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There Can Be No Compromise On the Right To Strike "Members of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union are facing a maximum of five years in prison and millions of US dollars in damages for “obstructing business” by going on strike."

Current News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 13:59

There Can Be No Compromise On the Right To Strike "Members of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union are facing a maximum of five years in prison and millions of US dollars in damages for “obstructing business” by going on strike."
21 October 2014
by Ruwan Subasinghe

“It is good to finally shake your hand; the last time I saw you, I was in prison”.

Members of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union are facing a maximum of five years in prison and millions of US dollars in damages for “obstructing business” by going on strike.

These were the poignant words Myoung-hwan Kim, President of the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU), greeted me with when we met at the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF) 43rd Congress in Sofia earlier this year.

Indeed, the last time we spoke, we had to do it through a prison intercom system as Kim, along with other leaders of the KRWU, was being detained for organising a strike in opposition to rail privatisation. Despite complying with all ‘essential services’ requirements under Korean law, the authorities declared the action illegal even before it began.

Kim and his colleagues are now facing so-called ‘obstruction of business’ charges which carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison or a fine not exceeding 15 million won (US$ 14,000).

Furthermore, the state rail operator is pursuing a damages suit against the union and its leaders for 16.2 billion won (US$16 million) together with separate proceedings for alleged “damage to brand value” amounting to 1 billion won (US$990,000).
These legal actions are just the tip of the iceberg.

Hundreds of strikers have been dismissed or relocated and the union’s assets have been seized by the authorities.

All this simply because the KRWU sought to defend its members from an ill-conceived privatisation drive that would have heavily diluted terms and conditions of employment.

What this example illustrates is that despite being a fundamental human right enshrined in international law, the right to strike is certainly not guaranteed for all workers.

In fact, transport workers are one of the groups increasingly being excluded from the right to strike by way of outright bans or public service, essential services or minimum services requirements that severely limit that right.

The ITF has been called on time and time again to provide solidarity support and legal assistance to affiliates who have had their right to strike curtailed.
Following a fatal train accident in 2009, the State Railway Workers’ Union of Thailand (SRUT) launched an occupational health and safety initiative and called on its members to abstain from driving trains with faulty equipment.

Without even attempting to address the grave issues at hand, the authorities cracked down on the initiative by conveniently labelling it a ‘strike’, a right denied to all public sector workers in Thailand.

Thirteen SRUT leaders were subsequently dismissed and had damages suits filed against them for 15 million baht (US$ 462,000).

In another recent dispute, 316 members of the Turkish Civil Aviation Union were dismissed by text message following a coordinated sick leave action taken in response to the Turkish government’s decision to add aviation services to the list of industries where industrial action was prohibited.

Turkey currently has one of the worst rates in the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) Global Rights Index.

Convention 87

It is quite clear from these examples that the critical economic role of transport is being used as a pretext to defend the free movement of passengers and goods beyond the rights of people involved in the transportation itself.

This trend is especially concerning as transport workers, including those employed in aviation, trucking and commercial seafaring, have some of the most dangerous jobs in the world.

This is why the protection of the right to strike under Convention 87 of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its enforcement through the ILO’s supervisory mechanisms is particularly important for transport workers.

For over 60 years the ILO’s Committee of Experts and Committee on Freedom Association have recognised a limited right to strike under Article 3 of Convention 87.
Not only have these supervisory bodies acknowledged the right, they have developed clear principles which have subsequently been relied on by national and regional courts.

For example, it has been unequivocally held that the right to strike may only be restricted or prohibited in the public service for those exercising authority in the name of the state or in essential services in the strict sense of the term (that is, services the interruption of which would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population).

Furthermore, it has also been held that transport generally does not constitute an essential service and that minimum operational services can only be applied to non-essential services in very limited circumstances.

Notwithstanding this extensive jurisprudence, the Employers’ Group at the ILO has since 2012 been doing its best to undermine the authority of the ILO’s supervisory mechanisms. Not only has it questioned the mandate and capacity of the Committee of Experts, it has challenged the very existence of a right to strike under Convention 87.

