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Chicago CTA ATU 241 Bus Drivers Health and Safety Threatened-CTA Bosses Put Drivers In Danger

Current News - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 10:45

Chicago CTA ATU 241 Bus Drivers Health and Safety Threatened-CTA Bosses Put Drivers In Danger

Easy Targets: CTA bus drivers fend off spit, guns and frozen chickens


They have to keep their eyes peeled on the road ahead but an I-Team investigation of CTA incidents has found some bus drivers have an ongoing fear from the rear. (WLS)
By Chuck Goudie and Barb Markoff
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
CHICAGO (WLS) -- They have to keep their eyes peeled on the road ahead but an I-Team investigation of CTA incidents has found some bus drivers have an ongoing fear from the rear: unruly, violent passengers.

CTA passengers sometimes post video of violent bus events on social media.

Records we obtained show the stats: Chicago Transit Authority bus drivers who have needed medical attention in recent years after being attacked by bawdy passengers.

RAW DATA: CTA numbers behind the story from I-Team's Freedom of Information filing

Watch our main video report above, revealing the weapons of choice for raucous riders that seem to be whatever is handy: wads of spit, eggs, hot drinks or even frozen chicken that can become missiles when pitched at drivers.

Darryl Payne (left) and Kendall Henderson, both 19, were among those who were charged with attacking a CTA bus driver, in 2014.

CTA bus drivers describe some of the harrowing experiences they have had behind the wheel.

While passenger spit is the most cited attack method, there are also reported attacks on drivers with bona fide weapons including stun guns and firearms.

CTA officials say violence against drivers has been reduced by employee training, on-board panic buttons, security cameras and prosecutions of violent offenders.

The CTA control center where officials monitor calls for help from bus drivers in distress.

The transit agency maintains that attacks on drivers are rare.

Crimes against employees are down the past five years according to CTA spokesperson Tammy Chase who credits the transit agency's new communication system.

CTA bus drivers say they need more protection. A transit union official says drivers "have been trained to just stay in the seat and accept the abuse."

For more information about the Chicago Transit authority, visit www.transitchicago.com

For more information about the Amalgamated Transit Union, visit atu241chicago.org

Tags: CTAATU 241bus drivershealth and safetyworkers safety
Categories: Labor News

China: Chinese activist wants Ivanka to 'force change' in labour conditions

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Independent
Categories: Labor News

BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute

Current News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 13:43

BA UNITE cabin crew call two-week strike in July over pay dispute

Up to 2,000 staff will take industrial action after pay deal collapses over reprisals for staff who went on strike earlier in the year
Striking British Airways cabin crew demonstrate outside Glasgow airport in January
Striking British Airways cabin crew at Glasgow airport in January. Staff who took action earlier in the year were set to lose bonuses and travel perks in the new pay deal. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Friday 16 June 2017 09.51 EDT
Cabin crew at British Airways are to strike for two weeks in July, in the longest walkout to date in an increasingly bitter dispute over pay.

Up to 2,000 members of BA’s mixed fleet, which employs mainly younger, recent recruits on inferior terms and conditions to most crew, will take renewed action after a pay deal foundered over reprisals for staff who went on strike.Members of the Unite union rejected a deal that included bonuses and travel perks being withheld from crew who had taken action earlier in the year.

Unite said they had called the action, which runs from 1 to 16 July, after the airline refused to accept the union’s final compromise position on the sanctioning of striking cabin crew.

The union said it would also “vigorously pursue” legal action against BA on behalf of 1,400 cabin crew who face sanctions. Unite accused BA of having formed a blacklist of striking crew.

A planned four-day strike that was due to start on Friday was suspended last week in an attempt to resolve the dispute through talks.

However, talks at the conciliation service Acas earlier this week failed to progress.

Unite’s assistant general secretary, Howard Beckett, said: “The refusal by British Airways bosses to meaningfully consider our compromise offer is deeply disappointing.

“A resolution to this long-running dispute was within the grasp of BA, but instead of grabbing that opportunity, bosses rebuffed it.

“Unite believes the divisive way British Airways has targeted striking members of cabin crew is unlawful and amounts to blacklisting.”


“The airline should be under no illusion of Unite’s intent to pursue justice on behalf of its members all the way to the highest court in the land.”

Willie Walsh, the chief executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, told the Guardian before the strike announcement that the latest offer had been “a fair negotiation in the circumstances”.

He said: “The pay negotiations were complete, you reach an agreement, it gets rejected – I don’t think you can criticise us for that. It was a deal acceptable to the Unite union officials, they said they would recommend it. I’m happy that we reward our people in an appropriate way.”

A BA spokeswoman said: “As for previous periods when Unite called strikes of Mixed Fleet cabin crew, we will fly all our customers to their destinations.

“This proposed strike action is extreme and completely unnecessary. We had reached a deal on pay, which Unite agreed was acceptable. Unite has already confirmed it is pursuing the non-pay issues in this dispute through the courts.

“We urge Unite to let its members vote on the pay proposals.”

Crew have walked out for a total of 26 days to date, since the row erupted in January over what the union had branded “poverty pay”. So far, the airline has ridden out the action, and said that all booked passengers had travelled to their destinations regardless. However, a number of flights have been cancelled, and the airline has also chartered or “wet leased” planes and crew from other airlines such as Titan and Thomson Airways to continue operating services.

Pay at the fleet starts at a basic rate of just over £12,000, although the airline says that with flying pay and allowances most crew earn more than £21,000.

Tags: UniteBA cabin crewstrike
Categories: Labor News

Rigged, Forced into debt, worked past exhaustion. Left With Nothing & Working For Free LA Port Truckers

Current News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 12:08

Rigged, Forced into debt, worked past exhaustion. Left With Nothing & Working For Free
LA Port Truckers

By Brett Murphy
Photos by Omar Ornelas
June 16, 2017
Los Angeles — Samuel Talavera Jr. did everything his bosses asked.

Most days, the trucker would drive more than 16 hours straight hauling LG dishwashers and Kumho tires to warehouses around Los Angeles, on their way to retail stores nationwide.

He rarely went home to his family. At night, he crawled into the back of his cab and slept in the company parking lot.

For all of that, he took home as little as 67 cents a week.

Then, in October 2013, the truck he leased from his employer, QTS, broke down.

When Talavera could not afford repairs, the company fired him and seized the truck -- along with $78,000 he had paid towards owning it.

Talavera was a modern-day indentured servant. And there are hundreds, likely thousands more, still on the road, hauling containers for trucking companies that move goods for America’s most beloved retailers, from Costco to Target to Home Depot.

These port truckers -- many of them poor immigrants who speak little English -- are responsible for moving almost half of the nation’s container imports out of Los Angeles’ ports. They don't deliver goods to stores. Instead they drive them short distances to warehouses and rail yards, one small step on their journey to a store near you.

A yearlong investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that port trucking companies in southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford. Companies then used that debt as leverage to extract forced labor and trap drivers in jobs that left them destitute.

If a driver quit, the company seized his truck and kept everything he had paid towards owning it.

If drivers missed payments, or if they got sick or became too exhausted to go on, their companies fired them and kept everything. Then they turned around and leased the trucks to someone else.

Drivers who manage to hang on to their jobs sometimes end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free. Reporters identified seven different companies that have told their employees they owe money at week’s end.

The USA TODAY Network pieced together accounts from more than 300 drivers, listened to hundreds of hours of sworn labor dispute testimony and reviewed contracts that have never been seen by the public.

Using the contracts, submitted as evidence in labor complaints, and shipping manifests, reporters matched the trucking companies with the most labor violations to dozens of retail brands, including Target, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Hasbro, J.Crew, UPS, Goodyear, Costco, Ralph Lauren and more.

