Unions

Trump backs attack on union members

ILWU - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 14:50

Women’s March: ILWU and IBU members from Seattle and Tacoma marched in the January 21st Women’s March to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump. Protests occurred in every major city in the country. Approximately 4 million people attended the demonstrations nationwide. From left to right are Chuck Alexander
(Local 52), Dan McKisson (Local 19), Kesa Mueller (Local 19), Scotty Martinez (Local 19), Leith Jasinowski-Kahl (Local 19), Kathy Dvorak (Local 52), Zachary Pattin (Local 23), Carla de Leon (Local 19, Aux), Teresa Lewis (Local 52), Cosette Hill (Local 19),  Brian Skiffington (Local 23). Not pictured: Terri Mast, IBU Secretary-Treasurer.

The new Trump administration announced some disturbing news in February that signaled a growing threat to union members.

Support for anti-union law

On February 1, “right-to-work” legislation (H.R. 785) was proposed in Congress by anti-union Representatives Joe Wilson of South Carolina and Steve King of Iowa. The term “right-to-work” was coined decades ago by anti-union business owners.

Union members are more likely to describe it as “right-to-freeload,” the “right-to-work-for-less” or “right-to-wreck- the-union.”

Trump quickly supports

Trump quickly announced his support for the new legislation through Presidential Spokesman Sean Spicer, who said: “The President believes in ‘right to work.’ He wants…to do what’s in the best interest for job creators.”

To further emphasize strong support from the White House, Spicer added: “Obviously the Vice President has been a champion of this as well.”

 Pence’s involvement

The White House didn’t mention that Vice President Pence has been quietly working with a team of Trump advisors who are gathering strategy ideas to weaken unions, based on “right-to-work” laws and similar policies already enacted in many states.

On February 1, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker revealed he attended a January 28 meeting with V.P. Pence and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in Washington, D.C. Walker said he advised Pence and Gingrich “how they may take bits and pieces of what we did” with the union law and civil service reform to “apply it at the national level.” Gov. Walker and other anti-union leaders are advising Trump to begin his attacks by going after workers in public unions, something the new President already pledged to do during his campaign.

Divide and conquer

If Trump keeps his promise to attack public union members, it may explain why the President was also holding high-profile meetings with building trade leaders on January 23, and why he met earlier with Teamster President James Hoffa. Those unions have sometimes supported anti-union candidates who cater to narrow interests while ignoring attacks by the same politicians on the broader working class and other union members.

How law hurts workers

“Right to work” laws are designed and funded by big business to weaken unions. They force unions into an impossible position by making them legally responsible for representing all workers in a shop, while stripping the union’s ability to collect enough fees to cover those representation costs. Strong union shops where everyone is a paying member would be outlawed under the proposed law – and replaced with “open shops” where division, disunity and financial hardship weaken the union and leave workers with lower pay, meager benefits and little say over working conditions.

Ugly origins of “right-to-work”

“Right to work” laws were pioneered in 1936 by the Texas-based “Christian American Association,” a racist outfit funded by Southern oilmen and Northern industrialists.

A top associate of the group once explained her hostility toward workers by criticizing what President Roosevelt’s wife, Eleanor, had done to help workers, especially African- Americans, because Roosevelt stood for a “$15 a week salary for all n***** house help, Sundays off, no washing, and no cleaning upstairs,” adding, “My n***** maid wouldn’t dare sit down in the same room with me unless she sat on the floor at my feet!”

Start in segregated South

Arkansas and Florida were the first to pass “right to work” laws in 1944, followed quickly by Texas and other Southern states that totaled 14 by 1947 when a Republican majority in Congress passed the notorious “Taft-Hartley” law that stripped unions of powers gained under President Roosevelt, including the right to conduct effective pickets and boycotts. The anti-union law became popular in the South where segregationists warned that union shops and civil rights would lead to “race-mixing and communism.”

Criticized by MLK

The Rev. Martin Luther King warned about the danger of “right-to- work” laws, saying in 1961: “we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right to work.’ It is a law to rob us of our civil rights and job rights. Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining by which unions have improved wages and working conditions of everyone. Wherever these laws have been passed, wages are lower, job opportunities are fewer and there are no civil rights.”

The “Southern strategy”

Passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 re-shuffled America’s political deck, with Southern whites switching their political loyalty from the Democratic to Republican Party, while African Americans abandoned the Republican Party of Lincoln and Reconstruction to vote predominantly Democratic. Segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina was one of the first to change his political affiliation in 1964 – the same year that Republican

Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act and lost the 1964 election, boldly campaigning for “states’ rights” to the delight of Southern segregationists.