The Employers’ continued intransigence has left the Workers’ Group no alternative but to call on the ILO’s Governing Body to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the question of the existence of a right to strike.

As elaborated in detail in the ITUC’s excellent briefing on the legal foundations of the right to strike, there is little doubt that the ICJ will recognise the right’s protection under Convention 87.

However, a majority of the Governing Body is required to move the resolution in favour of a referral to the ICJ. It is therefore imperative that we call on all governments to vote accordingly at the next session of the Governing Body in November 2014.
Railway personnel in Korea and Thailand, Turkish flight attendants and workers all around the world depend on it.

There can be no compromise on the right to strike. There can be no compromise on human rights.

Tags: Korean Railway Workers Unionright to strike
Categories: Labor News

Stop Lying And Cheating Us-Uber Workers Protest At World Headquarters In SF

Current News - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 01:45

Stop Lying And Cheating Us-Uber Workers Protest At World Headquarters In SF
UBER workers rallied and spoke out at the world headquarters of UBER in San Francisco in a global protest day on Thursday October 22, 2014 against the attack on their working conditions and pay. They charged that UBER is illegally stealing their tips and is pitting UBER workers against each other to benefit the owners of the tech company. They also discussed the need to protect their health and safety conditions and retaliation against them by the company with no due process.
For more information:
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: UberTip theftDriversunion bustingteamsters
Categories: Labor News

Liberia: How LIberia's rubber tap workers union can help beat Ebola

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Global Post
Categories: Labor News

Fiji: NZ union backed charity educates Fiji workers

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Radio New Zealand
Categories: Labor News

Uber Drivers to Stage 'Global Day of Protest'

Current News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 14:37

Uber Drivers to Stage 'Global Day of Protest'

Uber drivers gather at the company's Long Island headquarters on Sept. 8, 2014.IMAGE: FACEBOOK, UBER DRIVERS NETWORK NYC

UPDATED 2:53 p.m. ET

Uber drivers in several cities are set to stage a "Global Day of Protest" on Wednesday.

From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET, drivers in cities including New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles and London plan to protest the app's rating system, compensation, and driver safety and treatment.

SEE ALSO: Uber Cuts Prices in NYC, Claims It's Now Cheaper Than Taxis

The worldwide protest is the latest in a series of actions taken by drivers with the ridesharing company, which matches customers and drivers via mobile app. However, Uber says the protesters do not represent all drivers.

“The group protesting today represents a fraction of all Uber partners; the reality is that thousands of partners are out driving on the platform right now,” an Uber spokesperson toldMashable.

Drivers working for Uber, as well as other ridesharing companies like Lyft and Sidecar, do not belong to a union. Instead, they work as independent contractors. Protest organizers want to change that.

A nonprofit called the California App-Based Drivers Association organized the Teamsters-supported protests in Los Angeles and San Diego, so Uber drivers can negotiate for better pay and working conditions. The organization has also been distributing fliers to spread the word about the global protest.

The flyer from CADA notifying drivers of a Global Day of Protest.
In New York, Uber Drivers Network NYC said local drivers are working toward unionizing. The organizers posted on their Facebook page, calling for a strike Wednesday:

The post reiterated the goals of the Global Day of Protest, but took it a step further by calling specifically for a three-hour strike.

We ask ALL of you to stand in solidarity with CADA by SHUTTING OFF our Uber phones on Wednesday October 22nd 2014 [10/22]. Our phones will be OFF as a strike againt Uber! Join us to show them that WE make Uber and that without us, they don't exist!

On one online forum, however, some drivers have been confused about the protest's details, asking if it would be a three- or 24-hour strike.

An attempted strike in September faced similar challenges. On the Uber Drivers Network NYC Facebook page, organizers said it was difficult to inform drivers about the protest when it was clear some were still working.

Such divided opinions among Uber drivers suggests some are conflicted over whether protests are needed, or may be due to concerns that public protests will be condemned by the company. They could also be a result of difficulty in coordinating protests.

