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12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:45

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno
Our Lives and Health and Safety

Speakers:
Gary Brent FedEx Health and Safety officer and Driver Trainer
Matthew Zugsberger, UBC 34 Diver and OSHA Whistleblower at Park Service
Other Speakers

December 10, 2017 2:00 PM
Bernal Heights Library
500 Cortland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110

President Trump has nominated FedEx Scott Mugno who is VP for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground. There have been over hundreds of deaths of FedEx workers in the last 15 years. Scott Mugno has also personally retaliated against health and safety whistleblowers like Guy Cobb in Memphis, TN. who exposed serious potential dangers of an earthquake at FedEx buildings. He was targeted, bullied and fired by FedEx. Another whistleblower was Brian Gruzulski who was a FedEx mechanic at LAX who saw serious safety problems from rust and was bullied, retaliated against and fired. Gary Brent was a health and safety officer and driver trainer at FedEx ground and when he tried to enforce OSHA and EPA rules he was harassed and terminated.

At the same time Scott Mugno was also a lobbyist for the American Trucking Association ATA and he was pushing for complete deregulation of trucking with an large increase in size of trucks threatening the public and the roads. What these whistleblowers also discovered was that FedEx had captured OSHA and other federal agencies like the EPA. Officials in these agencies colluded with the company to limit their liability and prevent them being held acceptable to the workers and the public.

This forum will look at what is happening at FedEx OSHA and also the case of OSHA whistleblower and UBC 34 diver Matthew Zugsberger who reported on serious health problems at a job at Drakes Estero Rack Removal. He reported health and safety hazards and was retaliated by the Park Service, his employer and OSHA officials who engaged in a cover-up of the illegal activity.

The issue of protecting health and safety whistleblowers is critical to all and fighting for their protection is critical to the public.

Sponsored by
WorkWeek Radio
United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info
Workers Solidarity Action Network
https://www.facebook.com/workerssolidarityactionnetwork/
Injured Workers National Network
https://www.facebook.com/Injured-Workers-National-Network-IWNN-108362552...

Just Say No to Scott Mugno as OSHA Director-Fired Federal OSHA Whistleblower Darrell Whitman Speaks Out

FedEx Truck Accident History
https://www.frg-law.com/carriers/fedex/
In the 24-month period prior to December 3, 2017, FedEx Express drivers were reported to have been involved in 1762 crashes, 575 involving injuries, including 41 deaths. From 2012, the number of crashes has increased by 254.5%; the number of injuries has increased by 192%; and the number of fatalities has increased by 273%.

FedEx Worker Gary Brent Fired For Taking Pictures of Trailers and Trailers
http://askthetrucker.com/osha-awards-damages-for-fired-truck-driver/
I am a former FedEx Express Driver Instructor that was fired for taking pictures of unsafe FedEx Ground Trailers and FedEx Express Tractors and Trailers. I refused to use these unsafe FedEx Tractors and Trailers because, I would not violate any FMCSA Regulations. I
believed if FedEx terminated me for refusing to use this dangerous unsafe equipment, OSHA and The FMCSA would come to my aid, and was I wrong. I filed all the required Whistle Blower forms with the
local Fort Lauderdale, FL., OSHA Office. I also filed complaints with the TN and PA FMCSA against FedEx for violating FMCSA Regulations. I believed that OSHA was going to work closely with the FMCSA in TN and PA., because they administer a portions of the STAA Whistle Blower Act. What I leaned from dealing with Federal Agencies was, each agency will make up their own interpretations of
Federal Laws and try to dissuade you from pursuing your Whistle Blower Claim. The OSHA case worker I had in Fort Lauderdale didn’t
even want to review my pictures of the unsafe FedEx Vehicles and my complaints against FedEx with the PA and TN FMCSA. I had numerous documents and witnesses that OSHA wouldn’t even look at. OSHA in Fort Lauderdale ruled against me, so I appealed their decision through OSHA in Washington. I was told by the OSHA Appeals Office, that I would have to pay my witnesses air fare and lodging in my appeal. Is this a Government by and for the people?
A fellow Whistle Blower, Brian Gruzalski, Aircraft Mechanic at FedEx
has endured the same corruption by FedEx and the U.S. Government
that I have. OSHA, FMCSA and FAA are corrupt.

FedEx Casts Away Air Safety for Profits
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fedex-casts-away-air-safety-for...
Abrolat Law pc pursues safety violation allegations against FedEx

Dec 11, 2013, 11:11 ET from Abrolat Law pc

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently found FedEx Express (FedEx), the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and the world's fourth largest airline in terms of fleet size, in violation of federal safety requirements. FedEx's fleet is primarily made-up of retired jetliners purchased at discount prices. The average FedEx jetliner is 20 to 40 years old. These older aircraft require significant ongoing work to ensure flightworthiness, and FedEx loses massive amounts in profit each day that one of its jetliners is on the ground for repair and maintenance.

Several Technicians from FedEx's Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) location have filed complaints with the FAA alleging that FedEx does not repair and maintain its aircraft consistent with FAA safety requirements.

These Technicians allege that FedEx knowingly falsified repair and maintenance records documenting work that was never actually performed and allowed jetliners to return to flight without necessary safety repairs and maintenance. The Technicians also contend that FedEx's safety violations resulted in FedEx aircraft flying across the United States with corrosion so extensive, that there were visible external cracks in the fuselage.

The FAA's investigation of the Technicians' complaints confirmed that FedEx has committed safety violations. Current FedEx employees contend that despite these FAA findings, FedEx has not changed its repair and maintenance practices and continues to place FedEx employees and the public at risk.

In a whistle-blower, wrongful termination lawsuit against FedEx filed this summer in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC512638), a former Technician at FedEx's LAX location, Brian Gruzalski, alleges that he repeatedly complained to FedEx about its practice of violating safety regulations. Gruzalski commented, "FedEx has been trying to cut corners to increase profits by simply not doing the required safety maintenance on very old planes." Gruzalski also claims that while employed, he observed FedEx impose unreasonable time limits on safety maintenance work: "It should be understood that maintenance on old, worn-out jetliners is going to take longer to properly repair than new planes."

According to the lawsuit, which is being pursued by Gruzalski and Abrolat Law to stop these practices, FedEx has retaliated against experienced, senior Technicians who complain about the safety violations, and ultimately fired Gruzalski due to his complaints.

