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USA: Rightwing alliance plots assault to 'defund and defang' America's unions

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 08/31/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Georgia: Violence and Lack of Respect for Social Dialogue

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

USA: VIDEO:Bernie Sanders joins Fight for $15

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Fight for 15
Categories: Labor News

Metro-North top union leaders back rail strike vote

Current News - Wed, 08/30/2017 - 13:32

Metro-North top union leaders back rail strike vote
http://www.lohud.com/story/news/transit/2017/08/29/metro-north-union-lea...

Thomas C. Zambito, tzambito@lohud.comPublished 2:44 p.m. ET Aug. 29, 2017 | Updated 4:30 p.m. ET Aug. 29, 2017
The executive board of Metro-North’s largest union today agreed to ask its 2,400 members to authorize a rail strike that could impact the daily commute of tens of thousands of commuters from the Lower Hudson Valley and beyond.

The 5-0 vote by the general chairmen of the Association of Commuter Rail Employees was a clear-cut indication that the union’s leadership has gotten behind executive director James Fahey’s call for a rail strike, something that has not happened on Metro-North in 30 years.

Fahey made the motion to send the vote to members at a meeting today in Manhattan.

“I am one hundred percent happy that everyone wants to stand by and fight for their members,” Fahey said. “We’ll fight for the welfare and the safety of our members. I’m ecstatic that every general chairman voted on my motion.”

There is no timetable for a strike vote or any projected strike date.

STRIKE: Metro-North union boss asking members to back rail strike over contract disputes

CONDUCTOR: Union defends conductor accused of assaulting MTA officers

CRASH: Paralyzed Metro-North worker losing salary as legal case continues

Each voting member of the executive board represents a different segment of Metro-North’s workforce, among them engineers, conductors, rail traffic controllers, signalmen and yard masters.

ACRE is one of a dozen unions representing Metro-North workers and it is unclear whether other unions would support the strike call.

Metro-North officials were dismayed by Fahey's efforts to air contractual issues in public.

“We don’t negotiate labor contracts in the press," spokesman Aaron Donovan said. "We expect any outstanding issues will be resolved. Let’s be clear: threatening an unlawful strike is completely irresponsible and is an insult to hundreds of thousands of Metro-North customers.”

The vote comes while ACRE is working under a contract signed in 2015 that was up for renewal nine months ago. Fahey said there have been no substantive discussions on a new contract.

At issue are a number of grievances that ACRE claims Metro-North has refused to address over the past year.

Topping the list are lengthy delays in the processing of disability pensions for members who’ve been medically disqualified for work. Fahey says the delay has forced the union to enlist doctors and dentists to provide free health care for members who’ve lost insurance benefits.And, the union claims, Metro-North has violated its agreement by hiring locomotive engineers from the outside instead of giving first preference to existing Metro-North workers.

Letters outlining the executive board’s concerns will likely go out to Metro-North members next week, a process that will be handled by an independent agency, the American Arbitration Association.

ACRE’s designated chief counsel, Jeffrey Chartier, will help the union decide which issues are major contractual disputes and which are minor, Fahey said.

Under the terms of the federal Railway Labor Act, railroad employees can only strike to remedy “major” contractual issues.

300,000 could be affected

A strike by key members of Metro-North's workforce could disrupt the daily commute for the nearly 300,000 customers who ride the commuter rail each weekday from points as distant as New Haven, Connecticut, into Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal.

The head of a Metro-North commuter group says the strike-talk is little more than a negotiating tool for the union.

"I do not think commuters should be alarmed by this 'sabre-rattling' by the unions," said James Cameron, the founder of Commuter Action Group. "I have every confidence that the railroad and unions will negotiate a new contract, as they have done for decades. Nobody wants a strike, certainly not commuters, and neither the railroad workers who are paid handsomely for their labors. A strike would be illegal and hurt the strikers as much, if not more, than commuters."