Uber sent the following statement to Mashable in response to Wednesday's protests:

“Four years ago, the only choice for drivers was to start the day more than $100 in the hole to rent a taxi -– today, hundreds of thousands of drivers take to the road on the Uber platform. Uber powers entrepreneurship by providing the tools to build a small business. The thousands of drivers driving on the platform at this moment are a testament to that opportunity.”

Tags: Uberstrike
Categories: Labor News

105 years old, still drawing a pension

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:25
Barry B. BurrPensions & InvestmentsOctober 22, 2014View the original piece

She is more than 105 years old and still collecting pension benefits from the Teamsters Central States, Southeast & Southwest Conferences Pension Fund.

The Rosemont, Ill.-based Central States fund, which had $18.7 billion in assets as of Dec. 31, has been paying a pension to her for 41 years.

Click here to read more.


Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Norway Dockers Need Solidarity-41 Transport Workers Arrested On Picket Line

Current News - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 08:06

Norway Dockers Need Solidarity-41 Transport Workers Arrested On Picket Line
Hello comrades and union allied
From the date of 4th November untill the 7th of November ther is a court case and a rally for the people invoolved in a picet line to stop non orginased workers to carry out dockers work.
The police after a while decided to arrest the people in the picket line and bring them to the police station to fine them all,all of them 41 persons.
Ther is many years since this has been used to arrest people in a picket line for a legal action against company and workers carrying out work that is not theyr work traditionally.Her we are very sad to see that the company can use the police as this and remove people that is in a legal boycott of the cargo handling.
All the persons involved in the picet line did not accept the fines and now the court case is coming up in november.The expensies pr person is NOK 4500 multiplied with 41 we have a amount of 184 500,- (29 000 USD )
This is the reason we now reach out a hand for help from ouer union allied and union members all over the world to try to help cover the expensies of this court case and the fines.
Ther have already been collected money in Norway also for this reason and we have got almost 100 000 NOK for the fund.We still miss some of 84 500,- NOK (29 000 USD)
We hope that we can get any solidarity from you as statments , money or people travel to the rally in Tromsø
If ther is any details for the rally or the statments pls contackt the local union leader in Tromsø Geir Ingebriktsen phone +47 94474890 or Vegard Holm from Dockers support team in Norway by phone +47 91632804
I also include the bank details for transfer for :
Account owner in Norway :
Marcus Hansen
IBAN account number NO87 12071633827
The bank BIC adress is DNBANOKKXXX
Best regards and thank you in advance
Pål M Aanes

Tags: NorwaydockersTransport WorkersArrests
Categories: Labor News

USA: Ebola galvanizes workers battling to join unions, improve safety

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Reuters
Categories: Labor News

USA: AFL-CIO Calls for Obama to Act on Worker Protections Against Ebola

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFL-CIO
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: Unions the target of foreign whispers

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: This Working Life
Categories: Labor News

KPFK Margaret Prescod comments on racist Zionists at LA ZIM PIcket

Current News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 16:35

KPFK Margaret Prescod comments on racist Zionists at LA ZIM PIcket
Block the Boat: KPFK Margaret Prescod comments on racist Zionists
Published on Oct 20, 2014
As a response to the Israeli attack on Gaza in July/August 2014, and as a part of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction (BDS) movement, the Block the Boat coalition, in solidarity with Palestinian people, has formed to block and delay the Israeli Zim shipping company from docking and unloading its cargo on the West Coast in the United States (a similar coalition is forming on the East Coast). On October 18, 2014, Block the Boat successfully delayed Zim Ship from docking in the port of Long Beach, California.

Tags: Zimracism
Categories: Labor News

Court Considers "Threat" On Facebook 'Picket Line' By ATU Facebook Page

Current News - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:43

Court Considers "Threat" On Facebook 'Picket Line' By ATU Facebook Page
Court Considers Threat On Facebook 'Picket Line'
COURT CONSIDERS THREAT ON FACEBOOK 'PICKET LINE' — Judges on the country's second most powerful appeals court were divided yesterday over whether threats made on a union's private Facebook page were distinguishable, in the eyes of the law, from threats made on a real-world picket line.