Anyone with information relevant to our investigation is encouraged to call: 866-884-4228

Contact: Nancy Abrolat, Esq.

310-615-0008

JUST SAY NO TO THE MUGNO NOMINATION:
An Open Letter to Congress and the American People

By Darrell Whitmani

On December 5, the U.S. Senate will open hearings into President Trump’s nomination of Scott Mugno to be the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s traditional to give a President the discretion to appoint whomever she/he wants to a federal office. However, there’s a reason Congress has a say in these appointments, which is to ensur the public interest is not put at jeopardy. The nomination of Scott Mungo is one of those where
Congress must just say no to protect the public interest.

In 1969, the Senate rejected the nomination of Clement Haynsworth to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal court judge with a history of rulings hostile to labor and civil rights. Then in 1970, the Senate rejected the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, a federal judge who had earlier supported
racial segregation. These two judges had deeply held beliefs which affected their conduct as federal judges, and they were rejected in spite of the tradition of deferring to Presidential
nominations, because they were out of step with national interests in race and social justice.

An appointment to direct OSHA is of the same caliber as an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Supreme Court decisions carry great weight in setting national standards for rights and the protection, OSHA manages a key program in bringing those rights and protections to life
through its Whsitleblower Protection Program. This Program acts as the gate-keeper for 22 federal statutes which protect private sector employees who responsibly report threats to safety, health and financial security. When OSHA fails to ensure the Program works, bad things happen.
Some of these bad things include: OSHA’s failure for more than twenty years to timely inspect and enforce the regulations regarding fertilizer storage, which in 2013 led to a massive explosion in West, Texas which killed 15 people, twelve of whom were first-responder firemen; OSHA’s
failure in 2006 to report serious fraud in residential mortgage lending by Country-Wide Financial, which made a substantial contribution to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown; OSHA’s
repeated failures, beginning at least in 2010, to report consumer financial fraud by Wells Fargo, that led to victimizing at least 3.5 million bank customers and calls into question the regulation of the banking industry; and since the 1980s, OSHA’s practice of substantially discounting fines
issued to corporate scofflaws, which has contributed to a general belief among renegade companies that violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations carry no
consequences.

Scott Mungo comes to this OSHA appointment as a senior safety and health officer at Federal Express, and as a major figure advocating on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for lower regulatory protection. Workplace-based illnesses, injuries, and deaths have been rising, as has
fraud in the financial industry. Yet, OSHA’ response has been to water-down its reporting of work-place casualties, and step back from watch-dogging the financial industry. This argues
OSHA needs new, strong leadership rooted in the public interest, rather than a director who will accelerate its capture by scofflaw corporations. FedEx has been one of those scofflaw companies that have actively sought to undermine workplace, and thereby public, regulatory protection by
attacking employees who report violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations. Coming from this culture is hardly an endorsement of Mugno’s commitment to the public
interest.

The issue isn’t Scott Mungo per se, or the President’s right to determine nominations: it’s the national interests. As the nation’s primary gate-keeper for regulating the private sector through its WPP, OSHA plays a key role in regulatory governance. It’s inconceivable OSHA can carry out the mission of the WPP under the supervision of someone who’s a devoted opponent of regulation, and whose own history is tainted by a disregard for safety and health regulation. A
thorough vetting of the Mugno nomination is required, and that vetting should include testimony from present and former FedEx employees who know the real stories that don’t appear in FedEx’s public relations gambits. There is a long line of these employees waiting to testify, if the Senate chooses to know the facts and not just FedEx public relations. Once this larger picture is visible, Congress must then just say no to Mugno and yes to public safety to protect its own
integrity as well as that of OSHA and the federal regulatory system.

i Dr. Darrell Whitman is an attorney, scholar, union official, and former Regional Investigator working in OSHA’s
Whistleblower Protection Program. He was fired in May 2015 after publicly challenging corruption in the Program,
which he reported to the federal Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is currently considering an investigation of
OSHA and other federal agencies and officials to determine the extent of the corruption of the national regulatory
system.

(c)

Texas Family files wrongful death lawsuit in FedEx mechanic death at Lubbock airport

http://www.kcbd.com/story/36727763/family-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-i...

Tuesday, October 31st 2017, 8:52 am PST

By Amber Stegall, Digital Content ManagerCONNECT

FedEx plane at the Lubbock airport (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
The law firm of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx Freight, Inc. in Lubbock County District Court Tuesday on behalf of Tandi Wagner and Kristi Ramirez for the wrongful death of their father, 60-year-old Michael Merton. Merton was killed on October 17 when he was crushed inside of the airplane on which he was working.

Officials have not released any identifying information or specifics on what happened and FedEx officials said they were cooperating with the investigative authorities.

Officials with the FAA released a statement saying, "We will investigate the accident to determine whether the maintenance was being performed in accordance with approved safety procedures and if the mechanic had received adequate training."

FedEx officials also issued a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues affected by the loss of our team member. We are cooperating fully with investigating authorities."

The lawsuit is the first information provided to the media about what possibly happened that day.

The lawsuit names FedEx Freight, Inc., Merton’s employer, as the sole defendant, and it alleges that FedEx failed to train its employees regarding safety procedures, failed to follow safety procedures, and failed to provide a safe place to work. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking exemplary damages for the loss of their father.

Kevin Glasheen, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said one of the reasons for filing the lawsuit was the complete lack of information and communication from both FedEx and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"My Clients want to know why their Dad died, and they want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. These kinds of work injuries are usually a failure of the lockout/tagout procedure that’s supposed to make sure machinery isn’t activated during maintenance. That will be our first line of inquiry," said Glasheen.

Tags: oshaScott MugnoFedEx crimessafety cover-up
Categories: Labor News

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:45

12/10 SF Forum- FedEx Murder For Profit: Health And Safety, OSHA And Trump's Nominee FedEx VP Scott Mugno
Our Lives and Health and Safety

Speakers:
Gary Brent FedEx Health and Safety officer and Driver Trainer
Matthew Zugsberger, UBC 34 Diver and OSHA Whistleblower at Park Service
Other Speakers

December 10, 2017 2:00 PM
Bernal Heights Library
500 Cortland Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110

President Trump has nominated FedEx Scott Mugno who is VP for Safety, Sustainability and Vehicle Maintenance at FedEx Ground. There have been over hundreds of deaths of FedEx workers in the last 15 years. Scott Mugno has also personally retaliated against health and safety whistleblowers like Guy Cobb in Memphis, TN. who exposed serious potential dangers of an earthquake at FedEx buildings. He was targeted, bullied and fired by FedEx. Another whistleblower was Brian Gruzulski who was a FedEx mechanic at LAX who saw serious safety problems from rust and was bullied, retaliated against and fired. Gary Brent was a health and safety officer and driver trainer at FedEx ground and when he tried to enforce OSHA and EPA rules he was harassed and terminated.

