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Pittsburgh ATU 85 Transit Workers Vote Down Contract

Current News - Tue, 09/13/2016 - 10:39

Pittsburgh ATU 85 Transit Workers Vote Down Contract
Transit workers vote down proposed contract
September 12, 2016 11:30 PM

Dominique Hildebrand/Post-Gazett
Transit employees have rejected a proposed contract recently brokered by union negotiators and the Port Authority of Allegheny County.
By Andrew Goldstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Transit employees have rejected a proposed contract recently brokered by union negotiators and the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Members of Local 85 of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents more than 2,200 Port Authority bus and light-rail operators, maintenance and service personnel, administrative employees and supervisors, voted against the agreement Monday afternoon, according to the union and the authority.

The Port Authority announced Wednesday that it had come to an agreement with the union on a four-year contract, but officials declined to discuss details of the deal until the authority board and union members voted on it.

The authority and the union remained mum on the subject Monday shortly after the agreement was rejected.

“We are aware of the vote and plan to meet with the union to discuss in more detail,” Port Authority spokesman Jim Ritchie said in an email. “We won't comment beyond that at this time.”

Local 85 president Steve Palonis declined comment, saying that because the vote was taken late Monday afternoon and the results had just been released, he wanted to speak with union members before talking to the media.

In a news release, Local 85 said it would invite the Port Authority to resume negotiations and ask the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board to appoint an neutral fact-finder.

Port Authority bus drivers and other union employees have been working under a contract extension since June 30, when their last four-year contract expired. Earlier this summer the authority and the union both appeared optimistic that a deal would be reached without serious issues.

It was a contrast to four years ago, when Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and former Gov. Tom Corbett helped to broker a deal. That contract had a two-year wage freeze and required more guaranteed funding from the county and state to go to the financially strapped Port Authority to avoid a 35 percent transit service cut and 560-employee layoffs.

Andrew Goldstein: agoldstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1352.

Tags: Pittsburgh ATU 85transit workersContract
Categories: Labor News

UK RMT union faces £1 million bill for fighting Southern Rail firm

Current News - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 21:18

UK RMT union faces £1 million bill for fighting Southern Rail firm
by Raymie Kiernan

Southern Rail strikers are battling for safety and workers' rights (Pic: Socialist Worker)

The Aslef train drivers’ union is facing a bill for almost £1 million for daring to fight the firm behind the Southern rail fiasco.

Not content with trying to get rid of train guards, slashing jobs on stations and undermining safety the Tories’ favourite rail firm has outrageously launched a process that will take the money from Aslef.

It is a sign of how the legal system works against workers and their unions. It is another reason to fight for the repeal of the anti-union laws.

One Southern train driver told Socialist Worker that Govia Thameslink Railway “was demanding £973,000”. A source close to the top of the union confirmed the amount “was close to seven figures”.

None of the bill is a fine. It's all legal costs.

This is the result of a High Court ruling in June. Govia used the anti-union laws to prevent drivers from striking over the extension of driver only operated (DOO) trains.

Aslef members on Southern and Gatwick Express, subsidiaries of Govia, voted 96 percent to strike on an 84 percent turnout. But Govia bosses ran to the judges to derail action and got an injunction slapped on Aslef.

This followed an April court ruling in favour of Govia to stop a ballot of drivers over the introduction of longer 12-car DOO trains.

Govia’s lawyers, Eversheds, successfully argued that a text message from the union to its members informing them that 12-car trains had not been negotiated was an inducement to industrial action.


In June the court overturned the democratic ballot of more than four fifths of members after agreeing that the union could not ballot over an issue it had previously induced unlawful industrial action over.

And just at the end of August the union suspended another ballot over a “breakdown in industrial relations” after yet another legal threat.

In a sinister turn, at one point the courts even ordered that the mobile devices of Aslef shop stewards, organisers, senior national officials and executive members be handed over to lawyers.

These were searched for keywords in what the source described as “a fishing expedition” to find any evidence that could back the bosses’ case to have industrial action declared illegal.

The Department of Transport (DfT) is also doing its bit to help Govia achieve its contractual obligation to “modernise working practices” with special favours and now a £20 million bailout.

The DfT’s Tory masters want DOO extended across the network—both to boost profits for rail operators by slashing jobs and conditions but as part of an overall strategy to weaken the unions.

Govia is being used as a hired gun to help achieve that goal on Britain’s largest rail franchise and it has a multi-pronged strategy to battle on several fronts.