A three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in Charles Weigand v. NLRB. Weigand, a non-union employee of Veolia Transportation Services, claims that in the run-up to a six-day strike in 2012 he was threatened by members of the Amalgamated Transit Union on ATU’s Facebook page. Weigand did not have access to the private page, but eventually he learned that union members had said on the Facebook page that they would picket the houses of strikebreakers.

The NLRB previously affirmed an administrative law judge's ruling declining to find the union liable for the alleged threats, on the grounds that a private Facebook page was not analogous to a picket line. Under the National Labor Relations Act unions can be held responsible for any coercive acts their members engage in on a public picket line. Weigand appealed this decision.

At yesterday's oral arguments, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a Republican appointee, seemed more sympathetic to Weigand’s argument. "I'm having trouble guessing why threats on a Facebook page are different analytically than threats on a picket line," Kavanaugh said. But Judge Harry Edwards, a Democratic appointee, found Weigand's argument a stretch. "You'd definitely have a different case if it's publicly accessible," Edwards said. Judge Sri Srinivasan, a Democratic appointee, didn't appear to favor either side in his remarks. You can hear the oral argument of the case here: http://goo.gl/vfvhKX

Most recent recordings released 10/21/2014 in the following:

12-1309 PART A23.5 MbJudges: Garland, Henderson, SrinivasanArguing: Valerie S. Edge, Robin Cooley, Robert Ukeiley, Donna J. Hodges, Timothy Junk, Roger Martella, Jr., Reed D. Rubenstein, Elizabeth Boucher Dawson (DOJ), Jessica O'Donnell (DOJ)10/21/2014

Tags: Facebookatu
Categories: Labor News

Sending packages via UPS will soon cost more

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 11:51
Tom Huddleston, Jr.FortuneOctober 21, 2014View the original piece

Shipping packages with United Parcel Service will cost a little bit more starting at the end of this year after the package delivery company just announced its latest rate hike.

UPS said Monday that it plans to increase rates by an average of 4.9% for services within and between the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The new rates go into effect December 29 and will be applied to ground, air, international and freight services.

Click here to read more.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Mongolia: Global unions converge in Mongolia in campaign for Rio Tinto workers’ rights

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Jimmy John’s Workers Picket In Baltimore

IWW - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 11:50

By the Baltimore IWW

Baltimore Jimmy John’s worker and veteran James Hegler was fired on Sept. 5 in retaliation for organizing a union at his workplace and participating in concerted activity against low wages and appalling working conditions. On Sunday, Oct. 19, workers and supporters picketed outside the Pratt Street Jimmy John’s to demand both the reinstatement of James Hegler and an end to illegal retaliation against workers.

By firing James, Jimmy John’s management made it clear that they are willing to violate federal labor law in order to punish workers for organizing a union. By ignoring attempts to meet and discuss terms for his reinstatement, Jimmy John’s management hopes to break the organizing drive through intimidation and contempt for the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Workers responded with a picket to show Jimmy John’s that this behavior will not be tolerated.

read more

Categories: Unions

Contracting Out At Airlines Threatens Health And Safety-Airlines Not Doing Enough To Protect Aircraft Cleaners And Passengers From Ebola Risk, Union Charges

Current News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:42

Contracting Out At Airlines Threatens Health And Safety-Airlines Not Doing Enough To Protect Aircraft Cleaners And Passengers From Ebola Risk, Union Charges
LOGISTICS & TRANSPORTATION 10/19/2014 @ 6:12AM 1,211 views
Airlines Not Doing Enough To Protect Aircraft Cleaners And Passengers From Ebola Risk, Union Charges

As I wrote recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued specific guidelines for airline crews, including cleaning crews, to prevent the potential for the Ebola virus to spread on our nation’s airliners as they carry people that may be infected with the virus. But according to one of the largest unions representing airport ground workers – including aircraft and airport cleaners and wheelchair agents – these frontline workers in the effort to prevent contamination from infectious diseases, including Ebola, on aircraft and in airports are not equipped or trained to do the job.

