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Kroger, UPS challenge Central States reduction plan

Current News - 3 hours 17 min ago

Kroger, UPS challenge Central States reduction plan
Kroger participants want out of plan; UPS says proposal illegal
http://www.pionline.com/article/20160502/PRINT/305029995/kroger-ups-chal...
BY HAZEL BRADFORD AND ROB KOZLOWSKI |
MAY 2, 2016

A pending plan to cut benefits to members as part of a rescue plan for the Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund, Rosemont, Ill., is facing challenges even before the U.S. Treasury Department acts on the fund's application.

Current and former plan participants of Kroger Co., Cincinnati, last week sued the $17.8 billion Teamsters Central States over the rescue plan. And United Parcel Service Inc., a former participating employer, challenged the legality of the rescue plan, which would enable the fund to reduce benefits, including those of current retirees.

The Treasury Department is expected to rule early this month on the rescue plan.

Current and former Kroger participants sued Central States April 25 because the participants want to leave the plan and start a new one before the Treasury Department acts on the pension fund's benefit reduction proposal.

UPS, Atlanta, argued in an April 28 earnings presentation that the benefit reduction application by the Teamsters Central States is not legal.

The Kroger case plaintiffs, current and retired warehouse workers for Kroger Co., filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Chicago, arguing that Central States trustees' refusing to consider an additional plan is a breach of fiduciary duty because it harms participants.

The Teamsters union negotiated a proposal to remove Kroger participants from Central States and create a new plan for Kroger employees, with the company agreeing to absorb the increased withdrawal liability, according to the federal court complaint.

Because Central States trustees “flatly refused to consider” after deliberating for just five days, the plaintiffs are asking the court to order reconsideration of the proposal, to appoint an independent fiduciary to judge the idea and to negotiate an arrangement with Kroger.

If that doesn't happen before the existing proposal expires June 15, “the Kroger participants will be trapped in a plan that is about to cut their benefits and still faces likely insolvency,” the court complaint said.

Thomas Nyhan, executive director and general counsel at the Central States pension fund, said in an e-mailed statement that the claims by Kroger and the Teamsters union “are without merit. As fiduciaries, Central States' trustees have a duty to safeguard the retirement benefits of all of our 407,000 participants — not a select few from a particular employer. Central States is prepared to defend against this complaint, and we are confident that Central States will prevail by demonstrating that the trustees' actions are consistent with their fiduciary duties.”

UPS, which in 2007 withdrew from the Central States pension fund as part of a collective bargaining agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, might be required to pay $3.2 billion to $3.8 billion in benefit payments if the pending benefit reduction application is approved by the Treasury Department.

A “backstop agreement” in the 2007 bargaining agreement stated that in the event “at some point in the future if Central States ever lawfully cut benefits to that group, UPS would provide a supplemental retiree benefit” only to its participants, UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said in a telephone interview.

The Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014 requires the Treasury Department to approve an application if a pension fund's potential claims would cost the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. $1 billion or more. The Central States pension fund applied for the rescue plan in September with the Treasury Department. The pension fund is projected to become insolvent in 2025.

The Treasury Department's decision is expected on or before May 7.

Mr. Gaut said UPS also believes the benefit reductions laid out in the application are not legal. The MPRA imposed a tiered benefit reduction process specifically for the Central States plan. UPS argues that the benefit reduction application disproportionally affects participants in the third tier, which comprises the UPS participants.

“The ordering rule that's laid out in the (act) would indicate that there should be a progressive reduction of benefits starting at Tier I, then moving to Tier II then moving to Tier III,” Mr. Gaut said.

According to UPS, the average benefit reduction for Tier III participants is 53%, compared to 34% for Tier I participants and 29% for Tier II participants.

According to a January paper from the Congressional Research Service, Tier I includes benefits for participants that worked for employers that withdrew from the Central States fund without making the payments required to fully exit the plan and Tier III consists of the benefits for the UPS participants. Tier II consists of participants not in either other group. There are 100,377 Tier I participants, 322,560 Tier II participants, and 48,249 Tier III participants. n

This article originally appeared in the May 2, 2016 print issue as, "Kroger, UPS sue over Central States reduction plan".

Tags: PensionsupsIBT
Categories: Labor News

Seattle ILWU/IBU Stops Stadium That Would Have Destroyed Maritime Jobs-Seattle City Council kills sale of street for Sodo arena; Sonics fans despair

Current News - Thu, 05/05/2016 - 09:58

Seattle ILWU/IBU Stops Stadium That Would Have Destroyed Maritime Jobs-Seattle City Council kills sale of street for Sodo arena; Sonics fans despair
http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/nba/seattle-city-council-kills-sale-o...

Seattle City Council kills sale of street for Sodo arena; Sonics fans despair
http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/nba/seattle-city-council-kills-sale-o...
Geoff Baker / Enterprise & Investigative Reporter

Seattle City Council kills sale of street for Sodo arena; Sonics fans despair
Originally published May 2, 2016 at 4:31 pm Updated May 4, 2016 at 10:59 am

Sonics fan Joseph Chong, center, leans on a friend after Councilmember M. Lorena González explained her vote against the street vacation for a Sodo arena on Monday. (Lindsey Wasson/The Seattle Times)

The Seattle City Council on Monday voted 5-4 to reject giving up part of Occidental Avenue South to Chris Hansen so he can build a half-billion-dollar arena in Sodo in hopes of reviving the Sonics.