In a sinister turn, at one point the courts even ordered seizure of union activists' mobile phones.
It is desperate to isolate the Southern train guards who have struck several times this year against DOO. A coordinated strike of guards, drivers and station staff this month has, for now, been averted through a combination of legal manoeuvres and compromise.

The £1 million extracted from Aslef should lead to more determined resistance. It must not be used in the trade union movement as an excuse for retreat.

The courts are no friend to workers and anti-union laws are designed to make union officials fear the financial penalties of falling foul of them and to stick to “legal” action.

But on numerous occasions workers have defied the anti-union laws and not been fined because the bosses were too scared of continuing strikes.

Trade union leaders at the TUC next week should declare their solidarity with Aslef. If unions fought together Aslef would not have to pay the bill.

Rank and file union members need to push their union leaders to fight and to develop organisation between them that is capable of defying the bosses’ legal threats and court injunctions.

Categories: Labor News

UK: Labour Unionism In The Age Of The ‘Gig’ Economy

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/12/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Huffington Post
Categories: Labor News

China: Listening to the voice of China's workers

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/11/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Brazil: Unions Call for General Strike in Answer to 12-Hour Work Day Proposal

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/11/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Brazil.com
Categories: Labor News

Back to 1916 Tacoma: Remembering shots fired and a bloody, failed strike

Current News - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 20:29

Back to 1916 Tacoma: Remembering shots fired and a bloody, failed strike
SEPTEMBER 4, 2016 2:00 PM
Back to 1916 Tacoma: Remembering shots fired and a bloody, failed strike

Bronze artist Paul Michaels, left, reads Thursday from a paper proof of the bronze plaque that will be installed on the Murray Morgan Bridge to commemorate the bloody 1916 Longshore strike. Listening to Michaels are, from left, Mike Jagielski, president of Tacoma Pensioners; Dean McGrath, president of ILWU, Local 23 Tacoma; James Norton, pensioner; and Ronald Magden, Local 23 honoree member. Lui Kit Wong lwong@thenewstribune.com

On Sunday, September 11, the Murray Morgan Bridge will serve to connect both ends of the century from 1916 to 2016.

As part of the 49th annual convention of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 23 of Tacoma will host a gathering of some 170 retired longshore workers from the West Coast and ports as distant as Hawaii and Australia.

As part of the program, younger Tacoma longshore workers will re-enact events from a 1916 strike at the Port of Tacoma.

The bridge will be closed and barricades erected. Beginning on the east side, marchers will approach the spot where, 100 years before, shots were fired and striker Alexander Laidlaw was killed. They will march to the spot where truncheons struck skulls and where union men made their stand for fair wages, better hours, a closed shop and self-respect.

Marchers will sing union songs and carry signs that carry the same messages carried a century before: “Win the Strike.” “In Unity there is Strength.”

A wreath will be laid onto the Thea Foss Waterway to honor Laidlaw and a plaque will be dedicated to those who fought the fight 100 years before.

The public is invited to the event, which will begin staging at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 11.

“I think we’re attempting to show our young members what it was, and also trying to show the public what strife is about, that it hurts both parties,” said Jim Norton, retired business agent for ILWU Local 23.

“The bridge is really symbolic,” said Dean McGrath, Local 23 president.

“You’ll always have a battle between labor and capital,” he said.

On one side of the bridge there’s the city. On the other side, there’s the hard work.

“This is a way to remember bringing the two together,” McGrath said. “It’s a perfect symbol of what can happen when we don’t work out our differences.”

“We became a class port, working with the employers,” said Norton.

Tacoma City Council recently passed a resolution recognizing the events of 1916 and authorizing placement of a plaque on the bridge.

“It is fitting that our blue-collared, gritty reputation has this fitting tribute,” said Mike Jagielski, president of the Local’s pension fund.

“This is part of what Tacoma is,” he said.

C.R. Roberts: 253-597-8535

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/business/article99979557.html#storyli...

Tags: 1916 Tacoma longshore strike
Categories: Labor News

Japan Fukushima railway decontamination waste to total 300,000 cubic meters-Moving Radioactive Waste Around To "Decontaminate"

Current News - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 18:42

Japan Fukushima railway decontamination waste to total 300,000 cubic meters-Moving Radioactive Waste Around To "Decontaminate"
Japan Fukushima railway decontamination waste to total 300,000 cubic meters
SEP 10, 2016
FUKUSHIMA – An estimated 300,000 cubic meters of waste will be generated as a result of radioactive decontamination work in a suspended section of East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line in Fukushima Prefecture, Jiji Press learned Saturday.

