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Cambodia: Trial of ‘the 23’ garment workers delayed to next week

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Labor News

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:25
Jacob GoldsteinNPRApril 18, 2014View the original piece

The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.

On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.

But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.

The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.

Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.

In Earle's case, those measurements go into a little black box in the back of his truck. At the end of the day, the data get sent to Paramus, N.J., where computers crunch through the data from UPS trucks across the country.

"The data are about as important as the package for us," says Jack Levis, who's in charge of the UPS data. It's his job to think about small amounts of time and large amounts of money.

"Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million," Levis says.

His team figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.

The team figured out how to use sensors in the truck to predict when a part is about to break.

And UPS solved a problem that Bill Earle and other drivers used to have: At the end of the day, there would be a package in the back of the truck that should have been delivered hours before.

"You want to cry 'cause you have to go back," Earle says.

A computer now figures out the best way to load the truck in the morning, and the best way to deliver packages all day.

Earle says a typical day for him used to be around 90 deliveries — now it's about 120.

When you hear people talk about technology increasing workers' productivity, this is what they're talking about: same guy, same truck — lots more deliveries.

In the long run, as workers have gotten more productive, their pay has gone up. UPS drivers today make about twice what they made in the mid '90s when you add up their wages, health care and pensions, according to the head of their union.

But Earle says there is another side of driving around a truck full of sensors: "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Take, for example, backing up. For safety reasons, UPS doesn't like it when their drivers back up too much.

"They know exactly how many times you're backing up," Earle says, "where you're backing up, and they also know the distance and the speed that you're backing at."

Every day, Earle says, the company lets drivers know if they are backing up too much.

"You can't let it feel like it's an attack on your own personal, the way you've been doing the job," Earle says. "You can't look at it that way 'cause you'll get so frustrated that you won't even want to do it anymore."

Jack Levis, the UPS data guy, says the data are just a new way to figure out how to do things better, and faster. And, he says, the drivers benefit from that along with the company.

"They're the highest paid in the business, which is why my job is to keep them productive so they remain the highest paid in the industry."

Still, issues over the data the company collects have become part of the bargaining process between the drivers' union and the company. Under the drivers' contract, the company cannot discipline drivers based solely on data, and can't collect data without telling them.

This kind of back and forth — about what kind of data companies can collect, and what they can do with it — isn't limited to UPS. It's going to start popping up for more and more workers and more and more companies.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Bankruptcy Judge Says AMR Can't Cut Retiree Benefits Judge Says Former American Airlines Parent's Benefit Programs Lack Language Allowing It To Modify Them

Current News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:55

Bankruptcy Judge Says AMR Can't Cut Retiree Benefits
Judge Says Former American Airlines Parent's Benefit Programs Lack Language Allowing It To Modify Them
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230462630457950981336...

By JACQUELINE PALANK CONNECT
April 18, 2014 2:38 p.m. ET
A bankruptcy judge ruled that former American Airlines parent AMR Corp. doesn't have the unilateral right to terminate benefits to about 46,930 retirees.

Judge Sean H. Lane of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Thursday denied AMR's request, brought during its 2011 Chapter 11 case, that it could unilaterally modify the health and welfare benefits it offered its retirees because its benefit programs "lack language categorically reserving" its right to do so. AMR had sought to shift the cost of the benefits to its retirees, who include union and nonunion members.

"We thank Judge Lane for his thoughtful consideration of the issues. American will review his ruling and consider next steps related to the retiree health and life insurance benefits. We always remain open to productive discussions to finally resolve this matter," American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton said Friday in an emailed statement.

