Tensions run high on eve of BART talks
Labor unrest that dogged BART General Manager Grace Crunican (rear, left) last summer is cropping up again.
By Matier & Ross
December 11, 2013 8:33 AM
BART and its two biggest unions are set to restart negotiations Thursday, but there's little sign that tensions between the two sides have eased.
Feelings are especially raw among members of Service Employees International Union Local 1021 and BART's other big labor outfit, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555.
About 60 union protesters showed up Thursday at Warehouse 416, an art gallery in Oakland, for the re-election campaign kickoff of Director Robert Raburn, whose district includes Alameda and parts of Oakland and San Leandro.
When the protesters arrived, they found two plainclothes BART police officers in attendance.
"Our understanding is that they were on duty and being paid overtime," said Cecille Isidro, spokeswoman for Local 1021. "As far as we know, you are not allowed to use police for a private function."
BART Police Chief Kenton Rainey said Raburn had "expressed concerns about safety at the event during the BART meeting that afternoon, along with concerns about e-mails and phone calls that he and other BART directors had been receiving."
"He didn't request the protection," the chief said. "I ordered it, as there were going to be other BART directors in attendance as well.
"The officers were there for personal safety, not event security," Rainey said, adding that he had instructed them not to interfere with any demonstration.
As for the negotiations, the sticking point is the six weeks per year of paid family leave in the tentative contract that workers approved a few weeks back - a provision that BART directors maintained was included in the pact by mistake.
After the BART board voted last month to reject the contract unless the leave benefit is jettisoned, the unions sued.
"No matter what the outcome of the legal action, it is not going to decide the fate of the contract," said BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost. "We still need to come to some kind of agreement."
Isidro added, "Obviously, we would like to work out a solution on this."
BART's elected directors, already taking heat for what many constituents think was too sweet a deal to begin with, say they'll stand firm on their refusal to ratify the family-leave benefit. They've asked the unions to submit the proposed contract without the provision to their members for a vote.
The leaders of a third, smaller BART union that joined both strikes this year - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees - did just that last week.
The deal passed with over 70 percent of members voting "yes."
But it may be another story for the other unions - in fact, one of them is going through its own power struggle. Antonette Bryant, who was a leading union voice during the negotiations and the two strikes, finds herself in a runoff with Chris Finn to keep her job as ATU Local 1555 president.Tags: ATU 1555SEIU 11021BART
December 11, 2013: Five years ago today, Ron Carey, the first democratically-elected General President of the Teamsters, passed away.After winning the Right to Vote for top Teamster officers in 1989, Teamsters for a Democratic Union endorsed Ron Carey for General President. Carey's bid was considered an impossible longshot. But TDU members and Teamsters across the country built a grassroots campaign network that toppled the Teamster Old Guard. Once in office, Carey slashed his salary, sold the Teamster jets, reversed a 16-year decline in Teamster membership and, most famously, launched the 1997 UPS Strike. Five years after his death, Ron Carey's legacy is more relevant than ever to Teamster members who still believe in union power and the ability of rank-and-file Teamsters to take back our union, organize and win! Click here to read A Teamster Apart: Ron Carey RememberedIssues: Labor Movement
On December 9, 2013, the UP filed a list of 15 names with the National Mediation Board (NMB) of people no longer working as UP train dispatchers. Under the NMB rules, any person that leaves the craft of train dispatcher (up to seven days prior to the tally of the vote) for any reason, including termination, resignation, retirement, promotion, etc., is no longer eligible to vote in the election. Please review the list of names at http://www.updispatchers.com/UP_12-9-13.pdf. The information we have so far is that what is shown is correct, but if it is not please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to make sure that every train dispatcher that is entitled to vote under the NMB rules is deemed eligible. But, those that are no longer eligible because of a status change should be removed from the list (http://www.updispatchers.com/Potential_List.pdf) and not allowed to vote. Please let us know if you see any other names on the list of people that are no longer working as a train dispatcher.
Our time to make any challenges or status changes is limited so please help us by looking over the list as soon as possible. Thank you. David W. Volz
American Train Dispatchers Association
------- For the complete blog click www.trainsheet.blogspot.com
For the second time in less than four years, YRC Worldwide Inc.'s unionized workers will be voting on a contract as if their livelihoods depended on it.
Leaders of the Teamsters Union, which represents about 26,000 unionized workers at the less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier, on Friday approved a membership vote on the company's proposal to extend the current collective bargaining agreement through March 2019. Ballots will be mailed either tomorrow or Wednesday and will be counted around Jan. 8.
YRC executives and union officials met on Friday both in person in Dallas and by conference call to discuss the contract proposal. During the meeting, YRC executives stressed that the company may go out of business by Feb. 1 unless the company's lenders agree to restructure about $1.4 billion in debt, according to a communiqué from the Teamster dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union. Ratification of the labor contract extension is essential to the restructuring effort.