At the same time Scott Mugno was also a lobbyist for the American Trucking Association ATA and he was pushing for complete deregulation of trucking with an large increase in size of trucks threatening the public and the roads. What these whistleblowers also discovered was that FedEx had captured OSHA and other federal agencies like the EPA. Officials in these agencies colluded with the company to limit their liability and prevent them being held acceptable to the workers and the public.

This forum will look at what is happening at FedEx OSHA and also the case of OSHA whistleblower and UBC 34 diver Matthew Zugsberger who reported on serious health problems at a job at Drakes Estero Rack Removal. He reported health and safety hazards and was retaliated by the Park Service, his employer and OSHA officials who engaged in a cover-up of the illegal activity.

The issue of protecting health and safety whistleblowers is critical to all and fighting for their protection is critical to the public.

Sponsored by
WorkWeek Radio
United Public Workers For Action http://www.upwa.info
Workers Solidarity Action Network
https://www.facebook.com/workerssolidarityactionnetwork/
Injured Workers National Network
https://www.facebook.com/Injured-Workers-National-Network-IWNN-108362552...

Just Say No to Scott Mugno as OSHA Director-Fired Federal OSHA Whistleblower Darrell Whitman Speaks Out

FedEx Truck Accident History
https://www.frg-law.com/carriers/fedex/
In the 24-month period prior to December 3, 2017, FedEx Express drivers were reported to have been involved in 1762 crashes, 575 involving injuries, including 41 deaths. From 2012, the number of crashes has increased by 254.5%; the number of injuries has increased by 192%; and the number of fatalities has increased by 273%.

FedEx Worker Gary Brent Fired For Taking Pictures of Trailers and Trailers
http://askthetrucker.com/osha-awards-damages-for-fired-truck-driver/
I am a former FedEx Express Driver Instructor that was fired for taking pictures of unsafe FedEx Ground Trailers and FedEx Express Tractors and Trailers. I refused to use these unsafe FedEx Tractors and Trailers because, I would not violate any FMCSA Regulations. I
believed if FedEx terminated me for refusing to use this dangerous unsafe equipment, OSHA and The FMCSA would come to my aid, and was I wrong. I filed all the required Whistle Blower forms with the
local Fort Lauderdale, FL., OSHA Office. I also filed complaints with the TN and PA FMCSA against FedEx for violating FMCSA Regulations. I believed that OSHA was going to work closely with the FMCSA in TN and PA., because they administer a portions of the STAA Whistle Blower Act. What I leaned from dealing with Federal Agencies was, each agency will make up their own interpretations of
Federal Laws and try to dissuade you from pursuing your Whistle Blower Claim. The OSHA case worker I had in Fort Lauderdale didn’t
even want to review my pictures of the unsafe FedEx Vehicles and my complaints against FedEx with the PA and TN FMCSA. I had numerous documents and witnesses that OSHA wouldn’t even look at. OSHA in Fort Lauderdale ruled against me, so I appealed their decision through OSHA in Washington. I was told by the OSHA Appeals Office, that I would have to pay my witnesses air fare and lodging in my appeal. Is this a Government by and for the people?
A fellow Whistle Blower, Brian Gruzalski, Aircraft Mechanic at FedEx
has endured the same corruption by FedEx and the U.S. Government
that I have. OSHA, FMCSA and FAA are corrupt.

FedEx Casts Away Air Safety for Profits
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/fedex-casts-away-air-safety-for...
Abrolat Law pc pursues safety violation allegations against FedEx

Dec 11, 2013, 11:11 ET from Abrolat Law pc

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently found FedEx Express (FedEx), the world's largest airline in terms of freight tons flown and the world's fourth largest airline in terms of fleet size, in violation of federal safety requirements. FedEx's fleet is primarily made-up of retired jetliners purchased at discount prices. The average FedEx jetliner is 20 to 40 years old. These older aircraft require significant ongoing work to ensure flightworthiness, and FedEx loses massive amounts in profit each day that one of its jetliners is on the ground for repair and maintenance.

Several Technicians from FedEx's Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) location have filed complaints with the FAA alleging that FedEx does not repair and maintain its aircraft consistent with FAA safety requirements.

These Technicians allege that FedEx knowingly falsified repair and maintenance records documenting work that was never actually performed and allowed jetliners to return to flight without necessary safety repairs and maintenance. The Technicians also contend that FedEx's safety violations resulted in FedEx aircraft flying across the United States with corrosion so extensive, that there were visible external cracks in the fuselage.

The FAA's investigation of the Technicians' complaints confirmed that FedEx has committed safety violations. Current FedEx employees contend that despite these FAA findings, FedEx has not changed its repair and maintenance practices and continues to place FedEx employees and the public at risk.

In a whistle-blower, wrongful termination lawsuit against FedEx filed this summer in Los Angeles Superior Court (Case No. BC512638), a former Technician at FedEx's LAX location, Brian Gruzalski, alleges that he repeatedly complained to FedEx about its practice of violating safety regulations. Gruzalski commented, "FedEx has been trying to cut corners to increase profits by simply not doing the required safety maintenance on very old planes." Gruzalski also claims that while employed, he observed FedEx impose unreasonable time limits on safety maintenance work: "It should be understood that maintenance on old, worn-out jetliners is going to take longer to properly repair than new planes."

According to the lawsuit, which is being pursued by Gruzalski and Abrolat Law to stop these practices, FedEx has retaliated against experienced, senior Technicians who complain about the safety violations, and ultimately fired Gruzalski due to his complaints.

Anyone with information relevant to our investigation is encouraged to call: 866-884-4228

Contact: Nancy Abrolat, Esq.