In response to written questions from Forbes, a Service Employees International Union spokesperson, Graham Copp, stated “It’s hard to see how the airline industry is playing its part to keep workers and passengers safe, when there are so many reports of under-trained, under-equipped workers coming into contact with bodily fluids, such as blood, feces and vomit.”

He further stated: “We have real concerns about the safety of cleaning crews and other people who work at airports, such as wheelchair agents. We have been supporting airport workers in their efforts to raise health and safety standards for several years now. In that time, we’ve seen a pattern of poor protective equipment, such as thin gloves that break easily, understaffing of cleaning crews and huge time pressure, at multiple airports. This is an infection-control concern that goes beyond Ebola.”

Although employers are responsible for providing training and protective equipment, the union has stepped in recently to provide informational training at JFK International Airport, where the majority of passengers from West Africa enter the United States. The union called the training “awareness” training in an October 9 press conference. The purpose of the training, according to the union, is to inform workers of the additional CDC guidelines for dealing with potential exposure to bodily fluids infected with the Ebola virus. These enhanced protections include, plastic shoe covers, full-length, full-sleeve gowns, face shields or goggles and double layers of gloves. According to Mr. Copp, the training was not meant “to replace employers’ obligation to provide comprehensive training on infection control to the people who keep our airports and airplanes clean.” The union plans to provide training at additional airports in the coming weeks.

The union’s concern regarding airport ground worker training and experience on safety issues is one I am personally familiar with as a former airline employee and Member of the National Transportation Safety Board. Airline cost-cutting measures over the years have resulted in airlines contracting out work that was once performed by the airlines themselves. Often, these contracts go to the lowest bidders, who in turn pay their workers very low wages. These low wages result in high worker turnover at many facilities as employees change jobs frequently for even a small increase in salary. In addition, low wages frequently result in employees working two or even three jobs, making them vulnerable to fatigue and fatigue-related mistakes, which can present a problem for workers complying with infectious waste protocols. Proper adherence to protocols is especially important when removing protective gear that may have become contaminated to avoid the risk of infection to the worker or contamination of others. [Dislosure: Earlier in the year, I submitted written testimony to the California State Assembly Labor Committee reviewing airport ramp worker safety at the request of SEIU.]

According to Mr. Copp, the union spokesperson, “the CDC guidelines provide a good level of protection for cleaners. The problem is with implementation. We have not yet seen the large-scale culture shift needed among many airline cleaning contractors.” In addition, Mr. Copp stated that the “patchwork system of low-bid subcontractors with little to no enforcement and ineffective oversight is inadequate to deal with this current crisis, and needs to be fixed immediately at airports across the country.” CDC Guidance to airline cleaning crews, updated on October 15, is provided here.

Tags: EbolaContracting outairline workershealth and safety
Categories: Labor News

Union Pacific boosts rail inspections in high-hazard mountain passes “We’re ensuring we keep crude oil trains on the track,”?

Current News - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 09:46

Union Pacific boosts rail inspections in high-hazard mountain passes
10/19/2014 4:58 PM 10/20/2014 7:06 AM

Mike Stoddard oversees the operation of Union Pacific Railroad’s EC-4 as it makes its way out of the Roseville yard on Oct. 6 in Roseville. The EC-4 is a 96-ton, 82-foot-long rolling track inspection car which travels 800-1500 miles a week making sure that heavily used railroad tracks are in good working order.RANDY PENCH/RPENCH@SACBEE.COM

Faced with public concern about the risks of crude oil shipments, the Union Pacific railroad last month boosted its rail inspection program on mountain passes in California and the West, dispatching high-tech vehicles with lasers to check tracks for imperfections.

UP officials say they have leased two rail inspection vehicles, called geometry cars, doubling the number of computer-based safety cars in use on the company’s tracks. The move comes amid mounting public concern about hazardous-material shipments, including a growing quantity of highly flammable crude oil from North Dakota being shipped to West Coast refineries.

The inspection cars will supplement similar geometry cars UP owns that it uses to inspect hundreds of miles of tracks daily on the company’s main lines west of the Mississippi River. Running at regular train speeds, the inspection vehicles can detect tiny deviations and wear on rail lines that could cause a derailment if allowed to grow, UP officials said.