The first principal payment of $69 million is due Feb. 15. Overland Park, Kan.-based YRC said today it expects to save $100 million a year through the contract's provisions and other so-called corporate initiatives.
James L. Welch, YRC's CEO and president of its YRC Freight long-haul LTL unit, said today he was not at the Friday meeting and was unaware of comments made by his executives of such a drastic step. Welch said he remained confident that workers would ratify the agreement, adding that it would be hard to find jobs elsewhere in the LTL sector as well-paying as YRC's. The LTL industry is overwhelmingly made up of nonunion carriers whose compensation is generally below that of YRC and its unionized rival, ABF Freight System Inc.
In late October, ABF's rank-and-file ratified a new five-year agreement that called for wage cuts and productivity improvements that would save the trucker between $55 million and $65 million a year over the contract's life. The agreement narrowed the cost differential between YRC and ABF, which had the LTL industry's highest cost structure, and made ABF more cost-competitive in the eyes of many shippers.
In a filing today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, YRC said that it "may be unable to refinance or restructure" parts of its debt that mature in 2014 without an extension of its current agreement. The rank-and-file's failure to ratify the compact would have a "materially adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations," the company said.
In 2009, YRC's rank-and-file approved a series of extraordinary contract concessions that helped keep the company out of bankruptcy protection. After close brush with bankruptcy at the end of 2009, YRC appeared to be making slow headway under Welch, who was named CEO in mid-2011. However, the company's struggles have resurfaced, most recently in the wake of a major YRC Freight network restructuring that did not go well. The outcome led to the dismissal of then-YRC Freight President Jeffrey A. Rogers and Welch's assumption of the YRC Freight post.
Under the contract proposal, union workers would receive, in lieu of pay raises, $750 in annual bonuses over the first two years of the extended contract. After that, they would receive net annual raises equal to 34 cents an hour. Vacation pay would be capped at 40 hours per week or 1/58 of annual earnings. Three-week paid vacations would only be available to workers with 11 years seniority.
The first bonus would be paid in early 2014 should employees ratify the contract extension and lenders agree to the debt restructuring, Welch said.
Profit-sharing programs will kick in if YRC Freight achieves a 97-percent operating ratio per year starting in 2015. Workers will share in a larger percentage of profits should the unit's ratio decline further. For YRC's profitable regional units, profit sharing would begin at 94.1 percent. Operating ratio is the ratio of expenses to revenues and is a measure of a transport company's efficiency and profitability. YRC Freight's third-quarter operating ratio stood at 101.2, meaning it spent a little more $1.01 for every $1 in revenue. The company said its ratio in the quarter was impacted by problems surrounding the network revamp. YRC Regional's third-quarter operating ratio stood at 95.5.
In addition, the contract would allow YRC for the first time, to subcontract out 6 percent of its driver work, with supposed protections for all currently employed drivers. Some drivers have voiced concern that the protections would only apply to the originating drivers on a multistop trip. As a result, "relay" drivers, (or those drivers other than the originating driver who pick up loads at various points) could have their work subcontracted out, they warn.
Welch said the use of "purchased transportation," another term for subcontracting, would be confined to markets like Chicago where the company is facing a driver shortage. "We will not use it in place of existing rank-and-file drivers," he said.
Pension contributions, which were suspended in mid-2009 and resumed in 2011 at one-fourth their prior amount, will be fixed at the current levels through the life of the extended compact.Issues: Freight
The first column contains the results from the first round of contract votes in June. The second column contains the result from the second round vote count conducted on December 10 and 11.Local June Supplement December Supplement Yes No Yes No 177115018752360958Mechanics44728143
The first column contains the results from the first round of contract votes in June. The second column contains the result from the second round vote count conducted on December 10 and 11.LocalCityJune Supplement VoteDec. Supplement VoteDec. S.W. Rider Vote YesNoYesNoYesNo2Butte, Mont.1392521619N/AN/A38Everett, Wa.3423517N/AN/A58Vancouver, Wa.587745N/AN/A63Ontario, Calif405811816318812315104Phoenix313514871161869162162Portland, Ore.35310559567N/AN/A174Seattle429155756100N/AN/A186Ventura, Calif.161429014291140190Billings, Mont.59157625N/AN/A206Eugene, Ore.41246917N/AN/A222Salt Lake City3704662641N/AN/A231Bellingham, Wa.624983N/AN/A252Centralia, Wa.516625N/AN/A313Tacoma, Wa.5410775N/AN/A324Salem, Ore.6171077N/AN/A396Covina, Calif.46417361131102611261023481San Diego7253111185483Boise, Idaho130291949N/AN/A492New Mexico1511142875028450495Covina, Calif.13304111N/AN/A542San Diego142365424224427220572Carson, Calif.421461017010071589Port Angeles, Wa.447751N/AN/A631Las Vegas711161106511165670Hermiston, Ore.29115612N/AN/A690Spokane, Wa.88142137127N/AN/A760Yakima, Wa.5311711N/AN/A839Pasco, Wash.322450N/AN/A952Orange County1583373679136390959Alaska7111484N/AN/A962Bend, Ore.1461720611N/AN/A983Pocatello, Idaho302442N/AN/A986Santa Maria, Calif.129144814580996Hawaii553310017N/AN/A TOTAL 434052608096273542462221South West Automotive RiderLocalCityJune Automotive Rider VoteDec. Automotive Rider Vote YesNoYesNo63Ontario, Calif. 60186Ventura, Calif. 00481San Diego725136495Covina, Calif12303912952Orange County1222959Alaska 30 Total 20576320
December 11, 2013: The ballot count details for the second-round vote on the Western Region Supplement and South West Rider and on the New Jersey Local 177 Supplement are available here.UPS
BART SEIU 1021 and ATU 1555 Unions Launch California Labor Lawsuit Over Contract Clause Clawback
December 9, 2013, 10:30:00AM.
