Some SF TWU 250A operators oppose $8 million lawsuit settlement with Muni — and want more money
Some Muni operators are not happy with an $8 million settlement that the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency approved earlier this month. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on January 16, 2017 1:00 am
Some Muni operators plan to dispute an $8 million settlement in a class action suit against their employers, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency.
The amount isn’t enough, said plaintiffs Michael J. Benardo, Dorian Maxwell and Anthony Parker in a joint letter, to account for their unpaid overtime which amounts to $395 million, the amount operators initially sought when they sued the SFMTA.
The SFMTA Board of Directors voted to approve the $8 million settlement Jan. 3, in anticipation of a settlement hearing on Jan. 24 with U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
It’s at that hearing the Muni operators in opposition to the settlement plan to make themselves heard.
“The SFMTA over the years has been taking advantage of its employees and the San Francisco taxpayers by violating wage and hour standards, leaving it vulnerable to fines and lawsuits,” the operators wrote in a letter to Judge Gonzalez Rogers on Jan. 10.
“Enforcing the $395,000,000.00 judgment will send a clear message that will strongly discourage them from committing further Labor Code violations,” they wrote.
The suit, filed in United States District Court in San Francisco, may be nearing its end as an attorney representing the original plaintiffs, the Tidrick Law Firm, and the SFMTA reached a settlement agreement over the winter.
Muni operators weren’t paid for travel time between the bus yards they clocked into and the bus yards they needed to pull buses out of, or for certain post-driving inspections and other periods, alleged Darryl Stitt, the suit’s plaintiff.Tags: SF TWU 250A Driverswage settlementMUNI
Free Korean Railroad Worker Lee Jin-Young of Labor Books Now!!!
Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law
International Campaign to Free LJY 2017
Free Lee Jin-Young!
Stop the Repression of Labor Books!
On January 5th, a South Korean district court decided to detain Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labor Books, a book-sharing web site, in violation of the notoriously draconian National Security Law. This abrupt decision is extremely shocking, considering historic candlelight protests against the political scandal of Park Geynhye government and the subsequent crisis and her impeachment.
On January 4th, the persecution suddenly applied for a arrest warrant for him long after the search and seizure operation over five months ago, when 9 plain-cloth police officers descended upon Lee's home early in the morning and confiscated his books and digital devices.
Search and seizure in 2016
In this outrageous attack on July 28th, 2016, the 4th Investigation Division for Public Security of Seoul Police Department seized 107 books, 10 papers, a hard disk drive, an SD card, and others, on charges of violating the National Security Law.
The list of confiscated books include Maxim Gorky's Mother, E.H. Carr’s The Russian Revolution, Karl Marx's Capital, and Paulo Freire's Pedagogy for the Oppressed People, all of which are classics easily found in any public libraries and books stores.
What is Labor Books?
Lee Jin-young is Coordinator of Labor Books, an internet web site and a virtual community of readers. He and his colleagues founded this virtual space to share social science and history books that are out of print, not available in print. He spent his time and energy, as well as money in getting by, copying and scanning old out-of-print books. His dedication and commitment helped a small infinity group to develop into over 1,500 membership community.
Who is Lee Jin-young?
Lee Jin-young is a railway worker and active member of Korean Railway Workers' Union. While dismissed, he worked at the Union head quarters, and he is currently a longtime union delegate representing his department.
In 1990s, he was convicted twice for violation of National Security Law in the course of fighting for the democratization and social justice in South Korea. And in 2010 he was dismissed and fined for leading a strike, and in 2016 he took part in the 74-day railway strike. And in spite of being prosecuted at any time, he courageously took part in the candlelight protests demanding the immediate resignation of Park Geunhye.
In this context, what is the real intention of the prosecution to detain him now? The police and prosecution labelled those confiscated books as "enemy-benefiting publications that "agitate a violent revolution, and propagate the overthrow of the regime and a revolt against the state."
Furthermore, the court endorsed the prosecution's ridiculous claim on the danger of Lee's possible attempt to "run away or destroy evidences." The police already secured the enough evidence, and he has a job and family, so he has no reason to run away. Rather ironically, it is impeached president Park Geun-hye who systematically has destroyed evidences.
National Security Law and candlelight protests
Basically, it is well-known that the raison d´être of the National Security Law is not for public security. Historically, this infamous law was used to suppress social and political protests and control freedom of thought and press. Though under dictatorships tens thousands of victims were convicted as criminals violating it, this anachronic law is still here to stay in the 21st century.
Then, what is the real purpose of the law enforcement authorities? It is regarded as part of the government's maneuver to contaminate the authenticity of candlelight protests. The extreme right-wing reactionary forces are organizing the anti-impeachment counter-attack on candlelight protest with dirty smear campaigns, especially attributing the protests to conspiracy of pro-North Korean forces.
He is innocent! Let him free!
However, the facts are crystal-clear: Lee Jin-young and Labor Books are never a threat to the national security in any sense of the word, and their activities are fully legal and legitimate, guaranteed by the constitutional rights. Rather, anachronistic National Security Law should have been abolished a long time ago.
The South Korean government, led by Hwang Gyo-an, acting president, known for Mr. Public Security, is fully responsible for the illegitimate detention of Lee Jin-young. The government should give up any dirty maneuvers and stop the illegitimate procedure. And it should immediately set him free.
We support Lee Jin-young's struggle for his freedom, and we'll struggle with millions of candle lights for full democracy and the abolition of the out-dated National Security Law. WE SHALL OVERCOME!
# Timeline of the oppression on Labor Books
- Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labors Books, is a member of the Korean Railway Workers' Union, and worked as a union leader at the national headquarter of the union head, and was a long-time union delegate.
- At 6 o'clock in the morning, on July 28th, 2016, 9 detectives searched his home and confiscated books and digital materials, long after these plain-cloth investigators from the 4th Division for Public Security of Seoul Police Department carried on extensive surveillance operation on him.