Attorneys who represented AMR and its retirees in the bankruptcy case couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

AMR sought Chapter 11 protection in November 2011 in a bid to address its high labor costs. The company exited bankruptcy last November through its merger with US Airways Group Inc. The merged company now operates as American Airlines Group Inc.AAL -0.31%

Write to Jacqueline Palank at jacqueline.palank@wsj.com

Tags: AAPensionsairline workers
Categories: Labor News

4/28 SF Workers Memorial Day-Fighting For Health And Safety & Healthcare For Injured Workers

Current News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:50

4/28 SF Workers Memorial Day-Fighting For Health And Safety & Healthcare For Injured Workers
Remember The Dead, Fight For The Living!
Monday April 28, 2014 7:00 PM PST
ILWU Local 34
5 Berry St./Next To AT&T Ball Park San Francisco, CA
Wheelchair Accessible
Free

Streamed Live on
www.kpfa.org
www.ilmnetwork.org

Join injured workers, health and safety advocates, healthcare advocates and others on Workers Memorial Day in San Francisco on April 28, 2014. In California workers face a more and more dangerous situation on the job with injuries and deaths from workplace toxins and hazards. New technologies such as biotech and nanotech are unregulated and workers union and unorganized who speak out about health and safety are illegally retaliated against in many workplaces.
At the same time, California has only 166 OSHA inspectors for 18 million workers and the state refuses to even hire more inspectors with money that has already been appropriated. Ca-OSHA whistleblowers are now speaking out about the need to defend Ca-OSHA to protect California workers on the job. There is a growing scandal at Cal-OSHA and DIR because they have not spent the money they have for a proper number of OSHA inspectors.
Workplace bullying on the job is also creating more health problems including depression which is now a larger part of workplace injuries yet has been threatened by California SB 863 which limits compensation for these injuries.
Injured workers also face a growing crisis after they have to go through one obstacle course after another to get their healthcare. Doctors who are not even licensed in California operate through an outsourced company called Maximus which has anonymous doctors giving determination about whether workers are able to get their healthcare needs met. On this day we will commemorate those workers killed on the job and those workers and their families who are fighting for healthcare and justice on the job.

Initial Speakers:
Brenda Barros, SEIU 1021 SF Cope Chair and SF General Hospital Worker
Dr. Larry Rose, Past Medical Director Cal-OSHA
Adam Wood, San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation
Sean Gillis, IFPTE 21 Oakland Unit M
Brian Carrasso, Injured worker at Clark Pest Control
George Figuerero ATU 1555 BART 2014 Strike Coordinator
Dina Padilla, Injured Worker Advocate, Injured Kaiser SEIU Hospital Worker
Dr. Jayshree Chander, 30th Anniversary Commemorative event, WALIB ("We All Live in Bhopal")

Sponsored by
Injured Workers National Network www.iwnn.org
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Injured-Workers-National-Network-IWNN/108...
California Coalition For Workers Memorial Day www.workersmemorialday.org
For information contact (415)282-1908

http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/WorkersMemorialDay
Watchdog Group: Cal/OSHA's Staff Level Has Fallen Below Minimum Standard for Federal Funding
http://ehstoday.com/osha/watchdog-group-calosha-s-staff-level-has-fallen...
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-worker-safety-20140211,0,37926.sto...
latimes.com/business/la-fi-worker-safety-20140211,0,37926.story

Tags: Workers Memorial Dayhealth and safetyworkplace bullying
Categories: Labor News

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 21:47

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move "You know, it does feel like big brother."
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/04/17/303770907/to-increase-producti...

by JACOB GOLDSTEIN
April 17, 2014 7:34 AM ET
Listen to the Story
Morning Edition4 min 25 sec

Elise Amendola/AP
The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.

On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.

But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.

The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.

Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.

In Earle's case, those measurements go into a little black box in the back of his truck. At the end of the day, the data get sent to Paramus, N.J., where computers crunch through the data from UPS trucks across the country.

"The data are about as important as the package for us," says Jack Levis, who's in charge of the UPS data. It's his job to think about small amounts of time and large amounts of money.

"Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million," Levis says.

His team figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.

The team figured out how to use sensors in the truck to predict when a part is about to break.

And UPS solved a problem that Bill Earle and other drivers used to have: At the end of the day, there would be a package in the back of the truck that should have been delivered hours before.

