Why a D.C. bike shop is joining a radical socialist union: The staff of Capitol Hill Bikes organized in solidarity with the hard-fought campaign at Capital Bikeshare.
By Lydia DePillis, Washington Post
Original story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/03/05/why-a-d-c-bike-shop-is-joining-a-radical-socialist-union/
Call it copycat unionism: Sometimes one workplace’s organizing efforts spread to another.
That at least seems to be what's happening at Capitol Hill Bikes, whose nine-person staff voted in January to form the District Bicycle Workers' Union after watching the struggles of Capital Bikeshare workers to do the same.
New Jersey Democrat Cory Booker plans to restore a recently suspended hours-of-service rule under review by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the senator told Transport Topics after a Senate hearing March 4.
Last year, Booker and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) strongly resisted suspending the rule, finding support from key stakeholders.
“I think we have a serious issue, as everybody concludes, about driver fatigue, and it is culpable for many accidents, and many deaths. And this seems like a reasonable evidence-based, data-based rule, and that it should not have been suspended. And I’m going to look to see as soon as possible for us to return it,” Booker said after a hearing of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee. He is the panel’s ranking member.
Booker added that he likely will wait and see what the opportunities are to proceed with restoring the HOS regulation, suggesting that could entail waiting until FMCSA presents Congress with a study about the rule’s safety impact.
Under a funding law Congress passed in December, the enforcement that drivers take off two consecutive periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. during a 34-hour restart was suspended through Sept. 30. Truckers still are required to adhere to pre-July 2013 hours-of-service regulations. Before the suspension expires, FMCSA is required to complete a review of safety claims stemming from the restart restrictions.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute was selected to conduct the study, and FMCSA acting Administrator Scott Darling said he expects the study’s findings to be released later this year.
A majority of Republicans who supported the rule's suspension are expected to push back on Booker's efforts.Issues: Freight
Panama City, Panama – You see a lot of parked taxis in the parking lot at the Panama Ports terminal here. They’re not waiting to give rides to longshoremen. Dockworkers themselves are the drivers.
Longshore wages in Panama are so low that after a shift driving a crane, a longshoreman has to put in another shift driving a taxi, just to survive.
At Panama Ports, however, this situation has begun to change. In December the union signed an historic new contract with raises totaling more than 27% over the next four years.
One factor that made this agreement possible was support from the ILWU International Union. Because of it the Panamanian union SINTRAPORSPA, the Union of Workers at Panama Ports has decided to become the newest member of the ILWU’s Panama Canal Division. “Because we affiliated with the ILWU, things have changed,” says Alberto Ochoa, SINTRAPORSPA’s Secretary General. “Now our relationship with the company is more equal. We have greater strength at work, and our contract shows it.”
The Panama Canal Pilots, ILWU International President Bob McEllrath and Vice-President Ray Familathe began coordinating the latest affiliation agreement with Panama’s longshore workers belonging to SINTRAPORSPA.
ILWU President Bob McEllrath collaborated closely with Familathe to implement their vision of growing the Panama Division. McEllrath and Familathe traveled to Panama with fluent Spanish- speaker Greg Mitre, President of the Southern California Pensioners’ Group, to build union-to-union relationships.
“Our union is committed to defending the rights of all workers, and the Panama Division is the result of that commitment,” McEllrath says Panama Division growth
When the Panama Division was established in 2012, ILWU President Bob McEllrath explained, “With so many employers now going global, it’s critical for workers around the globe to join forces and work together.”
The division has now grown much larger, to include 2580 Panama Ports longshore workers. The symbol of the ILWU has also been updated. It used to be a map of North America with a picture of Hawaii, showing the union’s strength in U.S. and Canadian ports and in the islands. The symbol now includes a new element – a map of Panama.
According to Capt. Rainiero Salas, the Panama Canal Pilots’ Union secretary general, “The Panama Division is growing as workers see what we can gain by working together, and it’s not going to stop here.”