The last strike on Metro-North was in 1983, soon after the commuter rail took over from Conrail. Metro-North’s 622 conductors and train men struck over who would decide the size of train crews – management or workers, according to a report in United Press International. That strike lasted 42 days, disrupting the commute of some 90,000 customers who were forced to take cars and busses into the city.

Last year, Metro-North set a record for ridership with 86.5 million customers, more than doubling the total from 1983. It is the nation's second busiest commuter rail behind the Long Island Rail Road.

In recent years, Metro-North has been dogged by a series of derailments and mishaps that claimed the lives of customers and rail workers.

In December 2013, a speeding train derailed along a curve near the Spuyten-Duyvil section of the Bronx when an engineer fell asleep at the controls. Four passengers were killed and dozens of passengers were seriously injured.

Twitter: @TomZambito

Tags: Metro-North Rail WorkersAssociation of Commuter Rail EmployeesFederal Railway Labor Act
Categories: Labor News

10 unpaid migrant sailors stuck aboard ship in Busan Korea for 6 months

Current News - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:35

10 unpaid migrant sailors stuck aboard ship in Busan Korea for 6 months
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/08/177_235507.htmlPosted : 2017-08-28 16:23Updated : 2017-08-29 10:24

Eight Chinese and two Myanmar sailors have been staying in a Togo ship that has been docked at Busan Namhang Harbor since February because of their unpaid wages amounting to over 90 million won. / Courtesy of Busan Foreign Workers Support Center

By Ko Dong-hwan

Korean fishery authorities have stepped in to help migrant Chinese and Myanmar sailors who have not been paid for months and have been living aboard their vessel in Busan.

The Korea Seafarer's Welfare and Employment Center (KSWEC) and the Federation of Korean Seafarers' Unions have agreed to provide legal support and money for food and daily necessities to the eight Chinese and two Myanmar sailors on the ship from Togo.

Officials from KSWEC and Busan Foreign Workers Support Center (BFC) visited the ship on Aug. 23 and met the sailors and a Korean captain.

According to Korean daily Kookje Shimmun, the captain was "very worried" that the sailors, who do not have permits to disembark, and were growing impatient, might harm him.

While the sailors have been stuck on the ship, one has missed his wife giving birth and another's marine technician license has expired.

The ship's owner, a paper company in Panama, has not fulfilled its tax duties to Togo, causing the ship to lose its legal nationality.

A Busan Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries official said the sailors were owed more than 90 million won ($83,500) in unpaid wages, which they badly needed.

While the unnamed captain had not proposed any specific solutions, the sailors' predicament could only be solved in a civil affairs court using a certificate evincing the unpaid wages, the official said.

Even if the ship were confiscated and auctioned, the value would be only 30 million won.

"As a country actively engaged in international sea trade, South Korea abides by the international agreements and domestic seafarers' laws to protect the lives of their sailors regardless of their nationalities, and financially supports them when extraditing them," a Korea Maritime and Ocean University professor said.

"The situation in question, if handled improperly, may destroy the country's global image big time."

The 422-ton ship, which carried goods between Busan and China, has been docked in Namhang Harbor since February.

The sailors have spent a scorching summer aboard the ship, which had been without electricity after running out of fuel a long time ago.

In June, the sailors contacted a Chinese Consulate in Korea for help, but were told to contact the BFC.

The agency, together with the city's Christian maritime association called BADASEA, helped the sailors with food and amenities, but these were limited.

Tags: migrant sailorsBusan Koreastranded sailors
Categories: Labor News

10 unpaid migrant sailors stuck aboard ship in Busan Korea for 6 months

Current News - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 13:35

10 unpaid migrant sailors stuck aboard ship in Busan Korea for 6 months
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2017/08/177_235507.htmlPosted : 2017-08-28 16:23Updated : 2017-08-29 10:24

Eight Chinese and two Myanmar sailors have been staying in a Togo ship that has been docked at Busan Namhang Harbor since February because of their unpaid wages amounting to over 90 million won. / Courtesy of Busan Foreign Workers Support Center

By Ko Dong-hwan

Korean fishery authorities have stepped in to help migrant Chinese and Myanmar sailors who have not been paid for months and have been living aboard their vessel in Busan.