"You want to cry 'cause you have to go back," Earle says.

A computer now figures out the best way to load the truck in the morning, and the best way to deliver packages all day.

Earle says a typical day for him used to be around 90 deliveries — now it's about 120.

When you hear people talk about technology increasing workers' productivity, this is what they're talking about: same guy, same truck — lots more deliveries.

In the long run, as workers have gotten more productive, their pay has gone up. UPS drivers today make about twice what they made in the mid '90s when you add up their wages, health care and pensions, according to the head of their union.

But Earle says there is another side of driving around a truck full of sensors: "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Take, for example, backing up. For safety reasons, UPS doesn't like it when their drivers back up too much.

"They know exactly how many times you're backing up," Earle says, "where you're backing up, and they also know the distance and the speed that you're backing at."

Every day, Earle says, the company lets drivers know if they are backing up too much.

"You can't let it feel like it's an attack on your own personal, the way you've been doing the job," Earle says. "You can't look at it that way 'cause you'll get so frustrated that you won't even want to do it anymore."

Jack Levis, the UPS data guy, says the data are just a new way to figure out how to do things better, and faster. And, he says, the drivers benefit from that along with the company.

"They're the highest paid in the business, which is why my job is to keep them productive so they remain the highest paid in the industry."

Still, issues over the data the company collects have become part of the bargaining process between the drivers' union and the company. Under the drivers' contract, the company cannot discipline drivers based solely on data, and can't collect data without telling them.

This kind of back and forth — about what kind of data companies can collect, and what they can do with it — isn't limited to UPS. It's going to start popping up for more and more workers and more and more companies.

Tags: upslabor
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: Brax 'Feels Good' over labour rights violations at Lafem in Turkey

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Ukraine: НПГУ будет охранять шахты

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: КВПУ
Categories: Labor News

No raises merited for BART execs but BART board votes unanimously for higher salaries

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:09

No raises merited for BART execs but BART board votes unanimously for higher salaries
No raises merited for BART execs
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/No-raises-merited-...
April 15, 2014

BART Director James Fang said it himself: "Obviously in this last negotiation, BART was not at its finest."

Despite that admission, and in the wake of two strikes in the course of eight months of contentious labor negotiations, the death of two track workers struck by a train and weeks of snarled traffic as 400,000 riders scrambled to find alternate ways to get to work, the BART board voted unanimously last week to give the agency's top five executives a 3.7 percent raise and increase in benefits.

The pay increase matches that granted the transit agency's union workers, a typical practice - but one the board should reconsider if it is to preserve whatever is left of its credibility with taxpayers.

The voters expect BART directors to act in the public's interest to operate and upgrade a vital and heavily used regional transportation service, not to reward staff for a job horribly done. How can BART officials negotiate for the best agreement for the public when they effectively are bargaining to increase their own salaries?

Equally egregious is that directors also awarded a $225,000 contract to Agreement Dynamics Inc. of Seattle to look at how BART negotiates labor agreements and "ensure that future inconveniences to our riders and the public are avoided," Fang explained.

The events of the past year amply illustrate that the agency needs help with contract negotiations. Voters should ask BART directors why they aren't looking for executives who can do the work rather than paying consultants to do the demanding and exacting job for them.

Tags: BARTGrace CrunicansalariesUnion Busters
Categories: Labor News

Ca-Osha Fines In BART Deaths But No Criminal Prosecution-Taxpayers Pay Again For Murders

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:55

Ca-Osha Fines In BART Deaths But No Criminal Prosecution-Taxpayers Pay Again For Murders
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/BART-fined-for-worker-deaths-...
BART fined for worker deaths during strike
Kurtis Alexander

April 17, 2014

(04-17) 12:35 PDT OAKLAND -- State regulators on Thursday fined BART $210,000 in connection with the deaths of two track workers who were hit by a train last October during a union strike, accusing the transit agency of three "willful" violations of safety rules.