Among the findings:

Trucking companies force drivers to work against their will – up to 20 hours a day – by threatening to take their trucks and keep the money they paid toward buying them. Bosses create a culture of fear by firing drivers, suspending them without pay or reassigning them the lowest-paying routes.
To keep drivers working, managers at a few companies have physically barred them from going home. More than once, Marvin Figueroa returned from a full day’s work to find the gate to the parking lot locked and a manager ordering drivers back to work. “That was how they forced me to continue working,” he testified in a 2015 labor case. Truckers at two other companies have made similar claims.
Employers charge not just for truck leases but for a host of other expenses, including hundreds of dollars a month for insurance and diesel fuel. Some charge truckers a parking fee to use the company lot. One company, Fargo Trucking, charged $2 per week for the office toilet paper and other supplies.
Drivers at many companies say they had no choice but to break federal safety laws that limit truckers to 11 hours on the road each day. Drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation testified that their managers dispatched truckers up to 20 hours a day, then wouldn’t pay them until drivers falsified inspection reports that track hours. Hundreds of California port truckers have gotten into accidents, leading to more than 20 fatalities from 2013 to 2015, according to the USA TODAY Network's analysis of federal crash and port trade data.
Many drivers thought they were paying into their truck like a mortgage. Instead, when they lost their job, they discovered they also lost their truck, along with everything they’d paid toward it. Eddy Gonzalez took seven days off to care for his dying mother and then bury her. When he came back, his company fired him and kept the truck. For two years, Ho Lee was charged more than $1,600 a month for a truck lease. When he got ill and missed a week of work, he lost the truck and everything he’d paid.
Retailers could refuse to allow companies with labor violations to truck their goods. Instead they’ve let shipping and logistics contractors hire the lowest bidder, while lobbying on behalf of trucking companies in Sacramento and Washington D.C. Walmart, Target and dozens of other Fortune 500 companies have paid lobbyists up to $12.6 million to fight bills that would have held companies liable or given drivers a minimum wage and other protections that most U.S. workers already enjoy.

Left: Containers stack like windowless buildings on the dockyard at the Port of Long Beach. Right: Trucks line up outside the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. The two adjacent ports account for almost half of the country's container imports.
This isn’t a case of a few bad trucking companies accused of mistreating a handful of workers.

Since 2010, at least 1,150 port truck drivers have filed claims in civil court or with the California Department of Industrial Relations’ enforcement arm, known as the labor commission.

Judges have sided with drivers in more than 97% of the cases heard, ruling time after time that port truckers in California can’t legally be classified as independent contractors. Instead, they are employees who, by law, must be paid minimum wage and can’t be charged for the equipment they use at work.

The rulings stop there. They do not address specific allegations of abuse by drivers, including whether trucking companies physically barred them from leaving work or ordered them to work past federal fatigue limits.

But allegations like those have been made in sworn testimony in hundreds of the cases, virtually all of which ended with trucking companies ordered to repay drivers for truck expenses and lost wages. The USA TODAY Network found that at least 140 trucking companies have been accused by at least one driver of shorting them of fair pay or using threats to squeeze them to work longer hours.

Prominent civil rights leader Julian Bond once called California port truckers the new black tenant farmers of the post-Civil War South. Sharecroppers from that era rented farmland to make their living and regularly fell into debt to their landlords. Widespread predatory practices made it nearly impossible for the farmers to climb out.

Through lease contracts, California’s port truckers face the same kinds of challenges in ways that experts say rarely happen in the U.S. today.

“I don’t know of anything even remotely like this,” said Stanford Law School Professor William Gould, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board and one of the nation’s top labor experts.

“You’re working to get yourself out of the debt. You just don’t see anything like that.”

‘‘You’re working to get yourself out of the debt. You just don’t see anything like that.’’
Reporters tried to contact owners and managers at more than 30 trucking companies. Many did not respond or declined to comment.

Those willing to answer questions said they have never used truck leases as a way to mistreat drivers. Several insisted that truckers’ allegations have been manufactured as part of a union organizing campaign by the Teamsters. The union has for years helped drivers file labor complaints and lawsuits.

“I’m not going to say that there were no violations out there,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association. But, he added, they were “unintentional,” the result of market pressures that threatened to bankrupt trucking companies.

LaBar said he wasn't aware of companies still drawing up leases as more trucks get paid off. But drivers all over the industry are still locked in contracts they signed years ago.

Some company owners said their lease-to-own programs were a favor to truckers who might otherwise have been out of work. And there are drivers who make it through the contract to own their trucks, something that’s grown more common with time and a rebounding economy. Drivers who can't make a living aren't working hard enough, many company executives say.

“Our owner very generously went out and purchased a fleet of clean trucks,” said Marc Koenig, a vice president at Performance Team, which has lost cases to 21 drivers at the California labor commission. “That’s what really frustrated our owner. He really reached out and helped these guys.”

Koenig answered questions while traveling to Massachusetts to meet with TJX, the $49-billion parent company of retailers T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods.

"We take these concerns very seriously at TJX," the company said in a statement, citing its vendor "code of conduct" that requires contractors on its supply chain to follow the law.

California’s port truckers make it possible for the Walmarts and Amazons of the world to function. Even so, most of the two dozen retail companies contacted by the USA TODAY Network declined to comment, some saying they had never heard of the rash of labor violations at their primary ports of entry.

Only Goodyear said it took immediate action. Spokesperson Keith Price said in a statement that the tire giant dropped Pacific 9 in 2015, “within two weeks” of California labor commission decisions in favor of dozens of drivers.

The few others that issued statements said it was not their responsibility to police the shipping industry. Retailers don't directly hire the truckers who move their goods at the pier. They generally hire large shipping or logistics firms that line up trucking companies through a maze of subcontractors.

‘‘Target doesn’t have anything to share here.’’
“We’re not trying to wash our hands of this issue,” said John Taylor, a spokesman for LG Electronics, “but it’s frankly far afield” and “really very disconnected from LG Electronics.”

When asked about labor violations by trucking companies in Target’s supply chain, spokeswoman Erika Winkels wrote: “Target doesn’t have anything to share here.”

Jose Juan Rodriguez lives with his family inside a small house by the freeway in Los Angeles' South Central neighborhood. His wife has stage three cancer and his son severe brain damage. He said he's six years into his five-year lease contract with Morgan Southern and he still doesn't own the truck. "I knew I was being enslaved with these contracts," Rodriguez said. "But I have to work."

Read Story
A Critical Change

For decades, short-haul truckers at the nation’s ports relied on cheap clunkers to move goods to nearby warehouses and rail yards.

With little up-front investment, drivers – most of them independent contractors who owned their own trucks – could make a decent living squeezing the last miles from dilapidated big rigs that weren’t suited for the open road.

In October 2008, that changed dramatically in southern California, home of the nation’s busiest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach. State officials, fed up with deadly diesel fumes from 16,000 outdated trucks, ordered the entire fleet replaced with new, cleaner rigs.

Suddenly, this obscure but critical collection of trucking companies faced a $2.5 billion crossroads unlike anything experienced at other U.S. ports.

Instead of digging into their own pockets to undo the environmental mess they helped create, the companies found a way to push the cost onto individual drivers, who are paid by the number and kinds of containers they move, not by the hour.

There are 800 companies regularly operating at the LA ports. Almost all of them turned to some form of a lease-to-own model, some without thinking through the consequences, said industry consultant and lobbyist Alex Cherin.

Reyes Castellanos, 58, has gallstones and no health insurance, because he’s labeled an independent contractor instead of an employee. Near-constant pain causes him to wince repeatedly as he talks from the cab of his truck.

He keeps a giant thermos of coffee on the passenger seat. By his feet, a bottle he uses to avoid bathroom stops.

Money is tight and it’s not getting any better.

Castellanos‘ 2015 tax return shows that he grossed $94,000. But he took home just $21,000 after truck expenses, including the lease-to-own payment he makes to his employer every week

His wife told him to quit K&R Transportation and leave the truck behind. But Castellanos isn‘t sure what other work he could find.

“The truck is the only thing putting food on the table,” he told her.

“So we lost the house,” Castellanos said. “I lost the house.”

K&R Transportation‘s parent company, California Cartage, declined to comment.

Read Story
“Flying by the seat of their pants and making it up as they went along,” he said of the scramble to find trucks for drivers. “Ultimately what they were trying to do was survive in a business with very thin margins.”

Truckers at dozens of companies describe the same basic scene. They were handed a lease-to-own contract by their employer and given a choice: Sign immediately or be fired. Many drivers who spoke little English said managers gave them no time to seek legal advice or even an interpreter to read the contract.

It was "take it or leave it," according to Fidel Vasquez, a driver for Total Transportation who said he couldn’t read the contract because it was in English.

Jose Juan Rodriguez owned his own truck and drove primarily for Morgan Southern, where two dozen drivers have filed claims for back pay at the California labor commission and civil court. Like many drivers, Rodriguez said he didn’t understand what he was signing, but felt he had no choice.

His wife has stage three breast cancer and his adult son has severe brain damage requiring frequent doctor visits.

“Where do I sign?” Rodriguez recalled asking right away. “The only thing I had to worry about is work, because I have a family.”

One-sided contracts

The contracts work like sub-leases. Knowing drivers could not qualify for their own loans or leases, trucking companies arranged to finance their fleets. Then they had drivers sign up for individual trucks.

Drivers gave their old trucks – many of which they owned outright – to their company as a down payment. And just like that they were up to $100,000 in debt to their own employer. The same guys would have had a tough time qualifying for a Hyundai days earlier.

