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China: Tensions rise as China’s taxi drivers and factory workers strike in record numbers

Labourstart.org News - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: China Labour Bulletin
Categories: Labor News

Boston USW Local 8751 school bus drivers step up the fight

Current News - Sun, 07/05/2015 - 14:32

Boston USW Local 8751 school bus drivers step up the fight
http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/07/04/boston-school-bus-drivers-ste...
By Joe Mchahwar posted on July 4, 2015

Garry Murchison, Steve Kirschbaum, Andre Francois, Steve Gillis
The struggle between the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, Steelworkers Local 8751, on the one hand, and the Boston city administration and the international union-busting corporation Veolia — now renamed Transdev — on the other, is being taken to new heights.

The union’s new leadership, elected April 30, is bringing the demands of rank-and-file workers to the forefront. These demands center around 700 unresolved grievances, unfair labor practice charges against Veolia, winning a just contract and the company’s GPS/telematics surveillance of drivers that breaks the existing contract. A key workers’ demand is the reinstatement of four fired leaders who have been off the job for 22 months.

The four fired leaders — President Andre Francois, Vice President Steve Kirschbaum, Financial Secretary Steve Gillis and Grievance Chair Garry Murchison — were elected to these key positions by a wide margin in April.

Long hours of negotiations have transpired between the new leadership and Veolia, the city, and the Boston Public Schools. The union has brought its fighting spirit to the negotiating table, using struggle tactics to further its goals. Developments are coming by the minute, so the union hasn’t had a moment to breathe between punches.

Bus yard rallies and picket lines, a regular occurrence, have brought the fight straight to Veolia’s headquarters. An occupation of the Freeport bus yard by the entire executive board on June 22 lasted nearly nine hours — the last two while police were threatening to evict them.

“We were holding company officials in near round-the-clock meetings regarding mass noncompliance with the contract, including use of GPS and other telematic technology to route buses and pay drivers less, and Mayor Walsh’s administration was scabbing out some of our work to non-union outfits,” Gillis explained. “These meetings came in the wake of a Boston Globe investigative report about BPS/Veolia’s record of late bus routes based on GPS routing, leading up to a scheduled contract negotiations session.”

Freeport is the same bus yard where Stevan Kirschbaum was framed up on four felony charges during a demonstration last year. Kirschbaum was declared innocent in court this year, winning his case with the help of fellow workers and solidarity from the community.

On June 25, the union held more spirited rallies in all four bus yards.

Then on June 27 Veolia issued what the union called “a declaration of war.” The union received an illegal, fraudulent “last best offer” from the company, stating that if the membership did not accept this ultimatum by July 10 the drivers would not receive retroactive pay that had previously been agreed to. These pay increases date back to July 1, 2014, when the old contract expired.

This so-called offer, which violates several labor laws, includes the following concessions to management: introduction of spy cameras on the buses, elimination of one of two health care plans, increased discipline and erosion of language guaranteeing flat rate pay protection. Veolia, Boston Public Schools and Mayor Walsh also stubbornly refuse to reinstate the four illegally fired leaders.

So the company ultimatum was a shamelessly transparent attempt to entice and threaten members to accept a bad contract and turn their backs on their leaders.

City concedes two vital points, but not Veolia

Local 8751 has no truck with any of this. On June 29, another marathon session/occupation took place at City Hall with the mayor’s lawyer, Paul Curran, and Chief Operating Officer of BPS Kim Rice. That ended when the city made the following two concessions: they told the union the threat to take away retroactive pay was a mistake, and the Union Security Agreement protecting jobs, seniority and 40 years of collective bargaining gains would continue.

Expressing their rock-solid solidarity, community leaders who joined these negotiations included veteran City Councilor Charles Yancey; activist Chuck Turner; Sandra MacIntosh, of Coalition for Equal Quality Education; Charles Clemons, of TOUCH 106.1 radio; Haitian community leader Jean Claude Sanon; and representatives of the International Action Center, Women’s Fightback Network and Massachusetts United Against Police Violence.

Less than an hour later, however, Veolia reinstituted the threat, overriding what BPS and City Hall conceded to. Veolia’s double-cross was not only a slap in the face to the union, but to its community supporters. Veolia is refusing to bargain in good faith, which constitutes an unfair labor practice.

But it proves the Marxist truth: Capitalists tell the government what to do, not the other way around.