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Stunned gasps emerged from a crowd at Seattle City Hall on Monday as Councilmember M. Lorena González cast a decisive vote that could effectively torpedo a proposed Sodo District arena.

In a 5-4 decision, the Seattle City Council voted against giving up part of Occidental Avenue South to entrepreneur Chris Hansen for his arena. Though a memorandum of understanding between Hansen, the city and King County runs through November 2017, odds of a new deal being struck by then seem remote.

In a statement put out on Hansen’s SonicsArena.com website, he said, “Today’s City Council vote was disappointing but we don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle.”

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, a former prosecutor who spearheaded opposition to vacating the street, is said by sources to have lobbied her female colleagues hard in recent days to sway their votes.

Chris Hansen’s air ball and the future
“I’ve been talking to all of them for a month,’’ Bagshaw said.

Mayor Ed Murray put out a statement shortly after the vote saying: “Today’s council vote makes it less likely that the NBA will return to the city of Seattle.”

He said he remains committed to exploring options for bringing the NBA and NHL to our region.

Bagshaw said those options should now include the city’s taking a more serious look at renovating KeyArena up to NBA and NHL standards. A report last year by the AECOM global architectural firm indicated that could be done for $285 million.

“We can do a cost-benefit analysis,’’ she said. “We can look to see if it can work. We can look to our partners and say ‘Is this something that you want to do?’ And we’re going to have to point to the Port and ask them to help. They were making a lot of noise about ‘We want our Port to survive’ and all of us want that. So, we’ll see what we can do together.’’

Bagshaw, who wouldn’t take personal credit for the swaying of votes, said she’d woken up Monday feeling the motion to give up Occidental would go 7-2 in favor. She knew that she and Lisa Herbold opposed the motion, but Councilmembers González, Kshama Sawant and Debora Juarez remained undecided until the very end.

One source said the three female council members who were undecided had become increasingly put off in recent days by the personal attacks Bagshaw was taking from male sports fans on social media and certain talk-show hosts on Sports Radio KJR. But they also gave impassioned speeches before their votes, siding with the unionized workers from the Port of Seattle.

Sawant was particularly fiery, blasting what she called the bureaucracy of the Port’s management and quoting a past U.S. Attorney’s description of it as a “cesspool of corruption.’’ But she also ripped into “the barons who control our professional sports teams’’ and pit sports fans against working-class jobs.

“I am in solidarity not with the Port of Seattle,’’ she said, “but with the Port workers and the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) who are trying to stand up against these forces of gentrification.’’

Sawant said she didn’t like being put in a position where she has to pick sports jobs against other jobs. “I do want to help bring back the Sonics, but I cannot do that on the basis of undermining our working waterfront and good-paying unionized industrial jobs,’’ she said.

Just before Sawant’s speaking, Juarez had upped the tension in the room, indicating a “no” vote with a speech highlighting the value of Seattle’s deep-water Port and contrasting it against an arena plan that lacked a confirmed team.

“You can always build an arena,’’ Juarez said. “You can build three arenas, you can build five arenas. You can build them anywhere. But you cannot build another deep-water port. You cannot do that. You cannot replace history or tradition.’’

Then, with Sawant’s back-and-forth speech finally indicating a fourth “no” that deadlocked the council, all attention turned to González.

She still had to wait for a couple of male colleagues to speak, but Bruce Harrell, Tim Burgess, Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien had already indicated before Monday they’d be voting in favor.

Finally, it was González’s turn, and the room fell silent.

The first-term council member, whose addition of a late amendment to the motion was seen by some as a sign she might vote in favor, did not tip her hand during the early part of her speech. But things shifted when she talked about how, as a West Seattle resident, she had to battle daily through Sodo traffic.

“I don’t believe the traffic issues have been well dealt with’’ when it came to complaints of how removing Occidental would impact Port operations, she said.

With that, she announced her intention to oppose the motion — prompting spontaneous cheers from various unionized workers and Port officials in attendance. Sonics fans clad in green and gold sat stunned, one with his head in his hands, before slowly trudging out of the room.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told The Seattle Times last month that the league first must get through its collective-bargaining process — which could take until next year — before even beginning expansion talk. Hansen’s funding arrangement would have provided him up to $200 million in public bond money, but only if he first landed an NBA team before the MOU expiration in November 2017.

An amendment that would have required Hansen to acquire an NBA team even for a privately funded venture was defeated before the final vote. Had the street removal been approved, Hansen would have had up to five years to build an arena — even after his public funding deal ran out.

But not anymore.

Port Commissioner Fred Felleman said after the vote he was as surprised as anybody in the room by the turn of events.

“This is not a recognition that we don’t want the Sonics,’’ he said. “I think everybody is pro-Sonics. This was just not the place to do it.’’

Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or gbaker@seattletimes.com.

