IBT Joint Council 7 Pres Rome Aloise, Hoffa's Main Man In The West, Charged By IBT IRB
POSTED ON FEBRUARY 12, 2016
Rome Aloise, International Vice President and the most powerful Hoffa-Slate official in the West, has been slapped with charges for massive corruption violations. His career as a Teamster official and Hoffa Slate power broker is likely over.
Aloise holds multiple union positions and Hoffa administration appointments, including International Union Vice President, head of Northern California Joint Council 7, Local 853 and the IBT Food Processing and Dairy Divisions.
The charges against Aloise were issued in a blistering 122-page report by the Independent Review Board, an independent anti-corruption panel.
The charges are wide-ranging and involve almost every conceivable labor crime, including:
• requesting things of value from employers during negotiations
• taking employers gifts, including admissions to Playboy’s Super Bowl Party for Hoffa’s Executive assistant and his friends
• trying to leverage jobs for his relatives from employers, including UPS, Costco and others during labor negotiations
• negotiating a sham collective bargaining agreement
• using union resources to punish political opponents and prevent a fair Teamster election
The charges are very likely to end Aloise’s career. We expect Hoffa to dump him from his slate, and soon Teamster officials in California, who have been kissing his ring, will fail to return his calls.
Aloise made $346,722 in salaries and allowances in 2014. He can retire with multiple pensions and a million dollar lump sum. But he tried to get even more for himself and his friends under the table. Consider these details from the IRB report:
• In contract negotiations, Aloise used union negotiating leverage to try to land jobs for difficult-to-employ relatives from Teamster employers like UPS, Costco, a bus manufacturer, and SWS (the largest liquor distributor in the United States). He repeatedly pressed employers, with open contracts, to hire his step-son who had criminal charges filed against him for assault, robbery and displaying a weapon.
• Aloise solicited tickets from SWS to the Playboy SuperBowl Party of 2013 worth $9,600 for Hoffa’s executive assistant, W. C. Smith. At the same time he helped SWS “keep a troublesome local official in line with the company’s expectations”, causing Minneapolis Local 792 to get a lesser contract. Aloise later reported to the employer attorney that “Hoffa’s Ex Asst and his friends loved it!”
• Aloise financed and orchestrated a coordinated, illegal attack on members who dared to run for office in Stockton Local 601 against incumbent Ashley Alvarez, an Aloise ally. The IRB report details how Aloise used union resources and employer resources and involved Beeson, a Teamster law firm, as well as Hoffa’s hatchet man Richard Leebove to deny the rights of rank-and-file members. Aloise even bragged to the IRB about advising Alvarez to illegally issue leaflets falsely signed by one opponent attacking another opponent, saying, “That’s my political advice!” The IRB report cites his documented history of trampling on the rights of members who run for union office against his cronies.
• Aloise signed a sham union contract to get union health benefits for a friend, who owned an investment firm.
It’s sad that our union leadership tolerates and promotes people like Aloise, who degrade the integrity of our great union. If Hoffa was not aware of one of his top lieutenant’s criminal activities, he should have been.
We need new International Union leaders who will root out corruption, not reward it.Tags: IBT Joint Council 7 Pres Rome AloiseIBTIRBcorruption
London taxi drivers bring central London to standstill in protest over Uber
By Charles Farwell - February 12, 20160
Thousands of London black cab drivers forced traffic in Whitehall, Piccadilly and surrounding roads to grind to a halt this afternoon as they staged a massive protestagainst mincab app Uber and government regulation of the industry. “The protest is peaceful”.
Tory said he has sympathy for the plight of traditional cabbies but said taxis can’t be allowed to block streets as they did during a protest in December. Even though they are not officially employing anyone, their drivers earn the right to some basic necessities, such as minimum wage guarantees and health insurance.
But, just a week later, Daoust is calling for Uber to suspend the operations of its UberX service in the province until the committee has done its work.
Commenting on the cabbies’ protest, Jo Bertram, Uber’s regional general manager, told the London Standard, “Of course competition has affected the taxi trade, but it can also lead to service improvements and a better experience for passengers over time”. Speaking to a small crowd at the London protest on Wednesday, Galloway said that if he’s elected mayor of the city in the upcoming May vote, he’ll “run Uber out of London“, a statement he later repeated on Twitter. “Meanwhile, they’re not regulating Uber and Uber X and Lyft”.