The new Panama Ports longshore contract didn’t come easily. Panama Ports is a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based corporation Hutchinson Port Holdings Limited (HPH).
There was a “yellow” or company union at the terminal there for many years. Ochoa and other independent minded workers had a long history of trying to change it. Finally they organized SINTRAPORSPA. They collected over 2000 signatures on a petition for recognition, and asked for a government-administered election to certify the union as workers’ bargaining representative.
Dockworkers knew how many votes they had lined up, and challenged the transparency of the election. The Ministry of Labor claimed that 1500 workers had cast ballots against SINTRAPORSPA. The President of Panama himself, Juan Carlos Varela, is a partner in the law firm used by Panama Ports, that specializes in helping company management fight unions.
“When we went to the ministry to protest the crooked election, they did everything they could to stop us,” recalls Ramiro Cortez, another SINTRAPORSPA leader. “Nevertheless, it was obvious that we had the support of the great majority of the workers, including those who belonged to the company union.”
Ochoa and Cortez made an appeal to the ILWU, and Familathe and Mitre flew to Panama City and met with the Minister of Labor, Luis Ernesto Carles Rudy. They brought with them a letter signed by six U.S. Congress members, asking for a transparent process.
The government agreed to rerun the election, and in a fair vote SINTRAPORSPA won overwhelmingly. “The support from the ILWU was very effective in meeting with the Minister of Labor, and getting the second union election,” Cortez says. “The Panamanian authorities were never concerned about how they conducted themselves with us before that. Powerful companies, with the money at their disposal, got whatever that money could buy.”
The impact of that support was also felt in the subsequent contract negotiations, which only took a month to reach an agreement. In one meeting the company executive president even told union negotiators that he was “very concerned” at the union’s growing relationship with the ILWU. The contract itself is now the first agreement between an ILWU affiliate and Panama Ports a subsidiary of Hutchinson Port Holdings.
Danger & low pay
That agreement will have a big impact on the lives of longshoremen and their families in two areas especially – economics and safety. In Panama they call longshore pay “hunger wages.” Workers’ families live below the government’s own poverty line, and some families literally go hungry.
“That’s one reason why the company had to constantly hire new workers,” Cortez says. “Most people who got jobs here were just working while they were actually looking for better jobs somewhere else.” An agreement that raises wages therefore helps to stabilize the workforce, which can make the terminal more productive.
It also impacts safety. “Many accidents in the port could have been avoided if the workers weren’t so exhausted,” he explains. “They go in at 7AM, and leave at 8PM, and then go and drive or do some other job.”
The port does have a high accident rate, and two workers were killed a month apart at the end of last year. But the contract is also changing how safety issues are handled. In one accident, a crane lifting a container hit a six-high stack of boxes that were being stored on the dock, right next to the ship. As they fell, one hit a 22-year-old man who’d been working less than a month.
Cortez was called by the workers, and on arrival met with the crane operator who was in shock and crying, and stopped managers from interrogating him until he got representation and counseling. Then Cortez and other union leaders met with management and viewed the video of the accident. They told the company that all workers were traumatized by what happened, and should be sent home. If not, the union itself would shut down the terminal, they said. In the end, management sent the shift home with pay for the day.
When Cortez announced the agreement to the workers, they applauded. “I could have been elected president of the republic that day,” he says. “It had never happened before.”
When Familathe and Mitre explained how similar events are handled in Los Angeles, Cortez said he wanted to come and see for himself. The new union contract establishes five committees, the most important of which is safety. The union then created three new positions, and appointed a high-voltage technician to serve as secretary of the safety committee.
“The challenge is now to implement the contract and ensure that the company abides by it, so that the workers actually benefit from it,” President Ochoa emphasizes. “Before the company did what it pleased, and changed the hours, overtime, days off, and wages, whenever it wanted. Now they know we’re not on our own, by ourselves.