Tags: ilwuIBUSeattleStadium
Categories: Labor News

IBT Supports CWA Verizon Strikers National Day Of Action5/5-Verizon Workers – Activists Call For Massive Strike On May 5th

Current News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 22:45

IBT Supports CWA Verizon Strikers National Day Of Action5/5 -Verizon Workers – Activists Call For Massive Strike On May 5th
http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/05/verizon-workers-may-5th/
Verizon Workers – Activists Call For Massive Strike On May 5th
By Jacob Wolinsky on May 4, 2016 5:11 pm in Politics
FacebookTwitter
Get ready for some “action” – As you know unless you have been living in a cave, Verizon Workers have been protesting against the company over wages. One of the biggest labor unions of the country, the Teamsters are calling for a giant protest tomorrow. The following statement was just sent by activists to ValueWalk. See the text below.

Verizon Workers
Verizon Workers protest

On April 13, 2016 I declared that the Teamsters stand united with the Communications Workers of American and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ strike against Verizon. As the strike continues into its fourth week, Verizon workers are determined to fight for as long as it takes to protect good jobs for themselves and those who follow.

Tomorrow, May 5, Verizon strikers will be picketing at Verizon storefronts across the country, letting the company know that they’re not backing down.

Teamster Local Unions and members are urged to support our union brothers and sisters at Verizon in the following ways:

• Participate in the Day of Action tomorrow, Thursday, May 5, by joining pickets at Verizon storefronts across the country.
• Promote the Day of Action through your social media platforms. Visitwww.facebook.com/standuptoverizon and follow #StandUp2Vz on Twitter.
• Adopt a Verizon Wireless Store. Visit www.jwj.org/vztoolkit.
• Sign the petition to “Stand with Striking Workers”.
• Send photos of Teamsters on Verizon picket lines toteamsterphotos@gmail.com so we can share them through IBT social media.
It’s more important now than ever to show Teamster solidarity in standing up to corporate greed. We have our own battles with corporate giants like US Foods where multiple Teamster Local Unions are on Unfair Labor Practice strikes, and at a Supervalu-owned distributor that services Kroger stores in Colorado.

By having a strong Teamster presence supporting CWA and IBEW and helping those unions win their battles, we will help our union win current and future battles against these corporate giants.

Fraternally,

James P. Hoffa

SF Steering Committee , "activistscircle@jwjsf.org"

May 5th is a National Day of Action in Support of 39,000 East Coast Verizon workers on strike fighting for their families and their futures. They're bravely taking on Verizon's greedy corporate executives who refuse to offer them any ANY raises, better health care benefits or improved working conditions. Verizon's CEO alone makes $18 million a year and get a corporate jet - he makes 300 times what the Verizon Wireless retail workers make. Meanwhile Verizon banks $1.5 billion a month in profits thanks to its hard-working employees. Verizon represents everything that's gone wrong with the American dream, the rich getting richer and richer, while the hard-working employees can't even get a raise.

Will you stand with the workers as they fight corporate greed?

Stand Up to Verizon Action
Thurs, May 5th
12:00-1:00pm
@Verizon Wireless
768 Market Street (near 4th) San Francisco

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ethan Miller, Jobs With Justice
Date: Wed, May 4, 2016 at 9:45 AM
Subject: Verizon Day of Action TOMORROW!
To: gordon@jwjsf.org

Jobs With Justice
Dear Gordon,

Tomorrow is a BIG day for the 39,000 men and women on strike at Verizon and Verizon Wireless.

They’re determined to fight for as long as it takes to protect good jobs for themselves and those who follow, and tomorrow, May 5, they’ll be picketing at Verizon storefronts across the country, letting the company know that they’re not backing down.

Will you join them? Find an action near you now.

This strike is bigger than Verizon. It's about holding the line for a fair return on work. It's about securing a brighter future for our families and our communities. It's about standing up to a handful of rich and powerful interests to make sure the needs of working families are met.

That's why it's so important for all of us to stand with the working people at Verizon and Verizon Wireless.

Find an action near you and commit to being there for the May 5 Verizon Day of Action!

In solidarity,
Ethan
Jobs With Justice

Tags: IBTVerizonNational Day of Action
Categories: Labor News

Union Busting East Bay Times Owned By Digital First Media Vulture Capitalist Randall Smith Attacks BART Workers

Current News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 16:04

Union Busting East Bay Times Owned By Digital First Media Vulture Capitalist Randall Smith Attacks BART Workers
BART bought off well-paid workers despite large deficit
http://www.eastbaytimes.com/news/ci_29772216/borenstein:--bart-bought-of...
By Daniel Borenstein, dborenstein@bayareanewsgroup.com
POSTED: 04/15/2016 02:01:53 PM PDT
UPDATED: 04/15/2016 04:40:26 PM PDT

A BART patron awaits a train in Bay Point, Calif., on Thursday, March 31, 2016. (Kristopher Skinner/Bay Area News Group) ( Kristopher Skinner )
BART officials claim they reached peace with their workers. In fact, they bought them off -- at taxpayer and rider expense.

On its face, the latest labor deal seems innocuous: It extends the current 2013 contract for another four years with salary increases at roughly the current cost of living.
But that lacks context. BART officials gave away the store in 2013. The new extension, to 2021, layers onto the earlier deal, further inflating salaries without paring back sweetheart benefits.
And, in a detail General Manager Grace Crunican didn't mention during her public announcement Monday, BART negotiators gave up any hope of saving money by insisting workers contribute their fair share to their pensions.
BART can't afford this deal. Projections show a $400 million shortfall in the district's operating budget over the next 10 years. The new contract will dig the hole $77 million deeper.
BART officials were under political pressure. The possibility of another strike next year, when the 2013 contract was due to expire, threatened to derail the transit agency's planned $3.5 billion bond measure on the November ballot.
Against that backdrop, Crunican on Monday stood flanked by labor leaders and declared the new deal would bring riders "the certainty of no strike, no service interruption, unless it's planned, between now and 2021. It's five years of labor peace."
But if she was trying to convince voters that BART could be fiscally responsible with public money, she blew it.

