China 'Silk Road' project in Sri Lanka delayed as Beijing toughens stance "But Colombo's plans to sell the stake and acquire land for the industrial zone have run into stiff domestic opposition, backed by trade unions and former President Mahinda Rajapaks
China 'Silk Road' project in Sri Lanka delayed as Beijing toughens stance "But Colombo's plans to sell the stake and acquire land for the industrial zone have run into stiff domestic opposition, backed by trade unions and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa."
Thu Feb 16, 2017 | 3:50 AM EST
Exclusive: China 'Silk Road' project in Sri Lanka delayed as Beijing toughens stance
By Shihar Aneez | COLOMBO
China will delay a planned $1.1 billion investment in a port on its modern-day "Silk Road" until Sri Lanka clears legal and political obstacles to a related project, sources familiar with the talks said, piling more pressure on the island nation.
Heavily indebted Sri Lanka needs the money, but payment for China's interests in Hambantota port could be held up by several weeks or months, the sources added.
After signing an agreement last December, state-run China Merchants Port Holdings had been expected to buy an 80 percent stake in the southern port before an initial target date of Jan. 7.
Beijing also has a separate understanding with Colombo to develop a 15,000-acre industrial zone in the same area, a deal that Sri Lanka was hoping to finalize later.
But Colombo's plans to sell the stake and acquire land for the industrial zone have run into stiff domestic opposition, backed by trade unions and former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
A legislator close to Rajapaksa is also challenging the government's plans in court.
Now Beijing has linked the signing of the port deal with an agreement to develop the industrial zone, saying it would hold off on both until Colombo resolved domestic issues, officials on both sides of the talks said.
"China has said that when they start the port, they want the land also," Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayake said, although he added that China had not made it a precondition.
Yi Xianliang, Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, said the two deals were related.
"If we just have the port and no industrial zone, what is the use of the port? So you must have the port and you must have the industrial zone," he said.
A source familiar with China's thinking said it may wait until May, when Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visits Beijing, to sign both deals.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Hambantota project was important for both countries.
"As far as we understand, at present the project is still progressing steadily," he told reporters in Beijing.
The previously unreported setback for Sri Lanka suggests Beijing is digging in its heels as it negotiates its global "One Belt, One Road" initiative to open up new land and sea routes for Chinese goods.
SPEED BUMPS, MOUNTING DEBTS
President Maithripala Sirisena is struggling to contain popular opposition to land acquisition for the huge Chinese industrial zone, including from Rajapaksa, who remains an influential opposition legislator.
The deal for the port development and industrial zone has also been challenged in court, which means it is stuck at least until the next hearing on March 3.
Asked whether the agreement would be delayed until the court had ruled, Yi, the Chinese ambassador, said: "Oh yes. We will follow the rule of law. We have the patience to wait."
Rajapaksa's role, the court case and violent protests by people afraid they could be evicted from their land underlined how Beijing does not always get its own way even in countries that badly need investment. Sri Lanka wants Chinese money to help alleviate its debt burden; the government had expected to have the proceeds from the stake sale within six months of signing the agreement before Jan. 7.
Sri Lanka has been under pressure from the International Monetary Fund to cut its deficit, shore up foreign exchange reserves and increase tax revenues as part of a $1.5 billion loan agreement struck in 2016. At least part of the money from the port deal would have gone toward paying down some of the more expensive loans on the government's books, some of which are from China, a senior Sri Lankan government official said.
Hambantota port and a nearby airport were built from 2008 by the Rajapaksa government with the help of $1.7 billion in Chinese loans.
When Sirisena unseated Rajapaksa in an upset victory in 2015, he froze all Chinese investments, alleging unfair dealings by his predecessor.
Sirisena eventually negotiated a new deal with the Chinese government that involved the stake sale and further plans for the Chinese to develop an industrial zone.
The Chinese government expects to invest about $5 billion to develop the area within 3-5 years. Sirisena also agreed to give land to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. The terms did not go down well with port trade unions, which have asked the government to reduce the Chinese stake to 65 percent and lease period to 50 years.
Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in January when a demonstration against the planned industrial zone turned violent.
(Additional reporting by Ranga Sirilal, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Paritosh Bansal)Tags: privatization Sri Lanka Portsunion busting
Driverless trucks: economic tsunami may swallow one of most common US jobs
America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers. Once trucks become automated, where will these jobs go?
Once replaced by automation, where will all the trucking jobs go? Photograph: Wojciech Lorbiecki/Alamy
Thursday 16 February 2017 07.00 EST
In April 2016, Uber announced the acquisition of Otto, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a kit that can turn any big rig into a self-driving truck.
The Otto technology enables complete autonomy on highways: trucks can navigate, stay in their lane, and slow or stop in response to traffic conditions completely without human intervention. Otto’s equipment currently costs about $30,000, but that is certain to fall significantly in the coming years.
Otto is by no means alone. Massive automated vehicles are already commonly used to move materials for the Australian mining industry. Daimler, the German multinational company, has likewise demonstrated its own model, a giant 18-wheeler with a “highway pilot” mode available (meaning a driver has to remain present, promptingthe head of the US branch to say that “tomorrow’s driver will be a logistics manager”). Another approach is to use automated convoys, in which self-driving trucks follow a lead vehicle.
It seems highly likely that competition between the various companies developing these technologies will produce practical, self-driving trucks within the next five to 10 years. And once the technology is proven, the incentive to adopt it will be powerful: in the US alone, large trucks are involved in about 350,000 crashes a year, resulting in nearly 4,000 fatalities. Virtually all of these incidents can be traced to human error. The potential savings in lives, property damage and exposure to liability will eventually become irresistible.
There’s only one problem: truck driving is one of the most common occupations in the US.
Once replaced by automation, where will these jobs go?