- After the search and seizure, Lee was temporarily arrested and interrogated at a secrete office in Shinchon, Seoul, but he exercised his right to remain silent, claiming freedom of thought against the National Security Law.
- After the search and seizure, several news outlets reported the incident, with critical comments on the absurdity of the oppression.
- On August 24th, 2016, a press conference was held in front of Southern Seoul Police Station, to protest the police oppression on Lee and Labor Books.
- On January 4th, 2007, the Prosecution applied for arrest warrant on Lee.
- On January 5th, 2017, District Court of Southern Seoul issued the arrest warrant, and Lee was detained.
# Immediately release Lee Jin-young, coordinator of Labor Books!
# Stop the attempt to fabricate a public security lawsuit!
# Stop the oppression on freedom of thought and expression!
# Abolish the Nation Security Law!
January 7th, 2017
Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books
under National Security Law
About Joint Action:
- After the police attack, Joint Action against the Oppression on Labor Books under National Security Law was organized and has been taking actions to protest the oppression and protect the website Labor Books.
- In September 2016, Lee and his wife, Choi Do-eun, famous singer activist, held a music concert to financially prepare for the coming legal action.
- The Joint Action now focuses on the struggle to free Lee, as well as a wider struggle for freedom of thought and conscience, and to abolish the National Security Law.
Please express your solidarity:
# Visit the website Labor Books: http://www.laborsbook.org/
# Send your solidarity message to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please donate for the legal battle:
- SWIFT CODE
- Bank adress: 38, Gonghang-daero, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, KOREA
- Account number: 409-20-030758
- Name: DOEUN CHOI
Sunken tugboat a consequence of letting foreign crews in Canadian waters, says ILWU Canada union
'We'll let the coast guard know 'hey, we're in trouble, we need help,' because it's our coastline'
ILWU and Other Unions Speak Out
By Andrew Kurjata, CBC News Posted: Jan 12, 2017 2:27 PM PT Last Updated: Jan 12, 2017 2:27 PM PT
Between 100 and 200 maritime workers gathered outside Liberal MP Hedy Fry's office in Vancouver to protest the Canada-EU trade agreement, citing fears of lost jobs and lowered safety standards on B.C. coasts. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)
Canadian maritime unions protest European trade deal as 'an attack on workers'7:24
Over 200 maritime workers gathered in Vancouver, Victoria and Prince Rupert Thursday to protest what they view as "an attack on jobs" from the federal Liberal government.
They say proposed changes will cost jobs and degrade environmental standards along Canadian coastlines.
Concerns revolve around the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) and changes to the Canada Transportation Act.
Canadian crews wanted for Canadian waters
Keeping onboard crews local is crucial, says Robert Ashton, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada
"Right now to work in domestic trade within Canada... you need to be a Canadian-owned vessel crewed by Canadians," Ashton told CBC Daybreak North host Robert Doane.
"My fear is... our seafarers that we have currently that go along our shores will be replaced by foreign crews, underpaid foreign crews, that don't have a stake in our coastline."
He pointed to the Nathan E. Stewart, a U.S. tug that sank off the coast of Bella Bella last year, as one of the consequences of giving too much leeway to foreign crews operating in Canadian waters.
• Timeline of the sinking and recovery of the Nathan E. Stewart
"Currently if one of our vessels runs aground or gets into troubled waters... we'll call ahead, we'll let the coast guard know 'hey, we're in trouble, we need help,' because it's our coast line," said Ashton.
Union leaders says the sinking of the Nathan E. Stewart tug is a consequence of allowing foreign crews in Canadian waters. (Heiltsuk Nation/April Bencze)
"If you look at what happened with the Nathan E. Stewart that didn't happen. When they radioed the coast guard, they said 'everything is fine', they sat there and they sat there and they sat there."
'It puts families out of work'
At Ogden Point in Victoria, the protest was more focused on jobs, with workers speaking out against a cable repair vessel that works in Canadian waters but employs a foreign crew.
Workers in Prince Rupert were worried about the security of their jobs at Ridley Terminal, and the potential envirionmental consequences of having more foreign crews in Canadian waters. (George Baker/CBC)
"You can't help but feel a little bit worried that we might be losing some of our jobs because they don't want to pay as high a wage as they can get away with foreign workers," said Victoria Cossette, a tugboat deckhand.
Ashton said the CETA deal with the European Union could be "the death knell" for many Canadian jobs and standards.
"Under the comprehensive economic trade agreement, that changes. It opens up the doorway for foreign companies, in this case European ship owners, to bring in vessels that are flagged out of Panama or are flagged out of Marshall Islands to operate domestic trade within our boundaries. So what happens is, the vessels are run at substandard conditions."
At Victoria's Ogden Point, workers were concerned about local jobs being replaced by foreign workers. (Liz McArthur/CBC)
He said up 12,000 "family-supporting" jobs across Canada could be affected by the deal, with "tens of thousands" of indirect jobs also affected.
Expect more protests
"We're seeking fair trade, not free trade, to keep Canadians working," said Regan Fletcher, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada Local 523 in Prince Rupert.
"[With the] increasing cost of living for Canadians, housing costs, everything, we can't afford to have less wages and less jobs. We need more."
Fletcher said he expects more protests from unions and workers in other industries across Canada.
"Canadians can expect trade unions across Canada coming together in protest of these free-trade deals," he predicted.
A spokesperson for Transport Canada said it is consulting with stakeholders about concerns over changes, but it believes CETA is a "positive opportunity" for Canadian citizens and maritime workers.
With files from George Baker, Elizabeth McArthur and Rafferty Baker.
