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DC Metro and ATU 689 union bicker over who was responsible for Monday’s Orange Line mess

Current News - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 11:20

DC Metro and ATU 689 union bicker over who was responsible for Monday’s Orange Line mess
By Faiz Siddiqui September 19 at 6:30 AM
As Metro and its largest union prepare to enter binding arbitration after reaching an impasse over contract talks, tensions continue to escalate. The latest case-in-point: a back-and-forth between the agency and union after weekend construction problems caused Orange Line slowdowns for thousands of commuters Monday morning.

After a mobile concrete mixer broke down during weekend repairs Sunday, according to the transit agency, Metro had to call in extra workers to mix concrete by hand. Without the mobile concrete plant, the construction — renewal of the grout pads that secure the running rails on an eastern segment of the Orange Line — spilled into the morning commute. And workers had to use shovels and wheelbarrows to complete the job, according to Metro.

[Contract talks collapse between Metro and its biggest union, triggering arbitration]

The construction delays caused headaches for commuters. Metro kept the inbound track out of service for the entire morning commute, as trains single-tracked from New Carrollton to Cheverly. Trains arrived only every 16 minutes over a five-stop segment. And some wondered why the agency hadn’t completed the work during SafeTrack, when the same stretch in question was closed for nearly a month while workers performed repairs that included nearly two miles of new grout pad.

In response to questions about the issue, the transit agency blamed its own machinery:

“The equipment that failed is [Metro] equipment,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said, referring to the mobile concrete mixer that broke down. It “is not overly complex: It’s a concrete mixer affixed to a flatbed, pulled by a prime mover — basically a mixing bowl that takes on water and powdered grout.”

Monday afternoon, however, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 weighed in with its own version of events. The allegations: The weekend track work was beset by planning failures, and the delays were caused by private contractors’ “shoddy” work, the union alleged. Further, the contractors ultimately walked away before finishing the job, the union said.

“The ‘construction problems’ that Metro says caused the Orange Line delay this morning were due to the poor planning of [Metro] management, as well as privately contracted workers who walked away from their assignment before it was completed,” the union said Monday. “There are many instances where contractors do shoddy work and Metro workers have to come back to correct their mistakes; today was one of those instances.”[Orange Line construction delays cause headaches for morning commuters]

Calling the private contractors “unfit” for the job, the union used the construction delays to argue against Metro General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld’s proposal to allow competitive bidding for some Metro projects, such as jobs on the second phase of the Silver Line.

Metro flatly denied the union’s account.

“The union’s claim is false,” Stessel said. “As a general matter, and specifically in this case, contractors are used to supplement — not replace — [Metro] employees to maximize productivity during weekend track outages. This approach is in the best interest of customers, because it means more work gets done in the limited amount of time available.”

Did contractors walk away from the job site?

“No,” Metro said.

Did contractors’ inexperience factor into the construction delays?

“No,” Metro said.

As for the union’s claim that it was brought in to fix the job, the agency said “employees and contractors” were called in overnight to hand-mix the concrete.

Pressed to provide specific evidence of the union’s claims, union spokesman David Stephen said in an email that when “the Local 689 members came to the site the contractors were not there.” He said there was likely no outside documentation to support the claim that union workers were sent in for cleanup because sending workers to job sites is “standard procedure.”

Metro argued, however, that the union’s account couldn’t be true because both union and contract workers were in the area all weekend. (The track work was scheduled for Friday night through Sunday, although the delays stretched it through Monday morning.)

Even if the machinery did break down, the union said, that would have been an insufficient explanation for a construction delay.

“Equipment breaks regularly,” Stephen said. “Mechanics are on standby for this reason. That was not the issue that [led] to the delay.”

Rather, said Stephen, because of poor planning, Metro did not load the concrete mixers sufficiently to rehabilitate the 1,000 feet of track in question. The job was split into two sections, according to Stephen: 600 feet for Metro workers and 400 feet for contractors. And Metro did not supply enough concrete for the full project, he said.