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Drivers say Uber drivers are undercutting fares and operting outside the law. “Everybody’s aware of that, but everybody wants to point their finger and say ‘Oh, I don’t know anything about it.’ Somebody needs to take responsibility”. Instead, Brian Abernathy, first deputy managing director for Philadelphia, met the protesters and promised that within the next few days, city officials would convene a meeting to discuss how to fix some of the drivers’ concerns.
Philadelphia taxi and limo drivers, angry with ride-booking services UberX and Lyft cutting into their business, took to Center City streets Thursday blocking traffic and making noise. “Each year, the PPA requires limousine drivers to pay $404 per vehicle for a PPA sticker and $130 for their chauffeur’s permit to be renewed”.
A seperate trade body, the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, argued that the introduction of a segregated cycle route on the Victoria Embankment breached planning rules, but the High Court rejected its claim today.Tags: London Taxi DriversUber
Delivery Start-Ups Face Road Bumps in Quest to Capture Untapped Market
By MIKE ISAACFEB. 11, 2016
Brian Navarro, a courier for Postmates and DoorDash, delivers a food order from Silverlake Ramen in the Los Angeles area. CreditEmily Berl for The New York Times
DoorDash, one of a multitude of start-ups with a mobile app that lets people order and get food sent to their doorsteps, relies on contract drivers like Brian Navarro to make the deliveries. The problem is that workers like Mr. Navarro don’t always stick around.
Mr. Navarro began driving for DoorDash and another delivery start-up, Postmates, in Los Angeles about four months ago. Mr. Navarro, 40, who previously drove for the ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, said he had seen plenty of contractors quit DoorDash and other delivery companies during the time he has worked with them.
“Drivers do jump around,” Mr. Navarro said. “The general consensus is that drivers really only stick around for three to six months.”
That churn has become expensive for DoorDash. A large number of drivers left the start-up less than a year after they joined, according to two people who have seen the company’s driver data. DoorDash spends upward of $200 in recruitment and referral bonuses for some drivers, said the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are confidential. Other delivery companies, like Postmates and Instacart, face similar retention challenges, these people said.
From left, Holger Luedorf, Bastian Lehmann and Sean Plaice of Postmates at its office in San Francisco. Mr. Lehmann, the chief executive, said the company’s long-term approach would ultimately drive down prices for customers. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times
The issue is just one headache now troubling delivery start-ups, which have been among the hottest sectors of start-up activity in recent years. Based on a belief that the companies would succeed once they grew to enormous scale, investors poured more than $730 million into delivery firms like DoorDash, Instacart and Postmates from early 2014 through the first half of 2015, up more than 1,100 percent from the same period a year and a half ago, according to data from CB Insights, a venture capital analytics firm.
But entrepreneurs and investors are beginning to find that the economics of making a delivery service work are far from easy.
Good Eggs, an organic grocery delivery service, laid off more than 100 employees and shuttered its offices outside its San Francisco headquarters in August. Instacart, the grocery delivery service, recently laid off 12 recruiters, which the company said was “part of an overall plan to slow down hiring” after a growth spree last year. And DoorDash has been turned down by some venture capitalists as it has tried to raise new financing, according to three people familiar with the company’s plans.
The problems are rooted in the high operating costs of the start-ups, which typically act as middlemen between consumers and restaurants or grocery stores. The companies not only have to pay for large fleets of drivers, they also have big groups of employees who receive customer orders from the apps and who then manually make calls to the restaurants to order food. At the same time, to attract customers, many of the start-ups offer introductory prices and discounts, often making delivery free for first-time users.
As DoorDash’s experience with drivers shows, the start-ups’ costs don’t necessarily decline over time. For some drivers, who are paid a fee per delivery, it can be difficult to make enough deliveries in an hour to make it financially worthwhile for them. And when drivers move on, the companies must spend again to recruit replacements.
“Ensuring drivers have the best possible experience on the DoorDash platform is one of our top priorities,” Eitan Bencuya, a DoorDash spokesman, said in a statement. He said the company has proprietary technology that helps drivers increase the amount of deliveries they can make in a single trip, increasing their commissions per hour.