Maritime workers expect more protests against free trade deals to crop up across Canada. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)Tags: ilwuhealth and safetyunion bustingCanadian shores
UK Aslef rail union boss Mick Whelan: ‘I'm not a great fan of glorious defeats’
After months of strikes causing transport chaos across the south-east, Mick Whelan is fast becoming Britain’s most-hated union leader. But the stakes are so high he won’t be backing down, he says
‘I don’t shout at people. We want to make our case in a rational way’ … Aslef general secretary Mick Whelan. Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
Saturday 14 January 2017 06.00 GMTLast modified on Saturday 14 January 2017 09.43 GMT
‘Interesting times,” Aslef boss Mick Whelan says, with an understated smile. It’s 11am on Thursday, and he’s already had a session with his legal team. Earlier this week the train drivers’ union was on strike, bringing Southern rail – and a fair bit of the south-east – to a stop. On Wednesday night, Southern announced it would take Aslef to the supreme court to try to have upcoming strikes declared illegal. It’s both a complex and a simple battle over a proposal to extend DOO (Driver Operation Only) trains. Complex in the details (the fact that many companies have been operating DOO for more than a decade; the technology used; the laws being cited by Southern in the hope of outlawing the strikes) and simple in the principle – scrapping guards on large trains is unsafe for passengers, says Aslef, and puts drivers under extreme pressure.
Whelan’s office is poky, but packed with paraphernalia: vintage Aslef badges, pictures of coal-fuelled locomotives, biographies of Keir Hardieand Dennis Skinner, campaign leaflets. On the wall behind him is a huge black-and-white photograph of a 1971 demo to “Kill the Bill”. He swivels in his chair, looks up at it, and laughs. “Unfortunate way it’s worded,” he says. “That was about killing the employment bill, not the police. I’ve had people come in here and think I’m some kind of football thug.” In the corner of a room is a pile of official Chelsea football magazines.
Whelan is a bear of a man, with a gruff cockney voice and a soft boxer’s handshake. Today, he is bearded. But normally, shaven-headed and shaven-faced, he could pass for a jumbo-sized Bob Crow. That’s not entirely inappropriate, because Whelan – or Militant Mick, as he is referred to these days – might be about to inherit Crow’s mantle as Britain’s most-hated trade union leader. Like Crow, who died three years ago, he is general secretary of a small but powerful transport trade union (Aslef’s 19,000 working members account for 95% of the country’s train drivers) that can cause havoc by calling out its workers. Whereas Crow tended to rely on his rhetoric and his street-fighter smarts, Whelan is more of a data nerd – part barrow boy, part actuary. He’s more likely to grind you down with an equation than with polemic. (“Freight is basically volume times distance,” he says within minutes of meeting me.)
It would be hard enough to win over the public without a hostile media determined to monster him as an extremist who promised “10 years of passenger hell” (he insists he never said these words to transport secretary Chris Grayling); hypocritical (photographs of him travelling on the trains he says are dangerous); and greedy (his pay package is often quoted as £137,000, though this includes pension and national insurance contributions; his actual salary is £94,000.) Some of the “exposés” have been laughable – not least that he lives in a “£500,000” house in Wembley (cheap for London).
Aslef members on the picket line outside Selhurst Park station in south London in December last year. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
But yes, he says, of course he knows why rail users are upset with him. “If I’m the travelling public, and I’m paying the excessive fares they’re paying, up to £5,000-£6,000 a year for a second-class, 60-minute journey from the south coast, and I can’t get to work and I’ve had my pay frozen for years, I don’t look at the reason for the dispute, I just look at how it impacts on me.”
What he has to do, he says, is get over his side of the story and dispel the myths. “If I was to ask you when was the last time we took industrial action on Southern, as an impartial observer, you’d probably say, ‘You’re taking it all the time,’ when the reality is that the last time was 2000. So one falling out in 17 years is hardly us rushing to the barricades every two minutes. We’re not a trade union that’s recognised as being ultra-militant or seeking to have battles all the time.” As he points out, when he was appointed vice chair of the Labour Policy Forum, most papers said: “Oh, they’ve elected a moderate.”
Next, he says, he has to convince the public that they and the drivers share a common interest. “We know what passengers want: clean, safe trains that run on time and are affordable. Strangely enough, the same things we want. So outside the week of a dispute, you’ll find people agreeing with us 100%. Even in this dispute, polls have shown that 73% of people want a guard or safety-critical person on a train. Fact.”
I’m confused, I say – didn’t the union agree to driver-only operation years ago? Yes, he says, but the circumstances were different; trains now have more carriages and carry many more passengers, and when they agreed to DOO it was on the understanding that the all-important blue light would fail to come on in the driver’s cabin if anybody was trapped in a door, and the train would automatically stop. But history has shown that the technology is not 100% reliable. “A report came out last year that says we cannot rely on that technology any more. So what do we do as an organisation? Ignore it?”
The report investigated an incident in which a passenger was trapped in the door. “The driver might well go to prison. He’s no longer a member of Aslef – there are other things he didn’t do on the day – but the fact is, regardless of his activity, the picture is of a woman with her hand clearly trapped in the door and she’s off her feet being dragged 60 feet along the platform. We were told that could never happen, and that we’re luddities against modernisation, but they are using 1980s and 90s technology designed for three-car trains and a quarter of the footfall we now enjoy – 1,100 people on these 12-car trains, and people just urging us to get out of the platform for the next train to get in.” The more passionate he gets, the faster he talks. Now he sounds like the Ben Elton of trade union activism.
What infuriates him most is the luddite smear, when in fact Aslef is protesting against outdated technology. “Yes, the trains are new, but the technology is old.” Take the multiple CCTV images the drivers see of the platform, he says. “In some areas we’re given two seconds to assimilate 24 images. Now if I was to take you to the caff across the road, lift the menu up to you, give you two seconds to read the first 24 items, then ask you to tell me what’s happening at item 6, 7 and 14, quite rightly, you couldn’t do it. I can’t do it and I speed read.”