Stessel’s response: “If that were true, then you’d correct the issue and continue running the machines. In other words, why wheelbarrows and shovels? I think we’re done here.”

An email to an outside contractor believed to have supplied workers for the project was not immediately returned.

Tags: ATU 689MTA
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Support for Iranian labour activists on hunger strike

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/18/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Guardian
Categories: Labor News

China: First ten years of iPhone a bloody decade of labour abuse ..especially in China

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Conversation
Categories: Labor News

France: Workers’ demands ignored as Macron begins labour deregulation

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Why NYC MTA conductors point out of their trains after stopping at subway stations-Learned From Japan Railway Workers

Current News - Sun, 09/17/2017 - 14:41

Why NYC MTA conductors point out of their trains after stopping at subway stations-Learned From Japan Railway Workers
A subway conductor checks the train doors before pulling out of the Columbus Circle Station in NYC on Dec. 13, 2005.
A subway conductor checks the train doors before pulling out of the Columbus Circle Station in NYC on Dec. 13, 2005. (PETER FOLEY/REUTERS)
Sunday, September 17, 2017, 4:38 PM
Conductors have a curious habit of pointing out of their trains when it pulls into a station.

Stand at the middle of any subway platform and a rider can see, like clockwork, a conductor pull up, poke their head out of an open train cab window and point towards the ceiling.

The pointing can confuse subway newbies, who may wonder what they’re gesturing towards.

Follow their finger and you’ll see a black-and-white zebra-striped board hanging above them.

“You’re pointing to the safety of your passengers, to make sure that your train is completely and safely in the station,” said Shawna Robinson, a conductor who sits on the executive board of the Transport Workers Union Local 100. “You’re also pointing to let the (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) know that you’re doing what they trained us to do.”

Conductors are trained to point so that everyone watching knows they’re alert and that every train car is in the station, ready for the doors to open.

Before September 1996, when the MTA made pointing mandatory, conductors never had to acknowledge the boards, which were installed once technology allowed for a single conductor to ride the train, instead of one every two cars, according to the MTA’s history of the point.

You Won’t Believe How This Man Made “Wow” Happen After the Unrest Baltimore
That year, top transit official Nathaniel Ford took a business trip to Japan, where he is credited with witnessing the pointing first-hand and bringing it back to New York’s subway, according to Atlas Obscura, a travel publication.

What Ford saw is known in Japanese as shisa kanko, which means “pointing and calling.”

It keeps Tokyo’s transit workers alert and its riders safe.

In New York, it became a curiosity to people observant enough to see the conductor routinely point to the platform.

It caught the eye of Calvin Huang, a native Brooklynite, when he would catch the train to school.

“Usually, when I stand in the middle of the platform, I was thinking, what is this guy doing?” Huang, a 21-year-old graphic design student, said. “I was noticing that they’re in position to open the train door.”

The procedure became the subject of a viral video in October 2013.

Called “The New York Subway Signs Experiment,” the video explains the pointing and has some fun with it. A group of young people hold signs with messages such as “Point here if you are dead sexy” and “Point here if you have seen a passenger naked.”

The video has been seen nearly 2.3 million times.

Marsha Fair, a conductor, 41, from Brooklyn, had no idea that conductors point to the board at every stop when she started training after she joined the agency in February 2016.

“At first I was like, this is so stupid. Pointing to the board?” she said.

But now, she sees why it’s necessary.

“For me, it’s all about safety,” she said. “It just keeps you alert. You know you have to find that board.”

It may seem silly, even among some conductors at the MTA, but it’s mandatory and enforced.

“If you don't point to that board you can get into a lot of trouble,” said Robinson.

Conductors are tested on this as part of the MTA Department of Subways’ Efficiency Testing Program.

The efficiency test makes sure conductors and operators are running trains safely.