Decontamination work is going on to restore train services in the section between Namie and Tatsuta, both in the nuclear disaster-hit northeastern prefecture, by spring 2020. But how to secure enough space to temporarily keep such waste, including soil, is a difficult question.

Due to the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power station, the Joban Line is still suspended between Hamayoshida, in the Miyagi Prefecture town of Watari, and Soma, in Fukushima Prefecture, as well as between Odaka, in the Fukushima town of Minamisoma, and Tatsuta, in the Fukushima town of Naraha.

The Hamayoshida-Soma section is scheduled to reopen in December this year and part of the Odaka-Tatsuta section, between Odaka and Namie, in spring 2017. Ahead of the reopening, work there to replace stones under rail tracks and soil and cut trees and grass along the tracks has almost finished.

In the remaining Namie-Tatsuta portion, decontamination work is proceeding so that train services will be resumed between Tomioka, also in Fukushima Prefecture, and Tatsuta in 2017. Decontamination work is also taking place between Namie and Tomioka, a portion that runs through the heavily contaminated no-go zone so services can be resumed by the spring of 2020.

Currently, bags filled with decontamination waste are stored along the rail tracks. They must be transferred elsewhere before restoration work starts.

The Environment Ministry has started negotiations with owners of land near the railway line. The ministry has already obtained agreement from some owners on the use of land.

But it is still difficult to secure enough land to store 300,000 cubic meters of waste.

The ministry is also considering utilizing locations where radioactive waste from decontamination work across Fukushima Prefecture is currently being kept. The places will become available after the waste is transferred to an interim waste storage complex near the Fukushima power plant.

Tags: FukushimaRailwaydecontamination
Categories: Labor News

Dublin, Ireland bus workers start series of strikes

Current News - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 17:18

Dublin, Ireland bus workers start series of strikes
By Dermot Byrne
10 September 2016
Dublin bus workers began the first in a series of two-day stoppages on September 8, seeking pay parity with drivers on the Dublin light rail system (Luas).
The Luas drivers secured a pay rise of 18 percent over four years after a long running series of strikes last June. The workers at Dublin Bus are seeking a 15 percent increase, a demand that was rejected by the Labour Court—the second and final state arbitration body dealing with industrial disputes. Up to 98 percent of bus workers voted for industrial action.
The Labour Court six weeks ago offered a general 8.25 percent pay increase (2.75 percent per year) for all 3,364 Dublin Bus workers.
As a result of the strike over 400,000 people were forced to find alternative travel arrangements while Dublin was log jammed during the rush hour, causing traffic chaos. The main unions involved—SIPTU (Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union) and NBRU (National Bus and Rail Union)—plan two further 48-hour stoppages over the coming weeks. Shane Ross, the current minister for transport, has stated he will not interfere in the dispute. Government funding to Dublin Bus has been reduced by 32 percent since 2008.
The source of the dispute is the continuing attack by Dublin Bus management and the State Transport Authority on the pay and general conditions of bus workers. The slashing of pay and conditions has continued unabated since 2008. Chronic underfunding of public services like transportation, coupled with pay freezes in the public sector has meant that bus workers have not received a pay increase in eight years. This has led to bitter resentment from many who have experienced the collaboration of the unions and the Fine Gael government through the Labour Court in holding down wages and eroding conditions of employment.
The unions have been working through bodies such as the Labour Court and the recently formed Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), which are state-funded arbitration bodies with a record of enforcing the demands of the employers. These institutions under different names played a leading role in the drafting of the first Croke Park Agreement in 2010 between the government and the unions, which imposed a four-year strike ban, pay cuts and “voluntary” redundancies that slashed the number of workers in the public sector by more than 10 percent. In the private sector, the Labour Relations Committee (LRC), forerunner of the WRC, legitimised the firing of all Aer Lingus ground crew in 2011, many of whom were subsequently rehired at far lower pay.
In 2013, although the workers at Dublin Bus voted by 72 percent to reject an €11.7 million cost saving plan, the unions through the Labour Court, after some small adjustments, sold the package to the membership. Dublin Bus boasted that cost-cutting programmes negotiated with the unions had led to a 16 percent reduction in the workforce and a pay freeze since 2008. There was also a cut in overtime payments and all day shifts were extended from twelve to thirteen hours.
In 2015, SIPTU formally declared that it was opposed to the National Transport Authority (NTA) plan to privatise 10 percent of Dublin Bus and Bus Eireann routes. Again the workers by a large majority opposed the plan. Using the same method of fixing a deal in the Labour Relations Commission (now Workplace Relations Commission) unions called off a series of two-day strikes, and agreed to the decimation of bus services under the pretext that, “No employee of the company will be compulsorily required to transfer to a private contractor.” NBRU General Secretary Dermot O’Leary said the LRC had successfully brought the parties to a point where the unions felt able to call off their planned industrial actions.
The unions negotiated a six percent pay rise in 2008 as part of a deal called “Towards 2016”. This was deferred by the unions in 2009 under a “cost-cutting programme” and the workers never received the pay rise. Dublin Bus instead made 290 drivers redundant and cut 120 buses from the fleet (about 10 percent).
If workers at Dublin Bus are to successfully challenge the erosion of their living standards and planned privatisation of the service, they must form new organisations independent from the unions and their collaboration with state-sponsored “arbitration” bodies. These act as a tool for the implementation of the programme of the ruling elite and Fine Gael government. Just how neutral these bodies actually are can be judged by the remarks of Kieran Mulvey, who recently retired with a €300,000 lump sum as head of the LRC (now WRC).
Mulvey, who has always served as a right wing apologist in the Irish media for austerity and cuts to public spending, went on record in 2012 in support of the Croke Park Agreement. In reference to the Luas tram workers strike just three months ago, he declared on radio, “It doesn’t behove trade unions to be involved in a national dispute on our public holiday... I’m not enamoured at the idea of a gun being put to our head... particularly around St Patrick’s Day.”
Since 2008 estimates suggest Irish workers have seen their earnings plummet by 14 percent. The unions, as in the rest of Europe, have played the key role in facilitating the driving down of living standards, thus emboldening the ruling elites to constantly come back for more.