They didn’t look on our relationship with the ILWU with friendly eyes, because they knew you would back us up. Companies don’t want real unions because we open the eyes of the workers, and we can win respect.”
Opportunities to grow
Ochoa has another vision as well – that the Panama Division will expand. “Unions in the ports and the Canal should get together so that we can speak with one voice, and get better benefits and respect for the workers,” he says. “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to realize this dream.”
It may not be so far off. The same day Familathe and Mitre concluded the affiliation process for SINTRAPORSPA they also drove across the isthmus to meet with the union for dockers in Colon on the Atlantic, the Union of Workers at the Manzanillo International Terminal. The MIT terminal is operated by SSA Marine.
Workers told the ILWU leaders that crane operators work 8-hour days, for six days straight. For that, their pay starts at $854 a month. Here also the workers rebelled against a former union leadership they viewed as too close to the company, and elected a new slate a few months ago. “They see the improvements SINTRAPORSPA was able to make, and they want the same thing,” said Familathe.
Goals for the future
The ILWU in Panama represents the interests of workers by advocating progressive policies on wages, trade and labor rights, while effectively defending workers on the job every day. The Panama Division is supporting pilots in their fight to ensure that the huge ships that pass through the Canal every day are operated safely.
The Canal Authority has launched a huge expansion project, building new locks capable of handling giant post- Panamax container ships carrying up to 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). The pilots union has criticized the government for not working closely with the union in designing the work rules and procedures for safely handling these larger ships in the new locks. It is especially concerned over a new unilateral government directive that for the first time seeks to have ships pass each other in the narrow, but widened, Culebra Cut. Previously, ships traveling in opposite directions have waited, so that only one ship at a time traverses the cut.
In October Capt. Salas spoke out publicly. “It seems very odd that the most experienced people moving ships through this highly important system have been completely ignored by its governing authority,” he charged.
“At Panama Canal Pilots (PCP), our most critical mission is ship safety, yet we’ve not been consulted.” Panamanian port and maritime unions are also concerned at the government’s efforts to decertify the union for the tugboat captains in the canal. They fear that the same legal technicalities could be used to attack the representation rights of other unions as well. That could undermine longshore unions just as they are at the point where they are changing the basic living standards of workers.
“Our main objective as a union was to make a difference in the economic status of our members, especially those who earned least, the longshoremen,”
Ochoa declares. “I’m not saying that what we’ve been able to achieve in this new contract will give us a wage that will pay for everything. But it’s a lot better than what we had before. And our responsibility as a union is to keep struggling to win better conditions, especially economic ones.”
– David Bacon
March 3, 2015: The Central States Pension Fund and several smaller funds in the months to come may seek to cut the earned benefits of retirees and active Teamsters. Teamster members have a right to know what the procedures would be, so that we can be better armed to fight back.
A detailed outline of the procedure and timeline is available here for review by concerned members and retirees. This outline explains that the process cannot be immediate; the law provides time for review, for the publication of opposition statements, a vote by all participants (active and retired), and in the case of large funds at least 10,000 participants, the appointment of a retiree representative.
Teamsters are not sitting back and waiting for the hammer to come down – retirees and active Teamsters are organizing now to change the law that requires the full burden of the economic meltdown to fall on working and retired Teamsters.
Last weekend the Wisconsin Committee to Protect Pensions held their latest meeting, with a representative of the North East Ohio Committee to Protect Pensions on board to speak. The meeting received a strong statement of support from Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. We are working to build a strong list of Congresspersons and Senators ready to make changes to the unjust law.Dale Dobbs, a Milwaukee Local 200 retiree, explained “We’ve set up a Facebook page to share info and concerns about the possible pension cuts. We’ve got a committee organized in our area to make sure our voices are heard. We need to build a pressure campaign with committees from other areas.”