Racist code words

Richard Nixon won in 1968 with a “Southern strategy” that used racist code language, including talk about “welfare, less government, violent criminals and “states’ rights” to win white votes in the South – plus blue collar votes from whites in the Midwest and Northern industrial cities.

Nixon’s Chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman explained: “you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the Blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognized this while not appearing to.” Ronald Reagan’s campaign strategist, Lee Atwater, explained how racist appeals had helped conservatives win white votes: “You start out in 1954 by saying, “N*****, n*****, n*****.” By 1968 you can’t say “n*****” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff…”

This is how the term “right-to-work” became one of the many racist code words that white politicians used to communicate bigotry and win elections; beginning in the South, and now throughout much of the country.

Behind the campaigns

Big business is still financing today’s campaigns to pass “right-to-work” laws, just as they have since 1936. Some of the work is being done by the National Right To Work Committee and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), both of which have been passing laws in state legislatures with help from the Koch brothers – using the same oil fortune that funded the racist John Birch Society and other anti-union groups more than a half century ago.

Majority of states

Corporate lobbyists and antiunion politicians have now succeeded in passing “right-to-work” laws in a majority of state legislatures. Kentucky joined the list in early January and Missouri become the 28th “right-to-work” state on February 6. Similar laws have been enacted in the former industrial union strongholds of Wisconsin and Michigan – states which also account for Donald Trump’s Electoral College victory. Efforts to pass similar laws in California, Oregon and Washington have failed – but a federal law or court decision could supersede pro-union laws at the state and local level.

Supreme Court decisions

The Supreme Court has the power to change federal labor laws. With one unfilled vacancy that President Obama was prevented from filling, the Supreme Court deadlocked with 4-4 votes on several cases involving issues related to “right-to-work,” including the ability of unions to collect representation fees. If Trump nominates a conservative anti-union member to the Supreme Court, the new anti-union majority could change national labor laws without passing any legislation.

Promises or betrayal?

Many promises were made by politicians during the election, claiming they wanted to help America’s working class. The coming months will reveal how sincere those promises were, and whether the ones made to the working class will be honored over the demands of big business, billionaires and Wall Street executives. Those forces have already taken control of the government’s most powerful jobs where they will make decisions felt by every worker and family in America.

Only way for workers

“Workers and unions have never gotten anything handed to them on a silver platter because progress only gets made by pushing the powerful to do what’s right,” said ILWU President Robert McEllrath. “That’s the way it’s always been, and that’s what we need to be doing now and in the future.”

Categories: Unions

Longshore division holds grievance and arbitration training

ILWU - Thu, 03/09/2017 - 10:31

Team work: Local 10 member Vanetta Hamlin with Local 34 President David Gonzalez working on a group project together at the GAP workshop held in San Francisco in February.

The Coast Longshore Division held a Grievance and Arbitration Procedures (GAP) workshop from February 5-10 in San Francisco. The five-day workshop provided extensive training for 70 ILWU members and local union officials.

The goal was to prepare teams with expertise and skills that will enable them to represent members during grievances, arbitrations and appearances before regional Labor Relations Committees (LRCs).

Overview

The workshop began with presentations by experienced ILWU officers, attorneys and staff that covered a range of topics including research and investigative tools, an overview of key provisions of the Coast Longshore Division Contract, plus important issues relating to health and safety and technology.

Role-playing

The week culminated in a mock arbitration exercise that allowed participants to apply their new skills and knowledge in a group exercise that closely mimicked a real arbitration from beginning to end. Participants were placed in groups and randomly assigned roles as either employers or union members and then presented with a fictional scenario involving a jurisdictional issue. Each team had to prepare their case including researching past arbitrations, interviewing witnesses and identifying key issues in the dispute. Teams then engaged in a mock LRC meeting, followed by a mock arbitration in front of a panel of three arbitrators.

Education Committee

Coast Committeemen Cameron Williams (left) and Frank Ponce De Leon served as arbitrators during the mock arbitration exercise and gave feedback to the participants on the last day of the GAP workshop.