The new cars will patrol the main mountain routes into the state, UP officials said. Northern California sites will include Donner Pass, the Feather River Canyon and grades outside Dunsmuir. The state has designated all those areas high hazards for derailments.

In Southern California, the inspection vehicles will patrol UP’s looping line over the Tehachapi Mountains, as well as the line on the Cuesta grade in San Luis Obispo County. The trains also will check mountain rails in Washington, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.

“We’re ensuring we keep crude oil trains on the track,” said David Wickersham, UP’s chief maintenance engineer in the West. “We are going to time it so we are hitting California every three months.”

State rail safety chief Paul King of the California Public Utilities Commission applauded the move. “It’s easy to maintain a straight (flat) railroad, but it’s not as easy to maintain a curved rail like you find in the mountains,” King said.

Grady Cothen, a retired Federal Railroad Administration safety official, said the type of high-tech inspections cars UP is using have become a must for major railroad companies. With more freight moving through limited rail corridors, especially mountains, the financial and political implications of a major derailment that causes damage are huge for railroads.

“They have every incentive to keep their trains out of the river,” Cothen said.

Over the last five years, UP has suffered about 180 derailments in California, according to the federal government’s rail incident database. Most were minor. Only one caused an injury. But the reportable damage costs to UP were listed at $19 million.

Although derailments per mile have been dropping nationally for decades, concern has skyrocketed in the last year, prompted by major shifts in the oil industry. New hydraulic fracturing technology, commonly called fracking, has led to a boom in crude oil being moved by rail. Several dramatic, explosive derailments have occurred, including one last year that killed 47 people in a Canadian town.

More crude oil shipments are expected in California in the coming years. Oil companies are pursuing plans that would bring daily trains through downtown Sacramento to refineries in Benicia, Santa Maria and possibly Bakersfield.

Federal officials are calling for a host of safety changes for crude oil shipments, including stronger tanker cars, reduced train speeds, better braking systems, computerized train controls and rail-route risk assessments.

“The challenges of crude oil (rail transport) mean we have to rethink everything that we have historically done in order to get to the next generation of safety,” Federal Railroad Administration chief Joe Szabo told The Sacramento Bee on a visit to Sacramento last month. “We are really focusing on prevention, mitigation and the third step, emergency response.

“But you really want the highest focus on prevention. Let’s prevent accidents from happening to begin with.”

Forty-five percent of derailments nationally are caused by track problems, such as broken or missing cross ties, or worn rails at track junctions, federal data show. The remaining 55 percent involve a combination of factors, mainly human error, but also train equipment failure, signal malfunctions and other issues.

In California, the state PUC plans to increase its track-inspection workforce in the coming months, and has formed a Crude Oil Reconnaissance Team to review rail tracks that are being used or will be used for crude oil transports. But state and federal rail safety officials admit they largely rely on the railroads to self-police. Most state and federal track inspectors, in fact, serve mainly in an auditing role, checking in on railroad companies’ inspection programs.

UP – the biggest freight railroad west of the Mississippi, with 32,000 miles of mainline tracks – and other railroad companies typically disclose little about in-house activities, leaving government officials questioning if railroads are taking proper steps to protect the public from oil and other hazardous waste spills. UP and BNSF sued the state this month in an attempt to nullify a new state law that requires the railroads, among other things, to submit to the state their plans for responses to waterway spills.

The company, however, gave The Bee a glimpse last week into a key part of its inspection program, allowing a reporter and photographer to ride on one of UP’s high-tech inspection cars as it analyzed the tracks between Roseville and Marysville. The vehicle was on an inspection run that day from Roseville to Klamath Falls, Ore.

The bright yellow car is a self-propelled rolling office and computer lab, although it is often pulled by a locomotive. Several inspectors sat at each end of the vehicle at banks of computers, reading live data streaming from sensors mounted under the vehicle as it rolled at 53 mph west of Lincoln on the line known as the Valley Subdivision. The sensors can detect tiny deviations, such as rail alignment and height, or rail head wear. Rails that show wear or defects are noted. Some are marked for near-term replacement or repair. Other issues are put on a watch list.