By Gordon Gibb
Alameda, CA: Representatives of California’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) have likened a California labor lawsuit brought by labor unions to a Hail Mary pass in football. However, the apparent confidence of the BART board in defending itself against union allegations of wrongdoing and bad faith is in stark contrast to the plaintiffs who assert “a deal is a deal,” in accusing the employer of reneging on an agreement.
According the Contra Costa Times (12/3/13), the dispute centers on a clause in a recently negotiated contract that provides for six weeks of paid leave to care for a newborn, or an ill or injured family member - in addition to normal provisions for vacation pay and sick leave.
The BART board, according to the report, is characterizing the paid leave agreement as a clerical error in the contract and voted November 21 - following initial agreement of the proposed contract by both sides - to require that approval of the proposed contract be conditional on a new union vote on a revised contract without the paid leave clause.
The paid leave provisions would saddle the BART transit authority with additional costs, although it would depend on how many union members would take advantage of the perk. The labor contract would cost BART $67 million over four years. The paid leave provision could cost the Authority an additional $6 million, to $44 million over the life of the contract.
BART wants the paid leave provision struck from the contract. The unions are sticking to their guns, saying that the provision was in the original proposed contract that was agreed to by both parties.
The unions involved in this California labor code dispute are Amalgamated Transit and Service Employees International. According to the newspaper report, the unions had previously launched legal action against BART over alleged issues surrounding California and labor law this past June.
When both sides reached a tentative agreement October 21 - an agreement that both unions ratified - it was thought that legal action against the transit authority could come to an end.
That doesn’t appear to be the case now. The unions are seeking, through the courts, to force the employer to accept the terms of the proposed contract as agreed and as ratified by the union membership according to the tenets of California and labor law.
A professor of law is quoted in the report as saying that there is no precedent for an employer, having negotiated a contract and signed off individual tentative agreements, to come back and attempt to back away from a previously agreed-to clause.
While the California labor lawsuit is at play, various members of the bargaining unit noted that an out-of-court settlement might be possible, and that the door has been left open for further negotiations, provided they are meaningful. The report noted that a judge, rather than decide on the legality of the employer’s attempt to back away from an agreed-to provision, could simply order the two sides back to the bargaining table.
The transit authority appears poised to try its luck in court, rather than enter into new talks. “I’m not aware of any case where a member of the judiciary has told an elected board, ‘You have to accept this unratified contract no matter what it costs,’” BART board Vice President Joel Keller said, in a statement to the Contra Costa Times. “And if it is forced upon us, it could result in a fare increase.”
The California labor lawsuit was filed in Alameda County Superior Court December 3.Tags: seiu 1021BARTATU 1555
I am a new dispatcher; I qualified in February of this year. I am writing this to speak to other newer dispatchers who may be on the fence or are indifferent to the union. There are a number of reasons why being a union dispatcher is in our best interests whether we plan on making dispatching a career or if we plan on moving on to something else down the road. It seems like the cost of living is rising just about every day; that means that pay increases, bonuses, insurance, retirement, and other benefits are really important for us to provide for our families. Some people seem to think that they'll be better off negotiating with management on an individual basis. But this flies in the face of facts and common sense. There isn't an industry or line of work where non-union workers have better pay, better benefits, better work rules, etc. than their non-union counterparts.
Not only are union employees better off financially than their non-union counterparts, they have more ability to preserve what they already have. A union is simply an Association of employees coming together and using their numbers to improve their negotiating leverage. Businesses belong to all kinds of Associations because they realize the same thing; for instance Union Pacific belongs to the Association of American Railroads. From their website it states that “AAR members include the major freight railroads in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as Amtrak. Working with elected officials and leaders in Washington, D.C. on critical transportation and related issues, AAR ensures that the freight rail industry will continue to meet America’s transportation needs today and tomorrow.” Union Pacific realizes that the best way to negotiate their best interests with policy makers in Washington is to come together with other Railroad Carriers for greater “negotiating leverage”. If the association didn't create results and if it was better to negotiate on an individual basis, Union Pacific and the other Railroad Carriers wouldn't have created and be a part of an Association.