The Korea Seafarer's Welfare and Employment Center (KSWEC) and the Federation of Korean Seafarers' Unions have agreed to provide legal support and money for food and daily necessities to the eight Chinese and two Myanmar sailors on the ship from Togo.

Officials from KSWEC and Busan Foreign Workers Support Center (BFC) visited the ship on Aug. 23 and met the sailors and a Korean captain.

According to Korean daily Kookje Shimmun, the captain was "very worried" that the sailors, who do not have permits to disembark, and were growing impatient, might harm him.

While the sailors have been stuck on the ship, one has missed his wife giving birth and another's marine technician license has expired.

The ship's owner, a paper company in Panama, has not fulfilled its tax duties to Togo, causing the ship to lose its legal nationality.

A Busan Regional Office of Oceans and Fisheries official said the sailors were owed more than 90 million won ($83,500) in unpaid wages, which they badly needed.

While the unnamed captain had not proposed any specific solutions, the sailors' predicament could only be solved in a civil affairs court using a certificate evincing the unpaid wages, the official said.

Even if the ship were confiscated and auctioned, the value would be only 30 million won.

"As a country actively engaged in international sea trade, South Korea abides by the international agreements and domestic seafarers' laws to protect the lives of their sailors regardless of their nationalities, and financially supports them when extraditing them," a Korea Maritime and Ocean University professor said.

"The situation in question, if handled improperly, may destroy the country's global image big time."

The 422-ton ship, which carried goods between Busan and China, has been docked in Namhang Harbor since February.

The sailors have spent a scorching summer aboard the ship, which had been without electricity after running out of fuel a long time ago.

In June, the sailors contacted a Chinese Consulate in Korea for help, but were told to contact the BFC.

The agency, together with the city's Christian maritime association called BADASEA, helped the sailors with food and amenities, but these were limited.

Tags: migrant sailorsBusan Koreastranded sailors
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Local 313 Tacoma, WA strike at Veneer Chip Transport enters 5th week

Current News - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 05:49

Teamsters 313 Tacoma, WA strike at Veneer Chip Transport enters 5th week
http://www.thestand.org/2017/08/teamsters-strike-at-vct-enters-5th-week/
FIFE (Aug. 24, 2017) — Dozens of Teamsters at Veneer Chip Transport, Inc. have been on an unfair-labor-practice strike for five weeks after their employer unilaterally imposed health care cuts and other changes in the terms of employment in July. VCT is a Fife-based trucking firm that picks up wood chips and residuals from lumber mills all over Western Washington and delivers them to other mills that manufacture paper products.
The striking workers, members of Teamsters Local 313, have kept up their picket line at VCT and also occasionally set up ambulatory picket lines at various mills when VCT trucks are active on the premises.
TAKE A STAND — Join strikers on the picket line at VCT, located at 2205 Pacific Hwy East in Fife. Also, please contribute to the Local 313 Strike Hardship Fund to help these families hold the line. Send checks payable to “Teamsters Local 313” and indicate in the memo line that they are for the VCT Strike Fund. Mail them to Teamsters Local 313, 220 South 27th Street, Tacoma, WA, 98402.
Amid contract negotiations in early July, VCT unilaterally implemented its last wage and health-and-welfare proposal without an agreement or contract ratification vote. The new medical plan imposed significantly higher out-of-pocket costs, especially for employees with family coverage. Local 313 filed an Unfair Labor Practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board that is still pending, but in the meantime, workers went on strike July 17 and have been on the picket line ever since.
“At this point, the company is not responsive and there are no further negotiations scheduled,” said Local 313 Business Representative Nick Lansdale. “At the end of the day, I feel their intent is to break the union.”
Last week, union log truck drivers honored the Teamsters’ ambulatory picket line that went up outside the Sierra Pacific mill in Aberdeen while a scab VCT trucker was on the property. Six trucks waited about two hours outside the picket line until the scab left the premises. This interruption of work at the mills that continue to use VCT despite the strike has occurred multiple times and will continue. Click here for details.