The inspection car weighs 100 tons, which allows it to assess the rails when they have nearly as much vertical and horizontal pressure on them as all but the heaviest freight cars impose. Grain and coal cars can weigh as much as 140 tons. Full crude oil cars are nearly as heavy, weighing 134 tons, UP officials said.

“This car finds things the naked eye can’t find,” said Wickersham, UP’s regional maintenance chief. He pointed to one of a series of undulating lines on a pair of computer monitors in front of him. Each line shows deviations from the norm. “Here is a spot of alignment the car picked up at milepost 111, plus 2,500 feet,” showing a rail section that is slightly out of alignment. “That is one of those locations that our manager of track maintenance for the area will fix within 30 days.”

UP officials say the company has spent $1.4 billion in California on track upgrades between 2009 and 2013, including replacing a quarter of its ties, the wooden beams that connect the two rails, every eight years. Many of the new ties, especially in the mountains, are concrete.

The company employs 43 track inspectors in California. That includes people who drive pickup trucks on the tracks, essentially clamped onto the rails, doing visual inspections and follow-up reviews after the inspection cars come through.

The state’s second-largest freight rail company, BNSF, said in an email that it also takes rail inspection seriously, using geometry vehicles up to six times annually on key routes, as well as radar to inspect for problems under the rail’s ballast, and ultrasound to find other hidden weaknesses.

“It’s not rocket science,” said UP’s Wickersham, “but it’s technical. This is not your great-great-grandfather’s railroad.”

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article3076881.html#stor...

Tags: union pacificaBNSF
Categories: Labor News

FedEx Ground: Employees or "contractors"

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 07:54

Five days a week for 10 years, Agostino Scalercio left his ouse before 6 a.m., drove to a depot to pick up a truck, and worked a 10-hour shift delivering packages in San Diego. He first worked for Roadyway Package System, a national delivery company whose founders included former United Parcel Service managers, and continued driving trucks when FedEx bought RPS in 1998. FedEx Groung assigned Scalercio a service area. The company, he says, had strict standards about delivery times, the drivers' grooming, truck maintenance, and deadlines for handing in paperwork, and deducted money from his pay to cover the cost of his uniform, truck washings, and the scanner used to log shipments.

Click here to read more.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Block The Boat Tampa-ILA 1402 Member Support The Picket Line

Current News - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 18:53

Block The Boat Tampa-ILA 1402 Member Support The Picket LIne
from Nick Armero

Tags: ILA 1402 blockade Zim
Categories: Labor News

Stop the Argentina government’s legal attacks on militant railway workers!

Current News - Sun, 10/19/2014 - 18:35

Stop the Argentina government’s legal attacks on militant railway workers!

Condemn Randazzo’s attack on the Sarmiento shop stewards committee!

Stop the government’s legal attacks on militant railway workers!
End the criminalization of protest!

Just one day after the successful August 28 general strike in Argentina, Minister for Transport and the Interior Florencio Randazzo launched a legal attack against several railway union delegates from the Sarmiento line in Buenos Aires. Randazzo filed a criminal complaint and a request for the desafuero [the impeachment and taking away of industrial rights] of these unionists. These actions are an attempt to behead the Cuerpo de Delegados[Shop Stewards Committee] and the local branch of the Railway Union led by Rubén Sobrero. Rubén, better known as “Pollo” [“Chicken”], has been a consistent opponent of the government and has fought to defend the rights of workers in the face of the lies from the government and its so-called “railway revolution”.

Without any evidence, delegates Mónica Schlottauer, Edgardo Reynoso, Luis Clutet and Rubén Maldonado, along with union member Julio Capelinsky from the cleaning section, have all been accused of a supposed “attack” against railway property. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to government photographs, this “attack” is nothing more than a pile of rubbish found on a train carriage. The whole thing is totally absurd.