In an attempt to further intimidate the workers into accepting its rotten “offer,” Veolia mailed a five-page letter, in Haitian and Cape Verdean Creole, Spanish and English, to workers’ homes.

“Veolia is running amok with a series of warlike communications and actions,” said Kirschbaum. These include threatening hundreds of workers, laid off for the summer, with discharge if they do not report for a “mandatory recall” to bid on summer work.

The new player in negotiations is Veolia’s vice president for labor relations, Thomas P. Hock, notorious for his role in the Bay Area Regional Transit strike of 2013 during which two workers died. Hock, whose Cincinnati-based law firm has engaged in professional union busting in mass transit for 40-plus years, is president and founder of Professional Transit Management. PTM’s Northeast regional manager is also Veolia’s General Manager Alex Roman. In addition to breaking unions, PTM is the subject of numerous complaints of racist discrimination and sexual harassment.

Solidarity in action

Despite having to fight for its own survival, Local 8751 continues to uphold its rich legacy of politically active unionism. Local 8751 poured out for the Haitian flag day parade on May 17, proclaiming support for Fanmi Lavalas candidate for the Haitian presidency, Dr. Marcis Narcisse. On June 13, they marched in Pride, showing the unwavering support for the lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer community from one of the first unions in the United States to win contractual anti-discrimination rights for lesbian, gay and bi workers. Trans rights will be included in the new contract.

One day after Local 8751 picketed Veolia headquarters on June 18, they were in the streets again for Juneteenth to “Say no to racism, police murder and violence, racist terror from Boston to Charleston to Baltimore to Ohio!”

This is the activism the company-friendly former union officials tried to use against the Francois-Kirschbaum slate in the election. “It backfired,” said Kirschbaum. “Team Solidarity, with its militant, class-conscious program and tactics, swept all 18 leadership positions by a landslide. Our record of struggle provided the best antidote for the poison of red baiting!”

The situation is changing day by day, but the rank and file are ready to strike and have spoken as one: “No amnesty, no contract, justice — no work!”

Veolia has made a calculated effort to bleed the four fired leaders dry. The workers and leadership haven’t blinked in the face of this onslaught. Their reserves are running low, however. These leaders need solidarity and financial support now more than ever. Anything supporters can contribute will be repaid in the struggle tenfold. To send money online, go to tinyurl.com/mzbfdyu. Or send checks to Friends of the School Bus 5, P.O. Box 141, Stoughton, MA 02072.

Tags: Boston USW Local 8751 school bus drivers
Categories: Labor News

Ryanair threatens to exit Denmark if unions blockade flights

Current News - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 17:40

Ryanair threatens to exit Denmark if unions blockade flights
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/c58364d6-2191-11e5-aa5a-398b2169cf79.html...
July 3, 2015 4:36 pm
Ryanair threatens to exit Denmark if unions blockade flights
Richard Milne, Nordic Correspondent

©AFP
Ryanair is threatening to pull out of Denmark if unions in the Nordic country blockade the low-cost airline’s flights.
Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s chief executive, said on Friday the Irish airline would move its sole Copenhagen-based aircraft to Kaunas in Lithuania beginning July 14.

This follows a Danish labour court ruling this week that allowed unions to strike and blockade Ryanair aircraft if the airline refuses to sign a collective agreement with workers.
On Friday, Mr O’Leary called the ruling “bizarre” and said the company would appeal to the European Commission and courts in Brussels.
He threatened to close Ryanair’s base in Billund, home to Legoland and headquarters of the Danish toy company, with its two aircraft if unions went ahead with the blockade.
“Then we would have to close Billund, even if we don’t want to. Copenhagen is more important to us than Billund, even if we love Billund dearly. I’ve been to Legoland myself,” Mr O’Leary said in a press conference in Copenhagen.
The court ruling against Ryanair represents one of the biggest threats to the business model of Europe’s biggest low-cost airline. It opens the door to similar actions in other countries, following complaints in France and Belgium.
Ryanair has argued that its Copenhagen-based staff should be subject to Irish law. But Danish unions claim this allows Ryanair to pay its cabin crew half the salary of staff in Cimber, a local low-cost rival. Unions said they would look to strike from the middle of this month.
Ryanair is not giving up on customers in Denmark, however, as it announced it would open up three new routes into Copenhagen. All 14 of its routes to and from Copenhagen would be operated by aircraft based outside Denmark as they cannot be blockaded by Danish unions, it added.
“Sadly, Copenhagen will lose out on these high-paid Ryanair jobs,” Mr O’Leary said.
He also hit out at the ruling for allowing what he called “competitor airline unions” — those active at Scandinavian flag carrier SAS — to blockade his aeroplanes.
The dispute has taken on a personal tone as the Social Democrat mayor of Copenhagen and several others cities banned their staff from using Ryanair for official business. Ryanair hit back with mocking adverts and said their bookings in Copenhagen had risen substantially.
Danish municipalities and investors have also divested themselves of Ryanair’s shares, which have risen 75 per cent in the past year.