310-615-0008

JUST SAY NO TO THE MUGNO NOMINATION:
An Open Letter to Congress and the American People

By Darrell Whitmani

On December 5, the U.S. Senate will open hearings into President Trump’s nomination of Scott Mugno to be the Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). It’s traditional to give a President the discretion to appoint whomever she/he wants to a federal office. However, there’s a reason Congress has a say in these appointments, which is to ensur the public interest is not put at jeopardy. The nomination of Scott Mungo is one of those where
Congress must just say no to protect the public interest.

In 1969, the Senate rejected the nomination of Clement Haynsworth to the U.S. Supreme Court, a federal court judge with a history of rulings hostile to labor and civil rights. Then in 1970, the Senate rejected the nomination of G. Harrold Carswell, a federal judge who had earlier supported
racial segregation. These two judges had deeply held beliefs which affected their conduct as federal judges, and they were rejected in spite of the tradition of deferring to Presidential
nominations, because they were out of step with national interests in race and social justice.

An appointment to direct OSHA is of the same caliber as an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. While Supreme Court decisions carry great weight in setting national standards for rights and the protection, OSHA manages a key program in bringing those rights and protections to life
through its Whsitleblower Protection Program. This Program acts as the gate-keeper for 22 federal statutes which protect private sector employees who responsibly report threats to safety, health and financial security. When OSHA fails to ensure the Program works, bad things happen.
Some of these bad things include: OSHA’s failure for more than twenty years to timely inspect and enforce the regulations regarding fertilizer storage, which in 2013 led to a massive explosion in West, Texas which killed 15 people, twelve of whom were first-responder firemen; OSHA’s
failure in 2006 to report serious fraud in residential mortgage lending by Country-Wide Financial, which made a substantial contribution to the 2008-2009 financial meltdown; OSHA’s
repeated failures, beginning at least in 2010, to report consumer financial fraud by Wells Fargo, that led to victimizing at least 3.5 million bank customers and calls into question the regulation of the banking industry; and since the 1980s, OSHA’s practice of substantially discounting fines
issued to corporate scofflaws, which has contributed to a general belief among renegade companies that violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations carry no
consequences.

Scott Mungo comes to this OSHA appointment as a senior safety and health officer at Federal Express, and as a major figure advocating on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for lower regulatory protection. Workplace-based illnesses, injuries, and deaths have been rising, as has
fraud in the financial industry. Yet, OSHA’ response has been to water-down its reporting of work-place casualties, and step back from watch-dogging the financial industry. This argues
OSHA needs new, strong leadership rooted in the public interest, rather than a director who will accelerate its capture by scofflaw corporations. FedEx has been one of those scofflaw companies that have actively sought to undermine workplace, and thereby public, regulatory protection by
attacking employees who report violations of safety, health, and financial security regulations. Coming from this culture is hardly an endorsement of Mugno’s commitment to the public
interest.

The issue isn’t Scott Mungo per se, or the President’s right to determine nominations: it’s the national interests. As the nation’s primary gate-keeper for regulating the private sector through its WPP, OSHA plays a key role in regulatory governance. It’s inconceivable OSHA can carry out the mission of the WPP under the supervision of someone who’s a devoted opponent of regulation, and whose own history is tainted by a disregard for safety and health regulation. A
thorough vetting of the Mugno nomination is required, and that vetting should include testimony from present and former FedEx employees who know the real stories that don’t appear in FedEx’s public relations gambits. There is a long line of these employees waiting to testify, if the Senate chooses to know the facts and not just FedEx public relations. Once this larger picture is visible, Congress must then just say no to Mugno and yes to public safety to protect its own
integrity as well as that of OSHA and the federal regulatory system.

i Dr. Darrell Whitman is an attorney, scholar, union official, and former Regional Investigator working in OSHA’s
Whistleblower Protection Program. He was fired in May 2015 after publicly challenging corruption in the Program,
which he reported to the federal Office of Special Counsel. The OSC is currently considering an investigation of
OSHA and other federal agencies and officials to determine the extent of the corruption of the national regulatory
system.

(c)

Texas Family files wrongful death lawsuit in FedEx mechanic death at Lubbock airport

http://www.kcbd.com/story/36727763/family-files-wrongful-death-lawsuit-i...

Tuesday, October 31st 2017, 8:52 am PST

By Amber Stegall, Digital Content ManagerCONNECT

FedEx plane at the Lubbock airport (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
The law firm of Glasheen, Valles & Inderman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against FedEx Freight, Inc. in Lubbock County District Court Tuesday on behalf of Tandi Wagner and Kristi Ramirez for the wrongful death of their father, 60-year-old Michael Merton. Merton was killed on October 17 when he was crushed inside of the airplane on which he was working.

Officials have not released any identifying information or specifics on what happened and FedEx officials said they were cooperating with the investigative authorities.

Officials with the FAA released a statement saying, "We will investigate the accident to determine whether the maintenance was being performed in accordance with approved safety procedures and if the mechanic had received adequate training."

FedEx officials also issued a statement saying, "We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues affected by the loss of our team member. We are cooperating fully with investigating authorities."

The lawsuit is the first information provided to the media about what possibly happened that day.

The lawsuit names FedEx Freight, Inc., Merton’s employer, as the sole defendant, and it alleges that FedEx failed to train its employees regarding safety procedures, failed to follow safety procedures, and failed to provide a safe place to work. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking exemplary damages for the loss of their father.

Kevin Glasheen, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said one of the reasons for filing the lawsuit was the complete lack of information and communication from both FedEx and the Federal Aviation Administration.

"My Clients want to know why their Dad died, and they want to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. These kinds of work injuries are usually a failure of the lockout/tagout procedure that’s supposed to make sure machinery isn’t activated during maintenance. That will be our first line of inquiry," said Glasheen.

Tags: oshaScott MugnoFedEx crimessafety cover-up
Categories: Labor News

Libya: Nermin Al-Sharif gets passport back, thanks to global union campaign

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITF
Categories: Labor News

Israel: Trump Jerusalem Announcement Reckless and Divisive

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:06

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-safety/growing-length-of-u-...

Eric. M. Johnson
The GAO will launch its study on safety and other impacts of longer trains in February, GAO spokesman Chuck Young told Reuters on Tuesday. The action was prompted by a Nov. 7 letter, seen by Reuters, from U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio and Michael Capuano, both Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee.

DeFazio said his office has received complaints over safety and traffic jams at rail crossings.