Tags: DublinIreland bus driversSIPTU (Services Industrial Professional and Technical Union) and NBRU (National Bus and Rail Union
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: Why Sisi hates Egypt's unions

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Jacobin
Categories: Labor News

ATU condemns attacks on Standing Rock Sioux and Opposes Dakota Access Pipeline

Current News - Sat, 09/10/2016 - 15:18

ATU condemns attacks on Standing Rock Sioux and Opposes Dakota Access Pipeline
ATU condemns attacks on Standing Rock Sioux and Opposes Dakota Access Pipeline
Amalgamated Transit Union International President Larry Hanley issued the following statement to concerning the Dakota Access Pipeline.

“The Amalgamated Transit Union joins others in the Labor movement in condemnation of the ongoing violent attacks on the Standing Rock Sioux and others who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. These attacks by a private security company bring back horrific memories of the notorious Pinkertons, who used clubs, dogs and bullets to break up peaceful worker protests.

"Union members understand that today the greatest threat to jobs, health and decent living standards is climate change. We support the National Day of Action on September 13th, and we urge President Obama to stop construction of this destructive pipeline and keep dangerous fossil fuels in the ground."

Tags: atuStanding Rock SiouxDkota Access Pipeline
Categories: Labor News

USA: Inmates strike in prisons nationwide over 'slave labor' working conditions

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: 23 dead in explosion and fire at garment factory

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CBC
Categories: Labor News

Georgia Ports Authority ILA Local 1414 longshoreman dead after accident at Ocean Terminal

Current News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 14:05

Georgia Ports Authority ILA Local 1414 longshoreman dead after accident at Ocean Terminal
Posted September 7, 2016 03:18 pm - Updated September 7, 2016 08:44 pm
By Mary Carr Maylemary.mayle@savannahnow.com
Georgia Ports Authority longshoreman dead after accident at Ocean Terminal

SUV plunges into river at Ocean Terminal during cargo operations
A longshoreman died Wednesday morning when the vehicle he was loading onto a ship jumped off the ramp and fell into the Savannah River at Georgia Ports’ Ocean Terminal.

The accident occurred about 8:30 a.m. as a car carrier vessel was being loaded by members of ILA Local 1414.

Local 1414 President Tommy Stokes III said the accident is still under investigation. He declined to provide the worker’s name pending notification of his extended family.

“We don’t know yet what happened that caused him to lose control of the car,” Stokes said, adding that the victim was a five-year veteran of the docks.

“The car went in upside-down,” he said. “One of our longshoremen and a stevedore who was working the ship both went into the water almost immediately, but the airbag had deployed and they couldn’t get him out.