The investigation by Cal/OSHA, which regulates workplace safety, said BART should not have allowed the workers, under a long-controversial policy called "simple approval," to do the Oct. 19 inspection while trains were moving in excess of 65 mph on the same track.

While one of the workers was supposed to act as a lookout under the policy, neither one did, Cal/OSHA said. As a result, the employees "had no warning" of the train that struck them near Walnut Creek. They reportedly had their backs turned.

A second violation charged that a BART manager who was controlling the train that collided with the track workers had not been adequately trained for the job. Such managers, the state said, "were allowed to operate trains with inadequate supervision during an abbreviated training course."

BART had been training the managers as drivers to prepare for the possibility of an extended strike.

The third violation alleged that one of the workers who died had been in danger of being electrocuted before he was struck, because he was not qualified to carry a track gauge that could have exposed him to the system's 1,000-volt third rail.

"Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions," said Christine Baker, who heads Cal/OSHA, in a prepared statement.

BART has since fixed all three of the problems, according to state and BART officials. Simple approval is no longer used during track inspections and repairs.

"Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART," the transit agency's general manager, Grace Crunican, said after the fines were leveled. "BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART's safety performance."

The collision killed BART track engineer Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward and contract employee Laurence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks (Sacramento County).

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander

Tags: BARTMurderdeath on the rails
Categories: Labor News

Ca-Osha Fines Against BART Bosses But No Criminal Prosecution For Criminal Negligence And Deaths

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:41

Ca-Osha Fines Against BART Bosses But No Criminal Prosecution For Criminal Negligence And Deaths
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/citation.html
Date Issued Establishment Inspection Site Cal/OSHA Office Violations Description and
Proposed Penalty Documents by
Inspection # Appeal
Documentation
by Docket #
4/17/2014 Bay Area Rapid Transit District Walnut Creek Concord District Office
Willful/Serious – 3
Total
Violations - 3
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/citations/SF-BART.Citation-documents.31681905...
Proposed penalties: $210,000
Citations were issued to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District for three Willful-Serious citations related to a fatality involving two track workers. The employer failed to ensure that only qualified electrical workers were allowed to perform work or take any conducting object within an area where there is a hazard of contact with energized conductors. The employer's program was not effectively implemented with respect to the training provisions, in that the employer allowed employees, who had been given a new job assignment, to perform that job while having not completed the training. The employer did not develop and institute controls to safeguard personnel during railcar movement, and allowed workers to conduct work on the railway tracks where trains were travelling in excess of 65 miles-per-hour. Furthermore, the employer's control method, namely the "Simple Approval" procedure, does not safeguard personnel working on tracks during railcar movement.
Newsline No.: 2014-33 Date: April 17, 2014
Cal/OSHA Fines BART $210,000 in 2013 Accident that Killed 2 Transit Workers

Concord—Cal/OSHA cited Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) today for willful serious safety violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in Walnut Creek last October. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $210,000.

Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three willful serious violations after its investigation found the following:

• The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.
• A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from his vantage point in the passenger car.
• BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were both inadequate and not followed.
“Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

When the accident occurred on October 19, trains were being operated on a non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m. The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab. Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety,” said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Safety standards are designed to save lives and they were not followed.”

BART had its “simple approval” authorization process in place at the time of the accident, which made employees working on train tracks responsible for their own safety. On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were fatally injured while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued citations after investigations of both incidents. The day after the 2013 fatality accident, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance.

Cal/OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers who want to learn more about California workplace health and safety standards or labor law violations can access information on DIR’s website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the toll-free California Workers’ Information Line at (866) 924-9757 for recorded information, in English and Spanish, on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA District Offices.

For media inquiries, contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046.

###

P.O. Box 420603 · San Francisco, CA · 94142-0603 · www.dir.ca.gov

Tags: CA-OshaBARTscabsDeathsRail safety
Categories: Labor News

South Korea's response to ferry sinking assailed; captain apologizes "cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs."