CSX, the No.3 U.S. railroad by revenue, told investors in October its freight trains have increased more than 400 feet to 6,833 feet (2.08 km) on average since March, when newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison launched his plan to boost profits and streamline operations.

CSX’s eastern U.S. rival Norfolk Southern Corp’s (NSC.N) trains average longer than 5,500 feet, a year-to-date record, the company said in the third quarter.

Western U.S. railroad Union Pacific said it posted record third quarter “train size performance” after hitting a record in 2016.

“Longer trains maximize crews, locomotives, fuel and other resources,” said Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza.

FRA data shows CSX's train accidents and incidents as a portion of miles traveled at the highest level in a decade after climbing in each of the last five years. (tinyurl.com/ybf6bqyy)

A long CSX train came off the tracks in Crestline, Ohio on June 11 as seen in this handout photo received December 6, 2017. SMART Transportation Union/Handout via REUTERS
SMART Union transportation division spokesman John Risch told top rail regulator the Surface Transportation Board (STB) at an October hearing on CSX service problems the average U.S. train is up to 1.5 miles long (2.41 km), but CSX has routinely operated trains two or even three miles long since Harrison took over.

The STB declined interview requests.

CSX spokesman Bryan Tucker said the industry trend toward longer trains is a “tried and proven way to increase efficiency.”

The latest concerns follow the fiery derailment of a 178-car CSX freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania in August, and the Nov. 27 derailment of a CSX train with 192 cars - nearly 2 miles long excluding locomotives - in Lakeland, Florida, spilling hazardous molten sulfur.

Slideshow (3 Images)
The FRA told Reuters it is also investigating the June derailment of a 13,147-foot CSX train in Crestline, Ohio.

National Transportation Safety Board rail division head David Bucher told Reuters train length and build were “an important part of the investigation” into the Hyndman crash, adding he was hesitant to draw conclusions about an ongoing investigation.

“Train lengths are increasing across the country,” Bucher said. “It is becoming more and more common, not just with CSX.”

The NTSB, FRA, and STB do not collect data on train length, except for specific accidents or mediations.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) declined to comment.

CSX employees and union officials said many conductors lack experience to run long trains.

CSX’s Tucker said the railroad’s crews are fully qualified to operate longer trains and CSX uses computer modeling before running longer trains on a new route.

One CSX manager told Reuters FRA inspectors have showed up almost daily in recent weeks looking for long trains and conducting inspections at terminals in Cincinnati, Ohio, Waycross, Georgia, and elsewhere.

“They (FRA inspectors) do more blitzes than they used to, where several inspectors will show up in a place and stay for a couple days,” the manager added.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tags: Train crashesderegulationGAOCSXtrain size increase
Categories: Labor News

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

Current News - Thu, 12/07/2017 - 10:06

Growing length of U.S. freight trains in federal crosshairs after crashes: GAO

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-train-safety/growing-length-of-u-...

Eric. M. Johnson
The GAO will launch its study on safety and other impacts of longer trains in February, GAO spokesman Chuck Young told Reuters on Tuesday. The action was prompted by a Nov. 7 letter, seen by Reuters, from U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio and Michael Capuano, both Democratic members of the House Transportation Committee.

DeFazio said his office has received complaints over safety and traffic jams at rail crossings.

CSX, the No.3 U.S. railroad by revenue, told investors in October its freight trains have increased more than 400 feet to 6,833 feet (2.08 km) on average since March, when newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Hunter Harrison launched his plan to boost profits and streamline operations.

CSX’s eastern U.S. rival Norfolk Southern Corp’s (NSC.N) trains average longer than 5,500 feet, a year-to-date record, the company said in the third quarter.

Western U.S. railroad Union Pacific said it posted record third quarter “train size performance” after hitting a record in 2016.

“Longer trains maximize crews, locomotives, fuel and other resources,” said Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza.

FRA data shows CSX's train accidents and incidents as a portion of miles traveled at the highest level in a decade after climbing in each of the last five years. (tinyurl.com/ybf6bqyy)

A long CSX train came off the tracks in Crestline, Ohio on June 11 as seen in this handout photo received December 6, 2017. SMART Transportation Union/Handout via REUTERS
SMART Union transportation division spokesman John Risch told top rail regulator the Surface Transportation Board (STB) at an October hearing on CSX service problems the average U.S. train is up to 1.5 miles long (2.41 km), but CSX has routinely operated trains two or even three miles long since Harrison took over.

The STB declined interview requests.

CSX spokesman Bryan Tucker said the industry trend toward longer trains is a “tried and proven way to increase efficiency.”

The latest concerns follow the fiery derailment of a 178-car CSX freight train in Hyndman, Pennsylvania in August, and the Nov. 27 derailment of a CSX train with 192 cars - nearly 2 miles long excluding locomotives - in Lakeland, Florida, spilling hazardous molten sulfur.

Slideshow (3 Images)
The FRA told Reuters it is also investigating the June derailment of a 13,147-foot CSX train in Crestline, Ohio.

National Transportation Safety Board rail division head David Bucher told Reuters train length and build were “an important part of the investigation” into the Hyndman crash, adding he was hesitant to draw conclusions about an ongoing investigation.

“Train lengths are increasing across the country,” Bucher said. “It is becoming more and more common, not just with CSX.”

The NTSB, FRA, and STB do not collect data on train length, except for specific accidents or mediations.

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) declined to comment.

CSX employees and union officials said many conductors lack experience to run long trains.

CSX’s Tucker said the railroad’s crews are fully qualified to operate longer trains and CSX uses computer modeling before running longer trains on a new route.

One CSX manager told Reuters FRA inspectors have showed up almost daily in recent weeks looking for long trains and conducting inspections at terminals in Cincinnati, Ohio, Waycross, Georgia, and elsewhere.

“They (FRA inspectors) do more blitzes than they used to, where several inspectors will show up in a place and stay for a couple days,” the manager added.