I've heard quite a few newer dispatchers state that they are indifferent to whether or not we have a union because “after I put in my three years I plan on moving on to something else”, whether it's something entirely different within in the company or become a Corridor Manager. I just have two things to say to that.
First, a union contract with union wages and benefits will absolutely be in your best interest if you do plan on moving on to something else. When you get promoted it stands to reason that your new pay and benefits will start with what you already have. For instance, if you have a salary of $80,000 as a train dispatcher and you get promoted, the general salary increase might be $80,000 + X. But if you are making $100,000 then it would be $100,000 + X. This is a basic example, but hopefully my point is made. Not only will all train dispatchers have better pay and benefits, but since the baseline will be higher, those union wages and benefits will “trickle up” to those above us.
Second, just look around you and see how many other people want to try and become a Corridor Manager or get a job in headquarters. There's a lot of competition for those jobs and there's no guarantee that in three years we'll be able to get one of them. Maybe it takes five or 10 years or maybe we never get one of those jobs. Don't you want to have the best possible pay, benefits, and working conditions while you are dispatching? I know I do.
Some may be asking why I felt the need to write this? First, there seems to be a vocal minority who are really anti-union. It's easier to be vocally anti-union than pro-union, especially if you are new like me, because the company doesn't want us to be union so there aren't any risks that come with being vocally against the union. In talking to the people I know about the union there are a lot more people who are either for the union or who are on the fence than who are staunchly anti-union. Hopefully by me writing this, it will encourage others to be vocally in favor of the union, especially those newer dispatchers I've talked to who have decided to vote “yes.”
Second, I'm writing this because most of what has been written has been by ATDA officers and I wanted to add my public support to the organizing campaign. I understand it doesn't mean much to many since I'm still very new and most of you don't know me and I have a lot to prove and learn from the rest of you, both pro-union and anti-union dispatchers. I plan on retiring a Union Pacific Dispatcher and am proud and grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a great craft that is essential to the safe and efficient operation of the Railroad. I believe that we'll have a better, safer, and more efficient Railroad as Union Dispatchers.
Finally, we have the best chance of receiving better wages, benefits and fair treatment in the workplace by bargaining collectively as a union. Most of us have very limited bargaining power as one person, but as a group, we are strong. And, with a good negotiated contract, we have legal protections and basic rights we would not have otherwise.
In about two weeks each of us will have the opportunity to vote. I ask that you vote "yes" for your family and mine.
------- For the complete blog click www.trainsheet.blogspot.com
check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/UP-Dispatchers-Club-151/160940037408545?ref=br_tf also check out www.updispatchers.com
December 9, 2013: The vote count for the Western Region Supplement and Southwest Rider and the New Jersey Local 177 Supplement will start tomorrow.
There will be independent rank and file observers at the vote count: David Gutierrez of San Diego Local 542, Chris Jennings of Los Angeles Local 396, and Mark Timlin of New Jersey Local 177. These observers will be there on their own time to ensure the right of all members to have their votes counted.
TDU will post results as they become available. We expect to start getting local union vote results later on December 10. The count may continue until December 11.
The Hoffa-Hall administration has once again done a million-dollar campaign to sell the deal, in alliance with management. Southwest area Teamsters received up to eight mailings selling the deal, along with robo-calls, web postings, and threats about their health care.
It took Hoffa and Hall six months to get to a second vote. The delay has given them the chance to remind people about the retroactive pay they are due. But no retro pay will issue soon whatever the vote is on these supplements, because there are outstanding supplements and riders covering Ohio, Indiana, Western Pa, Philadelphia and the Louisville air rider. Those will not be completed until well into 2014.
The health care benefits have been improved in this offer, by diverting money each August 1 from pension improvements into the health fund, so members in the West not going into the new fund will end up with bigger pension accruals than those going into the new health plan.
Hoffa and Hall didn’t bargain anything from management in the six months. They should have put less effort into a sales job, and more into bargaining with the most profitable transport company in the world.Issues: UPS
The combined company will have increased leverage selling and distributing food goods from manufacturers to restaurants, hospitals, hotels, schools and other institutions. That middleman role already makes the companies important players in the service economy: Sysco alone has about 425,000 customers.
Sysco estimates the combined company will have about 25% of the U.S. food distribution market, up from about 18% now for Sysco alone.
Sysco Chief Executive Bill Delaney said that the company might need to sell parts of its business to satisfy antitrust regulators, though it has no such plans yet.
The antitrust discussions "will be a review process and it will take several months, and there could very well be some divestitures, but even with some divestitures this is still a very good deal," he said on a conference call.