The chief inspector of railways recently concluded that DOO “can be safe”. Again, Whelan was criticised for distinguishing between “can” and “is”. Southern said he was dancing on a semantic sixpence. But he isn’t having any of it. “Read it,” he says. “I know the difference between ‘is’ and ‘can’. I negotiate for a living. You have to know the value of words, and he said it can be safe; he didn’t say it was safe. He went on to say that people had to be trained, and the right equipment and processes had to be in place. Well, we know drivers that haven’t been trained and been expected to drive these trains, we know they went out and found that the lenses on the mirrors weren’t being cleaned and drivers couldn’t see.”
In short, he says, it is impossible for drivers to ensure the safety of passengers getting on and off the train. “You don’t have to be a train driver to know that. If you’re a commuter and you use a major station, you will see people five or six deep on a platform, you’ll see a train run in rammed to the gills and people saying, ‘Please stand back, there’s one two minutes behind,’ yet nobody stands back. No train is meant to leave if there isn’t a gap between the train and the public – what they call the passenger-train corridor. We know that virtually every train in London, in Birmingham and elsewhere, at peak times, is ignoring the safety of the railway.”
And the thing is, he says, when a disaster happens, the bosses are never held accountable. “I haven’t seen one company director in the past 20 years who has got a fiduciary responsibility hauled in to the dock, had their job taken away or go to prison for it – but I have seen it happen to guards, platform staff and drivers.”
Should the company be charged with corporate manslaughter if a passenger dies in such circumstances? “Yes. If these people are telling us the system is safe, when it goes wrong, do you pass the blame to the lowest common denominator who you are forcing to do it, because we are now in a penalty-driven industry? We spend more time writing reports about why a train is late, so somebody can offcost it to another stakeholder, than we do about safety.”
Whelan, now 56, has spent 31 years in Aslef as guard, driver, union official and ultimately general secretary. He was born to Irish parents in Paddington, London. His mother worked in a sweet shop (at Euston station) and his father was a bricklayer. It was his father, he says, who really politicised him. “He was into rights on building sites, health and safety and all things we didn’t have back then. He was SWP [Socialist Workers Party]. Mum was always hard Labour. My wife is ex-Workers Revolutionary Party, so let’s not go there – she’s mellowed a bit down the years!”
Whelan was a bright boy who passed the 11-plus and went to grammar school: the Oratory, where Tony Blair sent his children. He devoured books, loved learning, and hoped to go to university. But his father fell off scaffolding, could no longer work, and that was the end of Whelan’s university dream. He spent a couple of years working as a bank clerk before joining Aslef. Whelan has three grownup children, and is married to Lorraine Phelan, chief biomedical scientist for special haematology at St Mary’s Hospital, London. He tells me with huge pride that she has an MBE for her work in the health service.
He laughs at the fact that he is suddenly being called “Militant Mick”. Sure, he’s always been political and supports Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, but he says he hasn’t a militant bone in his body. Isn’t he just an old-fashioned protectionist, defending jobs long past their sell-by date? “No. This isn’t purely about us believing in the protection of jobs, because they tell us they’re going to keep all these people. But they are going to take their safety skills away. They won’t be able to evacuate, lead people down a track if there’s a major incident, deal with anybody if a driver collapses.”
It would be a lot easier, he says, if he was fighting a more traditional battle. “I’d find it far easier to be aggressive if you were saying, ‘Well, if we’re going to do someone else’s job, give us 10 grand for it.’ We’re not doing that. Or: ‘If we’re going to be doing other people’s roles, give us a shorter working week.’ We’re not doing that. I got criticised the other day for saying some of my members were really scared, but they are. They’re terrified about safety and terrified for their futures.”
And he’s not even mentioned disability yet. With driver-only trains, it is difficult, if not impossible, for people in a wheelchair to get on a train without advanced warning. In September, Aslef won its case against DOO in Scotland, and disability was a key factor. “We threatened a judicial review in Scotland about disabled access because the law in Scotland on transport access was far stronger than down here, and that helped us win. I believe Southern are suggesting that disabled people in England ring up 24 hours in advance of when they want to travel. The whole basis of the industry is ‘step on and go’. The idea that sectors of our community should have to book in advance when others don’t is anathema to me. Everybody should have the same access and rights to get on and off a train.’”
Why was it easier to win in Scotland than England? “Well, it’s not over yet,” he huffs. And, he insists, he will be happy with nothing less than victory. “The trade union movement is full of glorious defeats, and I’m not a great fan of glorious defeats.”
Does he need a thick skin to be doing his job? He smiles. “You do, and it’s also temperament. I don’t shout at people, I try not to get angry, we’re incredibly data-driven, we want to make our case in a rational way. Nobody takes industrial action lightly. My people don’t want to be losing money, my people don’t want to be verbally abused, they don’t want to be attacked. I don’t want my receptionist fielding death threats downstairs.” And have there been? “You get the odd idiot ringing up saying things they’ll probably never carry out.”
What’s the most offensive thing anybody has said to him? He pauses, and thinks hard. “The most offensive thing to me,” he says finally, “is when people say that I don’t care about workers.”Tags: UK ASLEFRail safetyunion busting
As the Dispatcher was going to press in Late December, tugboat crews at Foss Maritime Long Beach were trying to renew a contract that expired six months ago on June 30, 2016.
“It’s not unusual for negotiations to continue after a contract expires, but the refusal by Foss to bargain in good faith is what’s different here,” said IBU Regional Director John Skow.
He says there were roughly 30 negotiating sessions since May of 2016, but most involved company demands for unilateral concessions from the union, instead of good-faith bargaining to reach a settlement.