The workshop was put together by the Coast Longshore Division’s Education Committee. “GAP helps give local officers the information and tools to do their jobs more effectively and more efficiently, said Education Committee and Local 13 member Sunshine Garcia. “GAP also educates emerging leaders who will be stepping into those positions later on, so they’re better prepared to represent members, protect ILWU jurisdiction and defend our rights on the job.”

Positive feedback

Local 63 member Calvin Wade said the GAP training was a great experience. “This was an opportunity for me to gain knowledge about how to access a vast amount of information that I can use to help many members in Los Angeles,” Wade said. “This is invaluable and by far the best experience I’ve had being a part of the ILWU.”

Local 18 member Rene Way also reported a positive experience: “GAP gave me tools that I can take back to help me serve my union better and help protect our work,” she said.

Planning and follow-up

The Education Committee planned the workshop for months. And after the workshop concluded, they met to evaluate the training sessions, using feedback from participants and presenters The constructive feedback allows the program to be constantly improved and updated.

Future Investment

“Education is an investment in the union and our membership,” said Local 19 President Rich Austin, Jr., who has been a member of the Education Committee since 2005. “Hopefully some of the attendees will emerge as future leaders in this union, as has happened with past workshops and trainings.”

President McEllrath and other titled officers were present for much of the training. “We need a lot more members with leadership skills to keep the ILWU strong,” said McEllrath. “This training is a great way to help people get some of those skills to assume leadership roles in our union.”

Categories: Unions

Fleet Memo for March 4 2017

IBU - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 08:48
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Categories: Unions

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IBU - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 09:12
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Fleet Memo for February 25 2017

IBU - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 11:14
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Categories: Unions

Fleet Memo for February 11 2017

IBU - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 11:12
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Categories: Unions

Strategy questions at union health care meeting

ILWU - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 11:53

The ILWU has been advocating for a national, single-payer health plan since 1938, and remains active in that effort through a network of unions and community groups who met in New York City on January 13-15, to continue pushing for a quality, non-profit health system that would cover every American. ILWU International President Bob McEllrath assigned pensioner and longtime “single-payer” health advocate Rich Austin, Sr., to attend the meeting and represent the ILWU.
Protest to protect Medicare & jobs

Activists from around the country began their 3-day meeting with an early-evening protest against threatened Medicare and Medicaid cuts proposed by Republican leaders in the House of Representative and U.S. Senate. They convened outside Trump Tower, where the President-elect had been meeting with Congressional leaders. The Tower also hosts offices of a union-busting company, Momentive Chemical, which forced 700 workers out on strike last November by demanding huge concessions in health care benefits. Workers are resisting those take-aways despite bitter-cold days on the picket line.

Growing strength in numbers

More than 100 new participants were on hand for the opening session of the health care conference that began after the evening protest ended. The 500 attendees came from many different unions and groups including Physicians for a National Health Program and the Labor Campaign for Single Payer, which hosted the event.

Labor for Bernie continues

Invitations for a special meeting held during the conference went out to the six national unions, including the ILWU, who backed Senator Bernie Sanders for President: the Communication Workers of America, American Postal Workers Union, National Nurses United, United Electrical Workers, and the Amalgamated Transit Union. The representatives who attended felt that progressive unions should work to expand the “Labor for Bernie” network by including other national and local unions to promote “Medicare for All” and other issues raised by the Sanders campaign. A future meeting on this topic is being planned for February.

ILWU contribution noted

A contribution check from the ILWU to support the “Labor Campaign for Single Payer” effort was welcomed with applause when Rich Austin presented the donation on the second day of the conference. He noted the ILWU’s longtime support for a national healthcare system that should cover everyone, similar to the Medicare program that already covers older Americans without using expensive, profit-making insurance companies.

Grassroots pressure

The conference ended with discussions about strategy, emphasizing the need to build grassroots support to protect and expand Medicare and Medicaid. After adjourning, Austin and others went to a rally at the “Wall Street Bull” statue in Bowling Green Park, an action inspired by Bernie Sanders to protect and improve America’s health care system. “Over 12 million Americans supported Bernie Sanders during the Presidential primary campaign because they liked what he said about ‘Medicare for All,’ good union jobs, and affordable college for everyone,” said Austin. “Those problems will remain front-and-center during the next four years, and we need to be involved in the process.”

Categories: Unions

Foss tug crews continue fight for fair contract

ILWU - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 11:17

 

ILWU support: ILWU locals from throughout the harbor area came to support
Foss Tug workers at their rally on January 6. International Vice President (Mainland)
Ray Familathe spearheaded a delegation of local leaders.