Sysco's shares rose sharply in early trading Monday morning. The shares, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, had gained only about 8.4% this year as of Friday's close.
The deal has been approved by the boards of both Houston-based Sysco and US Foods, of Rosemont, Ill., the companies said in a statement. In addition to paying about $3 billion in stock and $500 million in cash, Sysco will assume or refinance US Foods debt of about $4.7 billion, they said. The companies expect the deal to close in the third quarter of 2014.
US Foods main shareholders—private firms Clayton, Dubilier & Rice LLC and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts KKR & Co.--will join Sysco's board.
Sysco and US Foods said their combination is expected to generate "synergies" of at least $600 million after three-to-four years, in part from supply chain efficiencies and reducing administrative overlap.
Mr. Delaney said that the industry will remain competitive. "It is a very dynamic market," he said. "There are 15,000 to 16,000 distributors out there, and more nontraditional competitors." But the purchasing power, combined innovation efforts and cost savings on the merger will position the new company well, he said.
Sysco considered buying US Foods almost seven years ago but didn't. Mr. Delaney said the change of heart comes now that US Foods is focused more on innovation and improving efficiency.
He said US Foods has technology related to customer ordering and a mobile application that Sysco is interested in.
Restaurants and other customers tend to want more than one supplier, and Mr. Delaney acknowledged that the merger could cause customers who use both Sysco and US Foods to go elsewhere for some of their products.
"In our model, we have factored in that risk," Mr. Delaney said. "We have been a little more conservative on our sales growth for the first couple years…but we are going to do everything we can to minimize customer flight."
Founded in 1969, Sysco now has grown to have $44.4 billion in revenue last year, with 48,100 employees world-wide. About 60% of its customers are restaurants.
Sysco has struggled in recent years with higher prices for food and relative weakness in the restaurant industry, as consumers dialed back spending on eating out. Sysco's net profit in the fiscal year ended June 29 fell 12% to $992.4 million from $1.12 billion.
Corrections & Amplifications
An earlier version of this story gave an incorrect location for US Foods' headquarters.
ILWU Local 10 members Boycott of South African Cargo In Solidarity With South African Workers
In 1984, ILWU Local 10 members in San Francisco refused to handle South African cargo on he Nedlloyd Kimberly ship at pier 80 in the port. This was the most important direct labor action in the United States in solidarity with the South African workers and the fight against apartheid.
For more video:
ILWU Local 10 Member and Anti-apartheid Activist Leo Robinson: A Life In Struggle
SA Ambassador Ebrahim Rassol Presents Mandela Award To Honor Leo Robinson & ILWU Local 10
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org
Which Side Are You On? The Glory Of The ILWU Celebrated By Nelson Mandela or The Shame of ILWU Crossing Port Truckers Picket Lines?
WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?
THE GLORY OF THE ILWU CELEBRATED BY NELSON MANDELA
THE SHAME OF THE ILWU CROSSING PORT TRUCKERS PICKET LINES?
By Bob Mandel, former member of ILWU Local 6
When Mandela spoke at the Oakland Coliseum on ……, after his formal greetings to the assembled politicians and dignitaries, his first words were in praise of and thanks to ILWU #10 for its 11-day stop work action against apartheid cargo which reverberated throughout So Africa and to Robbin Island itself. That boycott was to oppose the apartheid police shooting down striking gold miners. And it was held in defiance of a court injunction and fines which grew to $2.8 million (?) but were dropped after Local 10 went back to work. That action helped bring down the murderous racist regime which had murdered, bullwhipped, imprisoned and super-exploited the mass of South African Workers.
Contrast that with the shameful picture of longshore workers allowing themselves to be “escorted” by Oakland police through picket lines to break the effort of the super-exploited multi-racial port truckers to organize a union. Police notorious for the Riders, for shooting at long-shore workers and anti-war protestors in the Port when the US invaded Iraq, in a city whose related police agencies have the blood of Oscar Grant, Alan Bluford, & Rahim Brown still dripping from their hands.
Faced with massive assaults and scabbing in the Northwest and the near certainty of similar attacks when the coastwise contract expires in …., which is the road forward for the ILWU? Standing in solidarity like proud men and women as we did for our South African brothers and sisters or crawling before the bosses “law and order” at the very moment that they are bringing its full force against us.
Rebuild Port solidarity---stand with the truckers! An Injury to One Is An Injury to All.
ATU On First Transit, Veolia Transportation, and MV Transportation Privatization
ATU is committed to keeping public services in public hands. However, transit authorities, school districts, cities, and other public bodies, many of whom are still reeling from the financial crisis of 2008, are lured by the promises of lower costs through privatization of public services. Unfortunately, this decision is often informed more by ideology than a realistic appraisal of cost-savings and quality.