Short URL: http://www.thestand.org/?p=59884

Tags: Teamsters Local 313Veneer Chip Transportwages
Categories: Labor News

Baltimore transit worker's union ATU 1300, supporters rally against BaltimoreLink changes " drivers are experiencing an increase in harassment, disorder and other issues, including being spit at, with more disgruntled riders on board, said David McClure,

Current News - Tue, 08/29/2017 - 05:44

Baltimore transit worker's union ATU 1300, supporters rally against BaltimoreLink changes
" drivers are experiencing an increase in harassment, disorder and other issues, including being spit at, with more disgruntled riders on board, said David McClure, president of ATU Local 1300."
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-bz-union-ral...
Sarah Gantz Sarah GantzContact Reporter
The Baltimore Sun
About 40 members and supporters of Baltimore’s transit worker union gathered at the War Memorial, near Baltimore’s City Hall, on Wednesday to protest changes to the city’s bus routes that they say have harmed riders and drivers.

The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1300 has been vocal in its criticism of Gov. Larry Hogan’s $135 million overhaul of the city bus system, known as BaltimoreLink, arguing that the route changes are creating headaches for riders who must make more transfers or catch buses at different stops.

Meanwhile, drivers are experiencing an increase in harassment, disorder and other issues, including being spit at, with more disgruntled riders on board, said David McClure, president of ATU Local 1300.

“We have a lot of people who are suffering right now because of the way it was implemented,” McClure said.

office did not respond to a request for comment, but the Maryland Transit Administration defended the BaltimoreLink overhaul, which launched in late June.

“The fact is BaltimoreLink is finally changing the unacceptable status quo that has existed in Baltimore City for decades, where disconnected and disorganized transit options simply haven’t connected residents to jobs,” said MTA spokeswoman Sandy Arnette.

She said over 130,000 more residents now have access to high-frequency service within a quarter-mile of their homes, nearly a third more than before BaltimoreLink.

“Since its launch,” Arnette said, “4 BaltimoreLink has consistently improved service and reliability, with on-time performance up nine percent and new dedicated bus lanes providing riders up to 25 percent time savings during rush hour. We are committed to continuing to work with riders to ensure we continue to improve the system every day.”

The union called on Hogan and the MTA to revisit the changes to add service and lines, “because right now, these people are not able to get where they need to be,” McClure said.

Seniors who must walk extra blocks to get to a bus stop are missing doctor’s appointments and some workers who rely on the bus must factor in extra commute time, to account for additional transfers, he said.

Ebony Johnson, 29, said she used to be able to get downtown in 15 minutes on one bus. Now, she has to make multiple transfers and the trip takes about an hour, she said.

“They claim it’s convenient,” she said. “Convenient for who?”

Led by McClure, the group marched from the War Memorial to the Maryland Transit Administration’s offices on St. Paul Street, carrying signs that read “Sink the Link” and “We demand justice & respect for Baltimore.”

Once there, people took turns addressing the crowd.

With an arm over his son, Rev. C.D. Witherspoon said he is worried that children will miss class or skip school entirely if they can’t navigate the new bus routes.

Eight-year-old Cortly Witherspoon Jr. can walk to school, but his other nieces and nephews must take a bus across town to get to school, he said.