BART officials once again failed to determine if they were paying too much. They should have conducted compensation surveys comparing BART's payouts for wages and benefits to similar jobs at other metropolitan transit agencies across the country.

They should have used those numbers, adjusted for regional cost-of-living differences, as the basis for negotiations, as they did in 2009. That survey showed BART paid at or near the top in the nation, even when adjusted for regional cost of living.

But in 2013 and this time, they flew blind. They don't want voters to know how far beyond the norm BART might be. Apparently, they don't want to know themselves.

What we do know is that the 2013 contract and the new extension will increase salaries 29 percent over eight years.

Then there are the benefits, of which pensions are the biggest. To fund them, BART's share in 2017-18 will be 18 cents on top of every dollar of salary. The share for most workers should be 7 cents, but BART will pay 3 cents of that, too.

With the Obama administration attempting to block Gov. Jerry Brown's statewide pension changes, there are legal questions surrounding the retirement benefits for transit workers hired after 2012.

So, when announcing the new labor deal, Crunican said discussions of increasing BART employee contributions to pensions will be postponed until the litigation is resolved.

She didn't mention that the deal includes provisions assuring workers that if they pay more for pensions that will be offset with another salary increase to ensure the effect is "cost neutral."

There was also no attempt to scale back other benefits and contract provisions such as:

• Retirement savings account: On top of pensions, workers also receive BART-funded retirement savings accounts. The annual district contribution for each worker is $1,869 plus 1.63 percent of salary.
• Health care coverage: Workers and most retirees receive full family health care coverage for $138 a month, regardless of the number of dependents.
• Work week: Train operators, station agents and other members of the Amalgamated Transit Union work only 37.5 hours per week, not 40.
• Leave time: BART workers receive up to six weeks paid vacation annually, of which they can cash out a week each year. They receive 12 days of sick leave, and can apply unused portions toward their pension service credit or cash it out. Plus they receive 13 paid holidays.
• Annual bonuses: Workers receive $1,000 annual bonuses for each year that ridership exceeds projections by 2 percent.
• Strike protections: BART workers may strike after a contract runs out. But the transit agency is effectively prohibited during the contract from training management workers to run the trains.
None of that was changed. Instead, BART officials just increased wages further and tried to declare victory.
Daniel Borenstein is a East Bay Times columnist and editorial writer. Contact him at 925-943-8248 or dborenstein@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/BorensteinDan.

Vulture Capitalist Randall Smith's Hedgefund Alden Global Capital/Digital First Media Shuts 142 Year Old Oakland Tribune
https://youtu.be/iJNd73fMAt0
Hedge fund Alden Global Capital/Digital First Media has shut down the 142 year old Oakland Tribune on April 4, 2016 and may lay off up to 30 journalists who are members of CWA-TNG 39521 Pacific Media Workers Guild. Members and leaders of the this local leafletted and spoke out about the closure by Bay Area News Group which is owned by DFM and what it means to their members and the public's right to know what is happening locally.
The company is making a one day a week insert into East Bay Times which is an amalgamation of local community newspapers. Alden Global Capital owned by vulture capitalist Randall Smith owns Digital First Media and has a notorious national record of destroying local community newspapers and stepping up exploitation of journalists who remain.
The NewsGuild CWA has also launched a national campaign to defend their members and fight further consolidations. Oakland with a population of 400,000 now has no daily newspaper.
For more information
www.dfmworkers.org
#NEWSMATTERS
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Bay-Area-News-Group-consolid...
Production of
Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: BART workersUnion Busters
Categories: Labor News

Railway union members rage against Amtrak at Workers' Memorial Day

Current News - Wed, 05/04/2016 - 09:27

Railway union members rage against Amtrak at Workers' Memorial Day
http://www.philly.com/philly/business/labor_and_unions/20160430_Railway_...
APRIL 30, 2016 — 1:07 AM EDT
ACIE VAN AUKEN
John F. McAteer (center) places a rose on a symbolic casket for Peter Adamovich, who died in an Amtrak crash on April 3.

by Jane M. Von Bergen, Inquirer Staff Writer @JaneVonBergen
The tears were there, as usual, under a gray sky that wept along with those gathered Friday by the Delaware River for Workers' Memorial Day, to honor people killed on the job.

Railway union members rage against Amtrak at Workers' Memorial Day
But there was anger as well, and it boiled over at the annual breakfast that preceded a solemn march on Columbus Boulevard to a rainy memorial service at Penn's Landing.

With a roar not unlike the sound of the train that mowed down two Amtrak workers on April 3, waves of railway workers rose to their feet Friday in rage and sadness in response to a call from their union leader.

"Stand up if you think it is time to strike Amtrak and shut down the Northeast Corridor to force Amtrak to provide a safe workplace and to protect our lives," Jed Dodd shouted.