For conductors, that means ensuring that doors open and close properly, observing the platform and, of course, pointing to the indication board.

Getting caught not pointing could get the conductor swapped out of the train on the spot and ordered to take a drug and alcohol test. The MTA could seek dismissal or a suspension up to 30 days, according to union officials.

Hundreds of train workers face field testing on subway operations and a handful have failed. Of the 378 conductors tested this year through June, 26 of them failed, according to figures obtained by the Daily News. Last year, 39 of 848 conductors tested failed.

The MTA did not respond to questions and a request for comment.

Crystal Young, a conductor and TWU rep, said the MTA should go easy on conductors, arguing that some workers are busted for not fully extending their arm out to point or that it was obscured by immense crowds on platforms.

“They may not see everything that’s going on and that’s unfortunate because it’s my word against your word,” Young said of the officials conducting the efficiency test. “They may say you didn’t do something that you actually did.”

Tags: MTATWU 100safety signshand sign for safety
Categories: Labor News

Canada: Swissport workers strike for at least $15 and Fairness

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Rank and File
Categories: Labor News

Serbia: Qualified, cheap and little protected by law

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/16/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: MENA
Categories: Labor News

Ford Pushing Transit Privatization In San Francisco With Chariot

Current News - Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:49

Ford Pushing Transit Privatization In San Francisco With Chariot

“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.

Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.

New SF jitney rules ban Chariot from competing directly with Muni

Chariot, an app-enabled private bus service owned by Ford Motor Company, is the only company of its kind operating in The City. (Daniel Kim/Special to S.F. Examiner)
By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez on September 14, 2017 1:00 am

San Francisco jitney vans are set to see historically new regulations.Proposed rules to govern private transit vehicles — essentially buses run by companies — will go before the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors for a vote at their next meeting Tuesday.

The new rules, if approved, will be instated 30 days after the meeting and apply to any private transit service working explicitly within San Francisco. Only one such company exists right now — the app-enabled bus service, Chariot.

Among this new legal framework is a clause addressing a chief public concern: Private transit will be banned from replicating Muni routes.

“These regulations would require any new route does not duplicate Muni service,” said Alex Jonlin, an SFMTA transportation analyst, at a media briefing on the rules Wednesday.

Much of Chariot’s existing network replicates Muni Express and Rapid bus routes aimed at downtown workers. Those routes will be “grandfathered in,” Jonlin said.

New private transit routes that match Muni routes “75 percent” or more will not be allowed, Jonlin said, along with other requirements.

Exceptions would be made for routes that mimic Muni lines outside of its service hours, or connect to regional transit (except on Market Street), or serve substantially different stops.

The move to essentially cut off direct competition between private and public buses is one among many concerns the SFMTA will address with the new regulatory framework. Additionally, private transit companies will be required to share GPS data of its vehicles, ridership numbers, register for California Highway Patrol vehicle inspections, bolster safety training and provide equal access for people with disabilities.

The program will cost $250,000 annually to administer, according to the SFMTA, which will be recovered nearly entirely through administrative fees to Chariot. State law requires SFMTA only recoup the costs of such a program.

Chariot would not comment directly on the regulations, and said it would continue working with the SFMTA. Ford Motor Company bought Chariot, a startup, late last year. The sale price was not disclosed, but Business Insider cited sources who pinned the sale at “more than” $65 million.

Private jitney buses have operated on San Francisco streets for as long as automobiles have existed. Jitneys ferried San Franciscans to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915, and many Muni lines today run on former private bus lines.

However, private jitney service declined in the 1970s. At the time, jitneys were loosely regulated through a patchwork of laws at the San Francisco Police Department and elsewhere.

“Our big concern is public safety,” Kate Toran, head of SFMTA taxi services, said of creating new rules for jitneys in San Francisco.

The rules come after neighbors have complained of Chariot vehicles double parking, stopping in Muni bus stops and blocking driveways, according to the SFMTA.