These false accusations aim to not only intimidate unionists who are fighting back and leaders who have not sold out; they are also an attempt to undermine the effects of the massive national strike.

These false charges are part of the national government’s policy of criminalizing protest, the same process that is occurring in other countries. In just one of many examples, the government has upheld the life sentences brought down against oil workers in the town of Las Heras. These workers were charged for the death in 2006 of a police officer, despite no one ever being identified as the killer and no murder weapon ever being found. An international campaign for the acquittal of these oil workers is currently underway. In Argentina there are over six thousand activists and unionists who have either been prosecuted or are facing trial for charges arising from various protests. Back in 2011 the government accused Rubén “Pollo” Sobrero of burning trains and tried to legally frame him. The government was forced to back down and acquit “Pollo” because there was simply no proof. Nevertheless they are trying to do exactly the same thing again.

The government of Argentina is attacking union leaders and delegates who stand up and do not bow to its dictates. This is just another part of the government’s anti-union stance and we reject it.

An international campaign in defense of these railway workers is underway. We are calling for the broadest unity and solidarity from unions, neighbourhood, student and human rights organizations, public figures, parliamentarians and political parties. We urge you to add your name to this campaign.

End the criminalization of protest!
Stop the government’s legal attacks against the militant railway workers!

The full list of signatories can be found on the website of Izquierda Socialista here (in Spanish only).

See below for details of how to add your name to the campaign to stop Randazzo’s legal attacks against the railway workers.


English / inglés

We, the undersigned are strongly opposed to the request on the part of the Minister for Transport Florencio Randazzo for the desafuero [the impeachment and taking away of industrial rights] of the Sarmiento railway delegates, headed by Rubén “Pollo” Sobrero.

The accused are union delegates Mónica Schlottauer, Edgardo Reynoso, Luis Clutet and Rubén Maldonado and union member Julio Capelinsky from the cleaning section, for their involvement in a supposed “attack” against railway property. It is clear that there was no “attack” and no destruction or damage.

The only “proof” is a video that the government itself has produced and distributed. These false accusations are an attempt to both intimidate unionists who are fighting back and the continuation of the criminalisation of social protest.

Spanish / español

Los abajo firmantes nos pronunciamos contra el pedido de desafuero sindical y la denuncia penal contra los delegados del ferrocarril Sarmiento, encabezados por Rubén “Pollo” Sobrero, por parte del ministro de Transporte Florencio Randazzo.

Los acusados son la delegada Mónica Schlottauer, los delegados Edgardo Reynoso, Luis Clutet y Rubén Maldonado, y el trabajador Julio Capelinsky – del sector limpieza -, por protagonizar un supuesto “atentado” contra los trenes.Está claro que no hubo ningún atentado, ni destrozos.

Lo “prueban” los propios videos difundidos por el gobierno. Es una acusación falsa con el objetivo de intimidar a los que luchan y seguir criminalizando la protesta social.


Send to email to / Envíe un correo electrónico a:
1) monicaireinoso@gmail.com
2) solidaritywiththeworkersofargentina@hotmail.com
with the relevant information below / con la información pertinente a continuación.

1. Individual signatures / Las firmas individuales
I oppose the government’s request for the desafuero of the railway delegates. Please add my name to the International Petition / Estoy en contra el pedido de desafuero a los delegados del ferrocarril. Por favor agregue mi nombre al petitorio internacional.

Name [nombre]:
Position [posición]:
Organisation [organización]*:
[organisation displayed for the purposes of identification only / organización mostrada para los propósitos de identificación solamente].

2. Signatures: Union, political party or other organisation /
Las firmas: sindicato, partido político u otra organización
We are opposed to the government’s request for the desafuero of the railway delegates. Please add our name to the International Petition / Estamos en contra el pedido de desafuero a los delegados del ferrocarril. Por favor agregue nuestro nombre al petitorio internacional.

Name of organisation [nombre de la organización]:
Branch, state etc. [local / sección, estado / provincia etc.]*:
International affiliation [afiliación internacional]*:
* If applicable [si es applicable]

Tags: Argentina railway workers
Categories: Labor News


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