Does privatization really save money? Eliot Sclar, Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, argues that the belief that non-union, private operators can provide transit services more efficiently than public employees overlooks two important problems. First, once the initial contract is awarded, the service becomes a de facto monopoly in which the incumbent has the upper hand in each subsequent round of bidding, essentially eliminating competition. Second, transit productivity relies on external factors, such as traffic patterns and ridership levels, that exist regardless of whether the bus drivers are public or private employees.
When municipalities open up their transit systems to private bids, companies try to underbid each other in order to win the contract. After the contract is won, often the workers are forced to make up the difference by giving away wages and benefits. Employees of private contractors earn lower wages and enjoy fewer benefits than their public sector counterparts. When employees are underpaid and overworked, it becomes more difficult to attract qualified workers. A 1999 report on school bus privatization noted that “private contractors have been beset by safety problems, many of which emanate from a lack of experience and from employing people at the low end of the wage scale.” ATU is committed to raising labor standards in the private transit industry through collectively bargaining.
In Phoenix, AZ, privatization turned out to be a losing game for the city after the private contractor, Veolia, used a variety of tactics—including putting the mayor’s girlfriend on their payroll—to get additional money out of the city after the contract was signed. Veolia originally underbid the closest competitor by nearly $13 million, but lobbied the city for more money when the ATU refused to accept the harsh cuts such a contract would impose on workers. Source: Phoenix New Times
The ideology that goes hand-in-hand with the privatization push often demonizes the public sector as inefficient or corrupt, and touts the private sector as the answer to these problems. However, private companies can also be corrupt—just think back to the Enron scandal—and contracts mean they can keep receiving public money without ever improving efficiency, at least until their contract is up.
Private operation of transit services has become increasingly dominated by three firms: First Transit, Veolia Transportation, and MV Transportation.
First Transit is a subsidiary of FirstGroup, a multibillion dollar corporation headquartered in the United Kingdom. FirstGroup also owns First Student and Greyhound. Veolia Transportation is a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement, a multibillion dollar conglomerate headquartered in France. It also consists of water, waste, and energy divisions that operate around the world. MV Transportation is the only American-owned company in the top three. It employs more than 13,000 people and is headquartered in California.
School Bus Privatization:
Of the 500,000 yellow school buses on the road, about 30% are operated by private contractors. The private school bus industry is highly fragmented, but is dominated by First Student, part of First Transit, with a fleet of over 60,000 buses. First Student’s closest competitor has a fleet about 1/3 that size.
• Preventing the privatization of public services and returning subcontracted work to public entities whenever possible.
• Improving the wages, benefits, and working conditions of private transit employees.
• Aggressively pursuing grievances and unfair labor practices to preserve the integrity of our collective bargaining agreements with private employers.
• “When Ideology Drives Decisions,” Eliot Sclar op-ed for the New York Times
• Broome County Transit: Keep It Public Report
Kitzhaber prods Portland Port, ILWU unions, employers to keep Hanjin Shipping cargo vessels from abandoning Portland
Kitzhaber prods Portland Port, ILWU unions, employers to keep Hanjin Shipping cargo vessels from abandoning Portland
A Hanjin Shipping Co. vessel berths at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6, where comparatively slow loading and unloading of ships is causing the South Korean ocean carrier to threaten pulling out. Key to addressing the crisis is ending conflict between longshore workers and electricians over the equivalent of two jobs plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers known as reefers. (Benjanmin Brink/The Oregonian)
PrintBy Richard Read | email@example.com
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on December 05, 2013 at 6:00 AM, updated December 05, 2013 at 6:10 AM
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Gov. John Kitzhaber is riding herd on thePort of Portland, the Port’s terminal manager, union electricians, dock workersand longshore employers to keep Hanjin Shipping Co.’s cargo ships from deserting the River City.
Kitzhaber virtually knocked heads together during secret Nov. 22 talks in Portland’s World Trade Center, warning participants beforehand in a letter that Hanjin’s scheduled departure at year’s end would be “a severe blow to Oregon’s economic recovery, one that will produce effects throughout the state for years to come.”
Key to reaching a deal among the warring parties would be finally ending acrimony over the equivalent of two infamous jobs plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers, or reefers, at the Port’s container terminal.
Leaders of the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union covet the work, which is performed at Terminal 6 by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
Resolution of the reefer issue has eluded a federal judge, administrative law judges, the National Labor Relations Board and former Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who brokered days of arduous negotiations behind closed doors. At times, freight has backed up from Gresham to Guangzhou, trucks have lined up for miles outside T-6 and cargo vessels have bypassed Portland as feuding parties sue one another and argue over the two jobs.
“I can’t speak to what any of the parties might be willing to give or take, but the reefer jobs are part of the conversation,” said Duke Shepard, a labor and human services policy adviser to Kitzhaber. “We’re not going to make progress here without addressing that in some way or another.”
Shephard confirmed the Nov. 22 meeting occurred, adding that “it’s not totally shocking, it’s just annoying” that a reporter found out about it.