Mr. Bencuya declined to comment on DoorDash’s fund-raising efforts. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on the start-up’s funding hurdles.
For consumers, the delivery services may not seem cheap, either. Customers pay a delivery fee and a service charge on top of the cost of the food, as well as an optional tip to the driver. That has prompted concern that the services will not appeal to less affluent users in cities like New York, Denver, Atlanta and San Francisco, where DoorDash and others operate.
“Private companies doing last-mile delivery rely on charging high consumer fees, which make the services untenably expensive for the average consumer,” Dean Prissman, an Internet analyst for Morgan Stanley, wrote in a research note to clients in October.
Some investors said the start-ups have the potential to capture a relatively untapped multibillion-dollar market, one that is also being eyed by tech behemoths like Google, Amazon and Uber. The companies see opportunity in bringing delivery to millions of retailers and restaurants that do not now offer it, all for a slice of the fees.
A Postmates courier making a cupcake pickup. CreditJason Henry for The New York Times
Alfred Lin, a partner at the venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, which has invested in DoorDash and Instacart, said the start-ups are also amassing a very valuable asset: consumers’ purchasing data. “The advent of the smartphone gives a company the ability to track all the information about your purchasing habits, and where you are,” he said. “It’s pretty dramatic what a company can do to utilize that information.”
Mr. Lin compared DoorDash’s trajectory to those of Netflix, Amazon and Zappos, which all required huge early spending toward a bet on future growth. He added that DoorDash is seeing a lot of growth now.
Bastian Lehmann, chief executive of Postmates, said that delivery businesses face high upfront costs but that his company’s long-term approach will ultimately drive down prices for customers. Postmates has raised more than $100 million from investors including Spark Capital and Tiger Global Management.
“It’s still kind of a premium service,” Mr. Lehmann said in an interview. “It’s not unlike the early days of Uber, when they only had black cars.”
To bring prices down, Postmates and DoorDash have assembled teams to forge deals with restaurants that they provide delivery for in their apps. The start-ups negotiate a fee that a restaurant pays per delivery — in the range of 20 percent — and the savings are passed on to the consumer, who pays a $5 delivery fee. Early retail partners include Chipotle, Starbucks and 7-Eleven, among others.
Mr. Lehmann said he imagines a future in which Postmates cuts deals with 60 to 70 percent of the restaurants in its app. As Postmates grows more popular, drivers will be able to make more deliveries to more people in shorter amounts of time, eventually earning them — and the company — more money.
“We can and will be profitable as a company in 2017,” he said.
Mr. Lehmann added that its drivers do jump to adjacent services from time to time but frequently return to working for Postmates.
DoorDash is trying to keep a lid on costs another way: By paying its drivers less per delivery. According to an email from the company to drivers that was reviewed by The New York Times, DoorDash said that starting on Monday, it would change the pay per delivery in Los Angeles to $5, down from $6, excluding tips.
“We know this is an important change, so we want to be transparent about why we are making this adjustment,” DoorDash said in the email. The company said drivers would make up what they lose in fee cuts through an increased order volume.
Mr. Navarro, the driver in Los Angeles, said he could make only about two deliveries an hour, though that has increased at peak mealtimes. While he is unhappy with the fee change, he said he plans to keep working for DoorDash and Postmates for now because it beats the alternative.
“I’d rather do this than be driving for Lyft or Uber,” he said.Tags: Postmates
Capitalist UBER "Disrupters" Face Possible Jail Time In France
2 Uber execs facing jail in France amid tensions with taxis
By Philippe Sotto Associated Press
POSTED: 02/12/2016 06:07:23 AM PST0 COMMENTS| UPDATED: ABOUT 3 HOURS AGO
PARIS -- Two top Uber executives appeared Thursday in court in charges that could send them to prison and offer the ride-hailing company one of its most serious legal challenges to date in France.
The San Francisco-based company shut down the low-cost UberPop service, which connected users to non-professional drivers and prompted the criminal charges. But it continues to operate in France despite repeated strikes and sometimes violent tensions with taxi drivers, and is not outlawed entirely as it is in Spain and Italy.