Crews at Foss Tug in Long Beach escalated their fight to renew a fair contract during January. Dozens of workers represented by the Inlandboatmen’s Union, the ILWU’s Marine Division, attended a rally on January 6 in front of the Foss Long Beach headquarters on Berth 35.

Rally shows support
“The rally expressed our unity, determination to fight and willingness to win,” said John Skow, IBU Regional Director for Southern California. After a short march to the assembly area, workers heard from IBU President Alan Coté. “This is an important struggle for the entire maritime industry,” said Coté. “We’re up against a big corporation that seems more comfortable dictating than negotiating, but solidarity has always been a powerful weapon to level the playing field for workers.”
ILWU International Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe spoke on behalf of the International union. “You’ve got the entire ILWU family behind you in this struggle,” said Familathe, who noted that the union has never flinched from taking on tough fights and difficult employers. “There are a lot of people here today who are supporting this struggle,” as he recognized an impressive contingent of ILWU leaders present that included Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., Local 63 President Paul Trani, Local 94 President Danny Miranda, Local 68 Port Pilots President Ed Royals and leaders from Ship Scalers Local 56. Representatives of the Masters, Mates and Pilots (MMP) union also attended as did members of the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) union.

Disrespect & legal violations
The rally occurred because management at Foss Long Beach has been refusing to negotiate in good faith and continues to retaliate against 30 IBU members with lay-offs, leaving roughly 20 workers employed out of the 50-member workforce.

Implementing their ultimatum
On January 5, the company took the drastic step of implementing new schedules that eliminated the contract’s 8-hour day – requiring workers to instead remain on vessels for days at a time. They also implemented a new pay schedule without union approval. These unilateral, one-sided actions are only allowed by law if the company has engaged in good-faith negotiations, exhausted all efforts to settle, and reached an “impasse” in the contract talks – something the IBU is vigorously disputing in legal charges that have been filed against the company.

Strike in Long Beach
IBU members responded to the company’s unlawful change in contract conditions by declaring an unfair labor practices (ULP) strike on January 16. The picket lines began to form early and were humming by 6am. They continued until 6pm that evening. The next morning, company officials were notified that union members agreed to return to work, with everyone back on the job that evening. “We’ve been trying to negotiate with a company that doesn’t seem to respect the law,” said Skow. “The contract talks began more than six months ago, but we were far from an impasse and could easily reach a settlement if Foss would respect the law and show a willingness to compromise.”
Big company with deep pockets

Foss is owned by Salchuk, a wealthy conglomerate created in 1982 that has grown with both union and non-union operations. Salchuk has used this flexibility to benefit wealthy owners at the expense of workers. For example, after Foss retaliated against workers with layoffs, they were able to keep clients by re-shuffling their tug business to a Saltchuk subsidiary known as “AmNav, ”which operates at various west coast ports including LA/Long Beach – without IBU crew members.
Union cooperation
Saltchuk workers are represented by several unions, including the Masters, Mates and Pilots (MMP), Marine Engineers Beneficial Association (MEBA) and the Seafarers International Union (SIU). The ILWU and IBU are coordinating information efforts with these unions. “In the end, the struggle here at Foss will come down to a combination of courage and solidarity, which is what it always takes to win on the waterfront,” said ILWU Vice President (Mainland) Ray Familathe. “Foss workers are showing that they’ve got what it takes to see this through to a just conclusion.”

Categories: Unions

Honoring King Day with action

ILWU - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 10:13

ILWU members in Los Angeles, Seattle, and the Bay Area honored Martin Luther King Day by marching, protesting and meeting to promote social justice.

Continuing the struggle: ILWU members joined an estimated 10,000 people who packed Seattle streets on January 16 to support racial justice, workers’ rights and resistance to President Trump’s anti-union agenda. Marchers included (L-R): ILWU Local 19 member John Krasucki, Labor Relations Committee member Justin Hirsch, and Local 19 Vice-President John Persak.

MLK breakfast in LA
“We can honor Dr. King’s legacy by continuing his struggle for justice, especially for the poor and oppressed in our society,” said ILWU International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams, who attended a breakfast on January 14 with other ILWU leaders organized by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Adams noted that King was assassinated in Memphis while he was helping union sanitation workers win their courageous strike for respect and better pay.