In Australia, the world’s most truck-dependent nation, mining giants are using remote-controlled lorries to shift iron ore around massive mining pits. Photograph: Reuters
As of 2015, a typical production worker in the US earned about 9% less than a comparable worker in 1973. Over the same 42 years, the American economy grew by more than 200%, or a staggering $11tn.
For millions of average Americans, the reasonable expectations of their youth – a steady job, home ownership, college education for their children – have degraded into decades of stagnation, even as they have been continuously bombarded by news of the overall growth and prosperity of the US economy.
The driving force behind this transition has been technology. It is widely recognized among economists that while the impact of globalization has been significant, especially in specific regions of the country, robots and factory automation have been a far more powerful force. Indeed, even those jobs that did migrate to China are now evaporating as factories there aggressively automate.
Among those workers who remain employed, it has become almost cliche to complain about good, well-paying factory jobs that have degraded into far less lucrative and reliable positions at Walmart. The few good working class jobs that remain are those that – at least so far – have been exempt from the forces of both globalization and automation.
Chips with everything - The Guardian The Ratio Club and the rise of British cybernetics – tech podcast
Jobs such as long-haul driving.
Indeed, truck driving is arguably one of the final barricades protecting a traditional world where diligent effort exerted in a blue-collar profession is respected, essential – and well compensated. It is likely no coincidence that a map highlighting the states where truck driving reigns as the lead occupation is closely correlated with a map showing the states that voted for Donald Trump.
This perfect storm creates the perception that America is “no longer winning” at manufacturing and that “we don’t make anything any more”. This could not be more wrong. Since 1990, the total value of goods produced in American factories has increased by 73% (after accounting for inflation).
The jobs story is very different, however. That near doubling in output has been accompanied by a 30% decline in manufacturing employment – a loss of more than 5m jobs.
America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers.
For the foreseeable future, automated trucks are likely to be limited to long-haul highway operations, and it will probably require human intervention to pilot the truck along the final few miles to its destination.
In other words, there will still be some jobs, but it is easy to imagine that the nature of the “truck driving” occupation might be radically transformed. Piloting a future, computerized truck might well be perceived as a “technology” job. These workers will be freed from days and nights on the road and would be able to live normal lives, often in desirable urban locations.
In other words, piloting trucks for those final few miles might eventually evolve into a white-collar profession actively sought after by college graduates. This might be especially true in the wake of the onslaught of software automation in many other traditional white-collar, knowledge-based occupations (financial analysts, lawyers, computer programmers – any job that involves manipulating information in a predictable way).
Matt Grigsby, senior program engineer at Otto, takes his hands off the steering wheel of a self-driving, big-rig truck during a demonstration on the highway, in San Francisco in 2016. Photograph: Tony Avelar/Associated PressTags: Automationtruck driversjob loss
Canadian Govt Settles Lawsuits with Seafarers Union "SIUC said that it had found evidence that some of these temporary foreign workers made as little as $2.41 per hour while working in Canada, when they should have been paid the Canadian prevailing wage.
Canadian Govt Settles Lawsuits with Seafarers Union "SIUC said that it had found evidence that some of these temporary foreign workers made as little as $2.41 per hour while working in Canada, when they should have been paid the Canadian prevailing wage. In July 2016, the SIU filed an additional 13 lawsuits with similar allegations."
Image Courtesy: SIUC
The Government of Canada has settled the pending lawsuits filed by the Seafarers’ International Union of Canada (SIUC) alleging systematic breaches of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP).
The SIUC filed 42 lawsuits in 2015 saying that, instead of providing Canadian seafarers with the opportunity to work, and in violation of the TFWP, the Government of Canada was systematically issuing work permits to the non-Canadian crew members of hundreds of foreign ships engaged in shipping in Canadian waters.
SIUC said that it had found evidence that some of these temporary foreign workers made as little as $2.41 per hour while working in Canada, when they should have been paid the Canadian prevailing wage. In July 2016, the SIU filed an additional 13 lawsuits with similar allegations.
In July 2016, the Government of Canada admitted that it improperly issued work permits to the foreign crew members of the New England, a Marshall Islands flagged oil tanker that engaged in shipping in Canada. The Federal Court granted SIUC’s judicial review applications and set aside 11 work permits for the crew of the New England.
Canadian Federal Court had been set to hear arguments in dozens of lawsuits filed by SIUC against the Government of Canada as of next week, however, the case has now been resolved with the union accepting a last-minute settlement offer put forward by the government.
In addition, the union added that it had also reached a settlement of the remaining outstanding 44 lawsuits with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC).
The terms of the settlement include full review of ESDC’s TFWP policies and procedures in relation to TFWP on foreign-flagged vessels engaged in Canadian domestic shipping and investigations into the SIUC’s allegations that seafarers admitted to work in Canada as temporary foreign workers are not being paid the proper Canadian prevailing wage.
“After 18 months of litigation, I am very happy to see the government finally agree to what we sought all along – enforcement and a review of the rules with the full participation of the SIU Canada,”SIUC President James Given said.Tags: SIUC Canadian Seafarers Uniontemporary workers
UK Southern rail RMT workers set new strike date after talks collapse
RMT members to walk out on 22 February after row over role of conductors remains deadlocked
Strike threatens fresh misery for the 300,000 Southern rail users. Photograph: Philip Toscano/PA
Wednesday 15 February 2017 14.54 GMTLast modified on Wednesday 15 February 2017 22.00 GMT
Workers on Southern rail are to stage a fresh strike in the long-running staffing dispute after the collapse of talks.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are to walk out for 24 hours on 22 February, threatening fresh travel disruption for Southern’s 300,000 passengers.
The two sides met at the conciliation service Acas on Tuesday, but the row over the role of conductors remains deadlocked.
Leaders of the drivers’ union, Aslef, reached a deal with Southern’s owner, Govia Thameslink Railway, earlier this month in a separate row over driver-only trains, which its members have been voting on, with the result due on Thursday.