“They called for a hammer and knife to break the window and deflate the airbag and were able to get him out and begin CPR. But he was pronounced dead at the hospital.”

Savannah Fire and Marine 1 responded to the scene on the docks just west of the Talmadge Bridge.

Stokes said he expected to know more about what happened when the investigation was complete.

“Right now, our focus is on coming together to provide the family with prayers and support during this very difficult and tragic time,” Stokes said.

Georgia Ports Authority also issued a statement saying “our hearts and prayers go out the the family, friends and entire membership of ILA 1414.”

Tags: ILA 1414Murder
Categories: Labor News

Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016

IWW - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 09:07

This following is a statement from the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee.

Prisoners from across the United States have just released this call to action for a nationally coordinated prisoner workstoppage against prison slavery to take place on September 9th, 2016.

This is a Call to Action Against Slavery in America

In one voice, rising from the cells of long term solitary confinement, echoed in the dormitories and cell blocks from Virginia to Oregon, we prisoners across the United States vow to finally end slavery in 2016.

On September 9th of 1971 prisoners took over and shut down Attica, New York State’s most notorious prison. On September 9th of 2016, we will begin an action to shut down prisons all across this country. We will not only demand the end to prison slavery, we will end it ourselves by ceasing to be slaves.

In the 1970s the US prison system was crumbling. In Walpole, San Quentin, Soledad, Angola and many other prisons, people were standing up, fighting and taking ownership of their lives and bodies back from the plantation prisons. For the last six years we have remembered and renewed that struggle. In the interim, the prisoner population has ballooned and technologies of control and confinement have developed into the most sophisticated and repressive in world history. The prisons have become more dependent on slavery and torture to maintain their stability.

Prisoners are forced to work for little or no pay. That is slavery. The 13th amendment to the US constitution maintains a legal exception for continued slavery in US prisons. It states “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States.” Overseers watch over our every move, and if we do not perform our appointed tasks to their liking, we are punished. They may have replaced the whip with pepper spray, but many of the other torments remain: isolation, restraint positions, stripping off our clothes and investigating our bodies as though we are animals.

Slavery is alive and well in the prison system, but by the end of this year, it won’t be anymore. This is a call to end slavery in America. This call goes directly to the slaves themselves. We are not making demands or requests of our captors, we are calling ourselves to action. To every prisoner in every state and federal institution across this land, we call on you to stop being a slave, to let the crops rot in the plantation fields, to go on strike and cease reproducing the institutions of your confinement.

This is a call for a nation-wide prisoner work stoppage to end prison slavery, starting on September 9th, 2016. They cannot run these facilities without us.

Non-violent protests, work stoppages, hunger strikes and other refusals to participate in prison routines and needs have increased in recent years. The 2010 Georgia prison strike, the massive rolling California hunger strikes, the Free Alabama Movement’s 2014 work stoppage, have gathered the most attention, but they are far from the only demonstrations of prisoner power. Large, sometimes effective hunger strikes have broken out at Ohio State Penitentiary, at Menard Correctional in Illinois, at Red Onion in Virginia as well as many other prisons. The burgeoning resistance movement is diverse and interconnected, including immigrant detention centers, women’s prisons and juvenile facilities. Last fall, women prisoners at Yuba County Jail in California joined a hunger strike initiated by women held in immigrant detention centers in California, Colorado and Texas.

Prisoners all across the country regularly engage in myriad demonstrations of power on the inside. They have most often done so with convict solidarity, building coalitions across race lines and gang lines to confront the common oppressor.

Forty-five years after Attica, the waves of change are returning to America’s prisons. This September we hope to coordinate and generalize these protests, to build them into a single tidal shift that the American prison system cannot ignore or withstand. We hope to end prison slavery by making it impossible, by refusing to be slaves any longer.

To achieve this goal, we need support from people on the outside. A prison is an easy-lockdown environment, a place of control and confinement where repression is built into every stone wall and chain link, every gesture and routine. When we stand up to these authorities, they come down on us, and the only protection we have is solidarity from the outside. Mass incarceration, whether in private or state-run facilities is a scheme where slave catchers patrol our neighborhoods and monitor our lives. It requires mass criminalization. Our tribulations on the inside are a tool used to control our families and communities on the outside. Certain Americans live every day under not only the threat of extra-judicial execution—as protests surrounding the deaths of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland and so many others have drawn long overdue attention to—but also under the threat of capture, of being thrown into these plantations, shackled and forced to work.