Tags: RyanairDenmark
Categories: Labor News

Canada: We don't have to choose between jobs and climate action

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: rabble
Categories: Labor News

Kenya: Port Sacks Strike Leaders

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Maritime Executive
Categories: Labor News

Kenya's main port sacks 27 strike leaders as losses hit $2 mln

Current News - Sat, 07/04/2015 - 08:26

Kenya's main port sacks 27 strike leaders as losses hit $2 mln
http://news.yahoo.com/kenyas-main-port-sacks-27-strike-leaders-losses-12...
By Joseph Akwiri

By Joseph Akwiri

MOMBASA (Reuters) - East Africa's biggest port in the Kenyan city of Mombasa said on Saturday it had dismissed 27 workers it believed were behind a strike this week that paralysed operations for two days and cost the port at least $2 million.

Over 2,000 workers went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday in protest against higher deductions for the government's national health insurance scheme, prompting port management to threaten to fire them, having advertised their positions.

The work stoppage has disrupted business at the biggest port in the region, which handles imports such as fuel for Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.

"The management has identified the organizers of the strike and they have been summarily dismissed," the port's managing director, Gichiri Ndua, told a news conference in Mombasa, adding that the strike was illegal and more workers could be dismissed.

He said losses suffered by the port as a result of the strike had reached 200 million shillings ($2 million) with the work stoppage costing the entire region served by the port an estimated 1 billion shillings.

The strike also resulted in a backlog of 2,500 containers at the port, said Ndua, but added that nearly all the striking workers had resumed work after the sacking warning, and that they would clear the cargo by Monday.

Union officials vowed to fight on.

"It is going to result in the calling of another bigger industrial action," Simon Sang, the union secretary general, told Reuters, as he went into a crisis meeting with other union officials.

At a nearby college owned and run by the port, at least 10 people were injured in a stampede on Saturday morning, as thousands turned up for the advertised interviews to replace the earlier striking workers.

The strike was to protest the government's decision to increase the monthly National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) deductions from 320 shillings ($3.22) to 1,700 shillings without increasing their salaries, union officials say.

($1 = 99.4000 Kenyan shillings)

Tags: Kenya port workersstrikefirings
Categories: Labor News

China: Factory collapse, 14 missing

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BBC
Categories: Labor News

Uber to Suspend One of Its Main Services in France “Uberpop needed to be banned.”

Current News - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 12:06

Uber to Suspend One of Its Main Services in France “Uberpop needed to be banned.”
http://www.wsj.com/articles/uber-to-suspend-one-of-its-main-services-in-...
Car-hailing service to suspend Uberpop immediately in response to violence against Uber drivers

A taxi in the area of Porte Maillot in west Paris, on June 26, bearing a banner against Uber. Taxi drivers protested what they saw as unfair competition from the car-hailing service. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
By SAM SCHECHNER
Updated July 3, 2015 12:05 p.m. ET

PARIS—Uber Technologies Inc. said Friday it is suspending one of its main services in France, caving in to authorities’ demands to stop operating days after French prosecutors indicted two top Uber executives on charges of helping unlicensed taxis cheat regulations.

Uber said it would suspend the service called Uberpop immediately in France, while awaiting a constitutional court decision due in late September on the service’s legality. Uberpop uses drivers without professional licenses, rather than licensed taxis or car services, allowing it to offer lower prices.

Previously, Uber had rejected government declarations that Uberpop is illegal, and said it would continue to operate the service until a court ordered it to stop.

Thibaud Simphal, General Director of Uber France, at the company’s French headquarters in Paris.