Could your pension fund move to cut benefits? This list indicates which pension funds could consider cuts. In addition to the Central States Fund, the list includes Western Pennsylvania Teamsters Fund and a large number of small funds in the New York - New Jersey area, especially locals in declining industries.Pension and Benefits
Over 6,000 ILWU members and their families, along with community supporters and elected officials marched and rallied through the streets of San Pedro on January 22. The dramatic showing of unity and solidarity was organized by LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino to protest the employers’ cutting of night-time workers that has compounded severe congestion problems at the ports of LA and Long Beach.
“The PMA’s action in further cutting night shifts at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is another step closer to a lockout,” Buscaino said in press release before the rally. “It will only serve to worsen the slowdown and congestion at the ports, disrupt the global supply chain, and result in irreparable damage to the reputation of our ports complex.”
Marchers gathered near the Vincent Thomas Bridge on Harbor Boulevard and Beacon. As the sun set, thousands of longshore workers headed down Harbor Boulevard towards the rally point outside the Maritime Museum. The 30-minute march was led by students from Banning High School’s “Mighty Marching Pilots” band. The mood was spirited as parents marched hand-in-hand with their children. Marchers carried glow sticks which gave the event a festive atmosphere.
Hundreds of people carried the same support signs that have been posted by local business owners in shop windows throughout the harbor; they read: “We Support the ILWU and the ILWU Supports Us.”
ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe, Coast Committeeman Ray Ortiz, Jr. spoke at the rally along with Southern California representatives from the Negotiating Committee and Safety Sub-Committee who all flew down from the contract negotiations in San Francisco to attend the event.
International Vice President Ray
Familathe said the ILWU family would remain strong and united. “The elected Negotiating Committee will continue to battle to get a tentative agreement that we can bring to the rank-and-file for a democratic vote. We need to send a message to the employers that we will last as long as needed to get the fair contract that we deserve.”
Coast Committeeman Ray Ortiz, Jr., said that he has been a part of 12 contract negations during his career. “This contract negotiation has been about endurance. The ILWU will not break and we are going to stay strong and get a fair contract and get this cargo moving.”
ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., emphasized the deep roots that ILWU members had in the harbor community, reaching back many decades. “ILWU Locals 13, 63 and 94 have been a bastion of the middle class in San Pedro for over 75 years,” Olvera said. “Long before these multinational corporations came to the port, longshoremen were moving cargo and long after they are gone we are still going to be here moving cargo.”
In his address at the rally, LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino had a message for the employers at the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA): “We say to the PMA, ‘Let the ILWU do their jobs. Let the ILWU clear our ports. Do not stand in their way. Our economy’s is here in the harbor.’”
Local 13 President Olvera thanked the thousands of families and multitude of supporters, including many elected officials, who came to show their support.
“You’re presence here tonight has sent a powerful message that the ILWU and this community are strong, united and willing to fight for what’s right – no matter how long it takes.
It wasn’t quick or easy, but the ILWU Longshore Negotiating Committee reached a tentative agreement for a new 5-year contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on February 20th.
ILWU International President Bob McEllrath praised the 16-member Negotiating Committee and 8-member Safety Sub-Committee for their months of hard work – and he saluted rank-and-file members and local union officials for maintaining exceptional discipline and unity during the grueling 9-month negotiating process that began on May 12, 2014.
“This was the longest contract negotiation we’ve faced in decades,” said McEllrath, “but the final result is a good agreement that wouldn’t have been possible without the unity and support from members up and down the coast.”
The tentative agreement will first be reviewed by 90 delegates of the Coast Longshore Caucus who are scheduled to meet March 30 to April 3. Caucus delegates will decide whether to recommend the proposal to the rank-and-file. If recommended, the complete agreement will be mailed to members, followed by discussions at local union meetings. The process ends with a secret-ballot election that allows members to ratify or reject the proposal. Detailed voting results will be published in a future issue of The Dispatcher.