"Let me hear you say union," he said.

Dodd, who leads the union that represents rail-repair workers in Pennsylvania, took the microphone at the fund-raising breakfast for PhilaPOSH, a group that advocates for workers' safety. He had another question for members of the Pennsylvania Federation of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, and it was key:

"Are you ready to risk arrest and go to jail to ensure that every member of our union can return home safely to their family?"

"Union," they shouted.

Federal law makes it difficult for railway workers to strike, partly because of the importance of railroads to the economy.

And so Dodd described what happened in 1994, after two union members were killed and a third mutilated on the job.

"Many of us risked arrest and jail as our tactics escalated into civil disobedience," he said. "Finally . . . we rose up and struck . . . shutting down hundreds of trains in 17 states."

A federal judge, he said, ordered them back to work that night, putting Conrail's safety rules under federal court jurisdiction, which led to new safety regulations in 1997. From then until 2013, three of his union's members were killed on the tracks, Dodd said.

But in the last 18 months, he said, four have died, two on April 3 when a train slammed into a backhoe on an Amtrak line in Chester, killing Joseph Carter and Peter Adamovich.

Dodd laid the blame for their deaths on a change in corporate culture that began when Joseph Boardman was appointed Amtrak chief executive in 2008.

Boardman withdrew management's participation in a joint safety committee, reduced training, fired experienced senior executives, and intimidated middle managers and workers from identifying hazards, Dodd said.

Later Friday, an Amtrak spokesman said the passenger railroad "is continuously working to improve the safety culture within . . . the entire company. The most effective way to make that happen is true collaboration between Amtrak management and union leadership."

Dodd was joined on stage at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 banquet hall by David Michaels, assistant U.S. labor secretary for occupational safety and health.

Michaels expressed frustration with what he described as weak penalties under the Occupational Safety and Health Act for employers who allow conditions that kill or injure workers.

The fines they face, $100,000 or $200,000, "are like petty cash," he said.

"I believe if we had more criminal prosecutions, we'd have a much bigger impact in changing these employers," Michaels said. Jail, he noted, would sharpen their focus on safety.

His remarks came the same day roofer James McCullagh, 60, was to report to federal prison in connection with the death of his friend and employee, Mark T. Smith.

Smith had not been given any fall protection. He died on June 21, 2013, while repairing a church roof on Broad Street in Philadelphia.

McCullagh pleaded guilty to lying to inspectors about the fall-protection gear and asking his other employees to lie. On March 29, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Among the speakers Friday was union official Jim Whitehead of SEIU 32BJ District 1201, which represents school maintenance workers and engineers.

Whitehead said Chris Trakimas, the Philadelphia School District employee badly burned Jan. 15 while trying to fix a boiler at Edmonds Elementary School, remains in a coma. Whitehead blamed Trakimas' injury on the "budget cuts, politics, neglect, and callousness" that have led the district to delay infrastructure repairs.

Representing the families of those who have died was Rosalie Hetrick, whose husband, Thomas, a Verizon repair worker, was killed in 2008. Hetrick said her husband told supervisors the job was unsafe, but was ignored.

"I hate Verizon for the way they disrespected him in his death," she said. "It's really easy to blame the dead guy."

Hetrick sued Verizon on behalf of her family, but lost the case.

jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769 @JaneVonBergen

www.philly.com/jobbing

Tags: Rail safetyAmtrackVerizon
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters retirees await word on deep pension cuts

Current News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 23:12

Teamsters retirees await word on deep pension cuts
http://www.freep.com/story/money/personal-finance/susan-tompor/2016/05/0...
Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press Personal Finance Columnist 12:04 a.m. EDT May 4, 2016
More than 13,000 Teamsters retirees in Michigan face cuts to their pensions as early as July. Some pension checks could be cut in half for retired truck drivers and others.

<635978832571410883-Teamsters.jpg>Buy Photo
(Photo: Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press)
Thousands of Teamsters retirees anxiously await a decision this week on whether the U.S. Treasury will allow their pension checks to be cut by half or more as soon as July.

The troubled Teamsters Central States Pension Fund -- which has more than $16 billion in net assets -- proposed a rescue plan in the fall of 2015 that's designed to save the fund from financial fallout. But the outlined strategy cuts deep into existing pension checks for retired Teamsters truck drivers and others.

Some retirees have said that under the plan, their pension checks could drop to about $1,200 a month from more than $2,700 now.

Kenneth Feinberg, who has duties as "special master" for the Treasury, is required to review the plan and decide by May 7 if the Treasury accepts the plan, asks for changes, or reject it outright.

The cuts would be the first under the Kline-Miller Multiemployer Pension Reform Act of 2014, which is meant to address financially troubled plans.

The new law is highly complex. The proposed cuts could set the precedent for other cuts at big pension plans. Big name players, such as Atlanta-based United Parcel Service (UPS), have much at stake.

Steve Gaut, a UPS spokesperson, said the company filed comments with Treasury, suggesting the agency reject the plan. UPS could be on the hook for up to $3.8 billion in supplemental retiree benefits, if the Central States Plan is approved.

In case of approval, UPS intends to take legal action, claiming the proposed cuts do not not follow an "ordering rule" set out in the Kline-MIller law. As a result, UPS employees and retirees would take far more drastic cuts than retirees who worked elsewhere, Gaut said.