“Today is a black day for the 500,000 regular users of Uberpop in France, as well as for the drivers that regularly use the platform,” Uber said, adding that other Uber services using professional drivers are unaffected. “It is now up to us to explain what we are doing and the advantages of the Uber platform.”

Uber attributed its about-face to an effort to protect some 10,000 Uberpop drivers and their passengers, after a series of violent protests last week by taxi drivers across France. During those protests, in which taxis demanded swifter action against Uberpop, and several Uber vehicles were attacked.

Mark MacGann, Uber’s head of public policy for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the company also made its decision to suspend Uberpop after several days of intense discussions with the French government.

“We think everyone needs to move forward with a more cool head,” Mr. MacGann said. “What we want is a positive conclusion to the current situation.”

Uber said the suspension would take place over several hours for logistical reasons and would be complete by 8 p.m. Paris time.

“This decision demonstrates that the government’s resolve has paid off,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, according to his office, adding: “Uberpop needed to be banned.”

Taxis also expressed satisfaction with Uber’s retreat. Paris firm Taxis Bleus on Friday said it “salutes the work of public authorities” in “restoring public order by applying the law.”

Uber’s services that use nonprofessional drivers have been a flash point globally, leading to protests and lawsuits from taxis. In Europe, where those services are called Uberpop, courts have ordered bans on the service in several countries, including Germany and Spain.

In France, under a new transport law aimed at reining in companies like Uber, operating a system like Uberpop is punishable with a fine of as much as €300,000 ($332,000) and two years in prison.

On Tuesday, French prosecutors ordered Uber executives Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and Thibaud Simphal to appear before magistrates on Sept. 30 to face charges of breaking that law, as well as charges of deceptive commercial practices, and illicit storage of personal data. Uber as a company was also charged.

Despite the retreat on Uberpop, the company isn’t abandoning its combative posture. Mr. MacGann reiterated Uber’s position that the new transport law being used to charge its executives is ill-conceived and will be thrown out. The firm has challenged multiple elements of the law before France’s constitutional court, and has also made a complaint against France to the European Union.

On Friday, Uber also launched a new social-media campaign to marshal public support. The company sent French users an email urging them to contribute testimonials to a new website named uberetmoi.com, meaning “Uber and me.” The site also encourages users to send tweets to accounts of several government officials, including French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and the head of communications for President François Hollande.

Despite facing indictment, Uber is demanding changes to French transport laws to make it easier for individuals to become licensed car-service drivers. The company argues expensive licensing requirements and a backlog for allowing new car-service drivers was what made Uberpop necessary.

“We are confident that the government is going to take its responsibilities with regard to those drivers that want to drive for a living,” Uber’s Mr. MacGann said. “The current regulatory regime is locking them out of the market.”

Write to Sam Schechner at sam.schechner@wsj.com

Tags: Ubercriminaltaxi workersPrision
Categories: Labor News

ILWU Local 10 leads protest against police brutality

Current News - Fri, 07/03/2015 - 09:54

ILWU Local 10 leads protest against police brutality
https://www.ilwu.org/local-10-leads-protest-against-police-brutality/
• FEBRUARY 2015 DISPATCHER
Local 10 leads protest against police brutality

• MAY 20, 2015 11:21 AM

On May 1, 200 ILWU members from Locals 10, 34, 61, 6 and the Inlandboatmen’s Union joined with hundreds of community members to march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland’s City Hall
Local 10 leads protest against police brutality
• MAY 20, 2015 11:21 AM

Solidarity from the Southland: (Left to right): Local 63 Secretary/Business Agent Richard Finlay, Local 13 member Adelita Finlay and Local 10 President Melvin Mackay.
On May 1, 200 ILWU members from Locals 10, 34, 61, 6 and the Inlandboatmen’s Union joined with hundreds of community members to march from the Port of Oakland to Oakland’s City Hall. Their purpose was to protest violent and racist actions by abusive police officers.

The protest was sparked by a series of high profile killings of unarmed Black men by police in cities across the country, some of which were caught on video. Estimates on the size of the march ranged from 800 to 2,000. Local 10’s membership and Executive

Board initiated the action by voting to move their regular “stopwork” union meeting from Thursday evening to the following Friday morning on May 1. The contract requires such changes to be approved by PMA employers, which they agreed to do.
The show of solidarity was prompted by the shocking murder of Walter Scott, an unarmed African American man who was shot eight times in the back by a police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina. Dramatic video of the event went viral and sparked conversations and consciousness- raising across the country.