As far back as August 2008, a trucking finance firm warned Port of Long Beach board members that 40% of drivers were likely to default on truck leases. But no one stopped the deals, which place almost all of the financial risk onto the workers.

Drivers' names were not on the truck titles. And many contracts effectively barred drivers from using their truck to work for other companies.

The companies also retained the power to decide how much work to give their drivers. They decide who gets the easiest and most lucrative routes -- and who gets to work at all.

That leaves drivers in constant fear of upsetting managers, who can fire them for any reason, or simply stop sending them business, a process some call “starving” them out of the truck.

On a five-year lease, drivers could pay in for four years and 11 months. If they got sick, fell behind on the lease or were fired in the last month, they could lose everything – as if they had never paid a dime.

The USA TODAY Network reviewed more than a dozen lease-to-own contracts from companies, like this one from Pacific 9. They often give companies almost complete control over their drivers, who they labeled as independent contractors. More importantly, the contracts let the companies fire truckers at will, keeping both the truck and the payments that went into it. Contract
“The truck was never his,” one California labor commission hearing officer noted in a March, 2014 ruling. “And he has nothing to show for all the time and money he spent.”

It’s a lesson Leocadio Lopez learned the hard way.

A former house painter and father of two, Lopez lost all his money after pouring his savings into a truck at Total Transportation Services, where more than 80 drivers have said they were cheated out of fair pay or charged for equipment their employer should have covered.

Lopez had to borrow cash just to keep up with his bills. Christmas and birthdays came and went without gifts for his children. His family had to get groceries from food pantries.

After making payments for six years, about $700 a week for the lease and maintenance, he lost the truck and the tens of thousands of dollars he had scraped together to keep it.

“I cried,” Lopez told reporters, still incensed. “They do what they want and you can’t do anything.”

‘‘They do what they want and you can’t do anything.’’
Lopez was one of dozens of drivers who filed claims against Total Transportation between 2013 and 2014. Most of the men were pulled into a conference room one week by company president Vic La Rosa and fired, according to 24 sworn complaints filed with the NLRB.

“There are no rules,” one driver recalled La Rosa saying when he took the trucks. “No law or politicians will help you.”

La Rosa denied committing labor violations and said the sworn statements made by his former drivers are false.

“That’s not the way it went down,” he told reporters, declining to elaborate.

Without admitting guilt, La Rosa settled the drivers’ cases with the NLRB, paying $200,000 in fines and agreeing to rehire some of them as employees.

Rene Flores, an immigrant from El Salvador, drives from the Port of Long Beach to Arizona, resting only a few hours each night. Flores rarely gets to see his two sons, Napoleon and Jose, because he’s always on the road.

For years, Rene Flores regularly has driven 20 hours a day, six days a week, hauling pistachios and medical equipment into the desert from the Port of Long Beach.

“If I don’t work,” Flores says, “my kids will starve.”

He keeps a log book of fake hours in the glovebox and the real one hidden beneath his seat in case of a surprise inspection.

Flores rarely sees his two sons, because he spends his one day off trying to catch up on lost sleep.

“Of course they know,” he told reporters when asked if his managers realize how much he works. “But the company doesn’t care.”

Morgan Southern did not answer questions about drivers' claims. But spokesperson Robert Milane said in a statement, "We follow all DOT regulations and guidelines with respect to HOS (hours of service) and logs."

Like a driver's weekly check, their yearly take home pay plummets because of the truck costs. In 2015, Reyes Castellanos, who provides for his wife and mother-in-law, made about $20,000 after expenses. Reyes Castellanos' tax return
Drivers who signed up for leases watched their take-home pay plummet and often had no choice but to work longer hours.

After emigrating from Nicaragua in 1992, Samuel Talavera Jr. drove a truck at the Los Angeles harbor and made an honest living. Since 9/11, all truckers working at ports of entry must be legal residents.

Talavera bought his wife, Reyna, a house and took his daughters to Disneyland.

But everything changed in late 2010, when he went into the QTS warehouse and his boss told him he needed to trade in his truck and sign a lease-purchase contract.

For the next four years, he worked mind-numbing hours to pay the bills.

To save commuting time, he slept in his truck at work. To avoid bathroom breaks, he kept an empty two-liter bottle by his side. He became a ghost to his family.

Still, he had to drain his savings to survive.

A stack of weekly paychecks he keeps in a drawer at home shows his worst weeks. He grossed $1,970 on June 3, 2011, but it all went back to QTS. After the lease and other truck expenses, he took home $33.

On February 10, 2012, he took home $112 after expenses.

The next week, he made 67 cents.

Samuel Talavera’s disappearing paycheck
Deductions from his pay from QTS, INC., on Feb. 17, 2012

Initial amount $854.13
Insurance -$90
Lease -$250
Tires -$35
Registration -$65
Gas -$405.46
Remaining amount $0.67

Depending on how many containers they're able to move, drivers' pay can vary wildly. Some weeks they gross hundreds or even thousands, but take home a tiny fraction of that after the truck costs.Samuel Talavera's paycheck
Reyna got two office cleaning jobs and a third taking care of the elderly to try to make ends meet. Even so, when her father died, she couldn’t afford to fly home for the funeral.

Talavera was working so much, she said. “We didn’t understand why there was hardly any money left over.”

Through interviews and court records, reporters catalogued more than 120 drivers who say they regularly worked past exhaustion, 12 to 20 hours straight behind the wheel.

Federal law prohibits commercial truckers from driving more than 11 hours at a time, and they can’t work at all after 14 hours, until they have had 10 hours of rest. Government studies show that for every hour past 11 that someone drives, the chances of crashing increase exponentially.

Many drivers feel they have no choice but to take that risk.


On bad weeks – when Flores hits traffic or gets assigned a low-paying delivery – he says he takes home $300 or less for 100 hours of work. That translates into $3 an hour, less than a third of what he could make washing dishes at California’s minimum wage.

Alfredo Arambula, a Mexican immigrant and former driver at K&R Transportation, told reporters he lost everything after breaking his foot on the job in 2013.

Foot surgery put him out of work for weeks and he fell behind on the lease payments for his truck. When the 76-year-old tried coming back, his job was gone.

“I was not allowed to enter the company,” said Arambula, still on crutches and still confused about what had happened.

He lives in a small house besides a parking lot in South Central Los Angeles. There are piles of junk strewn around the backyard.

Arambula doesn’t know what he’ll do for money now. He had paid almost $75,000 in truck lease payments, which ate into his savings over the years. As far as he knows, the truck is still at K&R, being driven by another trucker.

“They took everything,” he said.

Read Story
Drivers could quit and find new work. But many, like Flores, say they’ve stayed on hoping things would improve. Then they realized if they quit, they would lose thousands paid toward their truck. “They’re captive,” Teamsters’ international vice president Fred Potter said.

Truck payments can cut so deep into wages that drivers actually owe their employer come Friday.

“Working for free,” one driver called it in a court statement.

Paychecks read instead like weekly invoices: Faustino Denova, negative $9.64. Germen Merino, negative $92.50. Jose Covarrubias, negative $280.

For some truckers, the debt stacked up week after week, until they borrowed against their house or from friends, used their savings to pay it off or until their company fired them.

“The company didn't care whether I took a gallon of milk to my home or not,” one driver testified in a civil court case. “The company would take everything.”

‘‘The company would take everything.’’
Enough weeks like that put truckers into a hole they can’t escape.

Like many drivers, Talavera and his wife fell behind on their mortgage, and then stopped paying it altogether. They filed for bankruptcy to save their home.

James Kang, former president of the now-defunct QTS, declined to comment and then hung up on a reporter.

Eduardo Garcia, 57, was a truck driver for Tradelink Transport. He said he'd often come home after double shifts, only to find his boss in the parking lot, waving drivers back onto the road to keep working.

‘We are not human’

In ways that happen in virtually no other workplace in America, port trucking companies in Southern California wield enormous power over their workers.

Through interviews and a review of sworn statements, the USA TODAY Network identified more than 100 drivers who reported threats and retaliation. Managers punish drivers most often for turning down the lowest-paying routes, missing work or refusing to work past federal hour limits.

At least 24 companies have fired drivers outright under those circumstances, according to interviews and a review of court, NLRB and California labor commission records. In each case, the driver lost his truck and what he’d paid into it.

Arcadio Amaya said he refused to work 15 hours straight one night at Pacgran Inc. and was fired the next day. He lost $26,400 he had paid toward a truck.

Armando Logamo, a former driver at RPM Harbor Services, said he saw other drivers bribing dispatchers for better-paying assignments, so he told his supervisor. The next week, Logamo was fired. He lost the truck, along with all the payments he had put into it.

“They fired me because I was one of the ones that was speaking up,” he said. “It was pretty devastating because I was with them for two plus years.”