Charges against Thibaud Simphal, general manager for France, and Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, chief for Western Europe, include running an illegal taxi operation, commercial deception and violation of French privacy law by illegally stocking, processing and recording personal information.
They face up to five years in prison and a 300,000 euro ($338,000) fine each if convicted. Uber France is also charged and faces a 1.5 million-euro ($1.7 million) fine.
The two managers were notified of the charges directly by the Paris prosecutor's office just after being held in custody for hours last June.
A spokesman for Uber France, Thomas Meister, said it is "extremely unusual to be summoned to appear in court directly by a prosecutor" after a police investigation. He also questioned the lack of oversight from an investigating judge or the French agency that specializes in privacy violations.
"Our lawyers don't even know what we are exactly blamed for," especially in the privacy counts, Meister told The Associated Press ahead of the trial.
More than 200 UberPop drivers have been fined under fast-track procedures in France and one was handed a 15-day suspended prison term, but Thursday's trial is the first for Uber managers in France. Uber France has already been convicted of commercial deception and fined 150,000 euros ($170,000) over UberPop.
French taxis drivers argue that Uber sidesteps taxes, social charges and licensing fees, and endangers passengers.
Uber calls the French system outdated and says it needs radical reform to keep up with technological changes.
"We are not challenging labor law", said Meister, the Uber France spokesman. "We rather put order into the system. We are the symptom of a problem, not responsible for the problem."
Meister complained critics point the finger only at Uber, not at similar smartphone app-based services like Heetch, a French startup. "There are double standards", he said.
The French government has kept up its offensive with document checks of drivers suspected to be illegally moonlighting for Uber and similar services.
On Thursday, hours before the start of the trial, police teamed up with anti-fraud investigators to check taxis and car services at Paris' Gare de Lyon train station. Several chauffeurs were fined for illegal taxi activity after being caught carrying a single passenger. The drivers have particular status allowing them to carry a minimum of two passengers, but many skirt the regulations and use platforms like Uber to pick up single passengers.
"We are talking about transporting people. So when you are in this business you need to have a qualification and respect the rules," said Laurent Grandguillaume, the new mediator in the conflict between taxis and Uber-like alternatives.Tags: Ubertaxi workersDisrupters
Boston MBTA union lashes out at outsourcing plan "Make no mistake with privatization, there's always a potential for layoffs, hurting families and workers. Some people will have fallback rights but others will not," James O'Brien, president of the Boston
Boston MBTA union lashes out at outsourcing plan "Make no mistake with privatization, there's always a potential for layoffs, hurting families and workers. Some people will have fallback rights but others will not," James O'Brien, president of the Boston Carmen's Union, told the News Service.
By Andy Metzger/State House News Service
February 10. 2016 4:50PM
MBTA union lashes out at outsourcing plan
BOSTON - The MBTA's plans for a dramatic reduction in its business-side workforce through outsourcing of cash handling and fare gates generated a forceful rebuttal from transit unions at a Wednesday meeting.
"A big part of this is to improve performance," Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve told reporters. He said there are 165 employees in the T's money room - located in Charlestown's Sullivan Square - and 37 are eligible to retire.
Shortsleeve also said that many money room workers could return to positions driving vehicles, an area where the T is hiring, and fare gate maintenance staff could perform other electrical work.
"Make no mistake with privatization, there's always a potential for layoffs, hurting families and workers. Some people will have fallback rights but others will not," James O'Brien, president of the Boston Carmen's Union, told the News Service.
A policy brief released Tuesday by the Pioneer Institute claimed "huge management payroll increases" at the MBTA. The brief, which cites data made public by the National Transit Database, says the agency's general administration employee count increased by more than 79 percent between fiscal year 2008 and fiscal year 2014, from 279 to 481.
In addition to outsourcing the money room and operation of automated fare collection systems on the bus and subway, the MBTA is considering privatization in managing employee leave, warehouse logistics and other corporate services.
Shortsleeve said he hoped to reduce the MBTA's business side operations headcount from about 650 down to 400, with system operations continuing to be undertaken by state employees.
Last summer, the Legislature suspended what's known as the Pacheco law, handing the MBTA the ability to privatize services without going through a vetting process overseen by the state auditor.