UPS paid $6.1 billion to the Central States fund in 2008 to withdraw and establish its own single-employer plan. About 8,700 UPS employees who retired prior to Jan. 1, 2008, would only be covered by the Central States plan.

But about 48,000 employees and people who retired in 2008 or afterwards could be covered by what's known as a "backstop" that was part of a collective bargaining agreement with the Teamsters in 2007. Under that agreement, UPS could end up paying $3.2 billion to $3.8 billion before taxes in benefit payments, if Treasury approves the Central States proposal as it is now. UPS disclosed the amount in a call to investors last week.

The backstop agreement stated that in the event that Central States ever lawfully reduced benefits to those retiring in 2008 or after, UPS would provide a supplemental retiree benefit, Gaut said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Teamsters retirees across the country -- including those who worked for trucking firms that went out of business -- expressed great frustration at the process and the drastic cuts.

The Central States fund said it covers 24,205 current retirees in Michigan — and 13,179 now face benefit reductions. Reduced pension benefits also would hit about 18,757 plan participants in Michigan who are not yet retired.

Nationwide, the proposed cuts by Central States trustees would affect about 270,000 people.

Pension checks to be cut in half for Teamsters retirees

Feinberg has held town halls in Detroit, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and elsewhere to let thousands of retirees have an opportunity to speak out publicly about how the cuts will impact their households.

Retirees have complained to Feinberg, he says, that Congress passed the pension-related law after "very little public input."

"I have been committed to making sure they feel the opposite is true of our review of the Central States Pension Plan’s application," Feinberg said in a March 14 statement.

He noted that he has received more than 2,500 comments as part of the application review. He also has held a weekly conference call with retirees to listen to comments and answer questions.

"Hundreds of retirees have dialed into these calls every week," Feinberg said.

The act requires the Treasury Department to approve an application if a pension fund's potential claims would cost the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. $1 billion or more.

Central States has said it would run out of money in about a decade, reflecting the deregulation of the trucking industry, loss of membership and jobs, and a group of employers that went out of business or filed for bankruptcy since 2008.

"For every $3.46 that the fund currently pays out in pension benefits, only $1 is collected from contributing employers, which results in a $2 billion annual shortfall," Central States said in a statement.

Pension checks to be cut in half for Teamsters retirees

Joellen Leavelle, communications and outreach director for the Pension Rights Center, an advocacy group in Washington, D.C., said Teamsters retirees have been phoning the center in the last few days in anticipation of the announcement.

"We're pretty much in a waiting game," Leavelle said.

The Pension Rights Center has spoken out against the deep cuts and offers a resource page for Teamsters retirees.

"The process used by the Central States Pension Fund to distribute benefit cuts among participants is flawed and results in an inequitable distribution of benefits cuts," according to the comments submitted to Treasury by the Pension Rights Center.

The Pension Rights Center maintains that dozens of other multi-employer pension plans that are eligible to make retiree pension cuts under the law are waiting for the Treasury Department’s decision on the Teamsters before deciding whether to move forward with their own applications to cut retiree pensions.

Other pension plans that could make such applications to Treasury regarding proposed cuts cover retirees who had worked as cement masons, bricklayers, bakery workers, electrical workers, machinists, iron workers, and others, according to the Pension Rights Center.

Contact Susan Tompor: 313-222-8876 or stompor@freepress.com. Follow Susan on Twitter @Tompor.

Tags: Teamster PensionsCutbacks
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: Country's journalists warn of strike if minister stays

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Metro
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: ILO reprimands Cairo over labour rights

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Environmental study leaves WA Longview coal port bloodied but still alive

Current News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 15:15

Environmental study leaves WA Longview coal port bloodied but still alive
http://crosscut.com/2016/04/environmental-study-leaves-longview-coal-por...
FRIDAY 29, APRIL 2016
Environmental study leaves Longview coal port bloodied but still alive

by Cassandra Profita

Shipping around Longview could expand beyond logs and other products to include sending coal to China. Credit: Sam Beebe/Wikimedia Commons

From OPB/EarthFix

Coal dust, greenhouse gas emissions, noise and traffic congestion are among the environmental impacts from the proposed coal export terminal in Longview, Washington, according to a draft report released Friday.

The Washington Department of Ecology and Cowlitz County examined the environmental risks of developing the proposed Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project. The project would export up to 44 million tons of coal a year to Asia after delivering it to Longview by rail from the Rocky Mountain region.

In their study, county and state officials outlined all the potential impacts of the project to air, water, fish, wildlife and communities from transporting the coal, as well as constructing and operating the terminal.

The study found the project will cause significant environmental damage, and not all of the damage can be mitigated.

Officials proposed mitigation measures that include reducing coal dust and greenhouse gas emissions, improving rail lines, preparing for a higher risk of oil spills and adding a quiet zone for trains passing through Longview. But they noted the mitigation measures would not completely eliminate the environmental impacts of the project.

The report found greenhouse gas emissions from the project would be “significant” — under one scenario it would be the equivalent of adding more than 600,000 passenger cars to the road each year. The emissions would affect Washington state even though they are global in nature, officials found.

“The climate impacts resulting from this increase to greenhouse gases would persist for a long period of time,” the report says, “and would be considered permanent.”