Walter Scott had several relatives who were members of the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) Local 1422, based in Charleston, South Carolina. Local 10’s decision to march and protest were praised by leaders of ILA 1422 and officials from the South Carolina AFL-CIO.

Local 10 Executive Board member Stacey Rodgers helped initiate the protest, explaining that “Local 10 members had been talking about the murder of Walter Scott, and about other people getting shot by the police. I felt that we needed to do something.”

Some Local 10 members have been directly affected by police violence, with two relatives killed by law enforcement in recent years. Jeremiah Moore was killed by Vallejo police who responded to a domestic disturbance call at his home in 2012. One of the police officers involved had already killed two suspects in less than 6 months, was named as a defendant in two “excessive force” lawsuits – yet received a promotion by the Department who cleared him of any wrongdoing, along with the County District Attorney.

Richard “Pedie” Perez was killed by a Richmond, CA police officer who stopped the 24-year-old man in 2014 for allegedly being intoxicated and resisting arrest. Both cases are the subjects of lawsuits that dispute police accounts of the shootings.
ILWU Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said the march was peaceful, orderly and praised members for initiating the action and showing their concern. Mackay handled over a dozen inquiries from the news media, most calling to ask why workers organized the action and whether circumstances justified protesting instead of working the day shift on May 1.

“I told them that longshore workers have a long tradition of protesting injustice in the community, and that recent events deserve a strong response from all Americans.”

On the day of the event, Local 10 President Melvin Mackay said, “We aren’t out here saying all cops are bad. We respect the hard job that they have. But at the same time we are here to say that police misconduct and the improper use of deadly force by the police cannot go unpunished. The public shouldn’t be afraid of the people who are supposed to protect them.”

Tags: ILWU Local 10Police TerrorRacist Terror
Categories: Labor News

Milwaukee ATU 999 transit workers strike

Current News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 18:35

Milwaukee ATU 999 transit workers strike
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/07/02/milw-j02.html
By Christopher Davion
2 July 2015
Bus drivers and mechanics working for the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) began a 72-hour strike early Wednesday, July 1, after working without a contract for two months and overwhelmingly rejecting management’s four-year contract offer.
The 750 workers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998, are employed by the private, not-for-profit Milwaukee Transport Services. On Monday, 93 percent of the workers voted against the offer made by management last Friday, with an equal margin voting to strike if no deal was reached during a federally mediated bargaining session on Tuesday.
The three-day strike is the first strike by Milwaukee County Transit System workers since 1978, when a walkout lasted 39 days. MCTS officials announced they would not use managers to replace drivers.
MCTS provides around 150,000 passenger rides a day, with another 20,000 passengers riding buses during the city's annual Summerfest that is currently taking place. In addition to operating transit services in Milwaukee, MCTS is also under contract with Ozaukee County, whose service has also been halted by the strike. Strikers are angered over plans to hire hundreds of part-time drivers, poor working conditions, including the lack of bathroom breaks, stagnant wages and management demands for increased out-of-pocket health care costs. Nevertheless, ATU Local 998 President James Macon claimed the work stoppage “is not about money.”
The present contract allows a meager four minutes for a bus driver, at the turnaround point of their route, to find and walk to a business with an available restroom after clearing the bus of passengers. MCTS bus drivers have reported having to go as far as resorting to wearing Depends diapers due to the lack of bathroom breaks and to prevent falling behind schedule on their return route.
Since the 2008 economic collapse, part-time employment has been used to cut labor costs throughout the economy, including transit systems in major metropolitan areas that have been hit by federal, state and local budget cuts and ever higher debt servicing costs.
Milwaukee County Transit System had not previously relied on part-time bus drivers. Under the MCTS proposal, part-time employees would receive starting pay of $18.13 an hour and would not be part of the union. In addition, part-time drivers would not receive employer-paid pension or health care benefits.
Current drivers are paid an average hourly wage of $23.78 or around $50,000 a year without overtime. Under the contract proposal they would only receive a one percent increase over two years, raising hourly wages to $24 in 2016 and $24.45 in 2017.
The transit system claims the average annual earning of a MCTS bus driver is $63,000. But this would be the case only if he or she worked overtime hours, which were the equivalent of a sixth full time shift per week. The plan to hire several hundred part-time drivers is designed at eliminating overtime pay that are a major source of income for workers and their families.
Under the present contract, bus drivers would continue receiving cost-of-living pay increases of up to two percent each year. However, the new contract would also reduce annual cost-of-living adjustment for pensioners that retire after December 31, 2015 from two percent to one percent.
The rejected contract offer would also change retirement eligibility. The previous contract allowed bus drivers and mechanics to qualify for full pension and health care benefits after 27 years of work. Under the parameters of a new “rule of 85,” workers would only be able to retire with full benefits when their number years on the job plus their age equaled 85. This would increase the minimum retirement age by several years for younger workers.
The strike pits workers against Democratic mayor Tom Barrett who has presided over more than a decade of budget cutting since taking office in 2004. Far from opposing the attack on public sector workers, the ATU and other Wisconsin unions have collaborated with the Democrats’ austerity program. Barrett failed to unseat Wisconsin’s deeply hated Republican governor Scott Walker in the 2012 gubernatorial election despite the best efforts of the unions to promote this right-wing politician as a friend of working people.