The deal was reached after 11 days of talks co-chaired by the TUC.
Mick Cash, RMT general secretary, said: “The abject failure by Southern rail in yesterday’s talks to take the safety issues seriously has left us with no option but to confirm further action.
“These disputes could have been settled if Southern had listened to our case and given the guarantee of a second safety-critical member of staff on their trains.
“Instead they have shifted the goalposts even further and have now created a ‘strike-breakers’ charter’, where one of the numerous new conditions where trains can run driver-only is during industrial action.”
Cash added: “The full detail of Southern’s plan is far worse than anyone could have anticipated. This is dire news, not just for staff but for passengers, who rightly demand a safe, reliable and accessible service.
“It is now down to Southern to face up to their responsibilities and engage in genuine and serious talks that address our issues.”Tags: Southern RailRMT strikeprivatization
Toronto ATU 113 Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis
Posted on February 10, 2017 in ATU, CLC, Raiding
UPDATE: This article was published at 2:30am on February 10. Hours after publication Hassan Yussuff of the CLC sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, informing him that article 4 was being reinstated for Local 113 and the justification process would proceed. We also received a complaint and request from Unifor for a retraction over two parts of our story. The first involves our statement claiming that if Kinnear took the actions he did at a Unifor local he would “most likely” be trusteed. We referenced and linked to Unifor’s Guide for Local Union By-Laws and its constitution. Unifor disagrees. We think our interpretation is a fair one and we will leave it up to you the reader to decide. The second call for retraction is over this statement: “Unifor is now openly raiding ATU Local 113. Organizers from Unifor will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign up ATU members to Unifor cards.” Unifor denies signing any cards. We never claimed they did. We wrote that they will be visiting job sites and hoping tosign cards. We believe this was a reasonable interpretation of the facts as they were. Our statement was based on multiple independent sources and the public statements made by Jerry Dias. After the reinstatement of the article 4 protections, which Unifor says they support, we believe the situation has changed and we will continue to follow the story.
Toronto Sun coverBy David Bush, Gerard Di Trolio and Doug Nesbitt
Late on February 2, the Amalgamated Transit Union International trusteed the Toronto-based ATU Local 113. The 10,000 members of Toronto’s TTC transit workers union awoke to the news that their elected leadership, headed by President Bob Kinnear, had been ousted. The initial news reports painted this as an attack on local Canadian autonomy by a big American labour union. The Sun even went so far as to decry the trusteeship as an American “invasion.”
Is this depiction accurate? What has slowly emerged over the last week is not simply a story of an imposed trusteeship by a U.S. based international union, but a story of CLC-sanctioned raiding and inter-union power politics. All of which has gone on behind the backs of ATU Local 113 members and threatens to tear apart the Canadian labour movement.
What we know so far
On February 1, Kinnear sent a letter to Hassan Yussuff, President of the CLC. In this letter Kinnear, appearing to speak for the Local, requests access to section for 4.9 of the CLC constitution to which outlines the process for justifying changing unions.
Section 4.9 of the CLC constitution is initiated when the CLC “receives a request from a group of workers wanting to leave their own union.” The CLC’s first response upon receiving such a request, according to section 4.9a, is to “encourage those members to work within the constitutional provisions and policy procedures of their own union,” and to “also contact the ranking officer of the members’ union to convene a meeting within one week with the workers and their union in an attempt to mediate and resolve the situation.”
The letter of February 1 from Kinnear to the CLC, although written as speaking on behalf of his Local, is signed by Kinnear only. At no point did Kinnear get a mandate from the membership to initiate section 4.9, nor did he even get the executive board approval of his own Local.
In the February 1 letter Kinnear makes reference to being insulted by the International leadership, the lack support for the Local’s campaigns, the absence of support in opposing essential services legislation Bill 150, the denial of Canadians to choose representatives to the ATU International Executive Board (despite two Canadians being elected to the ATU International Executive Board) and a groundswell of membership wondering why they are sending money to Washington D.C.
A day later CLC president Hassan Yussuff sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, informing him that the CLC received an application for 4.9 at ATU Local 113.
Email about the impending trusteeship. Unifor staffers cc’d.
Later that day Bob Kinnear’s public relations officer, paid for by 113, received a forwarded email from union consultant Bill Reno and was told to give it to Kinnear. The email, from a lawyer at Dewart Gleason, was cc’d to Anthony Dale, Unifor staff lawyer and director of their legal department, Scott Doherty, assistant to the President of Unifor, and lawyers from two law firms. The email outlined what to do if police arrive in the event of a trusteeship, it also had a draft notice of motion, for unknown purposes attached to it. It was clearly part of an on-going discussion between Kinnear and Unifor.
Later on February 2, the ATU International sent a letter to Kinnear, Kevin Morton, the Local’s financial secretary, and Bill Chrisp, the executive vice-president, informing them of the trusteeship. The International immediately appointed International Vice President Emanuele “Manny” Sforza as trustee. Sforza had been an executive-vice president of Local 113.
The following day, February 3, Yussuff sent a letter to Paul Thorp, President of ATU Canada, cancelling a planned meeting between Kinnear, Yussuff and Thorp to address proceeding with article 4.9. Yussuff stated in the letter that the trusteeship violated section 4.9, claiming workers have the right to engage in the justification process without reprisal. Yussuff then informed the International that Local 113 had been suspended from the anti-raiding protections of Article 4 of the CLC’s constitution. Yussuff’s letter effectively opened the door to CLC-sanctioned raiding of Local 113.
Also on February 3, ATU International President Larry Hanley sent out a letter to Local 113 members notifying them of the trusteeship, and a subsequent hearing to be held within 30 days. In the letter Hanley says Kinnear violated the local’s bylaws by not going through the proper channels, which would mean either a membership vote or executive board vote. Hanley also stated Kinnear violated the ATU Constitution and General Laws, specifically section 22.2 which outlines the charges of dual unionism as “such persons are affirmatively engaged in promotion, implementation, furtherance, or support of any other union or collective bargaining group with the purpose or intent of supplanting the ATU.”