“We’ve got a responsibility,” he yelled to the crowd, “and an obligation to hold MTA accountable.”

sarah.gantz@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahgantz

Tags: ATU 1300transithealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Global: IUF Congress: Day 1 - full coverage

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: LabourStart
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Iranian workers appeal for support to IUF Congress

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IASWI
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: Workers union takes on “ableist” practices within Hongkong Post

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: HRD
Categories: Labor News

Africa: The Secret Man Mugabe Ignored But Is Now In Charge Of 161 Million People

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Zim Eye
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Labor activist on hunger strike faces deteriorated physical condition

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Iran HRM
Categories: Labor News

China: Hotel workers fight back in low paid service jobs

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Anti-Fascist Berkeley Protest Stops Trump Supporters From Rallying

Current News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 15:03

Anti-Fascist Berkeley Protest Stops Trump Supporters From Rallying
https://youtu.be/PB0hhAilXEo
Thousands of anti-fascists and opponents of Trump went to Berkeley civic center park on August 27, 2017 to oppose the growing racism, xenophobia, sexism and attacks on Muslims and women and workers. The Trump supporters and right-wingers had called a "No To Marxism" rally and were forced to cancel it after growing mass opposition. The opponents of the right brought thousands of people in protest of their tactics and ideology.
Additional media:
Fascists Out Of SF: Trade Unionists And Community Rally Against Nazis & Racists
https://youtu.be/4jUSc8lER14
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Fascists Out Of SF: Trade Unionists And Community Rally Against Nazis & Racists
https://youtu.be/4jUSc8lER14
Thousands of people in San Francisco on August 26, 2017 rallied in the Castro District and then marched to SF City Hall to protest the Trump administration, the nazis and racists. Included were trade unionists from labor who also spoke out about the dangers of the growing racism, xenophobia and fascist forces that are organizing in San Francisco and nationally.
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: FascismprotestsracismNazis
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for August 26 2017

IBU - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 10:37
Categories: Unions

Canadian ATU 113 TTC union alleges safety double standard after worker hit by bus

Current News - Mon, 08/28/2017 - 09:42

Canadian ATU 113 TTC union alleges safety double standard after worker hit by bus
https://www.insidetoronto.com/news-story/7520919-ttc-union-alleges-safet...
Contract employees not held to same safety requirements, says union

NEWS Aug 25, 2017 by Rahul Gupta North York Mirror

TTC vehicle operator Neil Cooper suffered several injuries to his face and body after he was hit by a bus at the Wilson garage August 15. - Neil Cooper/Amalgamated Transit Union Local 113
The TTC’s largest labour union accused the commission of maintaining a double standard for workplace safety after one of its members was struck and injured by a bus driven by a contract worker.

The incident, which took place earlier this month at the Wilson garage in North York and was confirmed by the TTC, was severe enough to knock Neil Cooper, a bus operator with 30 years of experience, unconscious for eight seconds according to the union. Cooper also suffered facial lacerations, an injury to his eye as well as multiple dislocated fingers, said Kevin Morton, president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 113. No charges have been laid.

While an official investigation of the collision is underway, Morton blamed the incident directly on the contract worker involved, identified by the TTC as a service line cleaner hired through a third-party. Unlike their unionized counterparts, Morton said less-skilled contract workers are not held to the same standards, accusing the TTC of compromising the safety of its permanent employees to save money on wages.

“They’re scraping the bottom of the barrel to save money,” said Morton over the phone from Milwaukee. “(Contract workers) could kill, injure or maim someone, but they’re not held to the same standard (as a permanent worker).”

According to Morton, his union has obtained GPS data from the bus, which shows the driver was speeding “nine to 12 kilometres” over the speed limit at the time of the collision.

“It’s all proven, these are facts,” he said.

Contract workers are permitted to drive buses on TTC property provided they have a valid Ontario class A, B or C commercial license just like regular vehicle operators, said spokesperson Stuart Green.

While Green couldn’t comment specifically on the incident pending the completion of the investigation, he said cleaners frequently move buses to the front of the line after they’re serviced.

“This is an unfortunate incident that resulted in injuries to the operator, which were treated in hospital,” said Green.