The public made 62 complaints through email or 311 about Chariot and other private transit services, which are now defunct, since September 2015, according to the SFMTA. There have been 28 complaints in 2017 alone.

“This company is another one of these companies based on ‘We’re going to break the law, and go to city government to ask for forgiveness,’” said Sue Vaughan, who sits on the SFMTA’s citizen advisory council and has been a staunch critic of private transit services.

Vaughan has catalogued Chariot vehicles double parking to let out passengers, blocking Muni buses and engaging in other “scofflaw” behavior in dozens of photographs.

San Francisco State University geography professor Jason Henderson, who focuses on urban transportation, said even if Chariot is not allowed to compete with Muni, the regulations don’t go far enough.

“The City needs to be asking a soul searching question — is private transit really the right way to do things?” he said.

Though Henderson admits some San Franciscans simply don’t want to use Muni, either because they complain it’s too dirty, too crowded, or not as comfortable as hopping on a Chariot van, he said that’s beside the point.

Henderson added that two different modes of transit, a luxury option for those who can afford it, and a public option that faces possible disinvestment, doesn’t reflect San Francisco values.

“I think the solution is for those kinds of people to get over themselves,” he said.

Tags: transit privatizationderegulationFord Privatization
Categories: Labor News

Fleet Memo for September 9 2017

IBU - Wed, 09/13/2017 - 10:38
Categories: Unions

Unlucky train of coincidences led to fire on the Japan Odakyu rail line

Current News - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 18:28

Unlucky train of coincidences led to fire on the Japan Odakyu rail line
September 12, 2017 at 17:40 JST

The scorched roof of the train car after the freak accident Sept. 10 (Shingo Kuzutani)

Standard precautions to ensure passenger safety in the event of an emergency on rail tracks backfired when a train was forced to halt close to a burning building, and then caught fire.

The freak accident that halted operations on Odakyu Electric Railway Co.'s Odawara Line in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward on Sept. 10 was triggered by a blaze that broke out in a building that doubles as a boxing gym and dormitory for boxers right next to the tracks.

According to the railway operator and the Metropolitan Police Department, the first report of the fire in the Yoyogi 5-chome district reached the fire department at 4:06 p.m.

Firefighters at the site asked a police officer to stop trains while they tried to contain the blaze. The police officer activated the emergency stop button at a nearby railroad crossing about five minutes after the initial report of the fire.

All oncoming trains came to an emergency stop. The eight-car train in question was bound for Shinjuku Station, and became stationary just 3 meters from the blazing building.

In the event of a fire along rail tracks, Odakyu Electric's guidelines stipulate that the driver or the conductor must make sure to stop the train at a safe location.

In this incident, the driver noticed white smoke billowing, but did not realize there was a fire.

The driver assumed the emergency stop button had been activated due to a problem at the crossing.

When the driver disembarked from the train to check, he realized for the first time that the building next to the tracks was on fire.

The driver returned to his cabin, and manually lifted the emergency mode, and contacted Odakyu Electric's command center to ask for permission to restart the train.

The train was on the move eight minutes after it came to a stop. But by that time, the roof of the second car had caught fire.

The train crawled forward for 120 meters or so, and ground to a halt again after firefighters alerted the driver about the fire on the roof so the 300 passengers could spill out safely onto the tracks.

There were no injuries.

The intense heat caused the urethane resin overcoat, which was painted to insulate stainless steel cars from electrical components, to ignite.

The resin is mixed with flame retardant agent, but was no match for the immense heat.

(This article was written by Odaka Chiba and Kensuke Abe.)