Retaliation against IBU members
Foss tug crews belong to the ILWU’s Marine Division, known as the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU). Until recently, about 50 IBU crewmembers were working on Foss tugs at the Ports of LA and Long Beach – the nation’s largest port complex. But when Foss officials didn’t get their way at the negotiating table, they retaliated with layoffs that targeted over 30 IBU members. Retaliation against union members is illegal and the IBU quickly filed federal charges against Foss, but the legal process still favors companies with deep pockets – and the new administration in Washington is making it clear that they intend to be friendly with corporations, not union members.
Foss wants to break with CA law
Foss has dug their heels behind a company demand that union members must waive their right to 8-hour shifts with overtime pay after a full day’s work. Those terms are also part of California’s labor code. It is technically possible to bend that law – but only if workers voluntarily agree to give up that right to overtime after am 8-hour shift in a new contract, which Foss has been demanding from the beginning.
Weeks on duty, smaller crews
Foss has taken their demand to waive overtime to the extreme, by insisting that tug crews remain on company vessels for up to two weeks before going home. Besides getting no overtime, the company would force crewmembers to work “mini-shifts” of 6 hours, with just 6 hours of downtime between shifts. The company is also proposing to reduce crew sizes from the current 3 to just 2, posing another safety hazard.
Dangers of sleep deprivation
Numerous scientific studies have proven the need for extended sleep periods to ensure safety and top performance, a fact that the company has apparently overlooked or ignored.
“These change would make Foss a lot of money, but it would also be incredibly dangerous for crewmembers to perform hazardous tasks while sleep deprived,” said IBU President Alan Coté.
Tugs crews know that their work can be extremely dangerous, and can describe some incredibly horrible incidents – including serious injuries and deaths – that have occurred at LA/ Long Beach.
“The 8-hour-day is a right that workers all over America fought and died to win,” said Adam Petty, a member of the IBU Bargaining Committee. “Longer duty periods would be hard on our families and pose a real threat to our safety, so we can’t ignore that reality when the company talks about increasing efficiency and making more profit.”
Big company with deep pockets
Foss is owned by a wealthy conglomerate called Salchuk that formed in 1982 and has been growing ever since with both union and non-union operations. Salchuk has used their flexibility to benefit wealthy owners at the expense of workers. For example, after Foss retaliated against workers with layoffs, they were able to keep clients by reshuffling tug business to a Saltchuk subsidiary known as “AmNav,” which operates at various west coast ports including LA/Long Beach – without IBU crewmembers.
Saltchuk workers are represented by a number of different unions, and the IBU is coordinating information with them, including the Masters, Mates and Pilots (MMP), Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) and the Seafarers International Union (SIU) which has contracts with Crowley Maritime at the Ports of LA and Long Beach. Crowley crews remain onboard their tugs for days at a time, but the work they do – moving vessels in and out of the harbor complex – involves frequent downtime between the busy mornings and evenings, so they can’t be directly compared with Foss tugs that do different types of work without long breaks in their schedules.
Threat prompts strike vote
Foss escalated, first by retaliating with layoffs and again on December 9 when they announced the company’s “last, best and final” contract offer, declaring they intended to implement terms unilaterally in late December and early January – unless the union agreed to the company’s contract terms before then. The IBU’s negotiating committee responded by issuing a possible strike notice to Foss officials, and sending the company’s “last, best and final offer” to workers for a vote. Ballots from union members concerning the company’s final offer were scheduled to be counted on January 3.
“We’ve had a long relationship with Foss, and understand that changes are sometimes required in every industry, but we also need Foss to respect workers by negotiating over changes, instead of issuing demands, imposing ultimatums or breaking the law, which always rubs people the wrong way,” said IBU President Alan Coté.
Members of ILWU Canada are continuing to help other workers – and themselves – by fighting to save good jobs in the maritime industry through an ongoing series of protests and public actions. Another “free trade” deal Last November, they joined a coalition that organized a march and rally with ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton, Vancouver Labour Council President Joey Hartman, and SIU Canada President Jim Given (see last month’s Dispatcher). That protest targeted attacks on maritime jobs being threatened by a new free trade agreement negotiated on behalf of corporations in Europe and Canada, called the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA).
Helping Hanjin seafarers
In December, Locals 400, 500, 502, and 514 continued their support for seafarers who have been stranded for months aboard Hanjin vessels around the Port of Vancouver, while the company’s bankruptcy moves slowly through the courts.
Hanjin seafarers are being paid and receiving good meals, thanks to political pressure from the ILWU, with support from International Transport Workers Federation that is working with Korean unions to help Hanjin crews.
On December 15, an informative and sympathetic news story about the Hanjin workers and the union solidarity support effort was produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – known as the “CBC.”
That report provided background about the plight of Hanjin workers, which ILWU Canada and the ITF have been supporting, along with efforts in the U.S. by the ILWU and ITF that helped win shore leave for Hanjin seafarers, as reported in last month’s Dispatcher.
Solidarity on the water
The latest Hanjin solidarity action in Canada came on December 20 when Local 400 joined with Locals 500, 502, and 514 as well as the British Columbia’s Ferry and Marine Workers Union, and Victoria Filipino Canadian Association, to visit seafarers aboard the Hanjin container vessel, Scarlet, who have been anchored off British Columbia’s Southern Gulf Islands since late summer.
A ton of Christmas provisions
Volunteers brought one ton of Christmas provisions – including a 90-pound pig and plenty of charcoal to roast it. Most of the goods delivered to seafarers on Dec. 20 were donated by workers at four collection sites: the Bayanihan Community Centre in Victoria, the B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union office in Nanaimo, the Maritime Labour Centre in Vancouver, and Local 502’s dispatch hall.
“We asked for support, and the community really came through for these workers,” said Jason Woods, Secretary- Treasurer of ILWU Local 400. The Filipino Canadian Association of Victoria was involved because most of the seafarers come from the Philippines or Korea.