Lauren Goldberg, an attorney with the environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, said the report gives officials all the evidence they need to deny permits for the project.

“The report lays out a laundry list of significant impacts from the project,” she said. “There are number of places where the report identifies the massive amounts of carbon that this project will spew — equivalent to roughly seven new coal-fired power plants. These are stunning impacts for a state like Washington that’s shutting down coal-fired power plants.”

However, she said, the review falls short on mitigation measures that will actually offset the damage from the project, and it fails to fully evaluate the public health impacts of coal dust emissions.

“There’s human health impact study that still needs to be completed and hasn’t been done yet,” she said.

Project developers say the terminal will allow their companies to serve growing Asian demand for coal while improving Washington’s economy and reducing unemployment by creating 135 new jobs. The report found the project would indeed offer benefits to the economy through job creation and by generating local and state taxes.

Kathryn Stenger with Northwest Alliance for Jobs & Exports, which supports the project, called the report “an excessive evaluation.”

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“The unprecedented demand to require Millennium to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions that occur on the other side of the globe will create a harrowing process that should terrify any Washington manufacturer or shipper looking to expand its facility,” she said in a statement.

Also among the report’s findings:

• The project would release coal dust during rail transportation and in handling and stockpiling coal at the terminal. The coal dust is not expected to pollute waterways or harm fish, but it would affect air quality and wildlife. It would increase particulate matter around the project site, but there are no federal standards for how much dust the project is allowed to emit.
• Particulate emissions from coal trains would be within standards set by federal and state air-quality regulators, and coal dust along the rail line in Cowlitz County would be an “avoidable but not significant impact.”
• The project could significantly increase rail and vehicle traffic, adding wait times for vehicles at railroad crossings as eight mile-long trains a day deliver coal and leave the Longview facility.
• The train traffic from the coal terminal would exceed capacity on Cowlitz County rail lines and contribute to the excess capacity already expected on rail lines around Spokane, Pasco and Vancouver.
• Without rail line improvements, the impact of the train traffic will be “significant and unavoidable” and would increase the risk of accidents by 22 percent in Cowlitz County and Washington state.
• The terminal would increase rail traffic noise along the shipping route — especially in places where trains are required to sound their horns. Those impacts would disproportionately affect low-income and minority populations.
• The project would also affect ship traffic by adding 1,680 vessel trips — a 27 percent increase — on the Columbia River. It would increase the risk of an oil spill incident on the river.
• An oil spill from a vessel or a train could have significant impacts, and coal could affect waterways if it spills out of a train or a ship. However, the risk of toxic chemical exposure from a coal spill is relatively low.
• The project would increase air pollution in the form of carbon monoxide and volatile organic compounds from ships and trains in Cowlitz County and across the state.
The public has 45 days to comment on the report, and there will be three public hearings May 24 in Longview, May 26 in Spokane and June 2 in Pasco. Officials will incorporate the comments into a final report that will be used in issuing permits for the development.

You might also like: The Northwest’s coming clashes over fossil fuel exports.

Tags: Port Of Longviewcoal health and safety
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 10 Pres Ed Ferris & ILWU Local 10 Past Secretary Treasurer Clarence Thomas ILWU Local 10 May Day 2016 & May Day 2016 San Francisco "No Justice No Peace" ILWU Leads Rally And March For Workers And An End To Police Murders

Current News - Tue, 05/03/2016 - 13:35

ILWU Local 10 Pres Ed Ferris & ILWU Local 10 Past Secretary Treasurer Clarence Thomas ILWU Local 10 May Day 2016 & May Day 2016 San Francisco "No Justice No Peace" ILWU Leads Rally And March For Workers And An End To Police Murders

ILWU Local 10 Pres Ed Ferris & ILWU Local 10 Past Secretary Treasurer Clarence Thomas ILWU Local 10 May Day 2016
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbv4U-PuzDg&feature=youtu.be
Published on May 3, 2016
ILWU President, Ed Ferris and ILWU member Clarence Thomas, deliver talks on the significance of May Day at ILWU Local 10's Hall, May 1, 2016.
Produced by Work Week Radio, KPFA
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio
workweek@kpfa.org

May Day 2016 San Francisco "No Justice No Peace" ILWU Leads Rally And March For Workers And An End To Police Murders
https://youtu.be/nX6GSy1fWQE
The ILWU Local 10 initiated rally and march on May 1, 2016 was also joined by actor, unionist and actor Danny Glover. Hundreds of workers and unionists in San Francisco joined the rally and also a delegation of family members who have had their sons and daughters killed by police came and spoke out. They called for the need to unite labor in the fight against police terror and ILWU Local 10 members have also been affected by this repression.
Unions from around the world also made statements of solidarity including International Dockworkers Council IDC, Japanese railway union Doro-Chiba, Puerto Rican FMPR teacher's union, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions KCTU, Working People’s Party of Puerto Rico (Partido del Pueblo Trabajador-PPT), From Al Rojas in Mexico wrote
On this day, 150,000 Trade-Unionists, including San Quintín Striking Agricultural Workers and supporters of the Boycott Driscoll Berries, together with Progressive Socialists & the 43 Ayotszinapa Atenco, Teachers Union & Resistance Movements Against Corporate Greed will march. We send to you, on this first day of May -- International Workers Day -- El Dia del Trabajo -- our Greetings of Solidarity from Mexico City, D.F. ,Al Rojas, Campaign Organizer
Boycott Driscoll Berries, U.S. Campaign
Trade unionists spoke about the privatization of public care at San Francisco general hospital and the fight and lives of fast food workers.
Production of Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Danny Glover Actor and Unionist On May Day 2016 At SF ILWU Local 10
https://soundcloud.com/workweek-radio/danny-glover-actor-and-unionist-on...
Actor, Unionist and Activist Danny Glover spoke at the ILWU Local 10 initiated May Day rally
in San Francisco at the ILWU Local 10 hall. KPFA Pacifica WorkWeek radio streamed the rally and march live on
http://ilmlivestream.com
Watch the video stream at
https://youtu.be/eHFw6mFgXHs
KPFA Pacifica WorkWeek Radio
https://soundcloud.com/workweek
workweek@kpfa.org