Continuing coverage of longshore labor turmoil in Portland and at other Northwest ports.Sworn to secrecy by Kitzhaber, the parties are working against the clock to develop a proposal for Hanjin managers, who threaten to stop weekly calls on Portland mainly because they say loading and unloading ships at T-6 has become far too slow.
Left in the dark until now are thousands of exporters and importers across the Northwest, ranging from big importers such as Fred Meyer Inc. and Columbia Sportswear Co. to small farmers exporting hay, who depend on the troubled terminal for access to world markets. If Hanjin pulls out, the businesses will have to pay more to truck each container to and from the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.
Tantalizing prospects drive the negotiations, which Shepard continues one-on-one with each party. One idea would be for the electricians to cede the two jobs to the San Francisco-based longshore union, which could claim a long-sought victory for its members up and down the West Coast.
But what would the electricians’ union get in return? And what would the longshore union give in exchange?
The most obvious answer, in the case of the longshore union, would be increased productivity, moving containers faster on and off ships. But doing that immediately could amount to a tacit admission of perjury, as straight-faced longshore union leaders continue swearing under oath at ongoing NLRB hearings in Portland that they’re not staging slowdowns.
Instead longshore leaders blame ICTSI Oregon Inc., the Port’s terminal operator, which hires dock workers. The union bosses cite poor management and repeatedly try to tar ICTSI’s reputation, dissing it as a foreign-owned venture controlled by a parent company in the Philippines.
ICTSI, in turn, argues that Port contracts require the two jobs be performed by electricians. And around and around it goes.
Breaking the stalemate would likely require amendment of the Port’s contract with ICTSI and longstanding labor agreements. The Port might have to kick in more subsidies for each container moved, sweetening the deal for Hanjin and ICTSI.
Awarding the jobs to the ILWU would bolster the longshore union as it girds for contract-renewal talks next year with the Pacific Maritime Association, a group of West Coast employers also represented at the Nov. 22 meeting.
Shepard, who attended the meeting, said Leal Sundet, an ILWU coast committeeman present in the conference room, made no promises concerning increased productivity. “That wasn’t the tenor of the conversation,” said Shepard, adding there were no quid pro quos. “It was a broader conversation about resolving all the conflicts and increasing productivity and making the terminal competitive.”
Another idea would be for all parties to drop their lawsuits, which tie up courts and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills.
“We did not make that ask,” Shepard said. “In an ideal world we would like to see everybody not suing each other and just make the best terminal possible.”
Kitzhaber had scheduled another meeting Friday. But that has been postponed indefinitely as Shepard scrambles behind the scenes to cobble together a deal and a pitch to Hanjin’s top managers in South Korea. The ocean carrier’s bosses in Seoul will make the decision whether to stay or end two decades of service.
Shepard is pressing for a breakthrough soon, given the governor’s sense of urgency.
“We might continue to just have individual conversations,” Shepard said. “If it seems like a good use of everyone’s time to get together, we’ll do it.”
Kitzhaber, he added, would clear his schedule to preside.
-- Richard Read
On December 6, 2013, the NMB announced that: "The election will be conducted by Telephone Electronic Voting and Internet Voting. The Notice and Sample Instructions will be sent out on December 13, 2013. The voting instructions will be mailed to the employees on December 20, 2013. The voting period will be from 12:01 a.m., ET, December 20, 2013, through January 15, 2014. The tally will take place at the Board's offices on January 15, 2014, at 2 p.m., ET." As information, the "Notice and Sample Instructions" will be sent to the Carrier with instructions to post it on all bulletin boards. As can be seen from the dates above, this is done in advance of the voting instructions being mailed to the train dispatchers. You can access the full text of the NMB's announcement at http://www.updispatchers.com/NMB_12-6-13.pdf David VolzATDA VP
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ILWU/EGT Longview Struggle
Produced by Brock Lile of ILWU Local 21.
A little history of the ILWU and the epic struggle that took place in Longview, Washington with ILWU Local 21 and the multi-national grain corporation, EGT. From Wisconsin to Occupy, this battle took place during a nation-wide social uprising. This was a fight for unions and the working class, against corporate greed and control.
Dissidents Challenge Longtime IAM Machinists Union Leadership "He said he would sell the union's Learjet, which he called an extravagance."
Dissidents Challenge Longtime IAM Machinists Union Leadership "He said he would sell the union's Learjet, which he called an extravagance."
Labor Chief Faces Opponent Pledging to Cut Spending and Open Up Elections
By KRIS MAHER And JON OSTROWER CONNECT
Dec. 6, 2013 2:36 p.m. ET
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, one of the nation's largest unions, could face the first challenge to its leadership in more than five decades after the U.S. Labor Department found the union violated federal labor law during an election earlier this year.
For years, rank-and-file members have complained that union rules stymie opportunities to nominate candidates to top leadership positions. No candidate opposing incumbent leaders and their allies has won enough endorsements to get on the ballot since 1961.
