF) of falsifying investment returns and other calculations related to the MBTA’s defined-benefit pension plan. Starting in December 2013, Markopolos and Boston University finance Professor Mark T. Williams had done an analysis resulting in a 103-page report. However, they shared only a PowerPoint summary with the Globe and have refused to share the full report either publicly or with the MBTARF Board.
Specifically, they accused the fund of using outdated mortality tables (used by actuaries to estimate pension liabilities based on life expectancy), increasing the estimated rate of return on its investments from 7.5 percent to 8 percent for no other reason than to decrease the unfunded liability, and using three different methods of smoothing investment performance when they should have been consistent.
The Retirement Board responded by hiring FTI Consulting to tie out the fund’s accounting to reports from State Street Bank, its custodian, and Buck Consultants, its actuary. FTI Consulting returned a report stating that “the Markopolos presentation does not include any calculations or analyses that support” its accusations. While advising that the MBTARF needs an actuarial audit and should include lump-sum sick-time payouts in its calculations, FTI found no other serious problems.
The MBTARF is incorporated as a private entity and uses that status to keep secrets. While it is difficult to get at the truth in this controversy, what is clear is that a large-scale attack on workers’ pensions is being prepared. Most of the union contracts that commit workers to the MBTARF are up for renewal in 2018, and the Globe is reporting that MBTA management has already “talked with union leaders.”
Former State Treasurer Steve Grossman, a Democrat who chaired the larger Massachusetts employees’ pension fund for four years, is being brought in to help coordinate the attack.
Some 5,800 active and 6,300 retired MBTA workers are covered by the pension fund. Public contributions, from state revenues and rider fares, over the past 18 years have averaged slightly less than $35 million per year, reaching $58 million in 2013 after an August 2012 increase in the contribution rate. Workers contribute slightly more than 5.5 percent of their wages to the fund pretax, with a match from management of about three times that amount.
Total contributions in 2013 from employees and the MBTA were only a little more than $79 million. In comparison, Boston along with the Massachusetts and federal governments recently gave General Electric almost $150 million to relocate 800 jobs from Connecticut.
Retirees and beneficiaries were paid $177.3 million in benefits in 2013. The Retirement Fund covers all of the system’s workers except the MBTA Police and some executives.
Underfunding of pension liabilities in defined benefit pension plans is a common practice in the United States. Because funding depends partly on investment income—the MBTARF had slightly more than $1.6 billion in net assets at the end of 2013—the economic crash slashed the pension’s funded ratio from 80.77 percent in 2008 to 63.01 percent in 2012. If this ratio is used as an excuse to cut workers’ pensions, they will be victims of the same Wall Street gambling that sucks more than $400 million per year out of the MBTA system for debt service.

Tags: Boston Transit workersretirement fundsMBTA Workers
Categories: Labor News

United Pilots Call Bethune a Diversionary Tactic by Investors “We are not interested in handing over hard-earned profits to those looking to raid the corporation,”

Current News - Tue, 03/22/2016 - 09:41

United Pilots Call Bethune a Diversionary Tactic by Investors “We are not interested in handing over hard-earned profits to those looking to raid the corporation,”
Michael Sasso
March 21, 2016 — 9:05 AM PDT

Lining up Continental former Chief Executive Officer Gordon Bethune as part of a board slate for United Airlines is merely a ruse by two hedge funds to “smash and grab from United’s coffers,” according to the carrier’s pilot union.
The funds enlisted Bethune “to play on employees’ good will and feelings of nostalgia,” leaders of United’s chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association said in a letter to its more than 11,000 members Monday. By seeking to place six directors on the United Continental Holdings Inc. board, the investors may interfere with the changes being implemented by Chief Executive Officer Oscar Munoz, the union said.
“We also have received a firm commitment from Mr. Munoz to address and fix the myriad problems that have been obvious to all employees for some time,” the union said.
The union’s rebuke could be a blow to PAR Capital Management Inc. and Altimeter Capital Management LP, putting a key employee group firmly with United management rather than Bethune, a pilot who enjoyed stellar relations with workers when he ran Continental from 1994 to 2004.
“We are not interested in handing over hard-earned profits to those looking to raid the corporation,” according to the union letter. A spokesman declined to elaborate.
PAR, Altimeter and Bethune weren’t immediately available for comment.
‘Underqualified, Ineffective’
The hedge funds, which have added to their holdings substantially since last summer, account for 7.2 percent of United’s stock, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The investors said on March 8 that they would nominate the board slate, after talks with management broke down. United has been the worst-performing U.S. airline stock over the last five years, despite having strong brand recognition and hubs in key business markets, the investors wrote in a letter to Chairman Henry Meyer III.
The board is “underqualified, ineffective and entrenched,” the investors’ letter said. PAR and Altimeter didn’t criticize Munoz, who returned March 14 from five months of sick leave, during which he had a heart transplant. He met with union leaders on his first day back.
Bethune “inarguably created a wonderful legacy for Continental airlines and himself,” the pilot union’s letter said Monday. The letter criticized former chief executive, Jeff Smisek, who the union said was “handpicked” by Bethune and created or ignored problems that Munoz is trying to fix. Smisek left the company in September amid an investigation into the airline’s dealings with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.
The pilots and other unions issued a statement March 16 supporting Munoz in his effort to get United on track. The mechanics union, which recently rejected a new labor agreement and has threatened to strike, has said it is staying neutral in the board fight for the time being.

Tags: UALHedge Fundslooting
Categories: Labor News

Belgium: European unions declare solidarity with the people of Belgium

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 03/21/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ETUC
Categories: Labor News

Belgium: ITF statements of solidarity following Belgium terror attacks

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 03/21/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News


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