Tags: ATU 998Milwaukee Strike
Categories: Labor News

USA: AFL-CIO leader tries to quell pro-Sanders revolt

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Politico
Categories: Labor News

The Hanging Noose And Fighting Racist Terrorism On The Job At SF Recology

Current News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 14:50

The Hanging Noose And Fighting Racist Terrorism On The Job At SF Recology
http://youtu.be/g5PBHHR2m38
Daryle Washington is a member of Teamsters Local 350 and material handler at San Francisco Recology Company. He was faced with racist incidents at his job including a hanging noose that was being used to terrorize workers. He spoke out and was retaliated against by the management. He also discusses other epidemic of hanging noose incidents around the country and the connection to the growing racist attacks. He spoke out about this in an interview on 6/30/15 in Berkeley.
For more information:
http://sfbayview.com/2015/06/recology-noose-update-daryle-washington-rej...
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2001/08/16/MNL120088.DTL
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: IBT 350Racist TerrorSF Recology
Categories: Labor News

Wisconsin Transit Strikers Defend Full-Time Jobs and Bathroom Breaks

Current News - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 14:45

Wisconsin Transit Strikers Defend Full-Time Jobs and Bathroom Breaks
http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/07/transit-strikers-defend-full-time-jo...
July 02, 2015 / Samantha Winslow

Bus drivers and mechanics in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, began their strike at 3 a.m. July 1. “This is not Walmart," says union President James Macon. Photo: Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In Wisconsin, 750 bus drivers and mechanics are on day two of a three-day strike against Milwaukee County. The key issues are protecting full-time work and giving drivers adequate time for bathroom breaks.

But the county executive is misleading the public on what the strike is about, said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 President James Macon.

“The main issue county executives keep bringing up is money, money, money,” he said. “It has nothing to do with money.” The county has offered a 7 percent wage increase over two years.

What members don’t want, Macon said, is for the privately managed transit authority to weaken their job standards by bringing in 50 part-time drivers.

“Why not hire full-time workers and give them benefits?” Macon said. “This is not Walmart.”

Bathroom breaks are another sticking point. Union leaders say drivers need more time on breaks.

“How can you use the bathroom in four minutes?” Macon said, pointing out that drivers must pull the bus over, disembark, walk to a gas station or another of the limited options, and return. “You can’t do it.”

Summerfest Crunch

Local 998 is calling the action a “work stoppage” because it’s a time-limited strike. Members walked off the job at 3 a.m. on July 1, and plan to resume work July 4.

It’s their first strike since 1978, when they stayed out for 39 days.

The strike has shut down the bus system during Summerfest, an 11-day music festival that draws 90,000 people. The festival adds 20,000 additional rides per day to the transit system.

Macon said that gives the union some leverage. The system ordinarily serves 150,000 passengers daily.

Milwaukee’s transit system has faced cuts since 2001, when Governor Scott Walker was the county executive. In 2011, the transit budget was cut again by 10 percent.

So after 15 years of budget cuts, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s accusations that the union is hurting the riding public ring hollow. “All he cares about is Summerfest,” Macon said.

Rideshare giant Uber, which recently expanded into Wisconsin, was quick to capitalize on the situation, expanding its Summerfest promotional rides (free for fares less than $20).