Our protest against prison slavery is a protest against the school to prison pipeline, a protest against police terror, a protest against post-release controls. When we abolish slavery, they’ll lose much of their incentive to lock up our children, they’ll stop building traps to pull back those who they’ve released. When we remove the economic motive and grease of our forced labor from the US prison system, the entire structure of courts and police, of control and slave-catching must shift to accommodate us as humans, rather than slaves.

Prison impacts everyone, when we stand up and refuse on September 9th, 2016, we need to know our friends, families and allies on the outside will have our backs. This spring and summer will be seasons of organizing, of spreading the word, building the networks of solidarity and showing that we’re serious and what we’re capable of.

Step up, stand up, and join us.
Against prison slavery.
For liberation of all.

Find more information, updates and organizing materials and opportunities at the following websites:




read more

Categories: Unions

It’s High Time for Mass Mobilization to Free Mumia!

Current News - Fri, 09/09/2016 - 08:47

It’s High Time for Mass Mobilization to Free Mumia!
It’s High Time for Mass Mobilization to Free Mumia!

Could Mumia Abu-Jamal, one of the twentieth century’s most high profile political prisoners, a powerful and renowned author and a former Black Panther, have hope of being released after 34 years in prison, 30 of those years on death row? Could Mumia, unlike the anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, or the Communists Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed by the state, finally see the light of day after decades in prison like former Black Panthers Geronimo Pratt, the Angola Three and Eddie Conway?

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Williams v. Pennsylvania,could provide a legal precedent to open the door for Mumia’s release. But that will not end the police vendetta against him as demonstrated by the bitter experience of unending persecution by courts, cops and prison authorities. For every legal principle there is a “Mumia exception.” There can be no reliance on the courts for justice, in large part because Mumia is falsely accused of killing a cop. As in the case of Angela Davis, it will require mass mobilizations to free Mumia, mobilizations from trade unions with large black memberships and community organizations like Black Lives Matter.

In the meantime, Mumia’s life is in grave danger as a federal court judge refused to grant an injunction to require that the state of Pennsylvania give him proper medication for his life-threatening Hepatitis C. And yet the judge found the state prison system’s protocol for treating prisoners with Hep-C unconstitutional! Another Mumia exception, no doubt.

As prisoners are commemorating the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising on September 9 by organizing a nationwide strike protesting the horrid conditions of mass incarceration, we outside the prison walls, need to be demonstrating in sympathy with their demands and calling for freedom for class war political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Ron Castille and the Racist Frame-up of Mumia

The new Supreme Court ruling establishes a precedent for the court to vacate all of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s denials of Mumia’s post-conviction appeals. On August 7, 2016 a motion was filed with the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. This legal action “provides a path in the courts to overturn Mumia’s conviction and win his freedom” according to Rachel Wolkenstein, a former attorney of Mumia. This legal action could result in a new appeal process and then a new trial. But again, in Mumia’s case (and so many others), such legal precedents are routinely overridden when the state is prepared to go to the wall against a defendant.

Still this new decision offers a new opportunity for Mumia and his supporters to forcefully challenge the blatant frame-up that lead to his conviction, and, to bring broader exposure to a racist system of injustice.

After decades of frustration and disappointment the fight for Mumia’s freedom could see a breakthrough. The new precedent–setting decision in Williams v. Pennsylvania has established that judicial bias occurs when a judge participating in a criminal appeal had “a significant personal involvement as a prosecutor in a critical decision regarding the defendant’s case.” Ronald D. Castille has played the central role of both prosecutor and judge in the course of Mumia’s legal nightmare. He was the Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia during Mumia’s 1982 trial, was the elected Philadelphia District Attorney during Mumia’s direct appeal, and as a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice in 1998 and 2002 rejected a motion demanding his recusal from decisions concerning Mumia’s case.

Castille and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have stood in the way of each of Mumia’s attempts to appeal his post conviction decisions, including those appeals which argued that Castille’s participation constituted a conflict of interest. From the beginning Castille showed prejudice. As DA he made a training video on how to exclude blacks from a jury when blacks were nearly 40% of Philly’s population.

Mass Mobilizations Must Bolster Mumia’s Court Fight

By extension, this struggle must link the Black Lives Matter movement on the streets to the mass incarceration of black lives behind prison walls. But Mumia’s fight for freedom can only happen if his case gains traction through mass labor and black mobilizations like the one organized by the San Francisco longshore union on April 29, 1999 or the Oakland teachers’ union that organized a city-wide teach-in on the death penalty and the frameup of Mumia a few months before that.