Eddy Gonzalez once missed a day when he was called to court to testify as a witness. As punishment, he said his boss at Seacon Logix didn't let him work the next day.

Then, a few months later, he missed a week to bury his dead mother. When Gonzalez came back, he said, his boss cleaned out his truck and fired him on the spot while he pleaded to keep his job.

“He just took the keys and left,” Gonzalez testified in court.

Eddy Gonzalez said he lost his job because he took time off for his mother's funeral. His former boss at Seacon Logix testified it was because he doubted Gonzalez could keep up with his truck payments.Trial transcript, Romero Garcia v. Seacon Logix
Representatives from all three companies denied their drivers’ accounts.

“It’s all f---ing bulls---,” said Edwin Merino, a former operations manager at Pacgran, which has since gone out of business. Merino said Amaya wasn’t fired. He said he quit because he had fallen so far behind on truck payments that he wasn’t making money when he worked.

Drivers say they are always one wrong step away from the street. Companies dangle that threat – “on pain of ‘discipline’ or termination,” as one judge put it in a labor case ruling – to force drivers to work around the clock.

Some companies have physically barred their workers from going home at night.

Eduardo Garcia, 57, remembers pulling into the Tradelink Transport truck yard exhausted after almost 15 hours behind the wheel one night in October 2010.

He was ready to go home to his family, but as he approached the Tradelink parking lot, he realized his day wasn’t over.

His said his boss was standing at the gate again, waving drivers back to the docks and refusing to let them into the spaces where they were required to park for the night.

“If you say no,” Garcia said, “then the next day, don't come in. No work for you.” So he went back to the docks.

Drivers at two other companies tell similar stories. They said it would happen regularly, especially if their employer was on the verge of missing a shipping deadline.

Jovanni Castillo said he worked every waking hour, six days a week, at Imperial CFS. If he was not driving 20 hours a day -- from 7 a.m. to 3 the next morning -- his company fined him $200, he said.

“We are not human,” Garcia told reporters inside his small, cluttered house tucked behind an alley in Los Angeles. “We are machines for making money for these people.”

Rigoberto Cea, president of Tradelink, said he’d go into the parking lot, but only to encourage drivers to keep working. “We would go out there and ask and beg,” he said in an interview. “Their interpretation was that they were slaves to us.”

An attorney for Imperial CFS denied the violations, saying the company has never punished its drivers. Imperial CFS, like many of the trucking companies, appealed labor commission rulings to civil court and later settled with drivers without admitting guilt.

Manuel Rios, 50, worked around the clock for years for K&R Transportation. But his truck lease payments left him unable to support his family.

“There’s not much money, do you understand me?” he told reporters inside his one-bedroom apartment in south Los Angeles. “I wasn’t bringing anything to my family. Everything was left on the truck. All your work, all your sacrifice, would just stay on the truck.”

Rios collapsed in December 2015 on the way to the park with his son. He said he had worked himself into a stroke. Unable to drive while he recovered, he fell behind on the truck costs, so his manager fired him.

A Nicaraguan immigrant with diabetes and a 9th grade education, Rios lost the truck, the money he had spent trying to buy it and his family’s only source of income.

Read Story
At Pacific 9, 20 drivers testified at the California labor commission that they had to work up to 19 hours a day, violating federal fatigue laws for truckers.

They said dispatchers ordered them to doctor their driving logs every Friday to hide the overtime from regulators.

“We were told to write 12 hours on the log sheet,” former driver David Figueroa testified in a 2015 labor commission case. “They said they would withhold our checks.”

The California labor commission has ruled that 40 Pacific 9 drivers were inaccurately classified as independent contractors. They were awarded a combined $6.8 million for lost wages. Judges did not rule on whether specific allegations of mistreatment actually occurred, but factored that testimony into the decision to rule them employees.

Alan Ta, the company’s chief operating officer, denied the drivers’ accounts.

“We could never have functioned if our drivers were put through that environment,” Ta said. “I mean who can physically even do that?

But the USA TODAY Network found evidence suggesting California port truckers, including many at Pacific 9, regularly worked too many hours.

Using California’s open records law, reporters obtained a port authority database that records the exact time a truck enters or exits the gate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Vahe Olmassakian, 44, bought a used truck 12 years ago after saving some money from a small business he ran with his sister. He lived in a nice house with his wife, two kids and his mother.

Then in 2010, Olmassakian’s managers at Pacer Cartage told him a new environmental policy at the ports had banned old trucks like his. The company was starting a lease program that would let him make payments on a new truck that he could one day own.

He said they told him the money would be better. So he handed over his keys.

Soon Olmassakian found himself working up to 14 hours a day but still falling behind on his truck payments. He had to refinance his house twice to borrow money in order to keep up with his bills.

He said he worked constantly, but always managed to make it home for his kids’ soccer games.

Olmassakian wanted to quit but felt he had paid too much towards the truck to walk away. "I was already three years deep,” he told reporters.

Facing foreclosure in 2015, he finally sold his house and moved his family into an apartment.

"Thank God we could always afford food," he said.

Pacer's parent company, XPO Logistics, did not respond to a list of questions.

Read Story
From 2013 through 2016, trucks passed through the gates 23 million times, leaving a trail of which truck was on the road, when and where. The USA TODAY Network identified hundreds of thousands of instances where a truck was in operation for at least 14 hours without the required 10-hour break.

Not all of these instances are violations because two drivers might divide time behind the wheel of a single truck. But many companies ban that practice.

Pacific 9 is one of them. At least 7,500 times over three years, Pacific 9 trucks were on the clock for more than the 14 hour maximum, the port data shows. Almost all of the company’s 160 trucks exceeded the time limit at least once.

One Pacific 9 truck regularly operated through the night, more than 100 hours a week. Another went 35 hours without the proper break almost once a week for three years, according to the data.

When reporters shared the data with Ta, the executive said he couldn’t explain those circumstances and stopped responding to interview requests.

The role of retail

The scale of what comes through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach each year is hard to imagine.

If you laid the containers end to end, they would wrap around the Earth more than twice.

Most car parts manufactured across the Pacific come through Southern California. Same with electronics from China, Thailand or Indonesia. If you’ve bought anything from Walmart, Amazon, JCPenney, or any other store at the mall, there’s a good chance it started its trip across the U.S. with the port truckers around Los Angeles.

Using records from court hearings and labor cases and shipping log data provided by the trade research firm Panjiva, the USA TODAY Network identified the brands whose goods were moved by trucking companies with multiple violations. It’s not clear if the companies hired them directly. But retailers often don’t, relying instead on shipping and logistics companies to arrange trucking services from U.S. ports.

High profile customers
Through a maze of subcontractors, port trucking companies accused of labor violations have moved goods for some of America’s most beloved brands.

There are 81 drivers alleging violations by Total Transportation Services.
$2.7 Million has been awarded to 27 drivers.
Total Transportation Services has moved goods for Home Depot, J Crew, LG, Ralph Lauren and Target.

Hewlett-Packard, Costco and Hasbro have moved containers through Pacific 9. Fargo Trucking, with 45 violations, has moved Bissell vacuum cleaners, UPS packages and Nautica apparel.

Steve Madden shoes and Neiman Marcus have used Imperial CFS, which has lost seven labor cases to date.

None of those retailers would comment for this story.

JCPenney spokesperson Daphne Avila said in an email that the company “relies on its third-party transportation vendors to comply with all applicable laws and regulations.”

JCPenney, which once hailed the lease purchase program as “innovative and cost-effective" in a press release, has moved shipments through Pacer Cartage, part of a family of XPO Logistics companies accused by at least 140 drivers of labor violations in both civil court and the California labor commission.

John Taylor, a spokesman for LG Electronics, said the company hires steamship lines that provide “door-to-door” shipping services, so it is not involved in hiring or managing trucking companies. LG believes “our responsibility starts when the goods arrive in our own warehouses,” Taylor said in an email.

Driver contracts and shipping records show that Total Transportation Services and QTS, two of the most heavily cited companies in the harbor, have moved containers with LG goods.

Public pressure and new laws in recent years have forced retailers to monitor their international supply chains.


Target, for instance, takes a strong stance against forced labor in the cotton factories of Uzbekistan. It says it sends auditors to screen the companies that turn cotton into t-shirts sold in its stores.

The retailer promises to drop any vendor found exploiting workers with debt, according to its corporate responsibility policy. It won’t use companies that punish workers “physically or mentally.” It orders a 60-hour maximum on work weeks, with fair wages and benefits.

But Target has ignored the labor commission rulings in California and continued to allow companies found to have violated workers’ rights to move its goods. Company spokesperson Erika Winkles declined to comment.