‘Solidarity Rides’

Milwaukee teachers brought food to the strikers and joined them in picketing at the city’s three bus depots. Supporters grilled bratwursts, handed out water, and chanted along.

“We haven’t seen anything like this in Milwaukee in a long time,” said teacher Josh Jackson. “I’m only 26 and this is my first strike experience.”

“We are deep in it,” Jackson said, “in that we are serving the people who need as much assistance as possible. The bus drivers make sure the people who need to get to work.”

Working with the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association and religious leaders from All Peoples Church, activists have set up “solidarity rides,” where riders can sign up to get where they need to go and volunteers drive them.

The first evening, 400 people—including members of the Teamsters, Service Employees (SEIU), and AFSCME—rallied with the strikers outside the transit authority headquarters.

“People want humane schedules,” said Angela Walker of Wisconsin Jobs Now, a workers’ rights organization.

A former Milwaukee bus driver, she’s been organizing support for the strikers. She says the fight for longer breaks is part of a larger problem: drivers being pressured to complete their routes in less time.

With fewer buses running routes due to years of budget cuts, Walker said passengers are rushing to catch what might be the only bus coming in the hour. Drivers are forced to choose whether to take the time to help passengers, do their job safely, and take breaks—or squeeze all those things to finish their route on time.

“That’s a lot of stress on a driver,” Walker said.

Samantha Winslow is a staff writer and organizer with Labor Notes.
samantha@labornotes.org
- See more at: http://labornotes.org/blogs/2015/07/transit-strikers-defend-full-time-jo...

Tags: transit workers
Categories: Labor News

More opportunity for comments on the fare system!

Pittsburghers for Public Transit - Thu, 07/02/2015 - 08:49
Here is media coverage from the fare hearings on Tuesday June 30:

Post Gazette

Tribune Review

Port Authority has provided the space for more conversation about the fare system. Here is a link to a multiple choice survey. And here is an opportunity to share more of your thoughts in writing.

Let's make sure they hear our voices!

Categories: Labor News

7/8 An Injury To One Is An Injury To All! The Lessons of ILWU Local 10's May Day 2015 Action Against Racist Killings

Current News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 21:53

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!
The Lessons of ILWU Local 10's May Day 2015 Action Against Racist Killings

July 8 (Wednesday) 7:00 PM (Free) ILWU Local 10 - Henry Schmidt Room - 400 Northpoint, at Mason near Fisherman's Wharf

http://www.laborfest.net/2015/2015schedule.htm#7

On May Day ILWU Local 10 shut the port down, marched from the port of Oakland and rallied at City Hall to protest the racist killings in this country. Local 10's organizer, Stacey Rodgers, will chair the meeting. Other ILWU Local 10 members and retirees, veterans of past ILWU solidarity actions will speak.

On May 1, 2015 ILWU Local 10 called for a stop work meeting to protest the police terror and murders of African Americans, Latinos and other working people. Thousands marched to demand justice and human rights. ILWU made history as the only union in the United States to not only to challenge the epidemic of police murders, but also to take action on the job.

This educational forum will look at why the ILWU Local 10 took this action and how their members have been affected by the increasing militarization of the police and repression in working class communities, especially against black and brown people.There will also be a screening of a new documentary of ILWU Local 10’s initiated action by Kavena Hambira of Namibia. The Henry Schmidt room is on the second floor of the smaller building at the location.

Tags: ILWU 10maydayPolice Terror
Categories: Labor News

Industrial Worker - Issue #1776, July/August 2015

IWW - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 19:54

Headlines:

  • Incarcerated Workers’ Uprising In Nebraska
  • Kansas City IWW Member Released From Prison
  • Syndicalists Organize And Win In Berlin!

Features:

  • Building Workers’ Power in the United Kingdom
  • Summer Special: Reviews, Wobbly Entertainment
  • New Austerity Measures To “Liberate” French Workers From Regulations

Download a Free PDF of this issue.

Categories: Unions

Colombia: Speak up for human rights defenders

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: CUPE
Categories: Labor News

Greece: What is really at stake in the Greek crisis

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IUF
Categories: Labor News

Greece: Unionists Hang Anti-Austerity Banner On Greek Finance Ministry

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Greek Reporter
Categories: Labor News

Greece: ETUC supports Greek trade union call to cancel referendum

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 07/01/2015 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ETUC
Categories: Labor News

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