Contract workers are not subject to random-drug testing as the rank and file, Green said, but contract stipulations require a third party company contracted by the TTC ensure its employees are “fit for duty”.

“This is consistent with the requirement of our (permanent) operators,” he said.
Green said police investigating the collision did not opt to administer a breathalyzer test to the driver.

The incident, which took place on the evening of Aug. 15, represents “a troubling pattern” of compromised worker safety, said Morton who referred to past examples of workplace injury involving contracted workers.

One incident he said took place in 2014, also at Wilson, where a contracted worker crashed a bus damaging multiple vehicles and was ultimately found not to possess any type of valid licence. Metroland Media Toronto was unable to independently verify the allegation and the TTC could not provide confirmation.

“These are not isolated incidents,” said Morton.

Green said the review will involve the TTC and the Ministry of Labour, but could not provide a timeline for its completion.

“Safety is the cornerstone of all TTC operations and we take incidents like this seriously,” he said

Tags: ATU 113health and safetytransit workers
Categories: Labor News

Ahead of regional summit, left-leaning policy groups say ‘No’ to a sales tax for DC Metro "Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union, in opposing the sales tax."

Current News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 17:54

Ahead of regional summit, left-leaning policy groups say ‘No’ to a sales tax for DC Metro "Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union, in opposing the sales tax."
A Metro train passes over the Potomac River in Washington on Aug. 9. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/ahead-of-region...
By Faiz Siddiqui August 27 at 8:13 PM
A regionwide one-cent sales tax to fund Metro would have a disproportionate impact on poor families, taking five times the share of income from the bottom 20 percent of earners when compared with those in the top 1 percent, according to a new analysis from a trio of left-leaning think tanks representing the District, Maryland and Virginia.

Calling recent service cuts, fare hikes and a potential sales tax a “triple whammy” on the region’s low-income residents, the groups are pressing local officials to ditch the sales tax proposal in favor of flexible, jurisdictional financial commitments, with each government finding its own way to pay for Metro’s long-term needs.

“It’s not right to ask the families who are least well-off to shoulder the biggest responsibility for fixing Metro, while leaving busi­nesses and high-income families off the hook,” said Ed Lazere, executive director of the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, one of three groups that participated in the analysis.

The other two organizations who participated are the Maryland Center on Economic Policy and the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis. The think tanks join labor groups, including Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, Metro’s largest union, in opposing the sales tax.

The tax burden should be placed on businesses and high-
income earners rather than struggling families, the groups say.

Further, a proposal to limit the growth of annual subsidies that jurisdictions contribute to Metro risks hamstringing the transit agency’s ability to perform critical maintenance and maintain current fares and service, the report argues.

The analysis, conducted by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, found that while a penny-per-dollar sales tax would cost those making more than $600,000 less than 0.1 percent of their income, those making less than $25,000 would sacrifice 0.5 percent of their earnings. Black and Latino families in the District would be the hardest hit, according to the report, because 38 percent and 35 percent of their households, respectively, have incomes below $50,000, the report says. Meanwhile, families are already grappling with the region’s high cost of living and disproportionate economic growth that has seen overall wages rise but not for the bottom 40 percent of workers.

“When we’re asking a family who maybe tomorrow is skipping a meal, or two or three by the end of the month, ‘Hey, we need another 50 bucks for Metro,’ that is food that’s being taken off their table because they are spending all of their income,” said Benjamin Orr, executive director at the Maryland Center on Economic Policy. “In many cases, their bills and their obligations, and what they need to survive, exceeds what their income is.”

[Metro union calls for flat fares, dedicated taxes to rescue ridership and finances]

The release of the report appears timed to influence Monday’s regional summit of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), where Metro is expected to be a principal topic. The three have been far apart in the past on funding Metro. Bowser strongly supports a uniform, regionwide sales tax, perhaps as much as a penny-per-dollar. McAuliffe would back increased taxes or other new funding mechanisms only after Metro has shown it has made progress on safety, reliability and efficiency. Hogan has ruled out giving Metro any extra money from the Maryland state budget, but he has left open the possibility that Montgomery and Prince George’s counties might tax themselves to pay for Metro.