Hanley also sent a letter to Yussuff the same day outlining the above reasons for the trusteeship. By the end of the weekend the majority of the Local’s executive board has been reinstated and sided with the ATU International against Kinnear, even signing letters denouncing Kinnear’s unilateral actions. To date 13 of the 17 board members have been reinstated. The Local leadership is now claiming support from 90% of stewards. Kinnear claims board members have been coerced, no evidence nor statements have been produced to back his claim up.
As soon as the trusteeship came down Kinnear went on an aggressive media blitz. Much of what he had to say focused on the fact that ATU is a US-based union. On Monday he told the Toronto Star, “I’m hopeful that other organizations, the labour movement, are going to stand behind us and say that we are not alone, that the Canadian labour movement will take on this hard-ass American union that thinks they can come into Canada and squash our democratic rights.”
The ATU represents 200,000 members in North America, with 30,000 members in Canada. From multiple Local 113 members we talked to Kinnear has long been at odds with the International.
Kinnear, who was first elected Local 113 president in 2003, won a scandal-ridden fifth consecutive election in 2015 by a 51 percent. Kinnear had originally declared he was not going to run for a fifth term, but then announced his re-election bid using the union email system and phone directory to set-up robocalls. These actions directly violated the Local’s by-laws, as no other candidate was given access to these resources. A complaint was made and the International ordered a rerun of the election after Kinnear’s appeal failed. A new election was ordered for September 2016 and Kinnear won by 61 percent. He didn’t have to face his previous challenger Rocco Signorile, who had by that time retired.
In the fall of 2015, the ATU reorganized its Canadian section, by forming ATU Canada in order to give Canadian locals more autonomy, control and coordination. It also gave smaller locals in Canada more of a voice compared to 113. Bob Kinnear was elected President of this newly formed body, but then quit just months later after his local election was contested and ultimately overturned.
At the last ATU International convention, held in Toronto in October of 2016, Kinnear ran for the 18th International Vice-President position, which was open after his father, Larry Kinnear, who held the seat, retired. In a contested election Kinnear ran against and lost to another Local 113 member, Manny Sforza. Sforza is now the acting trustee at Local 113.
While it is hard to say with complete accuracy, it looks like some of the issues at Local 113 and the ATU can be chalked up to internal union power politics. Kinnear was popular enough to have won several elections (some acclaimed), but it is also clear he overstepped the line in the 2015 election.
Bill 150, Kinnear, and the International
In 2010 Larry Hanley, the former president of the Staten Island ATU Local 726, defeated the incumbent Ronald Heintzman to become the President International of the ATU. Hanley, represented a leftward and more activist shift for the union and was unanimously supported by the 113 executive board. Hanley is a regular at Labor Notes conferences and the union was one of a handful to endorse the Bernie Sanders campaign.
Kinnear’s complaints about the International revolve around the charge that they have hindered the actions of 113. For instance, Kinnear complained that “when our right to full collective bargaining was wiped out by Ontario Bill 150 by the Liberal government, ATU International was nowhere to be seen.” The bill, passed in 2011, less than a year after Hanley came to power, was indeed sweeping and terrible. However, what was it that the international was supposed to do, but didn’t?
When essential services legislation was being requested by Toronto City Council in the lead up to the Liberals passing Bill 150, Kinnear was promising not to strike before a new contract was even signed in exchange for essential services legislation being taken off the table. Outside of launching a court challenge against 150, Kinnear did not prepare his members for a fight beyond the rhetoric. He even went so far as to publicly state that he hoped any essential service legislation would mean steady pay increases and good benefits as happened with firefighters. Kinnear wouldn’t be the first union leader to wrongly imagine that higher pay and better benefits would be the trade-off for losing the right-to-strike.
The same threats without action were made when the TTC contracted out 160 cleaning jobs. Kinnear said he would void the overtime agreement with the province in protest. But this never happened. The jobs were contracted out, and Kinnear then spent hundreds of thousands on a smoke-and-mirrors “Protecting What Matters” ad campaign.
Bill 150 should be a dead letter because of the January 2015 Supreme Court ruling saying the right-to-strike was protected under the Charter of Rights. Rather than gear up the membership to break Bill 150 and build a legal strategy around collective action, Kinnear has filed a Charter challenge instead, leaving the membership to wait around while lawyers rake it in.
There is no doubt that the International, even under progressive leadership, is not beyond criticism from members and local officials. However, it is also all too easy for local leadership to excuse their inaction and ineffectiveness by simply blaming the International.
Kinnear is playing the old game of bashing the US-based International leadership, saying that Canadian union members are losing out. Kinnear called the trusteeship, “an attack on Canada and our autonomy.” Every media appearance and interview Kinnear has given since last week has gone out of its way to frame the battle along national lines.
“I have been consistent in standing up for Canadian values and standing up for the members I was elected to represent. I will continue to do that despite all the assertions,” Kinnear said at a Tuesday press conference. “I am trying to provide a democratic opportunity for our members so they can control their future and not my future.”
But has Kinnear respected democracy? In a recent Globe and Mail article he said, “If I had brought this to a full board meeting, and not talked to people individually, I would have been ousted five minutes after that board meeting was over.”
Kinnear was unable and unwilling to go through his own local’s process to decide to disaffiliate from the ATU. So he himself, without consulting membership or winning a democratic mandate of the Local’s executive board, initiated the CLC’s justification process.
The CLC and raiding
This whole affair is a serious crisis in the CLC. As soon as the ATU trusteeship came down, the CLC suspended its own anti-raiding rules, section 4 of the CLC constitution, for Local 113 of the ATU. Yussuff unilaterally cancelled the meeting to follow up on the justification process in Section 4.9. This amounts to the CLC declaring that it is okay for unions to raid ATU Local 113.