O'Brien said his union represents 69 employees in the money room, and said outsourcing the work carries risks.
"Privatization does not guarantee that there's going to be a cost-savings or a better efficiency. Our guys have been doing the work. They're senior employees. They do a great job at the work they do today," O'Brien said. He said, "There's always a safety and security issue when you're going to hand the keys to a private company."
Shortsleeve said privatization would shift risk from the T to a private company and could offer solutions to technological challenges, such as the communication difficulties between software in the fare gates and software in the money room.
O'Brien said the Carmen's Union wants to be a partner in modernizing the T's payment system and other employees vouched for their enthusiasm for the work.
"I enjoy where I'm at. It's a great opportunity and we work hard," Antrynette Hobbs, a senior revenue agent in the money room, told MBTA overseers at a meeting Wednesday. A Mattapan resident, Hobbs is an 18-year employee of the MBTA who used to drive buses.
Money room employees perform cash counting and revenue collection undertaken in armored vehicles, according to O'Brien, who said money room staff also work for Boston and Cambridge parking meters along with Turnpike tolls.
During Wednesday's joint meeting of the MBTA Fiscal and Management Control Board and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors, the MassDOT board's labor representative Russell Gittlen likened labor to a family, and said, "You don't just throw your family away and buy a new family."
Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, said MBTA employees have been "demonized" in the press and said the T should receive more funding.
"It seems somewhere along the line we stopped wanting to fund it," Tolman told transportation officials.
Shortsleeve said 13 companies responded to a December request for information about providing automated fare collection services. They are: First Data Government Solutions, Wells Fargo, ACI Worldwide, Trapeze Group, Xerox, Cubic, Thales Transport & Security, Vix Technology, CHyp USA, Accenture, Scheidt & Bachmann, Masabi, and InCommon. Masabi provides mobile phone ticketing for the commuter rail, Shortsleeve said.
Developing a request for proposals will take a few weeks, Shortsleeve said.Boston Carmen's Unionprivatization
NJ Transit, Rail Unions on Collision Course Toward Possible Strike
(Kate Hinds / WNYC)
Feb 10, 2016 · by Kate Hinds
Rail workers descended upon the Newark headquarters of NJ Transit Wednesday, using the public comment period of the agency's monthly board meeting to urge leaders to reach a deal before a March 13 strike deadline.
"I urge this board to assist us in any way to avert a possible work stoppage," said Stephen Burkert, the general chairman of the SMART union transportation division and a spokesman for the coalition representing rail workers. He told the board that laborers want to "come to an agreement at a conference table, not a picket line."
But speaking to reporters outside the board room, Burkert said the the ultimate dealmaking power lies not in Newark but 60 miles to the southwest. "We have been trying to negotiate with NJ Transit," he said, "but their answer was consistently, 'We need to get word from Trenton.' Yet Trenton never showed up at those meetings."
Because NJ Transit is a state-operated agency, Gov. Chris Christie can veto any labor deal within 10 days of board approval. It's unclear how involved, if at all, the governor has been in negotiations — or if he'd become more involved once he steps off the presidential campaign trail — but he controls the agency's increasingly strapped finances.
Kevin Roberts, a spokesman for Christie, referred questions about contract talks to NJ Transit and said any union criticism of the governor's office was "pure posturing."
Meanwhile, workers have been without a contract for nearly five years, and although talks are ongoing, the two sides are far apart when it comes to insurance. "Heath care is the big thing," Burkert said. "They're looking for an 800 percent increase in the cost of the premium."
According to the federal labor board report, union rail workers currently pay about $81 a month for health insurance. The coalition's offer calls for workers to pay two percent of their salary for health insurance. NJ Transit wants workers to pay 10 to 20 percent of health insurance costs, depending on date of hire.
Burkert described NJ Transit's offer as a non-starter because it would increase health insurance costs to workers by "hundreds" of dollars a month, which he said was tantamount to a pay cut. NJ Transit would not confirm details of their offer.
"The subject of negotiation is not going to be done in public," said NJ Transit's interim executive director, Dennis Martin. "It's going to be done in private. And we hope to reach an affordable solution."
Martin said another round of talks was scheduled, but the coalition could not confirm.