In addition to delivering warm clothing, entertainment items, including DVD’s, video games and board games were provided. Supporters also brought some Filipino food specialties. Several days earlier, a group of Christmas carolers from Pender Island visited the Scarlet and sang songs for the crew.
“It’s lonely,” said sailor Romeo Cabacang from the Philippines. “But all the crew, we are very happy for the early Christmas gift.”
Good media coverage
News of the solidarity action was conveyed to the general public via reports in Canada’s national newspaper, the National Post. Additional stories were carried by the CBC and Vancouver Island’s Chek 6 Television News. Another story about the event was broadcast nationwide on December 22 by CBC radio, including a live interview with Local 400’s Jason Woods, who was encouraged to do the program by ILWU President Rob Ashton.
South Korean support on Nov 29
ILWU Canada members supported a separate solidarity action in November that was organized after the ITF contacted President Rob Ashton of ILWU Canada to help South Korean unions seeking to oust President Park Geun-hye because of her corruption and anti-worker policies.
Maritime Council acts
President Ashton approached members of the Pacific Coast Maritime Council while he was attending the British Columbia Federation of Labour convention. Together they developed a plan to march on the South Korea’s Consulate in Vancouver, as a way to protest the Park government’s corruption and abuse of worker rights.
Marching to the Consulate
On November 29, Rob Ashton – who serves as President of both the ILWU Canada and Pacific Coast Maritime Council – invited Labour Federation delegates to join the march during the Convention lunch break. He also announced that South Korean workers had simultaneously organized a general strike and were protesting in the streets. Many different unions supported the march from Vancouver’s Canada Place to the South Korean Consulate. A group of 50 workers demonstrated in front of the Consulate while a delegation went inside to read and deliver a letter from Maritime Council President Ashton, Vice Presidents Gerry Gault and Tom Doran, and Secretary-Treasurer Graeme Johnston.
New action planned January 12
ILWU Canada locals are coordinating a solidarity action on January 12 with the Seafarer’s International Union (SIU) Canada and Canadian ILA leaders.
They plan to begin the New Year with a “National Day of Action” in Canada that involves union members and supporters from Newfoundland in the east to Victoria in the west – with activities also planned at the big ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert. All events are scheduled to begin at 10am pacific time. The goal is to protect maritime jobs that are being threatened by corporate greed.
Foreign flags, lower pay
The planned national action is a response to moves made by vessel owners in Newfoundland who changed the flags on ships being crewed by SIU members. By “re-flagging” these vessels to operate under a Marshall Islands flag, ship owners hope to dodge labor, environmental and tax laws that apply to vessels flying Canadian and U.S. flags.
ILWU Local 400 is fighting a similar struggle in Victoria against a foreign flagged vessel operating with poorly paid, predominantly Filipino seafarers who earn less than the region’s minimum wage and far less than the $30 per hour that Local 400 crewmembers typically receive. The foreign-flagged vessel operates from port-to-port within Canada, something known in maritime law as “cabotage.” Canada and the U.S. both have laws requiring all cabotage work to be performed by vessels flying domestic flags and following domestic labor laws, including the Jones Act in the U.S. and a similar law in Canada. But Canada’s Trudeau government recently issued a waiver allowing a foreign-flagged ship to be based in Victoria and operate between Canadian ports. In the U.S., attacks against the Jones Act are increasingly common and could escalate under President Trump.
“This is part of the corporate greed ethic that can also lead to public ports being privatized,” said ILWU Canada President Rob Ashton. “Free trade agreements are part of the same disease that destroys workers and communities in order to enrich corporations and CEO’s.”
NYC TWU 100 Transit workers negotiate for higher wages with contract set to expire yet no union rallies or mobilization for a strong contract
NYC TWU 100 Transit workers negotiate for higher wages with contract set to expire yet no union rallies or mobilization for a strong contract
The 44,000-member workforce of subway and bus employees now earn an average of $76,000 a year, according to an independent report.
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, right, speaks with former MTA chief John Lhota, center, prior to 2012 contract negotiations. MTA/FlickrPhoto:
The contract for thousands of New York City transit workers expires in a few days, and union officials negotiating a new deal with the MTA are seeking salaries on par with other divisions the agency operates.
The 44,000 transit workers affected by the collective bargaining agreement that expires Jan. 15 are hoping to receive more than the existing 2 percent pay increase, Transit Workers Union spokesman Jim Gannon told Metro. The TWU represents most of those unionized workers. Another 6,000 workers are not union members.
Negotiations will continue over the next week and a spokesman for the MTA said the agency could not comment on ongoing talks.
“In general, the [MTA] has ‘budgeted’ a 2 percent labor cost increase in their projected budget," Gannon said. "That’s not necessarily what they’ve offered, but it might be a clue of where they are willing to go.”
The average compensation for a New York City Transit employee — whose ranks include subway operators, maintenance crews and managers — was $75,891 in 2015, according to figures published by the New York City Independent Budget Office. Their counterparts at the Long Island Rail Road make an average salary of $95,652.
Average gross pay for the MTA police was $132,803 in 2015, the IBO report shows. The police force, however, accounts for less than 1 percent of the MTA’s entire labor force.
Meanwhile, more than 15 percent of Metro-North employees earned over $150,000 a year, the IBO said.
MTA workers across all divisions make an average of $80,158.
The only divisions earning less than NYC Transit are workers from the MTA Bridges & Tunnel, who earn an average of $71,570, and MTA bus employees, who earn approximately $72,800 a year.
“We don’t want to just keep pace with inflation but get ahead,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen said last week. “We don’t want to just tread water but gain ground.”
In addition to salary, the union’s other demands include improved dental care coverage, increases in longevity pay, an ironclad no-layoff clause and more comfortable boots.