The Committee approached their negotiating task with clear directions from the Coast Longshore Caucus that met for two weeks beginning February 24, 2014. The Negotiating Committee opened talks with the PMA on May 12 and continued bargaining past the contract expiration date of July 1, 2014. Important progress was announced in late August when both sides agreed to maintain health benefits for workers, families and pensioners. The next issue tackled by the Negotiating Committee involved the problems caused by PMA companies that sub-contracted their container chassis pools.
It was also at this point that a pre-existing port congestion problem reached a crisis point. Tensions mounted as PMA companies tried to avoid responsibility for the congestion caused primarily by poor planning and bad business decisions, including:
- Subcontracting chassis units, causing shortages and logistical problems.
- Using massive new containers vessels without proper planning.
- Combining containers from several carriers onto one “alliance” vessel.
- Failing to pay port truckers a living wage, causing driver shortages
- Failing to properly plan for record volumes of containers.
- Failing to train enough dockworkers to operate equipment.
As bargaining continued into the fall, the PMA increasingly accused ILWU members of causing congestion at the ports and charged the union members with orchestrating slowdowns in early November – while companies put pressure on workers by cutting shifts and reducing operations, beginning in Pacific Northwest ports, then spreading down the coast.
By January 13, the PMA had eliminated night and evening shifts, slashing container and cargo loading and unloading operations by 60%. Soon the docks were empty, but employers were still insisting that no space was available to unload ships. Local 13 member and private airplane pilot Rollo Hartstrom joined with Local 94 member and photographer Bill Kirk to take aerial photos that proved PMA’s misleading claims.
Members in Southern California and the Puget Sound mobilized on January 22 for an impressive show of unity. Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. and Local 23 President Dean McGrath organized separate but coordinated events that brought together thousands of longshore workers, families, community leaders and elected officials who showed their support for a fair contract.
In late January, union negotiators reached a resolution that maintained ILWU jurisdiction for inspecting chassis units at the ports. With just a few issues remaining, President Obama assigned Labor Secretary Tom Perez to the talks on February 14, joining federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh who was invited to help by the ILWU and PMA in early January. After the PMA agreed to improve the area arbitration system by making it more fair, a tentative agreement was reached the evening of February 20, supported unanimously by the ILWU Negotiating Committee.
In addition to resolving the “coastwise” contract agreement, separate local agreements were negotiated by union leaders to address issues at local ports. For example, Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Southern California were able to negotiate important terms to improve staffing and transparency. Local 10 was able to negotiate local improvements for manning and equalization.
“The efforts of local leaders, rank-and- file members, and our Negotiating Committee were all pulling in the same direction for the same goal,” said President McEllrath. “That kind of unity is the only way for workers to win.”
Hundreds of longshore workers, families, and community supporters held a nighttime rally and march in downtown Tacoma. The goal was to show unity and solidarity for a fair contract – and set the record straight about the companies’ role in causing port congestion and delays.
When they arrived at Tollefson Plaza, many marchers wore their safety vests and hard hats on a cold dark night with light rain. Members and supporters came from throughout the Puget Sound region, plus Portland, Longview and Vancouver along the Columbia River and up north to Canada.
Long-distance attendees included Alaska Longshore Division President Chuck Wendt and Juneau President Dennis Young.
“Shutting down the ports by cutting shifts and sending workers home is not a solution to the congestion and delays – it’s only making things worse,” said Local 23 President Dean McGrath who welcomed a short list of speakers who were notable for their strong Local 98 member Zeek Green brought his family to the podium as he shared a clever and hard-hitting “rap” about the lengthy longshore contract struggle.
Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson noted that former ILWU President and co-founder Harry Bridges, said that workers must always struggle against corporate greed. And local 25 year-old member Meghan Mason led the crowd in a chant; “Union town, through and through, you for me, and me for you!” before delivering a strong speech.
When the rally ended, the march took shape with a new twist: a set of battery-powered electrified letters, each carried by a marcher, spelled out an important message when carried in formation: END PORT LAYOFFS.