Tags: ILWU Local 10May Day 2016Police TerrorDanny Glover
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: Workers suppressed, arrested, and stripped of rights on May Day

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Daily News Egypt
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: ITUC calls on Turkish Govt to stop intensified repression of unions

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ITUC
Categories: Labor News

Saudi Arabia: 50,000 foreign workers sacked. Buses torched over unpaid wages

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Middle East Eye
Categories: Labor News

China: Postcard Campaign to Support the Chinese Labour Activists. Please sign

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 05/02/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: HKCTU
Categories: Labor News

Egypt: Rome remembers murdered student in May Day concert

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: EuroNews
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Activists gear up for LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference 2016

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UFCW
Categories: Labor News

Global: In photos: May Day celebrations around the world

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Globe and Mail
Categories: Labor News

Global: Workers Rally for Rights, Higher Wages

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 05/01/2016 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: VoA
Categories: Labor News

May Day Message From Working People's Party Of Puerto Rico (Partido del Publo Trabajador-PTT) To ILWU Local 10 Initiated 2016 May Day Rally In San Francisco

Current News - Sat, 04/30/2016 - 20:21

May Day Message From Working People's Party Of Puerto Rico (Partido del Publo Trabajador-PTT) To ILWU Local 10 Initiated 2016 May Day Rally In San Francisco
Message from Puerto Rico
Dear Brothers and Sisters:It is with great pleasure that I send this message of solidarity on behalf of the Working People’s Party of Puerto Rico (Partido del Pueblo Trabajador-PPT), to all those congregated and marching in solidarity with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 10 at the ports of the San Francisco bay area. Although we are separated by thousands of miles, land and sea, our struggles are the same. We applaud your courageous efforts in closing the ports of your city, calling attention to the situation of workers in San Francisco and all over the United States. Your call is our call: for $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to racist policing, the expansion of voters rights and quality education for all, as a human right. Since 2010, the PPT has established itself as an electoral party of social movements, dedicated to defending the rights and interests of Puerto Rico’s working class, the decolonisation of our island-nation, and the fight against neoliberal austerity. This year, our battle is two-fold. First, our electoral campaign is dedicated to challenging the two-party system that for nearly 50 years has kept our people chained to economic dependency, under schemes of unsustainable development and corrupt politics. Secondly, we reject the prescriptions that the Republican- controlled Congress has been preparing in order to solve the infamous debt crisis which beleaguers Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Oversight Management and Economic Stability Act (PROMESA), currently in draft, proposes that a Washington-appointed governing board (Junta) take control over all the island’s public financial and fiscal affairs in order, to pay for an unsustainable and unjust debt that has not even been audited. It proposes that minimum wage should be reduced to below the federal standard, to $4.25 per hour for people under 25 years of age; deregulation of environmental standards; privatization of public lands and beaches and our Electric Power Authority. With not a single elected official having word on the proposed board, we denounce the plan as anti-democratic and catastrophic for the people of Puerto Rico. Today, in San Juan, we join all of our country’s trade unions, together with social movements, poor communities and environmental organizations, marching in front of Puerto Rico’s Capitol building to protest PROMESA and all austerity policies. We salute also the people of Puerto Rico who are found among your ranks, and all immigrants who were forced to leave their country in search of better job opportunities. We hope that in the labour movement of the United States, their call for social justice is heard. Finally, we appeal to the working people of the United States to join us in demanding that President Barack Obama release our political prisoner Oscar López Rivera, who has served 34 years behind bars without ever being properly accused and tried, and who’s only crime was to support the independence of his country. To this end, we wish you a very happy yet combatant International Workers’ Day with hopes that the future will see the strengthening of ties and solidarity among our labour organisations.
Abrazo solidario, Rafael Bernabe Gubernatorial Candidate for the Working People’s Party, 2016San Juan, Puerto Rico_____________________¡
Rescata la esperanza!¡Únete al Partido del Pueblo Trabajador!"¿El arte de escribir no es reducir? La verba mata sin duda la elocuencia. Hay tanto que decir, que ha de decirse en el menor número de palabras posible. Eso sí, que cada palabra lleve ala y color." -- José Martí
http://www.pueblotrabajador.com

Tags: ILWU Local 10Working People’s Party of Puerto Rico (Partido del Pueblo Trabajador-PPT)
Categories: Labor News

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