Jeffrey Klink, a former fraud prosecutor and corporate ethics professor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Business, said it’s easy for retailers to dodge accountability because they can argue they don’t directly hire port trucking companies.

“This is a classic case where the little guy gets screwed,” he said.

Put another way: “Nobody cares about us,” said trucker Gustavo Villa, “because we are living in the dark.”

Samuel Talavera Jr. ends his 19-hour day at 1 a.m. by parking on the side of the road for a few hours of sleep. Talavera rarely sees his family because he works up to 20 hours a day, six days a week. He has taken home as little as 67 cents for the week.

Brett Murphy began reporting this story while in the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.

DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT BY: Angelo Cocci, Pim Linders, Mitchell Thorson, Shawn Sullivan, Ramon Padilla and Jim Sergent, USA TODAY.

Tags: LA TruckersForced into debtexhaustionworking for free
Categories: Labor News

100 L.A. and Long Beach Teamsters union Local 848, port truck drivers and warehouse workers plan to strike Monday

Current News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:29

100 L.A. and Long Beach Teamsters union Local 848, port truck drivers and warehouse workers plan to strike Monday
Truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to launch their 15th strike in the last four years on Monday.
Jack Flemming
Around 100 truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to launch a strike starting Monday — their 15th strike in the last four years.

The workers and Teamsters union Local 848 announced the labor action Thursday. The truck drivers have been pushing for years to become employees rather than independent contractors to improve pay and workplace protections

The workers are calling out the port cities for allowing “greedy corporations to continue to exploit hard-working men and women through abusive and often illegal contracting-out, misclassification, temporary staffing and wage theft schemes,” Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters union Local 848, said at a news conference Thursday at the Port of Los Angeles.

Drivers and warehouse workers will picket XPO Logistics terminals Monday, and they’ll spread their picket lines to Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage Co. on Tuesday, Tate said. The strike will last at least through the week, Tate said.

Past strikes have led terminals to turn away trucks of companies from striking firms, said Phillip Sanfield, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles.

Because of the large size of the ports and the amount of companies operating there, however, the strikes have had “minimal” effect on port operations, he said.

A representative of XPO Logistics declined to comment on the strike threat. Representatives of Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage could not be reached for comment.

“Trucking companies have lured drivers into abusive truck lease schemes and failed to pay them for time worked, resulting in driver strikes disrupting port operations and causing congestion,” a news release from Justice for Port Truck Drivers said.
“I was living in a church because I couldn’t afford rent,” Alberto Arenas, a warehouse worker for California Cartage, said through a translator. “I’ve been working here for 12 years and only make $12 an hour, which is not enough to support a family.”

The strike announcement follows a pact signed Monday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to “move toward the goal of zero emissions” at the ports and establish goals for zero-emission trucks by 2035. The union has complained that the goals don’t mention the effect on truck drivers.

“We think that’s a great idea, but there was no mention on how this would impact the drivers,” Tate said.

He added that when the ports enacted the Clean Trucks Program in 2008 to cut down on diesel pollution, the drivers bore the bulk of the cost.

Twitter: @jflem94jack.flemming@latimes.com


3:20 p.m.: This article was updated with XPO Logistics declining to comment on the strike threat.

12:05 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Port of Los Angeles spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

9:30 a.m.: This article was updated after the announcement with comments from Eric Tate and Alberto Arenas.

Tags: IBT 848LA Port Truckers Strikegreedy corporations
Categories: Labor News

Victims of UPS shooting mourned, company disputes claims of ‘hostile’ work environment for IBT Local 2785

Current News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 10:53

Victims of UPS shooting mourned, company disputes claims of ‘hostile’ work environment for IBT Local 2785

IBT Local 2785 "Cilia, whose union has about 300 members in San Francisco, said working for UPS is a high-stress job but would not go as far as calling it a hostile workplace.”


Community members created a memorial outside the Potrero Hill UPS facility after Wednesday’s shooting left four dead. (Jonah Owen Lamb/S.F. Examiner)
By Jonah Owen Lamb on June 16, 2017 1:00 am

Police on Thursday continued to investigate what led San Francisco resident Jimmy Lam to fatally shoot three of his colleagues at a UPS facility Wednesday and injure two more before he turned the gun on himself.

But at least two employees of the warehouse said the atmosphere at the packaging and sorting facility was tense before the shooting because management and staff do not get along due to unending pressures and an at-times hostile work environment.

“If someone did have some mental problems, it’s a tough place to work even if your head is screwed on straight,” said Joseph Cilia, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 2785, who had no idea what motivated Lam. “Something’s underneath, something buried that no one knows about. Something bad.” Police said that at around 9 a.m. Lam killed Mike Lefiti, Benson Louie and Wayne Chan outside of the UPS warehouse at 320 San Bruno Ave. and wounded two other UPS employees. He then shot himself, according to police.

The shooting was one of the most violent events in recent city history and prompted at least one elected official, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, to call for stricter gun controls.

Louie, 50, a San Francisco resident, had worked for UPS for 17 years. The full-time driver had two children, according to his union.
Tom Nash, who runs a UPS drop-off site in the Sunset, saw Louie, who was a volleyball coach, every day.

“He was a very outgoing, happy-go-lucky guy,” said Nash. “Just one of those guys you couldn’t help but like.”

Chan, 56, also a city resident, had worked for the company for 28 years and also had two children.

Lefiti, 46, of Hercules, had been with the company for 17 years. A memorial was set up Wednesday night near his old route at a Diamond Heights shopping center by the many people he saw daily.

Lam, 38, had worked for UPS for 18 years.

On Thursday, the warehouse was back to full operations, said Kim Krebs, a company spokesperson, who added that Lam’s motive remains unknown.

“The whole thing is incredibly tragic,” said Krebs. “UPS is kind of an extended family for a lot of the employees and our hearts really go out to the victims families.”

Lam was described by one employee, who asked to remain anonymous, as a “quiet guy — did his job as far as I know.”

Lam lived in the Richmond District — his home was searched late Wednesday by police — and he had recently asked to reduce his overtime hours at the facility.

In 2010, he was convicted of a DUI and completed a diversion program, according to court records. Then, in 2013, he was charged again with a DUI, but the case was dropped. He had no other criminal record.

Vincent Smith, 46, who works at the UPS warehouse cleaning trucks, described the workplace environment as “hostile” and has been off work for seven weeks do to physiological stress.

“Part of it is because you have management that are improperly trained or one or two people who are taking improper action to show favoritism,” said Smith. “I can’t speak for what actually happened yesterday. I can tell you it is a hostile work environment to some degree.”

Cilia, whose union has about 300 members in San Francisco, said working for UPS is a high-stress job but would not go as far as calling it a hostile workplace.

Cilia didn’t want to speculate if or why anyone might have been targeted, but he did say that something may have snapped inside of Lam, who had two sons.

Another warehouse employee, who did not want to give their name for fear of reprisal, said the workplace is distressing.

“Before this there was problems with management, how they talked to people and treated people,” they said. “He’s not the only one. I think he’s not the only one on edge.”

Another company spokesperson disagreed with that characterization Thursday.

“I would dispute that,” said Susan Rosenberg. “[I would] say we have a very successful and engaged workforce.”

Rosenberg added that there are a number of avenues given to employees to report harassment and unfair working conditions.

Tags: IBT Local 2785workplace violenceupsstressworkplace murder
Categories: Labor News

What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port

Current News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 10:34

What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port


What You Need to Know About the General Strike That Just Swept Colombia’s Largest Port
Working In These Times
Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017, 1:03 pm

BY Isaías Cifuentes and Neil Martin

Afro-Colombian communities led a two-day civic strike in the city of Buenaventura. (Olivia Plato)

Little-noticed by the English-language media, the Colombian city of Buenaventura was brought to a standstill by a weeks-long civic strike, in which Afro-Colombian communities won major commitments from the Colombian government. Waged from May 16 through June 6, the mass protest was organized by people demanding that the government declare a state of social and economic emergency and provide basic quality-of-life improvements for a population that has been targeted by systematic human rights violations for decades. Buenaventura’s ports generate $1.8 billion in yearly revenue, but most of it its 400,000 residents—90 percent of whom are Afro-Colombian—live in poverty.

The mass protest was organized by religious figures, social justice groups, unions, students, community councils and Indigenous people. The first several days of the strike resembled a city-wide block party, with dancing and music concentrated around dozens of peaceful roadblocks. Representatives of the departmental and national governments began to negotiate with the Strike Committee.

But, in the midst of talks, riot police swept through the city in an attempt to restore the flow of vehicular traffic, shooting tear gas into high-density residential neighborhoods. This crackdown provoked a night of havoc, during which several of Buenaventura’s commercial establishments had their windows smashed and goods taken. When protests resumed, they were marked by ongoing confrontations between the police and protesters until June 6, when an agreement was reached between the government and the Strike Committee.