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:44

South Korea's response to ferry sinking assailed; captain apologizes "cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs."
http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-ferry-sinking-20140417,0,...

By Steven Borowiec
April 17, 2014, 4:21 a.m.
SEOUL – Angry relatives of passengers aboard a sunken South Korean ferry criticized the government’s response Thursday as the ship’s captain made an emotional apology for fleeing the vessel before hundreds of others had a chance to get out.

As of Thursday afternoon, 287 people remained missing, most of them high school students on a trip. Nine people were confirmed dead and 179 had been rescued. The official death toll was expected to rise significantly in the coming days, as most of the missing are believed to be trapped underwater inside the ship, named the Sewol.

President Park Geun-hye traveled to the site of the sinking, off the nation’s southern coast, touring the area by boat and later meeting with families of the passengers. But tempers flared as parents argued for a larger-scale diving operation to find the missing. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won was nearly attacked by grieving families as he arrived on the scene. Photos showed him being shielded from a water bottle that was thrown at him.



'I love you,' student texts mom from sinking South Korea ferry

Putin: Russia may invade Ukraine to protect locals

Oil slick not linked to missing jet, Australians say

PHOTOS: South Korea ferry sinks

The Sewol was en route from Incheon, on the country’s northwest coast, to the resort island of Jeju, when it went down around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials said 500 divers, 169 boats and 29 planes had been mobilized to continue search operations. But poor underwater visibility and strong currents were making it difficult for the divers. "Strong currents and the murky water pose severe obstacles. We will do our best," Minister of Security and Public Administration Kang Byung-kyu said at a Thursday press briefing.

On Thursday afternoon, Park Im-dae decided to take a bus from the Seoul area with her daughter to the nearby port of Jindo, where grief-stricken families had gathered at a gymnasium awaiting news of the missing. She was hoping for information about her nephew, one of the missing high school students.

“We don’t know who is dead and who is alive,” said Park. “It’s too difficult to just wait here and do nothing.”

Lee Joon-seok, captain of the Sewol, has been criticized for fleeing the ship before all passengers could evacuate. In a broadcast by South Korea’s YTN network, Lee made an emotional apology. "I am really sorry. I don't know what to say," he said while seated in a chair, surrounded by reporters with a hood pulled over his face. He then repeated, “I’m so sorry.”

The South Korean coast guard reported that Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on vacation.

The ship sent out distress calls in a position east of the normal route from Incheon to Jeju, raising the possibility that the captain had taken a shortcut. The Sewol’s departure Tuesday was delayed almost three hours by fog.

“It is possible that the ship changed its course to a different route because it was delayed leaving Incheon,” Lee Gyeong-Og, vice minister of Security and Public Administration, said in a press briefing. The company operating the ship, Cheonghaejin Marine Co., has denied changing course.

Rim Gung-su, a professor at Mokpo National Maritime University with more than 30 years of experience as a ship captain, suspects that an abrupt turn may have caused the ferry to turn on its side and sink.

“The ship was moving at full speed, it was very foggy and there were probably a lot of fishing boats around. My theory is that the captain turned suddenly to the right to avoid a boat, which could have caused the cargo to fall over, throwing the Sewol off balance,” Rim said.

He also said that cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs. The Sewol, about 480 feet long, can carry up to 921 people, 180 vehicles and 152 shipping containers.

The Sewol was built in 1994 in Japan and was purchased by Cheonghaejin Marine in 2012. After being purchased, the ship was refurbished to increase its capacity. Rim said this would have raised the Sewol’s center of gravity and could have made it more vulnerable to tipping over in the event of a shift of weight. The Sewol was fully licensed and operating legally.

Passengers reported hearing a loud noise before the sinking. “At first the ship tilted about 15 degrees and I assumed it was just because of a big wave,” passenger Kim Hong-kyung, 58, told the Kyunghyang newspaper. “But then it was only two or three minutes until it shifted to 45 and then 90 degrees.”