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker
Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tags: Train crashesderegulationGAOCSXtrain size increase
Categories: Labor News

Honduras: A stolen election and the legacy of a coup d'état

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Argentina: Workers March in Protest Against Labor Reforms

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 12/06/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: TeleSUR
Categories: Labor News

Honduras: Unions call for transparency, respect for rights as election crisis deepens

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 12/05/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Solidarity Center
Categories: Labor News

Germany: Pilots ground 222 flights after refusing to deport asylum seekers

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Independent
Categories: Labor News

Zimbabwe: What will post-Mugabe Zimbabwe look like for the workers?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Korea (South): Veteran labor organizer launches hunger strike for recognition of teachers’ union

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Hankyoreh
Categories: Labor News

PSR Fleet Memo for December 2 2017

IBU - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:26
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Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for December 2 2017

IBU - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:24
.
Categories: Unions

November 26 2014 Fleet Memo

IBU - Mon, 12/04/2017 - 09:23
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Categories: Unions

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike

Current News - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:07

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike
By Ryan Faircloth / St. Paul Pioneer Press on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:23 p.m.

Metro Transit bus operator David Stiggers at Union Depot Station in St. Paul on Thursday, Nov. 30. Stiggers has driven Metro Transit buses for 11 years. In that time he has been frequently verbally harassed, pelted with objects and received death threats. (Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press)1 / 2
ST. PAUL — Jane Hanson was clearing her light-rail train at Union Depot one morning when a heroin-abusing passenger struck her from behind.

Jeanne O'Neill has been assaulted, groped and spat on in her 17 years as a Metro Transit bus driver.

David Stiggers has fielded verbal abuse and death threats while driving his bus routes.

In the Twin Cities, assaults on operators have grown more common over the past five years, with many incidents stemming from conflicts as minor as fare disputes. Operator-safety concerns recently became a major sticking point in a contract dispute between unionized workers and the Metropolitan Council, which runs the Metro Transit system. Drivers and transit personnel are threatening a Super Bowl strike unless protective measures are taken.

"(Assaults are) a constant stress that transit operators all over the country face," said Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated ­Transit Union Local 1005, which authorized the strike.

Last year, 162 assaults were reported among the more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators. The incidents range from serious ­felony-level assaults to disorderly conduct and threats.

The 2016 assaults represent a nearly 17 percent jump from 2013. Early numbers on 2017 assaults suggest they'll keep pace with last year's total.

Metro Transit, which operates its own police force, said the safety of its employees and passengers remains a priority. From de-escalation and self-defense training to public awareness campaigns, the agency says it takes numerous steps to protect its train and bus operators.

Operators, though, say their safety concerns have gone largely unaddressed, creating a work environment where tense confrontations are commonplace.

"I want us all to be protected. I want us to be able to go home at night and not have a black eye or be spit on," Hanson said.

Transit officials maintain there's no uniform approach to protecting all drivers from harm.

A common occurrence

Hanson suffered five bulging discs in her neck from her light-rail assault in 2015. She required three to four months of rehabilitation before returning to work.

"Every time that I pulled in (to the garage after the attack), I requested police because there was no way I was going to go through that again," she said.

Hanson transitioned from light-rail to bus operation last year. She still encounters aggressive passengers on occasion.

Stiggers first started driving Metro Transit buses 11 years ago. He quickly learned which routes were desired and avoided by operators.

"You end up watching people get beat up, you end up watching people get cussed out," he said. "Sometimes you get some legitimately crazy individuals on your bus."

Stiggers' situational awareness has grown with his experience, helping him sense warning signs and defuse conflicts before they escalate.

O'Neill said she's experienced multiple instances of sexual harassment as a driver. A passenger once stood behind her and muttered sexual suggestions as she drove her route.

Sometimes, she said, situations became physical.

"I've had my butt grabbed by what turned out to be an unregistered sex offender," O'Neill said. The incident occurred as she attempted to secure a wheelchair on the bus.

" 'Don't touch the driver' is a message I would like to tell the public," she said.

Current deterrents

Metro Transit announced Friday that 20 buses would be retrofitted with plexiglass driver enclosures in the coming weeks as part of a test.

"There's a renewed desire to do a pilot exploration to see, is this going to be something that solves or eliminates (these concerns)?" said Brian Funk, Metro Transit's deputy chief operating officer for bus.

Drivers will have the option to open or close the clear plexiglass shields, he said.

The shields will likely be tested over the course of six months so transit officials can seek feedback from operators, Funk said. Metro Transit will extend the demonstration if more input is needed.

"We want to go through the process and ensure that it is something our employees do want," Funk said.

Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said officials use various methods to deter operator assaults, like publicizing penalties imposed on offenders. A Minnesota law that took effect in 2013 heightened penalties for certain degrees of assault, subjecting assailants to gross misdemeanor charges.

"I'm out there all the time talking about 'we will hold people accountable,' " Padilla said.

Buses and trains are retrofitted with cameras, Padilla said, and transit police make an effort to sit in on routes when available.

Metro Transit also offers annual pepper-spray classes for operators who want to defend themselves, Funk said.

Striking for safety

Unionized transit workers rejected the Met Council's most recent contract offer last month, citing safety as one of their primary concerns. Plexiglass enclosures on buses were among their demands.

O'Neill said a protective shield would have prevented incidents where she was struck or spat on.

Union President Mark ­Lawson said workers want to collaborate with Metro Transit to find the best-suited safety enclosure for the bus fleet.

"I just feel like the goal ought to be a fully integrated design on every single bus," he said.

If the dispute isn't resolved by January, transit operators and support personnel say they will go on strike during Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Lawson and Local 1005 union workers met with the Met Council for another round of negotiations on Nov. 22. The discussions were largely unproductive, Lawson said.

"As of this point, there are no more talks scheduled," he said.

Metro Transit workers last went on strike in 2004. It lasted roughly six weeks.

Operator assaults felt nationwide

Assaults on operators have driven transit agencies across the country to implement safety measures.

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority earlier this year retrofitted the last of the city's 4,700-bus fleet with protective partitions. NYC transit union officials believe the partitions are responsible for a drop in reported operator assaults.

Buses in Washington, D.C., have also been retrofitted with protective shields, but not all assaults have been avoided.

A woman was arrested in August for throwing a cup of her own urine around a protective shield at a D.C. bus driver. And last month, a man wielding a knife reached around a D.C. bus driver's partition and threatened to kill him.

Finding the right fix

Metro Transit officials will evaluate the effectiveness of the plexiglass shields to ensure no new safety hazards are introduced, Funk said.

"We don't want to introduce something that could lead to other issues such as additional glare, or a situation where if there's a crash ... the barrier is no longer operable and it puts the operator in a compromising position," he said.

Funk also said not all operators embrace the idea of being enclosed.