California’s new Senator
Hundreds union members from throughout Southern California went to the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown LA where newly-elected U.S. Senator Kamala Harris was the featured speaker.“When our ideals and fundamental values are under attack, do we retreat or do we fight? I say we fight!” she said. “Whenever there’s been an assault on working families, we’ve never backed down. We ‘ve stood together. And that’s exactly what we’ll do now.”

Taking risks to win
Speakers at the LA event noted that King and other Civil Rights leaders of his generation were not afraid to take risks. King was arrested more than 30 times and suffered numerous beatings while advocating non-violent tactics in order to win public support.

King’s lessons for labor

“There’s still plenty we can learn from Dr. King’s leadership style and his approach to strategy,” said Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. who attended the event. “There’s no progress without a struggle, and winning public support is as important today as it was then. King was challenged by how to win majority support for a “minority” cause, and that’s the same challenge labor unions face today with only 6% of private-sector workers in a union.”

Paying respect: ILWU leaders were among hundreds of union members who gathered in Los Angeles on the morning of January 16 for a breakfast honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Pictured are (L-R): Local 13 Vice President Mondo Porras, International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams, Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., and Local 63 Business Agent and District Council President Cathy Familathe.

Keynote speaker

The keynote speaker at the LA labor breakfast was Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative, a leading human rights advocate who is challenging injustice in the courtroom and prison system. He has appeared before the Supreme Court and recently won a historic ruling that invalidated mandatory “lifewithout- parole” sentences for all children 17 or younger.
Seattle MLK march

ILWU members in the Puget Sound region joined a large event on Monday that began with workshops at a local high school, followed by a rally with speakers, and poetry and music in the gym. The main event was an afternoon march that drew an estimated 10,000 participants which ended at the federal building in downtown Seattle, where a final rally was held. This year’s event marked the 35th celebration held in Seattle to honor MLK’s legacy.
Bay Area breakfast

An early morning breakfast on January 16 brought ILWU members together with fellow unionists and civil rights activists at the Marriott Hotel San Francisco. The featured speaker was Dolores Huerta, a co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union, who helped lead a union drive five decades ago in California’s agricultural fields. The UFW played a central role in the continuing civil rights struggle by Latino immigrants.

Categories: Unions

ILWU to Host Leadership Education Conference in May

ILWU - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 11:49

 

The ILWU will be holding a Leadership Education and Development Institute (LEAD VII) in Seattle, Washington, May 7-11, 2017. The theme of this year’s training will be: Internal Unity and Mobilization: the ILWU in Action.

“Our union and its membership demands leadership education to survive and grow. LEAD helps develop activists, a strong rank and file—everyone has a niche and leadership training helps pave avenues for action on all levels,” commented ILWU Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams. “I look around and see that most of the leaders in this union have gone to LEAD. These programs help inspire and engage. Education will deliver us as we move forward.”
Topics at the training will include:

  • Increasing strength and unity through member participation;
  • Building union power in times of economic and political uncertainty;
  • Improving communication— both within the union and with the general public;
  • How to run effective union meetings;
  • Bridging the generational gap; and inspiring young worker involvement;
  • Lessons from the ILWU’s history, its diverse membership and divisions;

Instructors include active and retired ILWU members, labor activists, and staff from the International, university labor centers, and the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Local unions and affiliates may nominate participants, who are each required to fill out an application and hotel reservation form. Priority consideration will be given to new officers and rank and file activists who have not yet participated in any previous LEAD programs. For reasons of space and diversity, each affiliate should expect to send no more than two participants, but a waiting list will be taken in case of cancellations or non-participation by some locals.

The LEAD budget will cover participants’ hotel stay, breakfast, lunch, training materials, facilities, and instructors. Participants will be housed together in double rooms but may upgrade to a single room at their own expense. Any reimbursement for expenses such as lost wages, or travel will have to be covered by the participant or his or her local or IBU region, or by area fundraising activities.

Financial hardship applications will be considered on an individual basis. In cases where financial hardship is an obstacle to participation, a written request for assistance, including a statement about the circumstances involved and the amount of assistance requested, must be submitted to the International Secretary-Treasurer. Interested members should complete and return the application and reservation forms, which are available from your local or through the ILWU website: www.ilwu.org/training. Educational Services Director Robin Walker is also available to help answer questions.
Please return the completed forms by fax or mail no later than March 10,

2017 to: ILWU LEAD VII Applications
c/o International Secretary
Treasurer William Adams
1188 Franklin St., 4th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94109
Fax: 415-775-1302

 

Categories: Unions

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