Survivors told local media that there had been a public address announcement instructing them to stay in their seats as the boat was sinking. Photos showed several lifeboats going unused as the ship went down.

Tags: deregulationmaritime safety
Categories: Labor News

Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Fights Privatization & Union Busting

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:43

Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Fights Privatization & Union Busting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAEvgdFKkLc&feature=
On April 4, 2014 So-Joon Song, Korean Railway Workers Union International
Affairs Director gave a report on the Korean Railway Workers Union
2013 general strike against privatization, their history and struggle against
privatization, health and safety and for public control of transportation system.
So-Joon Song had been fired for eleven years for union activity and won
his job back after a long fight.
The report was made at the Railway Workers United RWU national
conference in Chicago in conjunction with the Labor Notes Convention.
For more information on the Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU go to
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-railway-workers-right-to-strike-i...
http://krwu.nodong.net/home2008/main.php
For more information on Railway Workers United RWU
http://railroadworkersunited.org/
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: Korean Railway Workers UnionKRWU
Categories: Labor News

China: Thousands of Chinese workers on strike

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BBC
Categories: Labor News

Bangladesh: Trace the human cost of the shirt on your back. Powerful inter-active documentary

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Railroad Workers Unite in Chicago

Current News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 10:21

Railroad Workers Unite in Chicago
http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/16566/railroad_workers_unite_in_ch...
WEDNESDAY, APR 16, 2014, 10:10 AM
Railroad Workers Unite in Chicago
BY KARI LYDERSEN

Nancy Lessin (L), an expert on safety programs, joins Ron Kaminkow (R), a longtime rail worker, for a moment of levity during last weekend's Railroad Workers United conference. (Kari Lydersen)

Chicago is known as the place where the nation’s railroads meet. And last weekend, the city also became the meeting spot for about 40 of the country’s most progressive and activism-driven railroad union workers when it hosted the biennial conference of Railroad Workers United (RWU), an independent labor organization founded in 2008 that includes members of the major rail unions, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and other labor groups. Their gathering dovetailed with the Labor Notes conference, which brings together activist trade unionists from around the world every two years.

Those converging in Chicago for the RWU conference included locomotive engineers, rail yard workers, people who build trains and employees of contractors that service locomotives. They represent a small wedge of activism and solidarity-building in an industry that, while crucial to the country’s economic well-being and one of the cleanest freight transport options, is alsonotorious for retaliation against workers who agitate for better conditions or speak out about injuries and safety hazards.

Blame the worker
A major target of the RWU conference, and of railroad workers’ organizing in general, was the concept of “behavior-based safety programs,” described by critics as “blame the worker” initiatives. Such programs—which workers say most major rail companies have instituted—discourage workers from reporting injuries or related safety hazards. The programs, also becomingprevalent in other industries, are based on the idea that almost all injuries are avoidable if workers follow proper protocols. The implication, critics say, is that when workers are hurt, it’s their fault.

“For example, the biggest cause of injuries is slips, trips and falls,” RWU leader Ron Kaminkow, a long-time railroad worker in Chicago and elsewhere, tells In These Times. “A rational person would say eliminate the hazards for slips, trips and falls. The industry says ‘keep your eyes on the path, maintain situational awareness, wear the right footwear.’ It could be a minefield, but if you’re following the rules you’ll never slip, trip or fall.”

The programs also typically involve a “team” aspect, in which workers are offered rewards when the whole workplace avoids reportable injuries. That creates peer pressure to dissuade injured workers from coming forward.

“It pits worker against worker, and can have a devastating effect on worker solidarity,” says Nancy Lessin, a labor educator and strategist with the United Steelworkers and an expert in behavior-based safety programs, at the RWU conference.

Railroad workers at Lessin’s talk describe the often insulting and ridiculous incentives they have been promised for avoiding injuries. “I got a funky junky clock [in return for a good safety record] that arrived broken and I slashed my hand taking it out of the box,” recalls one RWU member.