The three leaders also are due to get an update on work done by former U.S. transportation secretary Ray LaHood, who was recruited byMcAuliffe to devise a package of structural changes and funding plans for Metro that could win support throughout the region. LaHood plans to get feedback from the three and make his recommendations in late September or October.

LaHood has not said anything publicly about his intentions, but officials who have been briefed on his plans said they expect him to discuss Metro’s funding needs, labor costs and governance reforms, as well as other topics.

“We’re hoping that this report helps wake our leaders up that they need to think about who they’re actually asking to help to pay to fix Metro,” Lazere said. “I’m hopeful that it will get people to think twice about the sales tax.”

Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld has called for $15.5 billion over 10 years to support the system’s capital needs — including $500 million in new, annual dedicated funding — and a slew of concessions from Metro’s unions to keep the system’s finances healthy and infrastructure in a state of good repair.

Metro, which is funded through a combination of jurisdictional subsidies and federal grants, is alone among the nation’s major subway systems in lacking a significant source of dedicated funding

The jurisdictional subsidy cap is another area of concern, the think tanks say. Such limits to spending could only lead to further maintenance problems, service cuts or fare increases down the line, they argue.

Under Wiedefeld’s proposal, growth in annual subsidies to Metro from the jurisdictions would be capped at 3 percent.

[Metro GM proposes ‘new business model’ and $500 million a year in extra funding to save D.C.-area transit agency]

“A 3 percent cap could . . . force Metro, in a short amount of time to shortchange maintenance, raise fares or cut services, or look for employee concessions,” the report says. “A 3 percent goal can be established but should include flexibility to go above that should a clear need be demonstrated.”

The report says jurisdictions could consider an additional property tax for businesses closest to Metro lines and stations — although it leaves the door open for an exemption for small businesses.

“In addition to business contributions, the remaining costs should be borne largely by higher-income households, both because they can best afford to pay and because they have benefited most from D.C’s growing economy,” the report said.

The groups liken their approach to the “millionaire’s tax” proposed by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) to fund that city’s struggling subway.

Metro board Chairman Jack Evans, a longtime supporter of a one-cent regional sales tax, acknowledged that such a measure would be felt more deeply by poorer families. But, he said, the sales tax is the simplest mechanism for raising the $650 million Metro needs, referring to the amount in dedicated funding recommended by a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments technical panel. In addition, the region’s lowest-income residents also rely on Metro to get around, so they have a stake in the system, Evans argued.

“I understand, if I’m only making a dollar, a penny’s a lot to me,” Evans said. “If I make a hundred dollars, then a penny’s a lot less work. In the scheme of the world at the end of the day, it is the fairest way. Because everybody benefits from Metro and everybody benefits from Metro’s success.”

Lazere questioned why the region couldn’t use a system akin to the multifaceted funding mechanism that paid for Nationals Park — including the tax on businesses that paid for stadium debt, for example. Evans said, however, that any tax proposal should be bondable, and it wasn’t clear that the alternatives the groups were proposing would be deemed suitable for significant long-term borrowing.

But Lazere, whose think tank studies D.C. budget and tax issues, said the region doesn’t have to be restricted to one source of revenue for dedicated funding.

“As long as there’s a commitment and every jurisdiction puts the full faith of their government against it, I don’t see why there has to be a single revenue source from one jurisdiction to another,” he said. “The notion that you can’t have a bond backed by more than one revenue source — it just seems sort of too simplistic an answer.”

Robert McCartney contributed to this report.

Tags: DC ATU 689regressive transit sales taxCost Shiftingregressive taxes
Categories: Labor News

Global: International food workers congress opens in Geneva

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 08/27/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: LabourStart
Categories: Labor News

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