The CLC, which is normally silent on most internal matters, had made statements showing it is taking sides in this dispute. Chris MacDonald, a former Unifor staffer and now CLC assistant to Yussuff, told the Toronto Star the ATU trusteeship was “payback” for Kinnear going to the CLC.
Section 4 of the constitution, dealing with disputes, was adopted in 2002 as is, in response to a series of raids by the Canadian Autoworkers (CAW). Section 4.9 was a process designed for members who wanted to leave their union and join another. The first step of Section 4.9 is to encourage members to use official channels and then set up a mediated process to find a solution. The mediator/investigator examines the claims made by the members, and makes sure no other affiliate union is attempting to influence them either directly or indirectly. The mediator then makes a binding decision, such as ordering elections, making them a directly charted local, or setting a cooling-off period. The process ensures fairness for the members making the complaint and also helps ensure no other union is interfering directly or indirectly. In short it helps to prevent raiding.
What is clear from the documents and letters now publicly available is that there was collusion between Kinnear and Unifor before, during, and after the trusteeship. On-going investigations inside the ATU is likely to reveal more evidence as to the extent of it. By suspending the justification process, the CLC has also suspended the formal investigation. The unilateral suspension of the justification process by Yussuff makes getting more facts and a more accurate account of what happened more difficult.
Kinnear was trusteed because as a local president he violated his duty to abide by the constitution of the ATU and the local by-laws by himself initiating the justification process without going through the proper democratic channels. His active communication with another CLC affiliate about this makes his actions hard to defend. It makes it next to impossible for the CLC to justify its actions, as well.
If all it takes for the CLC to suspend article 4.9 of the constitution is a local leader being trusteed for violating democratic procedures, then what good is it? Local leaders should not be afforded protection to undemocratically facilitate a raid.
Trusteeship is heavy-handed and flies in the face of local democracy. It is an action that certainly gives Kinnear some ammunition, but it is not a reason for the CLC to suspend the justification process.
Kinnear and Dias at joint press conferenceUnifor raiding
Unifor claims that it did not interfere with internal matters in Local 113, though it does admit to offering legal advice to Kinnear before the trusteeship. The leaked communication between Unifor and Kinnear after the justification process was enacted is itself a violation of the justification process as laid out in section 4.9j which states:
“If the Investigator/Mediator concludes that another affiliate has attempted to influence or interfere with an affiliate’s membership either directly or indirectly, in any matter covered by this protocol, the offending affiliate will not be entitled to exercise any rights under this protocol.”
On Tuesday February 7, Jerry Dias sat next to Bob Kinnear at a press conference and slammed the ATU for imposing the trusteeship. “I’m not going to allow somebody in the United States to seize the assets of Canadian workers. That union hall is owned by the workers. They don’t have the right to take out of office those who were democratically elected,” said Dias.
It is worth noting that if Kinnear had engaged in the same action but as a Unifor Local president, he would have most likely been trusteed for violating Unifor’s by-laws under section 5b of the Guide for Local Union By-Laws, which states:
“A member in exercising the foregoing rights and privileges shall not take any irresponsible action which would tend to jeopardize or destroy, or be detrimental to, either the Local or National Union as organizations, or their free democratic heritage, or which would interfere with the performance by this Local Union or the National Union of its legal or contractual obligations as a collective bargaining agent, or interfere with the legal or contractual obligations of this Local Union as an affiliate of the National Union.”
Unifor is now openly raiding ATU Local 113. Organizers from Unifor will be visiting job sites and hoping to sign up ATU members to Unifor cards. Unifor needs to get 40 percent of members signed to cards to trigger a vote. This is happening because the CLC has suspended Section 4.
Better contracts? Fighting P3s?
This situation is very dangerous. If Unifor and the CLC are allowed to proceed, it opens the door for more widespread and flagrant raiding across the country. A practice which does not build the density or power of the union movement. It means the anti-raiding language in the CLC constitution is a dead letter at the whim of the CLC leadership. There is no reason to think Unifor will stop at Local 113 because it has a long history of raiding through its CAW roots. If they are successful they will go after every other ATU local in the country.
Of course that is easier said than done. The recent big three auto deals Unifor signed had big concessions to their pension plan for new hires. There is no reason to think that Unifor is better positioned to represent ATU members just because they are a Canadian union.
After a decade-long effort, the CAW successfully raided the Vancouver local of the Independent Canadian Transit Union representing Metro Vancouver public transit workers in 2000. The agreements reached under Unifor are worse than Local 113’s deal with the TTC. Unifor’s deal has a grow-in twice as long, and wages for drivers are significantly less.
The ATU has, especially since Hanley’s election, taken a political line that governments need to invest more in public infrastructure and mass transit. The ATU in Ontario and across Canada has taken a strongly pro-NDP line and spurned the Liberals. During the last election in Ontario, Local 113 itself was one of the major critiques of Wynne’s privatization schemes and lack of public funds devoted to transit. Contracting out and privatized P3 infrastructure under Trudeau and Wynne continue to be major political problems for the union.
Kinnear says he wants to help the Local 113 membership, but joining Unifor means lining up with Dias who is a backer of Wynne and Trudeau, two of the country’s biggest proponents of P3 and privatized infrastructure projects. P3 and privatization aren’t just cash cows for corporations. It is no secret privatization and P3s are also weapons against workers, their unions, and collective agreements.
South of the border the ATU like many other public sector unions is under the gun. Right-to-Work laws have just been in Missouri and Kentucky and they will significantly impact the ATU. The union will have to devote large resources to battle RTW in those states and restructure those locals unions so they can survive. A national Right-to-Work law has been introduced by the Republican-controlled Congress, which would be the greatest assault on American trade union rights since Taft-Hartley.