The government’s violent response to the demonstrations has been decried by many, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a group of U.S. congressional representatives. Buenaventura’s communities ended the strike with celebrations, applauding commitments made by the government that, if met, will end decades of what locals refer to as “state abandonment” and “robbery.” Roughly $517 million is to be spent on development and public services in housing, education, healthcare, infrastructure and water and sewage systems.

Although the strike has been lauded as a success, it also fits into a pattern in Colombia in which communities that represent specific regions or economic sectors see protest as their only option to achieve social change or attract the attention of the government. And once they take this action, their mobilizations tend to be met with violent repression.

Meanwhile, these communities suffer hyper-exploitation and displacement under trade regimes that are global in scale. Buenaventura is Colombia’s largest port and an integral part of Colombia’s trade with the United States, European Union and partner countries in the Pacific Alliance trade block. As a result, port expansion has surged in recent years, promoted by multinational companies including Group TCB, International Container Terminal Services and PSA International. These megaprojects, as well as industrial storage facilities and a touristic wharf renovation project, have contributed to the displacement of urban neighborhoods in the city’s center. Some 20 million tons of freight pass through the city each year, generating more than 2 billion dollars, while roughly 60 percent of the population lives in poverty and 65 percent is unemployed.

Buenaventura is a case study in the challenges associated with the transition to neoliberal policies in the Global South. Colombia’s ports were privatized in 1993, causing drastic reductions in public revenue for Buenaventura and opening a new era of slavery-like working conditions for port employees. In the early 2000s, water services were privatized, and they have deteriorated steadily since. Currently 60 percent of properties have access to sewage system and 76 percent to running water, even though Buenaventura is surrounded by 16 rivers. The city’s hospital closed recently, and educational infrastructure is crumbling. A once robust fishing industry is now little more than a graveyard of rusting ships.

Simultaneously, the dispute for territorial control between factions in Colombia’s civil war has fueled the displacement of the city residents, half of whom are recognized by the state as victims of armed conflict. This, combined with the drug trade and extortion-oriented gangs, has led to more than a thousand homicides in the last ten years and one of the highest rates of internally displaced personas in the hemisphere.

Meanwhile, an almost complete lack of oversight by the national government has led to widespread corruption. The political class sees public resources as booty that is up for the taking, and the city’s catastrophic conditions are largely the responsibility of political parties and regional figures who have ruled the city in alliance the national elite. Figures for attendance in Buenaventura’s public schools exceed the actual number of students by 50,000 children. Former liberal party mayors—including Édgar Roberto Carabalí Mallarino, Freddy Fernando Salas Guaitotó, Jaime Mosquera Borja and Bartolo Valencia Ramos—have been investigated and convicted in corruption cases. One was murdered. The drug trade and paramilitary structures have expanded their activities to include ‘influence trafficking,’ coercion and the purchase of votes—all of which help to conserve the power of the ruling class.

All of these factors added to the humanitarian and social crisis in Buenaventura, which boiled over into a 22-day civic strike. While the strike has been suspended, communities demanding dignity and justice face a long struggle ahead.

Tags: Colombian port strike
Categories: Labor News

Global: The globes invisible workforce demands an end to inequality - Int'l Justice Day

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: 4 years on Bangladesh Accord making history for supply chain workers

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach truck drivers threaten to strike the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations.

Current News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:26

Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach truck drivers threaten to strike
the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations.

Edwin Lopez
Kate Patrick

June 14, 2017
Dive Brief:

Truck drivers, warehouse workers, a Los Angeles City Councilmember and local Teamsters are banding together Thursday to announce a strike affecting operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to a Justice for Port Truck Drivers media advisory.
The proposed strike follows an announcement by the two cities' mayors setting a zero-emissions goal for the sister ports. The goal would require the ports to turn to zero-emission trucks and yard equipment, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The proposed strike would protest this goal, claiming the burden of these zero-emission policies falls on the industry. In addition, Justice for Port Truck Drivers is also protesting "abusive" driver employment schemes relying on contract work or leased equipment.
Story continues below

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Dive Insight:

The date and scale of the potential strike are yet unknown, but representatives for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach told Supply Chain Dive that they aren't worried about how the strike will affect their operations.

Phillip Sanfield, Director of Media Relations for the Port of Los Angeles, said he isn't aware of the strike's details, but said the port always works with the protesters to make sure streets are safe. "They've done this probably 20 times over the past few years and have had minimal to no impact on our operations," Sanfield told Supply Chain Dive.

Lee Peterson, Media Relations Specialist for the Port of Long Beach, said Long Beach is aware the strike will be happening soon but plans to be fully operational throughout. "We will make sure the picketers exercise their right to protest," Peterson told Supply Chain Dive.

The two West Coast ports are the busiest in the nation, handling over a million containers a month, and depend greatly on internal logistics operators to ensure efficient transit from ship to terminal, and then to a logistics provider. Some of these port logistics operators are not directly employed by ports, however, but by trucking companies or contracting agencies — a model which has recently come under fire over its legality.

Over $40 million in back pay has been awarded to truck drivers since the implementation of the 2008 Clean Truck Program, Justice for Port Truck Driver alleges, as associated companies "lured" drivers into schemes and failed to pay them for extra time worked. The main issue, the organization claims, is that the zero-emission goal did not specify "who would pay for the new technology." Drivers who cannot afford new equipment would likely be displaced, or forced to lease equipment from associated companies.

In general, the announcement falls in line with a nationwide trend of port workers — from drivers, to tugboat operators, to dock workers — organizing disruptions to force employers into negotiations for better terms and employment security.

Earlier this year, workers associated with the International Longshoremen's Associations threatened to shut down East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, in protest of worker displacement over port automation. The strike was averted when the global union's president pledged to bring the issue to Congress, but the issue was not resolved. Even abroad, in Spain, Nordic countries, and in Panama, port workers are protesting unfavorable labor agreements.

However, shippers are demanding more efficient ports and the rise of Smart Ports in places like Canada and Germany show the benefits of automation. Organized labor, through high cost of employment and reluctance to innovate, supposedly slows this process.

Yet, the reality remains that organized labor has the ability to cripple port productivity and force negotiations. The most recent announcement may not cause a major disruption, but it shows the muscle and influence workers still have on the economy. For that same reason, and in fear of another major supply chain disruption, shippers reportedly distrust West Coast ports.

Tags: LA Port Truckersunionizationstrike
Categories: Labor News

UPS IBT Local 2785 Sec. Treasurer Joseph Cilia says San Francisco shooter filed grievance over excessive overtime with company before killing 3

Current News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 09:10

UPS IBT Local 2785 Sec. Treasurer Joseph Cilia says San Francisco shooter filed grievance over excessive overtime with company before killing 3
Updated 2 hrs 24 mins ago
SAN FRANCISCO -- A UPS employee who had recently filed a grievance opened fire Wednesday inside one of the company's San Francisco packing facilities, killing three co-workers before fatally shooting himself as employees fled frantically into the streets shouting "shooter!," authorities and witnesses said.

The gunman, Jimmy Lam, filed the grievance in March complaining that he was working excessive overtime, Joseph Cilia, an official with a Teamsters Union local that represents UPS workers in San Francisco, told The Associated Press.

Still, Cilia said Lam wasn't angry, and he could not understand why he would open fire on fellow drivers at a morning meeting. Lam appeared to target the three drivers who died, chasing at least one of them out of the building, Cilia said. Cilia said he spoke to witnesses who had been in the meeting of UPS drivers.

"I never knew Jimmy to not get along with people," Cilia said. "Jimmy wasn't a big complainer."

Two other UPS employees were wounded, but Cilia said both were released from the hospital.

Amid a barrage of gunfire, some workers sought refuge on the roof of the four-story facility, while others ran outside and pounded on the windows of a public bus, witnesses said.

"They were screaming, 'Go! Go! Go!'" said Jessica Franklin, 30, who was riding to work when the bus made a regular stop in front of the UPS facility. "As they got on the bus, they were all ducking."

The shooting that prompted a massive police response in one of the city's industrial neighborhoods, about two miles from downtown San Francisco, Assistant Police Chief Toney Chaplin told reporters.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said the shooter was a company employee. A San Francisco Police Department official identified him as Jimmy Lam of San Francisco but had no immediate details on his background, noting the name is common in the San Francisco Bay Area and finding information required significant record searches.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Officials, UPS employees, and witnesses described chaos as shots rang out during a morning meeting before drivers were sent on their delivery routes.

Police have not yet released victims' names but families and friends identified one of the people killed as 46-year-old Mike Lefiti, a UPS driver.