Jen Wallis is a BNSF railway employee in Seattle who has been in a years-long court battle over an injury she incurred in 2008followed by a long-term suspension without pay. She says workers at her rail yard are given decorative “safety plates” each year for going injury-free. She continues, “Or you could bank your plates for a weird prize from these catalogues they give you, like a wet-dry bag.” (In These Times will explore Wallis’s case further in a coming story.)

J.P. Wright, a CSX locomotive engineer and “labor troubadour” out of Louisville, Ky., calls the incentives demeaning and unnecessary. “Of course I want to come home safely, you don’t need to write that on a mirror or a knife,” he says. “I have a wife and kid I want to go home to; [the safety message] is written all over them.”

“But these trinkets do make a difference,” Lessin tells the group. “Giving people donuts gets them to not report injuries.”

One-man crews and oil trains: a dangerous combination
Railroad workers have long been arguing against the industry push to run freight trains with a single operator, another focus of the RWU conference. Workers note that while trains used to have crews of four to six people, two is now a typical size—and many big train companies are trying to cut that number further.

Union leaders and rail employees say these “one-man trains” are unsafe and put an unfair strain on operators. The increasing use of rail to haul crude oil from the Bakken shale in North Dakota and from the tar sands in Canada has meant increasing scrutiny on rail safety, as the potential for disaster is amplified exponentially when trains carry such flammable cargo.

Railroad workers, consumer safety advocates and members of Congress have all pointed to the Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec in July as an example of how a one-man train and an oil cargo can be a deadly combination.

Kaminkow, who spent years working in different Chicago rail yards before moving to Nevada, notes that addressing the oil train issue can be a delicate balance for railroad workers. Carrying oil or other hazardous products can be disastrous when trains are understaffed or poorly maintained, he says. But railroad advocates, like many environmental and transportation leaders, agree that rail is the country’s most ecological mode of transportation with respect to emissions and environmental impact. And when operated safely, trains don’t leak or spill like pipelines.

RWU members and railroad unions have long been calling for all trains to be outfitted with something called “positive train control,” which automatically stops a locomotive in certain circumstances. Meanwhile, they argue against an industry and government push to put cameras in all locomotives, presumably to catch engineers dozing or not paying attention. This issue has also gotten recent attention after an accident at O’Hare International Airport, where a Chicago Transit Authority operator fell asleep and the train plowed into an escalator.

“That’s assuming we’re lazy and irresponsible; [that] if there’s no camera we’ll get a nap in,” says Kaminkow. “But it’s like driving on the highway—no one wants to fall asleep. A camera in a locomotive does not stop someone from nodding off.” That’s why companies need to install safety controls on trains instead of blaming workers, Kaminkow says.

Solidarity across borders
RWU is also striving to develop ties with railroad workers in other countries, and to see how their campaigns and interests can intersect. The RWU conference featured a French machinist member of the left-wing SUD-Rail union and rail union leaders from South Korea who held a major strike in December. Though the government owns and operates railroads in both countries, a wave of privatization is breaking up the railroads as they are sold off to companies. That guts the unions’ power; it could also mean lesser wages, benefits and protections for workers. RWU members also connected with the train workers from Brazil in town for Labor Notes, who are involved with the popular organizing efforts opposing Brazil’s plans to host the World Cup.

RWU members at the conference adopted resolutions promising to increase their ties with Mexican and Canadian workers, including by translating their website and materials into Spanish and French.

They also discussed a problem familiar to workers across many industries: the growing use of subcontracted, nonunionized workers. In Chicago, that includes the employees of Mobile Rail Solutions: contract workers who organized with the Industrial Workers of the World last year after a hard-fought campaign. In August 2013, Mobile Rail workers went on strike over what they described as unsafe, unsanitary conditions; they also accused the company of firing of workers involved in the unionization drive. The workers filed charges of Unfair Labor Practices against the company; according to the local’s Facebook page, Mobile Rail agreed in February to a $159,000 settlement negotiated through the National Labor Relations Board.