“We’d like to get this thing wrapped up at least before the end of the current collective bargaining agreement,” which was a five-year contract that wasn’t fully stipulated until two years into the term, Gannon said.Tags: TWU 100solidarityContractMTA
On December 6, the ILWU International Executive Board voted unanimously to adopt a statement of policy opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The controversial project is opposed by Native Americans across the continent because it threatens Native lands and water.
The pipeline’s original route would have crossed the Missouri River upstream from Bismarck, North Dakota, but was rerouted because of concerns that an oil leak would contaminate the City’s water supply.Pipeline proponents want the oil to cross just a half-mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, buried underneath the tribe’s water supply.
The ongoing protest by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on their North Dakota reservation began in April, 2016. The effort has drawn world-wide attention and attracted thousands of Native American supporters and allies. It has become the largest protest gathering of Native Tribes in recent history.
International Executive Board Statement of Policy
“The Tribal Nations of the Great Plains rely on the waters of the life-giving Missouri River for present and future existence, and the Dakota Access Pipeline construction poses a very serious risk to that continued existence. The Dakota Access Pipeline threatens the safety of the areas of fish and wildlife, sacred sites and historical archeological resources that lie within and around the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and associated lands,” declares the ILWU Statement of Policy.
The International Executive Board also approved a $10,000 donation to the Standing Rock Sioux from the solidarity fund. The Coast Longshore Committee added an additional $5,000 donation.
“The ILWU has never been afraid to take a stand on important political issues,” said ILWU International President Robert McEllrath
Support for the Standing Rock Sioux was first expressed by the ILWU’s Pacific Coast Pensioners Association that adopted a resolution in September of 2016.
Local 10’s Executive Board then passed a resolution on November 8 against the pipeline project and in support of increased funding for workers affected by any jobs lost on the pipeline. The resolution called on the labor movement to support a “just transition” for workers into renewable energy jobs, to help working families, combat climate change and promote investment in renewable energy.
Labor unions divided
The ILWU is among a number of unions that have pledged support for protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux. The Amalgamated Transit Union, American Postal Workers Union, Communications Workers of America, National Nurses United, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Electrical Workers have all issued statements supporting the protest. Support has also come from six AFL-CIO constituent groups, including the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, and the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
However, last September, the AFL-CIO issued a statement supporting the pipeline project, thought to be the result of pressure from the Building Trades Department. The Building Trades issued a letter to their membership that sharply criticized unions who have opposed the pipeline project.
ILWU delegations lend a hand Local 4 members Steve Hunt, Jamison Roberts and Josh Goodwin were the first ILWU members on the ground in Standing Rock in November of 2016. They drove 3,000 miles round trip to deliver over $7,000 worth of supplies to the camp. Hunt said he decided to go after seeing media video of protesters being attacked by private security guards and he wanted to see first-hand what was happening.
“I wanted to know the truth,” Hunt said. “When we were locked out of the grain elevators in Washington, I saw the tactics used by private security, police, and the military. I know they aren’t there to protect the green grass. They have the backs of the oil companies. It reminded me of the grain lockout when the Coast Guard would just push us out of the way when they wanted to bring a ship in.”
When word got out that Hunt was planning a trip to Standing Rock, donations from Local 4 members started rolling in. Hunt said he had to take a larger truck and rent a trailer to fit all of the donated gear, food and toiletries. Hunt financed the trip out of his own pocket, but at a recent meeting, Local 4 members voted to reimburse him for expenses.
A delegation from ILWU Local 23 went to Standing Rock just after the Thanksgiving holiday to deliver $6,000 in donated supplies. The delegation included Local 23 President Dean McGrath, Local 23 members Theresa Sammalisto and Brendan Winders and Local 23 casual Brian Skiffington.
McGrath said that “solidarity was the one word that sums up the vibe at the Standing Rock encampment.”
He met people there from all over the world who came together to brave the harsh North Dakota winter to provide support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are fighting to protect their land and way of life.
“The conflict at standing rock has been a great example of the battle between the one percent and everyone else,” McGrath said. “The concern of the Standing Rock Sioux for the water on their land has been met with violent attacks by private security and police. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are being spent to protect the interests of the pipeline company. Many of us are realizing that the cards are stacked against us by the elite, and that the only way we can survive is through working-class solidarity.”
Delegations from Locals 10 and 13 arrived in the beginning of December, just after the International Executive Board passed its Statement of Policy.
“Despite enduring long periods of sub-zero weather and violence at the hands of law enforcement, the brothers and sisters at ‘Oceti Oyate’ (the People’s Camp) are all in. They are firmly resolved in effort and purpose to protect their land and their water supply,” said Local 10 President Ed Ferris.
“I was inspired by the courage, kindness, and solidarity that I witnessed at Oceti Oyate. It was an experience that I will never forget.” Ferris added, “I am very proud of our union for putting significant resources and boots on the ground to support this struggle. By doing so, we have honored the ILWU’s rich tradition of fighting for social justice. We have honored our slogan ‘An injury to one, is an injury to all.’”
“It was an extremely humbling experience,” said ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera Jr. Olvera was inspired by the teamwork by all ILWU members from different locals who stepped-up to do whatever jobs were needed to assist the Sioux. “Everyone pulled their weight. There were no titles there. We were all lending our hands to build structures or whatever tasks were needed. The ILWU has always taken stands on social issues going back to Harry’s day. With Trump coming into office, we are going to need even more of this.” Olvera said.
Tim Hernandez is a registered Class B longshore worker from Local 13 who was a part of the Local 13 delegation to Standing Rock. Hernandez, who is Lakota, was an important part of the ILWU team. His knowledge of the culture and language helped to strengthen the ties between the ILWU delegations and the Standing Rock Sioux and to help teach the ILWU delegations the proper protocols of being on sacred lands, Hernandez said.