At that time the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) organized a one-day coastwide shutdown and led a march of 25,000 people through the streets of San Francisco to demand freedom for Mumia and call attention to racist repression and the plight of class war prisoners. Actions like this succeeded in bringing attention to Mumia’s case but at this late date there needs to be much more now. Left to the courts alone, he will certainly die by “legal lynching” from medical mistreatment of Hepatitis C, in the same way that the apartheid regime of South Africa handled its imprisoned opponents.

From Young Black Panther to “Slow Death Row”

Mumia, who takes his name from Kenyan anti-colonial fighters, was already in the crosshairs of the police when as a teenager he was Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party. After the Panthers split in 1971, Mumia went to college to study radio journalism and began a career of reporting and broadcasting. Throughout his years as an award-winning radio broadcaster, Mumia used his platform to direct attention to police brutality and other forms of state violence, most notably exposing the Philadelphia Police Department’s targeting of the militant back-to-nature organization MOVE.

Mumia’s speaking truth-to-power reporting made him the target of escalating hounding by the police, especially former Philly “top cop”, Mayor Frank Rizzo. In December of 1981, PPD Officer Daniel Faulkner was killed while conducting a traffic stop of Mumia’s brother, William Cook. Mumia Abu-Jamal, who had been driving a taxi part time, arrived at the scene to see what was happening. As Mumia approached, he was shot, critically wounded and beaten by police.

Mumia’s subsequent trial was a case study of a political frame-up in capitalist America today: police corruption and a federal investigation, judicial misconduct, denial of basic rights, witness tampering, and evidence fabrication. Most grotesquely, in his chambers the presiding judge Albert Sabo, an honorary member of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), was quoted as saying by the court stenographer of the impending legal proceeding, “I’m going to help them fry that n—-r.” Having had his right to self-representation revoked and barred from his own trial, Mumia was convicted in 1982 and later sentenced to death. Mumia’s case is an ironclad frame-up by the state and FOP. In a gross understatement Amnesty International calls Mumia’s trial “unfair”.

Mumia spent 30 years in solitary confinement on death row Pennsylvania. Yet, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, has said that solitary confinement of more than 10 days is unhumane treatment.

After a lengthy, hard-fought appeals process Mumia, in 2011, had his sentence commuted to life without the possibility of parole or as he calls it “slow death row”. When continued medical mistreatment led to near-fatal diabetic shock, Mumia, was finally diagnosed with the deadly hepatitis C virus. He was then denied the curative medication, without which, he will certainly die. That’s why the urgency is to keep him alive and fight for his freedom.

International Labor Solidarity Rallies to Save Mumia

As the searing protest letter sent to Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf from comrades of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa NUMSA: “The refusal to health-care reminds us of the conditions we were put in under Apartheid prisons where sick detainees were allowed to die in very deplorable lonely conditions in solitary as part of the punishment for their role in the struggle.”

Mumia has continued writing and publishing numerous volumes about racism, his experience on death row, and the depredations of capitalism. Called the “voice of the voiceless”, he has won audiences around the world.

The International Dockworkers Council (IDC) which represents the most militant port workers is meeting later this month in Miami. On July 7, the IDC organized dockworkers to simultaneously shutdown ports around the world for one hour to highlight the injuries and deaths caused by this most profitable, yet dangerous industry. The IDC has already taken a stand on social issues like racist police terror in the U.S. They’ve sent a letter this year to the Pennsylvania governor citing Mumia’s unjust imprisonment and demanding proper medical treatment and his “immediate and unconditional release” from prison.

International attention and protest are key to the effort to free Mumia. In light of this new legal opening, a renewed international campaign, can not only win Mumia’s release, but will continue to highlight the racist and class oppression that is constantly perpetrated by this justice system that enforces the law and order of capital.

Solidarity with the Nationwide Prisoners Strike!

Stop the Death of Hep C Prisoners! Hep C Meds for All!

Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal!

Release Mumia From Prison Now!

Jack Heyman, is chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, and member of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Eric Clanton, member of Ghostown Prisoners Support

Tags: Mumialaborrepressionsolidarity
Categories: Labor News

Nigeria: NUPENG Demands Release of 14 Kidnapped Oil Workers

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Vanguard
Categories: Labor News

IWW Stands in Solidarity with Resistance to Dakota Access Pipeline

IWW - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:41

By the elected delegates to the 2016 IWW Convention - Industrial Workers of the World, September 3, 2016

The international convention of the Industrial Workers of the World just unanimously voted in favor of an “Emergency Resolution” in solidarity with the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline!