Mobile Rail worker and IWW activist Ahern Owen says that since the strike, the company has remedied unsafe conditions such as those on the 10-foot towers that workers climb in order to pour sand used for track friction into trucks.

But the union still remains in contentious contract negotiations with the company. Owen says Mobile Rail has refused to agree to important union demands on issues, including the use of subcontractors and the status of the union if the company is sold.

In the past, only people directly employed by railroads have been members of RWU; at the conference, RWU agreed to also extend official membership to employees of third-party companies contracted by rail corporations—including the workers at Mobile Rail.

The bigger picture
Packing up RWU ball caps, T-shirts and other fundraising merchandise at the end of Labor Notes, Kaminkow reflects on the long odds facing RWU, especially given that they are usually working without the official support or involvement of the major rail unions. (While many RWU members are from major unions, union leadership typically does not endorse RWU activities.) Kaminkow feels they’ve made slow yet meaningful progress in educating railroad workers and the general public about issues like behavior-based safety and the risks of one-man trains.

At RWU’s party during Labor Notes, in a conference room adorned with railroad memorabilia, workers share stories and details of different rail yards around the country. They talk about the otherworldly sound of hundreds of rail cars mounting the “hump” of a rail yard and then sliding down different tracks; the various lantern signals that tell engineers to move or stop a train; and about waiting in motels for the call to get back on the tracks for another long haul.

“It’s a tough lifestyle, but for guys like me, with a high school degree, it’s a good living,” says Ed Michael, who worked for decades for railroads out of southern Illinois. Meanwhile, Wright strolls through the crowd with his guitar strumming railroad and labor songs, often adding his own lyrics to reference contemporary struggles.

“Hate the bosses,” says Kaminkow to sum up a typical railroad worker’s attitude. “Love the job.”

Tags: Railroad Workers UnitedRWU
Categories: Labor News

OSHA fines Port of Portland terminal ICTSI Oregon operator

Current News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 08:59

OSHA fines Port of Portland terminal ICTSI Oregon operator
http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/04/osha_fines_port_of_...

Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian)
By The Associated Press
on April 15, 2014 at 6:42 PM, updated April 15, 2014 at 10:06 PM

PORTLAND — The company that operates the Port of Portland's container terminal has been fined $18,360 following a safety inspection by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Documents show the federal agency levied the penalty last week after a routine inspection of the North Portland site in late February. The inspector found ICTSI Oregon to be in violation of more than a dozen worker safety codes, such as not informing employees about potential exposure to airborne lead and having workers operate machinery that lacked proper guards against flying objects.

OSHA did not identify any injuries that resulted from the alleged hazards.

ICTSI Oregon can contest the findings and proposed penalty. Company officials did not respond to phone or email messages.

Port spokesman Josh Thomas said he was told by a manager Tuesday that any safety issues identified by the inspector "have been and will continue to be addressed by our terminal operator."

ICTSI Oregon is a subsidiary of International Container Terminal Services Inc., a major global ports operator based in the Philippines.

ICTSI signed a 25-year lease in 2010 to operate the struggling Portland terminal, and the U.S. venture has been marked by a severely strained relationship with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

Company officials have accused longshoremen of engaging in an illegal slowdown for the past two years. The goal, they contend, is to hurt productivity, and ultimately drive away shippers and ICTSI.

The union, meanwhile, has repeatedly said the company skimps on safety at the site known as Terminal 6.

"We're grateful that OSHA is stepping in to hold ICTSI accountable for its failure to protect the men and women who work at Terminal 6," ILWU spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent said from San Francisco. "ICTSI is accustomed to operating in low-wage countries where workers don't have the same rights we have in the United States."

--Steven DuBois, The Associated Press

Tags: oshaPort Of PortlandILWU Local 8
Categories: Labor News

Indonesia: Global union protests hold Rio responsible for 33 gold miner deaths in 2013

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

Global: Exposing the ugly truth about Rio Tinto

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

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