At Wednesday's meeting, riders urged the two sides to come to a deal. "Go down to Trenton," Orin Getz of the NJ Association of Railroad Passengers told the board. "They have to give you the money that you need to keep NJ Transit operating properly and provide enough money to negotiate an equitable settlement. Five years of working without a contract is just dead wrong."
By the numbers: NJ Transit's rail labor dispute
• Earliest date a strike or a lockout could legally happen: 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 13
• Number of commuters who take NJ Transit trains on an average weekday: 160,000
• Number of rail workers involved: approximately 4,220, represented by a coalition of 17 different unions
• Length of time workers have been without a contract: nearly 5 years
• Number of federal mediation boards who have ruled in favor of the unions: 2
• Last time NJ Transit rail workers went on strike: 1983
• Length of time that strike lasted: 34 days
Compiled by x344543 - February 8, 2016
The following news items are culled from various other IWW internet news portals:
- Solidarity with PSU graduate student workers! - By DJAcidRick, Portland IWW, February 2, 2016
- Wobchat #1 - By Admin, New Syndicalist, January 31, 2016
- IWW’s & friends help distribute hundreds of flyers for MISU - 6eoff, Boston IWW, January 31, 2016
- Wobs Provide Court Support for I93 Blockaders - 6eoff, Boston IWW, January 31, 2016
- Primero Chaca - Monica Kostas, Recomposition, January 28, 2016
Compiled by x344543 - February 8, 2016
The following news items may be of interest to revolutionary industrial workers:
- In Egypt, a second life for independent trade unions - By Giulio Regeni, Red Pepper, February 7, 2016
- Greece: Strike Against Pension Cuts Ends with Molotov’s and Teargas - By Jennifer Baker, Revolution News, February 4, 2016; [related] Biggest general strike in years defies Syriza's pension cuts in Greece - By Panos Garganas, Socialist Worker (UK), February 4, 2016
- What caused the wildcat on the docks? - By Eugene Dardenne, Socialist Worker, February 3, 2016
- Uber Drivers in New York City Protest Fare Cuts - By Marc Santora and John Surico, New York Times, February 1, 2016
- Top SEIU-UHW Staffer, Leon Chow, Departs amidst Reported Connections to Man Convicted of 162 Criminal Counts - By admin, Stern Burger with Fries, January 29, 2016
- More Than 1,000 Longshoremen Walk Off The Job At Area Ports - By Staff, CBS New York, January 29, 2016
- Seattle Uber Drivers Win Right to Bargain - By Sonia Singh, Labor Notes, January 28, 2016
- Bikeshare Union Has Wheels - By Joe Demanuelle-Hall and Nicholas Bedell, Labor Notes, January 27, 2016
- Workers occupy ILVA steel plant in Genoa - By admin, Struggles in Italy, January 26, 2016
- Upheaval In The Factories Of Juarez - By Alana Semuels, The Atlantic, January 21, 2016
- Labor Goes South - By Justin Miller, American Prospect, January 2016
BART, unions should cut labor costs before asking for more taxes: Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune editorial
BART, unions should cut labor costs before asking for more taxes: Contra Costa Times/Oakland Tribune editorial
Contra Costa Times editorial © 2016 Bay Area News Group
A BART train leaves the MacAthur station in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)
If BART officials and unions want voter support for a planned bond measure, they should heed the calls of 32 elected East Bay officials to negotiate a new labor deal before the November election.
BART needs to earn the trust of those being asked to pay the transit system with more property taxes, which would be piled on top of sales taxes and high fares it already collects. Reining in the district's excessive labor and benefit costs would be a reasonable first step to demonstrate responsible fiscal stewardship.
BART officials plan to seek approval for a bond measure between $2.5 billion and $4.5 billion to refurbish and upgrade the aging system. They need the money because, for most of BART's life, district officials failed to responsibly set aside funds to replace equipment.
Meanwhile, they provide overly generous labor compensation, most recently increased after the 2013 strike and contract debacle. It's hard to ask voters to spend more when they know that BART workers don't put in 40-hour work weeks, don't pay their full share of pension costs and health care premiums, and receive free benefits such as life insurance and retirement savings accounts that are provided in addition to their pensions.