Now, after the Labor Department found some of the union's locals violated law by making it difficult for members to vote, dissident hopefuls are stepping up to run in a new election that the federal agency will oversee early next year.
"The IAM routinely promotes themselves as the most democratic union in the world," said Jay Cronk, who is running against longtime president Thomas Buffenbarger. "They omit the part where it's been over 50 years since anyone actually got to vote."
A recent contract fight is also fueling the unrest. Last month, 32,000 members in Seattle voted down a contract offer from Boeing Co. BA +1.85% , dealing a blow to labor leaders who appeared to back the proposal and leading the aerospace company to open its bidding, including a new and potentially nonunion site to build its multibillion-dollar 777X jetliner project.
Mr. Cronk, 58 years old, said that if elected, he would cut union spending and make it easier for rank-and-file members to seek office. He said he would sell the union's Learjet, which he called an extravagance. Jet-related expenses, including pilot salaries, totaled more than $1 million in 2012, according to government filings. A union spokesman said Mr. Buffenbarger wasn't available to comment.
Union leaders fired Mr. Cronk in November from his post as a staff representative at the union's Maryland headquarters a week after he announced he would seek office. He said he would return to his job as a mechanic for Metro-North Railroad in Connecticut, after being a full-time union staff member for 21 years, while he campaigns.
Rick Sloan, a spokesman for the 580,000-member Machinists, defended the firing of Mr. Cronk, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects a union's right to discharge appointed staff not loyal to union leadership. He dismissed criticism of the union's spending and other practices.
"On each one of these things, they're allowed to say any damn fool thing they want," Mr. Sloan said. "The issues they raised for the most part were policies that were voted on in convention after convention after convention."
Mr. Sloan also defended the union's nominating process, which requires candidates to receive endorsements from at least 25 of the union's roughly 900 local lodges to gain a spot on the ballot for the top 10 positions in the U.S. Mr. Buffenbarger was first elected president in 1997.
In January, Karen Asuncion, a Machinists member who works as a baggage handler at Ronald Reagan National Airport, ran for general vice president and won three endorsements, more than any other non-incumbent candidate. Ms. Asuncion alleged in a complaint with the Labor Department that some locals provided little or no notice of nomination meetings, among other allegations, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The Labor Department, finding that some of the union's locals failed to provide adequate notice of such meetings, also found members were denied a reasonable opportunity to attend meetings to nominate and vote to endorse candidates, according to a summary of an August agreement it reached with the union. A spokesman declined to comment further.
Mr. Sloan didn't dispute the Labor Department's findings and said any dissatisfaction with union leadership or the Boeing contract offer was "part of the democratic process of this union."
The agency will supervise nominations and endorsement votes early next year. If any candidates win 25 endorsements, an election will be held in April.
Holding new elections for top officers is rare. The Labor Department oversees 26,000 unions. It investigated 122 officer elections this year and supervised a re-run election in 26 cases. The Machinists election was the only one for top officers.IAMBuffenbargerunion democracy
December 6, 2013: The “two-person” meeting of local officers in Dallas and by conference call has approved conducting a membership vote on the proposed YRC five-year contract extension.
Here is what the proposal includes:
- $750 bonuses instead of wage hikes in 2014 and 2015, then 40c per year (34c after 15% reduction).
- a pay freeze for all office and non-CDL dock workers, and a lower top wage of $16 for future non-CDL dock hires.
- up to 6% purchased transportation (subcontracting) of road work, with a red-circle protection of all road drivers currently working, similar to what ABF now has.
- vacation pay capped at 40 hours or 1/58 annual earnings, and three-week annual vacation delayed until 11 years seniority.
- interlining of city traffic in certain low-density areas.
- attendance policy with a progressive discipline chart as an addendum to the contract.
- H&W coverage protected, with a five-month delay in the 2014 H&W payment increases.
- profit-sharing if YRC Freight achieves 97% operating ratio, or if the combined regional carriers achieve 95%.
- and equality of sacrifice with all management and salaried staff.
The proposal to be voted has changed since the initial presentation to the IBT on November 20. It no longer has any change in overtime after eight hours, or any requirement to work all week to get H&W fully paid.
The ballots are coming quick. They will be mailed out on or about December 10 and will be counted on or about January 8. The meeting voted overwhelming to send out the proposal, although no recommendation on it was made.
The proposal requires a majority vote of those who return a ballot to pass. There will be independent rank and file observers at the vote count.
At the meeting of officers, YRC management personnel stressed the timing of ratification is crucial, because by February 1 they need to have their debt restructured. They stated that if the proposal is not approved, they may be out of business by February 1.
Presentations were by John Moses (IBT advisor) and Mitch Lilly (YRC VP of Operations and Labor) and Jamie Pierson (YRC CFO).
Neither of the two IBT-appointed members of the YRC board were in attendance.Issues Freight