Polly Hanson, director of security, risk and emergency management for the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies are most successful when taking a multifaceted approach to operator safety.

"It's a layered approach that most properties take: public awareness campaigns, enhanced penalties, looking at the configuration of the bus, and then getting the message out about prosecutions when they occur to have that as a deterrent effect as well," she said.

Still, Jane Hanson said ­having a protective enclosure on her Metro Transit bus would make her job much less nerve-racking.

"That would make me ­happy," she said. "I love the public, I love the contact, I just don't like the bad ­people."

Tags: ATU 1005St. Paul Transit StrikeMetro Transit
Categories: Labor News

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike

Current News - Sun, 12/03/2017 - 23:06

Safety concerns drive ATU Local 1005 transit operators dispute: Twin Cities bus drivers,Cities bus drivers, light-rail operators are being assaulted more often; threaten strike
By Ryan Faircloth / St. Paul Pioneer Press on Dec 2, 2017 at 8:23 p.m.

Metro Transit bus operator David Stiggers at Union Depot Station in St. Paul on Thursday, Nov. 30. Stiggers has driven Metro Transit buses for 11 years. In that time he has been frequently verbally harassed, pelted with objects and received death threats. (Jean Pieri / St. Paul Pioneer Press)1 / 2
ST. PAUL — Jane Hanson was clearing her light-rail train at Union Depot one morning when a heroin-abusing passenger struck her from behind.

Jeanne O'Neill has been assaulted, groped and spat on in her 17 years as a Metro Transit bus driver.

David Stiggers has fielded verbal abuse and death threats while driving his bus routes.

In the Twin Cities, assaults on operators have grown more common over the past five years, with many incidents stemming from conflicts as minor as fare disputes. Operator-safety concerns recently became a major sticking point in a contract dispute between unionized workers and the Metropolitan Council, which runs the Metro Transit system. Drivers and transit personnel are threatening a Super Bowl strike unless protective measures are taken.

"(Assaults are) a constant stress that transit operators all over the country face," said Mark Lawson, president of Amalgamated ­Transit Union Local 1005, which authorized the strike.

Last year, 162 assaults were reported among the more than 1,500 Metro Transit operators. The incidents range from serious ­felony-level assaults to disorderly conduct and threats.

The 2016 assaults represent a nearly 17 percent jump from 2013. Early numbers on 2017 assaults suggest they'll keep pace with last year's total.

Metro Transit, which operates its own police force, said the safety of its employees and passengers remains a priority. From de-escalation and self-defense training to public awareness campaigns, the agency says it takes numerous steps to protect its train and bus operators.

Operators, though, say their safety concerns have gone largely unaddressed, creating a work environment where tense confrontations are commonplace.

"I want us all to be protected. I want us to be able to go home at night and not have a black eye or be spit on," Hanson said.

Transit officials maintain there's no uniform approach to protecting all drivers from harm.

A common occurrence

Hanson suffered five bulging discs in her neck from her light-rail assault in 2015. She required three to four months of rehabilitation before returning to work.

"Every time that I pulled in (to the garage after the attack), I requested police because there was no way I was going to go through that again," she said.

Hanson transitioned from light-rail to bus operation last year. She still encounters aggressive passengers on occasion.

Stiggers first started driving Metro Transit buses 11 years ago. He quickly learned which routes were desired and avoided by operators.

"You end up watching people get beat up, you end up watching people get cussed out," he said. "Sometimes you get some legitimately crazy individuals on your bus."

Stiggers' situational awareness has grown with his experience, helping him sense warning signs and defuse conflicts before they escalate.

O'Neill said she's experienced multiple instances of sexual harassment as a driver. A passenger once stood behind her and muttered sexual suggestions as she drove her route.

Sometimes, she said, situations became physical.

"I've had my butt grabbed by what turned out to be an unregistered sex offender," O'Neill said. The incident occurred as she attempted to secure a wheelchair on the bus.

" 'Don't touch the driver' is a message I would like to tell the public," she said.

Current deterrents

Metro Transit announced Friday that 20 buses would be retrofitted with plexiglass driver enclosures in the coming weeks as part of a test.

"There's a renewed desire to do a pilot exploration to see, is this going to be something that solves or eliminates (these concerns)?" said Brian Funk, Metro Transit's deputy chief operating officer for bus.

Drivers will have the option to open or close the clear plexiglass shields, he said.

The shields will likely be tested over the course of six months so transit officials can seek feedback from operators, Funk said. Metro Transit will extend the demonstration if more input is needed.

"We want to go through the process and ensure that it is something our employees do want," Funk said.

Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said officials use various methods to deter operator assaults, like publicizing penalties imposed on offenders. A Minnesota law that took effect in 2013 heightened penalties for certain degrees of assault, subjecting assailants to gross misdemeanor charges.

"I'm out there all the time talking about 'we will hold people accountable,' " Padilla said.

Buses and trains are retrofitted with cameras, Padilla said, and transit police make an effort to sit in on routes when available.

Metro Transit also offers annual pepper-spray classes for operators who want to defend themselves, Funk said.

Striking for safety

Unionized transit workers rejected the Met Council's most recent contract offer last month, citing safety as one of their primary concerns. Plexiglass enclosures on buses were among their demands.

O'Neill said a protective shield would have prevented incidents where she was struck or spat on.

Union President Mark ­Lawson said workers want to collaborate with Metro Transit to find the best-suited safety enclosure for the bus fleet.

"I just feel like the goal ought to be a fully integrated design on every single bus," he said.

If the dispute isn't resolved by January, transit operators and support personnel say they will go on strike during Super Bowl LII, which will be held Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

Lawson and Local 1005 union workers met with the Met Council for another round of negotiations on Nov. 22. The discussions were largely unproductive, Lawson said.

"As of this point, there are no more talks scheduled," he said.

Metro Transit workers last went on strike in 2004. It lasted roughly six weeks.

Operator assaults felt nationwide

Assaults on operators have driven transit agencies across the country to implement safety measures.

New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority earlier this year retrofitted the last of the city's 4,700-bus fleet with protective partitions. NYC transit union officials believe the partitions are responsible for a drop in reported operator assaults.

Buses in Washington, D.C., have also been retrofitted with protective shields, but not all assaults have been avoided.

A woman was arrested in August for throwing a cup of her own urine around a protective shield at a D.C. bus driver. And last month, a man wielding a knife reached around a D.C. bus driver's partition and threatened to kill him.