Labor costs are the primary reason the district faces deficits of $35 million to $50 million annually in coming years. That's why 30 elected city and county officials plus Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Dublin, and state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, have asked that BART and its workers figure out a new labor deal before the election.
To that we would add that BART must also develop a long-term capital replacement plan. The bond money it is seeking should be a one-time bailout.
Voters deserve to know that when that new equipment reaches the end of its life, there will be funds in the bank to replace it. They should know that BART won't come begging for even more taxes.
Notably, the elected officials' request comes from the suburban East Bay, where support is weakest for a measure that requires two-thirds approval to pass.
Most of those officials are in Contra Costa, where county transportation officials are planning to ask on the same ballot that voters to double the current half-cent sales tax.
So when that county's voters go to the polls, they're likely to face two similar measures: one from the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which delivered the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel under budget and ahead of schedule, the other from BART, which brought us the strike and ugly labor negotiations of 2013.
BART officials and unions would be wise to build trust with voters well before Nov. 8.Tags: BARTunion busting
NJ Transit, UTU unions preparing for possible March strike that would shut down train service
FEBRUARY 5, 2016, 7:00 PM LAST UPDATED: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6, 2016, 12:34 AM
BY CHRISTOPHER MAAG
An NJ Transit train arrives at Newark Penn Station.
Both NJ Transit and its unions are preparing for a train shutdown on March 13 that would cripple the region’s transportation network, the sides confirmed on Friday. Threat of a strike by the unions or a lockout by NJ Transit is the latest escalation in a five-year dispute that leaves the two sides far apart on workers’ pay and health insurance benefits.
“Prepare yourself economically,” the New Jersey Transit Rail Coalition told its 4,200 members in a newsletter issued Friday. “At 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, every union on New Jersey Transit will strike if no agreement is reached.”
“NJ Transit is actively involved in developing a robust alternative service plan in the event the unions call a strike,” said Dennis Martin, NJ Transit’s interim executive director. “We are working with our regional partners, including NJDOT, to provide as much service as possible to our customers.”
A shutdown would make it incredibly difficult for people in New Jersey and New York City to travel and get to work, said David Peter Alan, chairman of the Lackawanna Coalition, a transit advocacy group.
“I think it’s very likely” that a strike will happen, Alan said. “It would be a disaster.”
The unions want an 18.4 percent pay raise over six and a half years; NJ Transit has offered a 10.9 percent raise over seven years, according to the coalition. NJ Transit has declined to discuss the negotiation terms. Both plans would include retroactive pay increases since 2011, when the current contract came up for renegotiation.
But the biggest difference concerns medical benefits. Employees would pay an average of $460 a month for insurance under NJ Transit’s proposal, the coalition said. Some workers would pay as much as $642 a month, and costs could rise from there because the premiums are not capped, according to the unions. The coalition’s counter-offer would increase workers’ health insurance contributions to 2.5 percent of every employee’s earnings, not including overtime.
“Half our membership would actually lose money the day we sign the agreement,” said Stephen Burkert, general chairman of the United Transportation Union Local 60, one of the member unions. “We have a responsibility to our membership not to agree to a contract that cuts pay for half of them.”
At the federal level, the unions already have prevailed twice in a row. Following a process laid out by the Federal Railway Act of 1926, President Obama has established two different Presidential Emergency Boards to try and bring NJ Transit and the unions together. After comparing NJ Transit’s wages to other comparable commuter railroads and considering the rising cost of living in New Jersey, both boards agreed the unions’ offers were more reasonable.
But the federal government does not yet have the power to impose a settlement, said Frank N. Wilner, a contributing editor for Railway Age magazine. The two sides have until March 12 to negotiate. After that the unions are allowed to strike, or NJ Transit may lock workers out of its rail properties. Only then can Congress pass legislation to end a shutdown and impose a new contract.
Meanwhile, both sides said they continue to meet and talk.
“We remain focused on reaching an affordable settlement with our rail unions,” Martin said.
And preparations continue for a shutdown. While Martin declined to say what NJ Transit is planning for a strike or lockout, the labor coalition’s newsletter encourages workers to get organized.
“When the time comes, sign up for picket duty. Picket captains are being designated now,” the coalition said in a statement. “Every location will be picketed.”