Tags: Odakyu Electric Railway Co.'s Odawara Linehealth and safetyfire
Categories: Labor News

Air Berlin cancels 100 flights after Vereinigung Cockpit pilots call in sick in wildcat strike

Current News - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 15:33

Air Berlin cancels 100 flights after Vereinigung Cockpit pilots call in sick in wildcat strike

Bankrupt airline’s hubs at Düsseldorf and Tegel badly affected by apparent wildcat strike against possible redundancies
An Air Berlin plane at Düsseldorf airport
Air Berlin lost €782m last year and pilots fear they could be made redundant. Photograph: Roland Weihrauch/AFP/Getty Images
Philip Oltermannin Berlin
Tuesday 12 September 2017 08.01 EDTLast modified on Tuesday 12 September 2017 17.00 EDT

Air Berlin has been forced to cancel about 100 flights after an “unusually high number” of pilots called in sick, in what is believed to be a wildcat strike against possible redundancies at the bankrupt airline.

The carrier, which declared bankruptcy last month after years of losses, is negotiating the transfer of staff to a potential buyer. Bids for the airline must be submitted by Friday, with a decision on the sale expected as early as next week.

On its website, Air Berlin cited “operative reasons” for the cancellations on Tuesday, and asked passengers to call a helpline and refrain from travelling to the affected airports.

Because the carrier no longer offers compensation for cancelled flights, customer advice centres recommended that people affected by the strike book replacements at their own expense.

Berlin’s Tegel airport and Düsseldorf airport, Air Berlin’s hubs, were hit hard by the strike action, which also affects 42 planes run by Air Berlin on behalf of Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.

Spiegel Online said about 250 pilots called in sick on Tuesday morning. Air Berlin employs approximately 1,500 pilots.

Vereinigung Cockpit, a collective bargaining group for German pilots and flight engineers, has expressed concern that the airline is planning to offload its long-haul flights branch, which pays staff higher wages.

Air Berlin has already announced that it will cease to operate flights to the Caribbean and Boston from 25 September.

Air Berlin made a loss of €782m (£703m) in 2016. Last month, Etihad Airways, which owns almost 30% of Air Berlin, said the developments were “extremely disappointing”, but it could not keep injecting cash after investing an additional €250m in April.

Tags: Air Berlin StrikeSickout
Categories: Labor News

9/18 SFO AA TWU 505/591 Workers Picket For A contract

Current News - Tue, 09/12/2017 - 11:39

9/18 SFO AA TWU 505/591 Workers Picket For A contract
Brothers & Sisters,

Please join Transport Workers Union Local 505 and 591 for an informational picket on September 18th, 10am-noon & 3pm-5pm. American Airlines promised the the best contract in the industry but after two years there is still no contract. Today, approximately 40% of American Airlines maintenance is being outsourced to foreign facilities with very little FAA oversight.

Date: Monday, September 18, 2017
Time: 10:00 am - noon & 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Assembly Point - Courtyard 3, between T-2 & T-3, Downstairs
Picket Point - Terminal 2, Doorway 6, Upstairs

In Solidarity,
Susan Charles, Office Manager
San Mateo County Central Labor Council
1153 Chess Dr., Suite 200, Foster City CA 94404
Telephone: 650-572-8848



Tags: TWU 505TWU 591AA Contractunion bustingoutsourcingsolidarity
Categories: Labor News

Pakistan: Five years on, Baldia factory fire case still at pre-trial stage

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: LabourWatch
Categories: Labor News

France: Workers protest Emmanuel Macron's labor reforms

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Deutsche Welle
Categories: Labor News

Global: Cheap labour versus robots, who will sew the clothes of the future?

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Equal Times
Categories: Labor News

Global: Tell the IOC! No more deaths in mega sports events! Click the link and sign now!

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 09/11/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BWI Global Union
Categories: Labor News

France: Macron protests: Why are people going on strike?

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Independent
Categories: Labor News

USA: Support for labor unions is at decade high, poll finds

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 09/10/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: NY Daily News
Categories: Labor News

Kenya: Council orders governors to replace thousands of striking nurses

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 09/09/2017 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Nation
Categories: Labor News


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