Lefiti's cousin, Mack Toia, told KGO-TV he was at the UPS facility waiting to pick up Lefiti when he heard shots. He left his van and saw his cousin sprawled on concrete behind a gate, Toia said.

"The police officers were right on the scene just like that. I got to touch him, but I couldn't hug him," Toia said. "They just pushed me away because they were trying to resuscitate him."

Toia said he was able to tell Lefiti he loved him.

Co-worker Isaiah Miggins said he saw Lefiti, known as "Big Mike," as he arrived for work just before 9 a.m., a few minutes before the shooting started. "He was a joyful man. Always happy," Miggins said.

On social media, heartbroken family members of Lefiti recalled him as a warm-spirited man devoted to his children and family. A photo on his Facebook page shows Lefiti in his brown UPS uniform holding a trophy. He also posted photos of his UPS truck and an award for 15 years of service to the company in 2015.

Neighbor Raymond Deng said he heard up to eight gunshots.

"They were all in rapid succession," said Deng, a 30-year-old tech worker who lives across the street from the warehouse. "It was like tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat."

Police arrived in minutes.

"This was a frightful scene," Chaplin said. He said officers found two victims outside and others inside and pulled the wounded to safety as they confronted the gunman, who was armed with an "assault pistol."

"The suspect put the gun to his head and discharged the weapon," Chaplin said, adding that police did not fire any shots.

Chaplin said police have not determined a motive and were interviewing families of victims and witnesses to piece together what led the gunman to act.

Mayor Ed Lee condemned the violence and praised authorities for a "very proactive response."

"It could have been worse," he said. "Lives were saved today."

It was not immediately clear how many employees were at the facility, but UPS said the warehouse employs 350 people. The shooter and all the victims were employees, UPS said in a statement.

UPS driver Marvin Calderon told KNTV that he recognized the gunman as a fellow employee but did not know him personally.

"I just started running out like crazy, like I've never run before," Calderon told the TV station.

After the gunfire, auto shop owner Robert Kim said he saw "a mob of UPS drivers" running down the street screaming "shooter, shooter."

Deng watched from his window in the Potrero Hill section of San Francisco as workers fled the building. He said another group of about 10 people gathered on the roof and held up their hands waving for help.

"I saw police officers go up from the ramp and then storm the buildings," he said. "It's crazy."

The shooting occurred the same day a gunman opened fire on Republican lawmakers at a congressional baseball practice in Virginia, wounding U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others.

SF IBT Union official says Lam filed excessive OT grievance
http://www.ktvu.com/news/ktvu-local-news/261227088-storyhttp://www.ktvu.... killed in shooting at SF UPS facility

Active shooter at UPS in San Francisco
POSTED: JUN 14 2017 09:13AM PDT
UPDATED: JUN 14 2017 09:52PM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- UPS workers were shocked, grief stricken and left wondering how something so awful could happen on what seemed to be just another work day.

Four people, including the alleged gunman, were killed during a shooting Wednesday morning at a UPS facility in San Francisco's Potrero Hill neighborhood, authorities Cup of Jo for Bombas Socks

KTVU sources have now identified the gunman as Jimmy Lam. A union official says the gunman who shot and killed three people at a UPS warehouse in San Francisco had filed a grievance complaining that he was working excessive overtime.

Joseph Cilia, an official with a local Teamsters Union, says Jimmy Lam's grievance filed in March requested that UPS relieve him of working overtime going forward.

Still, Cilia said Lam wasn't angry, and he could not understand why he would open fire on fellow drivers at a morning meeting. Cilia says witnesses told him Lam appeared to specifically go for the drivers who died, chasing at least one of them out of the building.

San Francisco police said that two other victims suffered gunshot wounds when Lam, a UPS employee began firing inside the facility. It was not immediately clear what prompted the shooting. Assistant Chief Toney Chaplin said during a press conference at the scene that the worker was armed with a pistol when police arrived. Lam turned the gun on himself as police approached, Chaplin said.

San Francisco police are investigating if Lam randomly targeted people. Sources tell KTVU that all of the victims are men.

Police recovered two firearms at the scene.

A UPS official told KTVU that four employees were involved in the incident within the facility but the company could not provide identification information about the employees who worked at the package delivery center.

>>>>>LIVE VIDEO: Click here

San Francisco police asked people to avoid the area of 17th and Vermont streets while officers investigated the shooting. A shelter-in-place for the area was lifted around 11:30 a.m., San Francisco police said.

A spokesman for Zuckerberg General Hospital says that multiple victims have been taken to the hospital, but cannot confirm their conditions.

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said about 350 employees work at the facility at 320 San Bruno Ave. and they were evacuated by police at 12:30 p.m. while authorities investigate the shooting.

SFMTA spokesperson Paul Rose confirmed to KTVU that a group of uniformed UPS employees ran onto a Muni bus following the shooting to try and escape the area. He said the bus driver took the employees to 3rd and 20th where she pulled over and alerted authorities. The bus driver is said to have taken the rest of the day off, according to Rose.

311 employees have been reunited with their families as of 1:45 p.m.

Police wrote shortly after 10:30 a.m. that the incident has been contained and the building was secure, but investigators continued to look through the building for possible victims or witnesses.

A man who lives across the street from the UPS facility said he heard seven or eight shots fired quickly and saw workers running.

Raymond Deng, 30, a data scientist for a start-up company, said he looked out his apartment window Wednesday to see a group of UPS workers fleeing the building and shouting. He said another group of about 10 workers assembled on the roof and held their hands up as police began to arrive.

Deng says he "saw police officers go up from the ramp and then storm the buildings."

Witnesses told KTVU that they heard shots being fired and people screaming. Employees at the facility were being escorted out of the building around 9:45 a.m.

KTVU spoke over the phone with a woman who says she is an employee at the UPS facility. She says the shooting happened on the main sorting floor. She said the gunman was an employee.

A UPS driver said the gunman opened fire as drivers and managers were assembling for a morning meeting at the facility.

UPS driver Marvin Calderon said he had parked in the driveway and was about to go inside when he heard the sound of gunfire.

"Six, seven shots, boom. I started screaming ‘Get out! Go! Go! Go!’ Everybody started running," said Calderon.

Calderon said he didn't know the gunman, but said one of the victims was his friend.

"Shocking. Life goes so quick. Thinking about your co-workers," he said.

Some relatives of UPS workers gathered outside the police perimeter on Potrero Avenue.

"I was at work, heard the news and left immediately," said Maria Olmeda, an employee's relative.

For a time she didn't know whether her 21-year-old son had been hurt or worse. But she later learned he was okay. She was both thankful and sad.

"It is scary for everyone," she said.

Another mother also waited to see her daughter.

"I feel for the parents of loved ones who aren't there. I know my daughter is okay. I just want to give her a hug," said Maria Hernandez.

Some employees reunited with family at a nearby meeting place arranged by the Red Cross.

U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein issued a statement about the incident.

Tags: IBT Local 2785workplace violeceexcessive overtime
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Join the fight for a living wage in Cambodia

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: APHEDA
Categories: Labor News

Middle East: We must prevent Kenyan migrants from being slaves rather than workers

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Wants To Reform NAFTA And Make It Better Under Trump

Current News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 12:22

AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department Wants To Reform NAFTA And Make It Better Under Trump

Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO says NAFTA renegotiation must put U.S. jobs, safety first
By: AJOT | Jun 14 2017 at 08:12 AM | International Trade

Aviation, maritime exclusions must remain

Washington, DC - In comments filed yesterday, transportation labor laid out a vision for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that puts America’s working families first by growing the U.S. economy, protecting American jobs and prioritizing the safety of our cross-border transportation system.

In addition to the comprehensive recommendations of the AFL-CIO, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), called for new policies that enforce strict protections for transportation workers and ensure the industries they work in remain hubs for good, middle-class jobs.

“Our trade agreements, including NAFTA, should not be used to undermine the jobs and rights of transportation employees and the broader U.S. workforce. Not only have promises of greater wealth and more opportunity not come to fruition under NAFTA, but the very rules and regulations designed to keep working people safe have been jeopardized under this agreement,” said Edward Wytkind, President of TTD. “President Trump campaigned on a promise to reform our trade policies. The renegotiation of NAFTA presents a clear opportunity to craft a new agreement that expands and strengthens the American middle class and ensures our transportation system remains the safest in the world.”