To effectively fight this attack, the ATU and other international unions will need resources and solidarity to sustain the fight. Unifor, with the CLC’s blessing, is trying to divide and weaken the ATU and by extension attacking all international unions through nationalism.
This is a gift not just to Trump and the Republicans south of the border, but a gift to the Tories in Ontario who would be happy to take power when unions are paralyzed by leadership power games. Hudak wanted right-to-work in Ontario in the last election and Brown is staying quiet on it now. We can’t put it past the Tories to introduce it with no notice if they take power. The struggle against anti-union Right-to-Work needs to be fought on both sides of the border as part of a common fight, not divided through nationalism.
What Local 113 needs is a principled and organized caucus of rank-and-file members whose goal is building a strong, democratic union that can actually fight management when it needs to, and work with other locals in ATU and other unions to fight for common goals: like public infrastructure, strong worker rights, and democratic unions.
Lessons can be learned from 113’s own great history, from the experiences of other ATU locals across Canada and the US, the RMT in Britain, as well as the lessons of the “New Directions” caucus of TWU Local 100 in New York City.
The future of 113, how it should handle the trusteeship, should ultimately be up to the members of the local, not Yussuff, not Kinnear, not Dias or Hanley.
The labour movement should take a strong position against this raiding by Unifor and demand the CLC restart the justification process. Internal matters inside the ATU should be left to ATU members to sort out themselves. The labour movement is facing many threats in Canada and the United States. The palace intrigue and power politics of leadership are a dangerous distraction from the true fights that lay ahead.
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15 thoughts on “ATU Trusteeship, Unifor Raid, CLC Crisis”
February 10, 2017 at 10:24 am
Open Letter to All Parties Concerned!
February 9, 2017
Some very serious questions should be answered to prevent the callous nature with the way this problem is been handled. Bob’s Robo Calls were not made by physically dialling one’s number as that would be technically impossible, so had Bob taken the lists as claimed, then Bob would have“divulged private and confidential information to a third party” to be fed into a computer dialling software system.
The names, addresses and phone numbers are that of the employees of the Toronto Transit Commission and are given by the TTC to ATU local 113 strictly for purposes pertaining to internal use in the administration of its membership in matters solely related to the extent of the relationship between the TTC and it’s legally mandated Union ATU 113. The use of this data for any other purpose is a direct violation of one’s rights and a culpable offence.
While I can’t speak for the other members, I assure you I treat this as a very serious violation of my “Privacy Rights” having unsavoury characters like Bob, and the others to whom he divulged information, to be in possession of my personal information is not only frightful but outrageous.
The stake holders in this fiasco is solely the TTC and ATU Local 113 and therefore it is paramount that these two parties “immediately file an injunction” against Bob Kinnear and any and all other relevant parties to “cease and desist” the use of the employees personal information in the possession of these unauthorized parties before any further irreparable harm occurs.
Common sense dictates, one does not close the barn door after the horse has left the barn, further this pumped horse is still outside in the corral and must be tranquillized and roped in before he jumps the fence and causes any further damage to the membership at large.
The prima facie pertaining to Bob’s actions is overwhelming thus the mere inconvenience of obtaining such an order should not be the order of the day.
In self-incriminating statement’s Bob’s actions clearly, defines his intent with regard to the lists containing the personal data of our membership and fits the definition for “Commercial Purposes” a violation under, the “Personal Information Protection and Electronic Act”
Extract on the application of the PIPEDA :-
Unions’ duties under PIPEDA imposes requirements on every “organization” in respect of personal information that the organization collects, uses or discloses in the course of “commercial activities.” The term “organization” is defined so that it expressly includes a trade union. Therefore, the real question is whether the union is engaged in “commercial activities. There have been no authoritative decisions defining the term “commercial activities”, but PIPEDA defines the terms so that it includes any conduct of a “commercial character.” Most union activities – representing members in grievances and collective bargaining – are probably not of a commercial character. Therefore, PIPEDA does not necessarily apply to every aspect of a trade union’s activities. However, some of a trade union’s activities may likely by covered by PIPEDA. For example, if your union provides supplementary health insurance or manages a retirement fund, these could be considered commercial activities. Also, PIPEDA specifically states that bartering membership or other fundraising lists is a commercial activity. Therefore, if your union provides membership lists to other organizations, this may also be considered a commercial activity. The actual requirements in PIPEDA are based on the Canadian Standards Association model “Privacy Code” with certain amendments. PIPEDA requires an organization to: 1. Designate an individual or individuals accountable for the organization’s compliance with PIPEDA and its principles. 2. Prior to or at the point of collection, identify the purpose(s) for which personal information is collected and limit the collection, use or disclosure to what is necessary for that purpose. 3. Seek appropriate consent for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information. 4. Protect personal information in its possession in a manner appropriate to the sensitivity of the information (for instance, personal health information requires special safeguarding). 5. Keep personal information accurate for the purpose for which it is to be used.
Based on factual observations in that Bob did “Robo Call” our membership, using information without the express consent of the membership and or the parties entrusted with and in possessions of this private and confidential information and taken by Bob is complacent with the long standing dictatorial and arbitral behaviour by Bob in the running of the Local.
It would be very foolish for one to believe the reasons for Bob’s actions to be anything but for reasons of personal gain with a lucrative pay- off and patronage appointment if he was successful in his quest to move an almost 11,000 member Union.
Warning operators:- “Do Not Attempt While Operating Moving Vehicle” One should do the math, union dues times its membership, the staggering result will make you keel over in shock as to why we have some sleazy characters in our Local Executive.
While respecting the democratic vote of our membership in the election of Bob Kinnear I personally would not entrust or allow Bob to “walk my dog”
The Local should be focussing on the long term ramifications of the actions of Bob Kinnear on the membership in that, the damage on our local perpetrated by Bob has far and reaching consequences. The possession and use of the membership’s private and confidential information by Bob can now be used by any individual or entity for fraudulent purposes and for further attempts to raid our Union.