In the introduction the Chair of the convention acknowledged that the convention is being held on Ohlone land. We also strongly encouraged workers to organize solidarity actions, travel to Standing Rock, and materially support the struggle.

The Industrial Workers of the World stands in solidarity with the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We call on the labor movement and working class to take a stand against environmental racism and join the fight for a just transition as our collective future is at stake. We recognize that the capitalist system that oppresses the working class has always oppressed indigenous people of the World.

Therefore we feel that settlers and indigenous workers should unite to take direct action against colonial industrial capitalism and do everything in our power to restore justice to indigenous people and Mother Earth. An injury to one is an injury to all! #nodapl #sacredstonespiritcamp #redwarriorcamp #waterislife

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Categories: Unions

An Open Letter to the Labor Movement: Stand in Solidarity With #NoDAPL

IWW - Thu, 09/08/2016 - 10:35

September 4, 2016

Editor's Note: This appeal has been updated to address the attack on the demonstrators were attacked by private security led dogs.

Fellow Workers:

If you've not read or seen the news about the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the vast and growing opposition to it (#NoDAPL) by now, you've not been paying attention.

According to One Account,

Beneath the cover of the endless presidential election season, which in Iowa started a year and a half ago, the Texas-based company Dakota Access LLC (a division of the corporation Energy Transfer Partners [ETP]) has moved methodically ahead with its plan to build this ugly, winding, and ecocidal tube of death. The $4 billion, 1134-mile project would carry 540,000 barrels of largely fracked crude oil from North Dakota’s “Bakken oil patch” daily on a diagonal course through South Dakota, a Sioux Indian burial ground,18 Iowa counties, and a Native American reservation to Patoka, Illinois. It will link with another pipeline that will transport the black gold to terminals and refineries along the Gulf of Mexico.

Right now, several thousand indigenous tribal members (supported by over 160 tribes), land owners, environmentalists, climate justice activists, and supporters of #BlackLivesMatter have gathered together into two camps in rural North Dakota to organize nonviolent resistance to this massive project which will parallel and match the length of the infamous (but rejected by Presidential order) Keystone XL pipeline.  Several others have been protesting all along the pipeline's route over the past couple of weeks. These 1000s strong intrepid folks are supported nationally and internationally by 100,000s.

The leaders in this effort have done all they can working "within the system" to oppose this project to no avail:

Anti-pipeline activists have been playing by all the official local, state, and federal rules. They’ve gone through the established channels of law and procedure. They’ve worked the legal and regulatory machinery to the point of exhaustion. They’ve gone through all available avenues of reason and petition. They’ve written and delivered carefully worded petitions and given polite, fact-filled testimony to all the relevant public bodies. They’ve appealed to the IUB. They’ve appealed to the Army Corps of Engineers and to numerous other federal agencies and offices including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Advisory on Historic Preservation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. They’ve sued in court, defending farmers’ traditional American-as-apple-pie private property rights...And it’s all been for naught because the state is stuck in the deep pockets of Big Carbon. Last week a long-awaited district court ruling in Des Moines gave DA, ETP, Enbridge, and Marathon and their big financial backers what they wanted. DA is free to complete construction on fifteen parcels where the farm owners had challenged the state’s right to enforce eminent domain on behalf of the Bakken snake.

This project would represent a disaster for the world's climate. Already humanity is experiencing a climate emergency--as the increase in the Earth's average overall surface temperature has surpassed 1°C--brought on by fossil fuel capitalism. Every sensible scientific peer reviewed study dictates that in order to avoid the destruction of the ability of humanity (and much else living) to survive on our planet, the global increase must reach no higher than 2°C, at most (and most agree that an increase beyond 1.5°C would be bad enough). In order to do this, at least 80% of the known fossil fuel "reserves" must remain in the ground. This pipeline would make that prospect increasingly difficult, because it is designed to facilitate the continuing extraction of the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

Worse than that, this pipeline represents the further colonization of indigenous lands, particularly that which lie adjacent to or solidly within the path of this project.

None of this is necessary. Studies show that all of the world's energy needs can be met by a combination of conservation, 100% renewable energy generation--which is entirely feasible using existing technology, and a reordering of the world's economic systems to facilitate production for need, not profit. The 100,000s of people who oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline understand this.

In spite of this massive opposition however, one group, in particular, has remained disturbingly silent, and that's labor unions.

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Categories: Unions


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