Specifically, TTD is calling for any renegotiated version of NAFTA to:

Prohibit bus and truck traffic from Mexico that violates U.S. safety rules including attempts to evade hours of service limits, drug and alcohol testing, and the appropriate credentialing for Mexico-based drivers
Uphold U.S.-backed standards for safety inspections of freight rail locomotives and to prohibit Mexico-based freight train crews from operating trains beyond the border
Preserve Buy America standards and other procurement rules that maximize job creation when U.S. taxpayer dollars are invested in our economy
Require each country to make minimum investments in infrastructure to facilitate economic expansion
Ensure that foreign companies cannot use NAFTA to force the privatization of local transit, rail and other public services
Protect U.S. aviation and maritime sectors from unfair competition by continuing to exclude these industries from the scope of the agreement

“Our trade agreements should be designed to put money in the pockets of America’s working families, not large, multi-national corporations or foreign governments,” Wytkind said. “We call on this Administration to renegotiate NAFTA in a way that will create good jobs for Americans who need them most, grow the economy and uphold strict standards that keep our transportation system and working people safe.”

Tags: NAFTATrumpreforming NAFTAderegulationprivatization
Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34

Current News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:46

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34
WorkWeek looks at the response of trade unionists and union locals opposed to racists and nazis in Portland. Following the murders in Portland on May 26, 2017 of two workers including one who was a member of IATSE Local 17, the neo-nazis and racists tried to have a rally and march in the city. WorkWeek interviews Wyatt McMinn who is Vice President of the Painters Union Local 10 in Portland and Rebecca Lewis who is a member of IATSE 488 and both are supporters of the Internationalist Group.
Next we hear from Jeremy Corbyn, who is the leader of the UK Labor Party who was in San Francisco on October 20, 2007 to speak at a Labor Conference to Stop The War sponsored by the ILWU Local 10 and Local 34.
He discussed the role of the ILWU, internationalism and the fight against US wars in the Middle East and attacks on Iran.
For additional information:
Production of WorkWeek Radio

Tags: NazisJeremy Corbynlabor solidarityilwuinternationalismlabor defense
Categories: Labor News

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34

Current News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:46

WorkWeek6-13-17 Labor Protest Nazis In Portland And Jeremy Corbyn In SF At Conf To Stop War Sponsored By ILWU 10 & 34
WorkWeek looks at the response of trade unionists and union locals opposed to racists and nazis in Portland. Following the murders in Portland on May 26, 2017 of two workers including one who was a member of IATSE Local 17, the neo-nazis and racists tried to have a rally and march in the city. WorkWeek interviews Wyatt McMinn who is Vice President of the Painters Union Local 10 in Portland and Rebecca Lewis who is a member of IATSE 488 and both are supporters of the Internationalist Group.
Next we hear from Jeremy Corbyn, who is the leader of the UK Labor Party who was in San Francisco on October 20, 2007 to speak at a Labor Conference to Stop The War sponsored by the ILWU Local 10 and Local 34.
He discussed the role of the ILWU, internationalism and the fight against US wars in the Middle East and attacks on Iran.
For additional information:
Production of WorkWeek Radio

Tags: NazisJeremy Corbynlabor solidarityilwuinternationalismlabor defense
Categories: Labor News

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

Current News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 09:44

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

By Rachel Knaebel
13 June 2017

Global front rising up against Uber through the courts and trade unions

Colombian taxi driver protesting against Uber during one of the many demonstrations held around the world to denounce the mobile app that connects customers with private drivers whilst circumventing the regulations governing the trade. Bogota, Colombia, 10 May 2017.
(AP/Fernando Vergara)
Be it in San Francisco or Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro or Paris, Santiago de Chile or Hong Kong, no matter where Uber has been introduced, taxi drivers have responded with protests and, in some cases, legal action. The problem is that the mobile app connecting customers with private drivers, total amateurs in some cases, competes directly with professional taxis, but circumvents all the rules in terms of pay, social security contributions and training.

The legal or political authorities in several cities and countries have decided to place a total or partial ban on Uber services. At the end of 2016, the Brazilian metropolis Rio de Janeiro, for example, passed a law prohibiting all transport platforms of this kind. In the Belgian capital, Brussels, it was the justice system that banned UberPop, the app connecting private drivers with passengers. In France, the UberPop case went all the way to the Constitutional Court, which confirmed, in September 2015, the decision to prohibit the service that had been introduced into the country a year earlier. In Italy, UberPop was banned in 2015. The Italian justice system also banned all of the firm’s other driver services in April 2017, following a complaint filed by Italian taxi drivers.

“But Uber has appealed the decision, so it can’t be implemented as yet. It’s on hold,” Mac Utara, inland transport secretary at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), tells Equal Times.

The Federation has recorded legal proceedings or bans against Uber in 49 countries across the globe. Legal action does not always, however, lead to a straightforward ban, and it is often a long, drawn-out process.
“Governments, taxi drivers and taxi firms in many countries are taking a stand against Uber. Uber often loses legal battles. And in some instances the court decisions are strictly implemented,” explains Mac Utara. “It’s a good thing. But it’s even better when actual laws are passed to counter Uber.”

This was the case in Denmark and Bulgaria. Denmark adopted a new law on taxis in March 2017, under which all vehicles wishing to offer transport services must be equipped with security cameras and taximeters. “This effectively excludes Uber drivers who use their own vehicles,” underlines Mac Utara.

When this new regulation was adopted, Uber announced the decision to withdraw its service from Denmark. Bulgaria also passed a special law in October 2015 that led Uber to pull out of the country. The legislation stipulates that only registered companies respecting the regulations governing taxis are allowed to operate in the country.

In Germany, a group of taxi firms filed legal action against Uber as soon as it began operating in the country, in 2014. Two years went by before the German justice system finally, on appeal, banned private drivers from using the application. Since then, only professional taxis can use UberPop to connect with their customers.

“In addition to this court ruling, a number of German cities decided to ban Uber on the basis that its services do not comply with the rules applicable to transport firms. Uber has not opposed these bans,” adds Mira Ball, head of the transport section of the German services trade union federation Verdi (Vereinte Dienstleistungsgewerkschaft).

“But it is important to make a clear distinction between UberPop and other Uber services,” says Herwig Kollar, the lawyer defending German taxis in this legal battle. “UberBlack and UberX services are still operating in Germany, in Berlin and Munich.”

UberBlack is a chauffeur-driven luxury car hire service and UberX a driver service. “And the legal dispute with Uber is still underway. The company contested the ruling, delivered on appeal, banning its service. The procedure has gone all the way to the German federal court, which is awaiting a decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union before issuing its ruling.”

The EU’s highest court has, in fact, been called on by an association of Spanish taxi drivers to decide whether Uber should be classed as a transport service or simply an online platform, as claimed by the California-based company.
On 11 May, the court’s advocate-general published recommendations on the case. They are clear: Uber should be considered as a transport service. And as such, the company can be compelled to respect the licensing and authorisation obligations applicable to transport companies in the various countries of the European Union.

“In 80 per cent of cases, the Court of Justice of the European Union follows the recommendations of the advocate-general,” says Mac Utara.

Uber drivers organise

In addition to the legal battles led by various authorities and taxi drivers, Uber is being fought on another front, by Uber drivers themselves, who are starting to organise to secure better pay and working conditions.

“Since Uber lowered its rates, it has become impossible to make ends meet, even working a 12 or 14 hour day,” says Félix, who has been an Uber driver for two years and is a member of the French VTC (chauffer-driven vehicles) association Actif-VTC.

“After UberPop was banned in France, Uber lowered its rates, arguing that customers had been lost because of the ban and that lower prices were needed to win them back. The other VTC platforms followed suit. Uber also started to take bigger commissions. It was already a tough job two years ago. Now, it’s a disaster.”

In January, the various organisations representing Uber drivers in France initiated negotiations with the company. To no avail. “Uber wasn’t prepared to budge an inch on any of the workers’ demands, be it an increase in rates or a halt to the recruitment of new drivers. Because Uber is now recruiting new drivers every day,” says Félix.

“Uber has never wanted to negotiate. Each time, they would say they couldn’t change the rates because they wouldn’t make any money. In other words, that means they have the right to earn money, but not us.”
“Unfortunately, the Uber platform now sees these negotiating sessions as no more than a semblance of consultations, showing its inability (deliberate or not) to accept any real exchange on the key issue of rates,” adds the CFDT-affiliated transport federation, which took part in the talks. In response to the deadlock, the alliance of trade unions representing Uber drivers in France has finally appealed to the platform’s customers, calling on them to boycott it until the company negotiates.

“There is a general sense of powerlessness against Uber,” says Félix. But his organisation, which has around 200 members, has no intention of giving up. The drivers are in the process of launching their own application and an independent cooperative, so that they can continue to work without having to rely on Uber.

“We have had enough of being dependent on Uber,” concludes the Parisian driver.

Tags: UberDriversglobal workforce
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for June 10 2017

IBU - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 08:50
Categories: Unions


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