A well advised, deterrent for this type of rogue behaviour by an executive of our local should be a class action suit for punitive damages brought against Bob Kinnear and all others responsible for the unauthorised use of personal information. Approximate 11,000 members times $200/- per member plus legal costs would set back Bob and his band of merry conspirators into oblivion.
The decision of the International office with regard to allowing Bob to re-run for office notably the answer to Question 2. in the insert of IN-TRANSIT Journal titled “Union democracy, due process, and Local 113’s election challenges” is not only mind boggling but will dazzle some of the “best Legal Minds in the country”
By virtue of the contents, in the answer, here is an individual who not only was “in direct violation of the Local’s bylaws” but acted in every way possible to bully, rig, manipulate and defraud the election process and is rewarded with the ability to run again for office, are we for real? Now the same leaders are wondering why we are in this mess today, for those of you who have grey hair like me, Manuel Noriega and the Shah of Iran comes to mind, aid and abet as long as it benefits the status quo, then when this individual turns renegade we have the leadership running like chickens with their heads cut off.
While been well versed on Pension Regulations applicable to Ontario, “Take the money and run” would definitely not be in my response.had I chose to address the long and complicated regulations.
I will refrain from commenting at this time pending the response of brother Frank’s Lawyer.
I don’t appreciate the spin on pension benefits been in peril, as then we feed into the exact dishonest and crooked behaviour perpetrated by Bob. However, I will give brother Frank the benefit of the doubt as he stated he has a good Lawyer probably the best in the city, no the province, maybe the country, I am eagerly awaiting this Lawyer’s response in an orderly time frame.
Finally, it is imperative that the Local immediately amend its by-laws with regard to the “possession and use of private data by the Executive Members of ATU Local 113” we also should very seriously consider and have a membership vote on “Time Limits” for all Local Elected Positions. We must position ourselves to Act, not react, be active, not reactive.
Badge # 23641
Dictated Not Read
NYC TWU 100 Rookie conductor tries to mobilize his fellow transit union members to vote down MTA contract deal "The conductor started Progressive Action last year as an internet radio show, blog and bustling private Facebook group that's attracted nearly
NYC TWU 100 Rookie conductor tries to mobilize his fellow transit union members to vote down MTA contract deal "The conductor started Progressive Action last year as an internet radio show, blog and bustling private Facebook group that's attracted nearly 7,000 members."
Tramell Thompson, an MTA conductor and founder of Progressive Action, hands out flyers to campaign against the MTA union contract agreement on the platform at the Jay Street MetroTech station Thursday in Brooklyn.
Tramell Thompson, an MTA conductor and founder of Progressive Action, hands out flyers to campaign against the MTA union contract agreement on the platform at the Jay Street MetroTech station Thursday in Brooklyn. (BYRON SMITH FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, February 11, 2017, 4:06 PM
The transit union heralded its recent contract deal with the MTA as a rare victory for workers during dark times for the labor movement.
But that's not how Tramell Thompson, a 35-year-old conductor from Brooklyn who's been on the job for a scant three years, sees it.
"The contract was one of the worst contracts we've ever had," Thompson said of the deal Transport Workers Union Local 100 president John Samuelsen cut.
The Flatbush native may be new to the tracks and even newer to the union hall, but he's organizing an aggressive campaign for the group's rank-and-file members to vote down the contract. TWU members have until Wednesday to mail in their ballots.
MTA, Transit Workers Union reach deal on raises, TWU says
Meanwhile, Thompson is building recognition among the TWU ranks for a movement he calls Progressive Action.
The conductor started Progressive Action last year as an internet radio show, blog and bustling private Facebook group that's attracted nearly 7,000 members.
"They respond better through internet interactions versus the old-fashioned tactics the union is using, (like) mass membership meetings," Thompson said.
He is acerbic and blunt when it comes to TWU leadership, critical of how it runs the organization and the benefits it gets for workers.
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A flank of the TWU that supported former union president Roger Toussaint, who organized the 2005 transit strike, has allied with Progressive Action.
"We're like-minded," said Joe Campbell, a car inspector for 27 years with the MTA who twice ran unsuccessfully against Samuelsen and was a Toussaint ally. "He's bringing along a lot of the younger members."
On the Facebook group, transit workers have been posting pictures of their contract ballot with the "no" box checked.
To push the no vote, Thompson and three fellow union members hit the Jay St.-MetroTech station in Brooklyn during Thursday's snowstorm to hand out flyers to conductors passing by the platforms. He claimed 200 members were involved with Progressive Action's no vote campaign.
Strike's off! MTA chairman, LIRR union leader sign contract
Transit union workers protest amid contract negotiations with the MTA Nov. 15 outside the Bowling Green subway station in Manhattan.
Transit union workers protest amid contract negotiations with the MTA Nov. 15 outside the Bowling Green subway station in Manhattan. (ROSE ABUIN / NY DAILY NEWS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
The deal that 38,000 union members are voting on calls for 5% raises over 28 months, plus a $500 bonus, outpacing inflation. It also holds sweeteners to certain workers, like a pay boost for drivers behind the wheel of accordian-style buses.
The flyers implore workers, "Don't fall for their 'alternative facts.' " The flyers point out the raises come to 2.14% a year and "even the 'perks' don't perk."
Thompson and his team dashed between both sides of the station platform to make sure conductors pulled out of the station with a flyer in their hand. If a conductor said the ballot never arrived in their mailbox, they scrambled to give them a business card with a number to request one.
"Why should I vote 'no'?" one F train conductor asked while giving the flyer a glance.
LIRR unions ratify tentative contract with MTA
Another conductor told Thompson he was "on the fence."
Thompson replied that he's "gonna get off that fence."
Eric King, a conductor on an A train, stuck his head out of his cab to start a hearty chant of "Vote 'no'! Vote 'no'!" as his train pulled out of the station.