Finding the right fix

Metro Transit officials will evaluate the effectiveness of the plexiglass shields to ensure no new safety hazards are introduced, Funk said.

"We don't want to introduce something that could lead to other issues such as additional glare, or a situation where if there's a crash ... the barrier is no longer operable and it puts the operator in a compromising position," he said.

Funk also said not all operators embrace the idea of being enclosed.

Polly Hanson, director of security, risk and emergency management for the American Public Transportation Association, said transit agencies are most successful when taking a multifaceted approach to operator safety.

"It's a layered approach that most properties take: public awareness campaigns, enhanced penalties, looking at the configuration of the bus, and then getting the message out about prosecutions when they occur to have that as a deterrent effect as well," she said.

Still, Jane Hanson said ­having a protective enclosure on her Metro Transit bus would make her job much less nerve-racking.

"That would make me ­happy," she said. "I love the public, I love the contact, I just don't like the bad ­people."

Tags: ATU 1005St. Paul Transit StrikeMetro Transit
Categories: Labor News

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike

Current News - Thu, 11/30/2017 - 17:49

Seattle, Washington First Student IBT 174 school bus drivers launch one-day strike
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/11/30/busd-n30.html
By Hector Cordon
30 November 2017
Several hundred school bus drivers walked out Wednesday morning in Seattle, Washington after transportation giant First Student unilaterally imposed its “last, best and final” contract offer. The Seattle public school system, with nearly 54,000 students, is the largest district in Washington state and roughly 12,000 of its students rely on the yellow buses for transport.
There was a high level of tension on the picket line Wednesday morning when a strikebreaker attempted to drive out of a bus yard. Completely ignoring picketers’ safety, the bus forced its way out of the lot and struck several picketers, although fortunately none of the workers were seriously injured.
First Student is a branch of United Kingdom-based conglomerate First Group, which was established through the privatization of nationalized and municipal bus operators during the Margaret Thatcher years. After buying up Laidlaw, the company became the largest provider of school buses in the United States. There are currently a series of strikes by bus drivers in Manchester and other UK cities at companies owned by First Group, which also owns Greyhound, the largest provider of bus service in North America.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
First Student and International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) Local 174 have been in negotiations since June. In the 2016 contract agreement, the Teamsters agreed to defer negotiations on health and retirement issues until First Student secured its contract to provide services to the Seattle Public Schools, which occurred this year.
The 2016 contract obtained minimal job protection and wage increases for the drivers, with a new pay range of from $18 to $24.40. Given Seattle’s rapidly escalating housing costs, and rental costs reported in 2016 to be rising four times faster than the national average, the new wage scale was not even a drop in the bucket. In 2016, typical rents in the Seattle area surpassed $2,000, up 9.7 percent over the previous year, the highest rise in the nation. A year later, average rents are now $2,181 monthly.
The drivers are angry over First Student’s refusal to provide any but the most minimal health care benefits, and only to drivers who work more than 30 hours a week. They are not only fighting the corporate owners but also the Democratic Party-controlled Seattle School Board (SSB), which, in its contract with First Student, refused to broaden health coverage to drivers working between 20 and 30 hours per week. It wrote, “Unfortunately, the pass-through cost for the District to broaden First Student’s bus driver participation in healthcare coverage is cost prohibitive, especially when the District is facing a $74 million dollar shortfall.”
According to the union, “First Student provides the bare minimum required by the ACA [Affordable Care Act]. This means for over 400 drivers, only 26 of them both qualified and could afford to purchase healthcare available.” The only “affordable” plan offered by the company restricted coverage to seeing a doctor to diagnose an illness. Any subsequent follow up had to be paid out of pocket. Hospitalization, under those conditions, would be prohibitive if not impossible.
That only 26 out of 400 “insured” workers were able to obtain health coverage vindicates the warning by the World Socialist Web Siteas early as 2009, that the Obama administration’s health care ‘reform’ established a framework for the insurers, the corporations and the government to drastically reduce the health benefits available to low- and middle-income individuals and families. “The aim is to limit the amount that the government must pay out for health care and Social Security payments, as well as what corporations must pay in pensions and other retirement benefits,” the WSWS wrote.

Striking school bus drivers (Credit: Teamsters Local 174 Facebook page)
Local 174 released letters, obtained under a Freedom of Information request, from the school board and from Democratic Mayor Tim Burgess to First Student ostensibly placing the responsibility for any strike on the company. The effort of the Democrats to posture as friends of low-income workers reeks of hypocrisy and bad faith.
The school board’s letter goes out of its way to emphasize it will not provide First Student with additional funding towards paying for healthcare for its employees, as the district “has no legal obligation” to do so. Out of a budget of nearly $858 million, the SSB refused to include a mingy $1.7 million in order to expand even substandard health care to the school bus drivers. In other words, First Student will have to employ a workforce with a majority without any health care coverage. In its 2015 contract struggle with Seattle teachers, it forced through an inferior wage raise in a city where two-thirds of a starting teacher’s salary can be consumed simply by rent.
Mayor Burgess presides over a city with a poverty level of 13.5 percent, where gentrification has forced tens of thousands out of their homes and where the homeless crisis is accelerating with nearly 4,000 homeless, according to notoriously incomplete official counts. Meanwhile, side by side with rising misery, the Seattle area is home to two of the wealthiest men in the world, Amazon chief Jeff Bezos and Microsoft mogul Bill Gates, whose combined wealth totals nearly $190 billion. Along with Warren Buffet, these three men own as much wealth as the lower 50 percent of the US population.
The Democratic state administration has also showered aviation and defense giant Boeing with billions in corporate tax cuts while slashing state funding for school districts.
The Teamsters, which are politically allied with the Democrats, have no intention of waging a serious struggle. The union’s decision to limit the strike to one day is aimed at allowing workers to let off steam and block a genuine mobilization of workers and young people in Seattle to defend workers and the right to public education. Several comments on the union local’s Facebook site noted the impotency of a one-day strike. Joy White, a Seattle teacher, asked, “Why only one day? Will that be effective? We support you if you need to go longer.” Many parents’ comments sympathized with the bus drivers’ conditions and their desire to fight back.

Tags: Seattle School Bus DriversIBT 174Seattle Public Schools
Categories: Labor News

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