“It was a blessing to be able to return home for the first time,” Hernandez said. “I’m not from Standing Rock, I’m from Pine Ridge, but we are a part of the Lakota Nation, and we are relatives. I knew it would be a life changing experience and that the ancestors would be present. The Seventh Generation—my generation—is experiencing an awakening. We need to take care of the earth and fight for all life.”
End game unclear
President Obama’s administration reviewed the pipeline project and determined that the company should re-route the project in order to protect the tribe’s water supply and sacred sites. And on December 6, Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault asked supporters to leave the encampment due to dangerous blizzards that would continue to pose a hazard throughout the winter.
The direction of the pipeline project could take another turn when President-elect Donald Trump takes office on January 20. His appointment of oil company executives and lobbyists to key cabinet positions could re-start a struggle in the Spring if the pipeline returns to its original routing through the Sioux’s water supply.
UK Tube strike brings manic Monday to commuters in gridlocked London London Underground and rail unions say they are prepared to resume talks after 24-hour walkout closed stations across capital
UK Tube strike brings manic Monday to commuters in gridlocked London
“The truth is that London is on an almost total shutdown,” he said, adding that TfL should come up with “serious and urgent plans”
London Underground and rail unions say they are prepared to resume talks after 24-hour walkout closed stations across capital
London tube strike causes commuter chaos
Gwyn TophamTransport correspondent
Monday 9 January 2017 21.03 GMTFirst published on Monday 9 January 2017 10.50 GMT
London Underground and the rail unions said they were prepared to resume talks later this week over safe staffing levels on the tube, after a day in which millions of commuters were affected by a strike across the network.
Representatives from the TSSA union, who represent station staff, will meet on Wednesday and talks could resume afterwards. The unions have an ongoing mandate from a ballot in the autumn that allows them to call further strikes in the coming weeks, but sources indicated that further industrial action was not expected.
Analysis London Underground strike knocks confidence in capital's new mayor
With TfL’s funding slashed and the promise of a fares freeze to deliver, Sadiq Khan finds himself in a tricky position
Full tube services will be restored on Tuesday morning, but commuters in London’s suburbs and the south-east are braced for more disruption as train drivers, mainly in the Aslef union, along with some RMTmembers, strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and virtually no trains operating on the Southern network.
Tube stations throughout the centre of the capital were closed by the 24-hour walkout by staff in the TSSA and RMT unions which began at 6pm on Sunday night, leaving commuters to crowd onto trains or attempt to board busy buses slowed by gridlocked roads.
Limited tube services ran in outer zones on the London Underground network that normally carries 4 million passengers a day. Transport for London laid on additional buses, but they did little to alleviate many journeys, with heavy traffic delaying their progress. Many turned to walking or cycling, with almost twice as many bikes from the capital’s cycle scheme hired than normal.
Most national rail services were running into the capital, although Southern remained disrupted by the effects of an overtime ban by train drivers. At one point, Clapham Junction, the country’s busiest interchange on a normal day, was evacuated because of overcrowding.
Blackfriars tube station was closed by the 24-hour strike. Photograph: Hayoung Jeon/EPA
TfL said it had run some trains on eight of its 11 tube lines on Monday and opened more than 60% of the stations across the network, but unions accused it of “dangerously exaggerating” the level of service available, leading people to expect to travel and causing overcrowding at stations.
The strike came as a blow to London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, whom Conservatives accused of breaking his campaign pledge to prevent such action. Khan said: “I share the deep frustration of millions of commuters whose journeys have been disrupted, all because of a completely unnecessary strike.
“We’ve made huge progress on addressing this dispute, which began under Boris Johnson, and we are committed to resolving it amicably.
“A good deal, that will ensure station safety and staffing levels across the tube network, remains on offer, and I urge the unions to continue talks. Londoners deserve a resolution to this issue without any further industrial action.”
About 3,700 station staff went on strike, mostly RMT members employed as customer service assistants or supervisors, working in the ticket hall and manning gates and platforms. The strike was part of a continuing row over the impact of ticket office closures and the loss of 900 jobs as part of TfL’s “modernisation” plans brought in by London’s previous mayor, Boris Johnson.
An independent review in the autumn by watchdog London TravelWatch, commissioned by Khan, found that many tube passengers had been adversely affected by the changes, but it did not call for ticket offices to be reopened.
The unions said there were safety fears about the running of the tube, including concerns over overcrowding, monitoring of stations and trains, and the personal safety of staff working alone.
Steve Griffiths, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions. We agree that we need more staff in our stations and have already started to recruit 200 extra staff and this is likely to increase further as we work through the other areas that need to be addressed.
“All of this will ensure that our customers feel safe, fully supported and able to access the right assistance in our stations at all times. We encourage the unions to continue working with us on this process and the only way to resolve this dispute is to keep talking about how to improve our stations.”
Commuters take a shortcut through a construction site during the 24-hour tube strike. Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images
Manuel Cortes, the TSSA’s general secretary, said that while hiring more staff was a step in the right direction, “200 jobs cannot plug the gaping hole that’s been left in the system by devastating Tory attacks on TfL’s budget”.
In his 2015 spending review, George Osborne, the then chancellor, cut about £700m from TfL’s central government grant until 2020.
Cortes said: “Put quite simply, these levels of cuts are not compatible with a safely run, properly staffed tube and my members are highly anxious about the impact this is having and will continue to have on their ability to keep you safe.”
The RMT leader, Mick Cash, turned his fire on tube bosses for talking up the number of services in operation. “The truth is that London is on an almost total shutdown,” he said, adding that TfL should come up with “serious and urgent plans”, including a schedule for restoring staffing to a safe and sustainable level. The union would remain available for talks to do so, he said.Tags: UK Tube StrikeRMTTSSA