King later told the Daily News the size of the pay bump and benefits simply don't cut it in the city nowadays. He also said he sees a familiar face in Thompson.
"I see Tramell as a modern-day Toussaint," said King.
Samuelsen may agree, though not in the complimentary manner King intended. Samuelsen — himself once an insurgent at the TWU who led a slate that toppled its leadership — denounced Thompson and Progressive Action as "proteges of Toussaint."
Samuelsen rejected the suggestion that Thompson had any substantive following in the TWU. He angrily and repeatedly denounced Thompson as a "scab" — a reference to a Facebook post in which Thompson said he wouldn't strike under the TWU chief's leadership. Thompson said it was "hyperbole."
After Thompson handed him a flyer, conductor Eric King stuck his head out of his cab to start a hearty chant of "Vote 'no'! Vote 'no'!" as his train pulled out of the station.
After Thompson handed him a flyer, conductor Eric King stuck his head out of his cab to start a hearty chant of "Vote 'no'! Vote 'no'!" as his train pulled out of the station. (BYRON SMITH FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/FOR NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)
Thompson's critics have posted memes on Facebook with his face superimposed on a picture of a crusty old wound and left flyers in crew rooms.
"Tramell Thompson is a scab. He supported scabbing Local 100 if this ended up in a strike," Samuelsen said.
"There's been a 'no' vote for every contract in local 100 history, except there's never been a 'no' vote that's been led by a scab before," he added.
Samuelsen also defended the deal he cut for his members as one that boosts pay higher than the 2% the MTA wanted and shielded workers from higher health care costs.
"Once ... they take a look at the world around them and the contracts that other unions have delivered, they recognize that this is a solid contract that absolutely deserves to be ratified," he said.
Zachary Arcidiacono, a train operator and union official, also said the contract is a good deal, even if it was not what all members had hoped they'd get.
"It locks us in against a lot of the changes roiling the city, state and the country," he said.
But Thompson's message against the contract has resonated with some younger workers like train operator Kimberly McLaurin, 33, of Harlem.
McLaurin, who helped pass out flyers, said she started to follow Progressive Action after seeing criticism that Thompson faced. She wanted to learn more about how her union operates.
"I actually was a sleeping member for a while," she said. "You start realizing everything is not just about a paycheck. The quality of living down here is horrible. That's what woke me up. And I think that's waking up a lot of members."Tags: TWU 100contract fightProgressive Action
LA Dockworker lottery is ‘false dream,’ says ILWU Local 13 longshore workers’ union leader
ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. speaks to hundreds of longshoremen gathered for work at the ILWU dispatch hall in Wilmington on Jan. 2, 2015. File photo. (Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
By Rachel Uranga, LA Daily News
POSTED: 02/10/17, 5:56 PM PST | UPDATED: 2 HRS AGO0 COMMENTS
Longshoremen wait for available dock jobs to be called for an evening shift at the ILWU dispatch hall in Wilmington on Jan. 2, 2015. File photo. (Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
The high-profile drawing for part-time jobs that could lead to full-time positions pulling in more than $100,000 a year creates a “false dream,” the head of the powerful Southern California dockworkers’ union said Friday.
The Pacific Maritime Association, representing shippers and terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, insists the rare lottery prevents labor shortages by creating a ready pool of fill-in workers. The jobs start at about $25 an hour, but wages increase with experience. More appealing to applicants, however, is that the jobs can provide a path for workers to secure full-time union employment.
But union officials, who agreed to the drawing, say current freelancers, known as “casuals,” have been waiting and working for more than a decade in hopes of snagging a union gig.
“You’re winning a ticket to a false dream,” said Bobby Olvera Jr., president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, which represents about 7,000 full-time union workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “There are 5,000 (casuals) down there getting work two days a week.”
Olvera worries that bringing in more casuals allows the PMA — which negotiates and administers labor agreements with the ILWU on behalf of dozens of shipping companies and terminal operators — to dilute the talent pool and pay newer freelance workers less.
PMA spokesman Wade Gates wrote in a statement that terminal employers and the ILWU “work together to maintain a balanced approach on the number of full-time registered workers needed at the ports, as well as the number of approved casual workers.”
“These decisions are based on projected cargo volumes, gradual attrition in the workforce and other factors,” he stated. “Obviously, too many positions dilute the work opportunities for the individuals involved, and too few available workers can limit the ports’ ability to meet cargo-handling needs.”
Olvera maintains that there are too many casual workers for the shifts that are available.
“There is zero labor shortage,” he said, noting that he’s not heard a single case of jobs not getting fulfilled on the docks because there aren’t enough hands to handle it.
There are about 5,000 casuals who pick up intermittent work at a dispatch center in Wilmington.
About 46 percent of those casuals trained and approved to work make themselves available during any given week last year, according to the PMA. And those casuals worked on average 1.6 eight hour shifts per week.
The ILWU and PMA share a long history of contentious relations. Labor strife hobbled trade in 2014 and 2015 during bitter contract talks.
Most recently, the two have been locked in a dispute over the lottery process after some hopefuls who had filled out cards and mailed them in had them returned to their homes. The ILWU initially refused to participate in the drawing.
The lottery was temporarily halted earlier this week until an arbitrator ruled the process must go forward. The ILWU appealed the decision. Its appeal will be heard during a hearing Tuesday.
Meantime, InterOptimis, a business-services company based in Moorpark, is counting and verifying an estimated 80,000 submissions.
The last drawing was held in 2004, when about 18,000 names were pulled. Most eventually went into the casual pool. After years of waiting for full-time work, many frustrated casuals dropped out.
Olvera said the last time the PMA hired casuals on as full-time union members was in 2015, when 600 workers were hired.
In this round, the first 2,400 names picked will be eligible for the freelance positions.Tags: ilwuLotteryILWU Local 13PMA