This “light brigade” led marchers on a short walk to the Glass Bridge, a pedestrian overpass spanning Interstate 705, where the lighted message and throngs of marchers were visible to thousands of cars passing below.
The well-organized and tightly timed event lasted just 90 minutes, but many reported that it boosted spirits – and scored positive media coverage in local TV, radio and newspaper outlets.
Local 19 worker Leith Kahl came down for the rally from Seattle carrying his banjo that he used with his powerful voice to serenade supporters at the end of the march with union solidarity songs, including one that he’d written about the cancelled shifts and employer firings that became routine in the Northwest beginning last fall. “It’s all part of making history, and always better when our voices are heard in the process.”
- Fired Hospitality Workers Fight Back With The London IWW
- Montreal Wobblies Participate In Disruptive Action At Canada Post
- IWW Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Win Pay For Fired Organizer
- Why Incarcerated Workers Should Join The IWW
- Celebrating (Working) Women’s History Month
- Review: Staughton Lynd On War & National Identity
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
Pro-Claimant Demo Gets Great Public Support in West Derby
Members of Liverpool IWW joined around a dozen activists, including people from the benefits advice group Reclaim, outside West Derby job centre on Eaton Road this lunchtime. This was part of a national day of action in solidarity with Scottish Unemployed Workers Network activist Tony Cox. Tony was arrested on 29th January after Arbroath job centre management called police to stop him representing a vulnerable jobseeker. We protested to drive home the message that ‘advocacy is not a crime’, and aiming to build towards smashing sanctions against unemployed workers.
Teamster members across the country are organizing for new leadership and a new direction in our International Union.
In the last International Union election, the opposition forces were divided.
This time Local 804 President Tim Sylvester, Local 89 President Fred Zuckerman and other Teamster leaders are building a coalition effort that is uniting Teamsters, including former Hoffa supporters, in one movement for a stronger union.
Get involved with Teamster officers and members who are building a movement to elect new International Union leadership and rebuild Teamster power.
Click here to RSVP for the March 14 meeting in NYC.
Or "join" the event on Facebook.
Click here to RSVP for the March 15 meeting in Worcester.
Or "join" the event on Facebook.
Email takebackourunion2016 [at] gmail.com if you have any questions about the meetings.
February 25, 2015: "The weather was cold yesterday but the crowd came together for the first rally of the growing protest against the latest attack on workers and the Middle class in Wisconsin," says Local 200 retiree and TDU Steering Committee member Dan Campbell.
Click here to read more on the new threat of 'right-to-work' legislation in Wisconsin.
Whit Wyatt of Washington Court House worked as a teamster truck driver for 33 years. Now Whit and his wife Barb have a comfortable retirement living on Whit's teamster pension and social security.
But Wyatt is one of hundreds of thousands of union retirees who may soon see severe cuts to their monthly pension checks. “I've planned my life around my guaranteed pension and it just looks like that's going to be taken away," Wyatt said.
Click here to read more.Issues: Pension and Benefits
February 23, 2015: Teamsters in Ohio are joining the movement for change in the International union. Ben Sizemore, A YRC driver in Local 407 told the Cleveland meeting yesterday “We’re goin’ to smoke ‘em in the election next year.”
Teamsters from Columbus Local 413 braved nasty weather this past Saturday to hear Tim Sylvester, Fred Zuckerman, and their own local President Tony Jones, lay out their ideas and plans for taking back the IBT for the rank and file membership. 75 Teamsters attended, from various shops and crafts. Members talked about the downhill slide in Teamster contracts and Teamster power during Hoffa’s 16 years in office.
Cleveland-Akron Teamsters came out on Sunday from Locals 24, 407, 964, 377, along with Teamsters from Western Pennsylvania. The room was wall-to-wall solidarity and unity of purpose: building a strong movement to restore Teamster power and pride.
21 February 2015
The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has welcomed a tentative agreement struck between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports of the USA.
Negotiations had been underway since June last year in what had become an increasingly bitter dispute.
The PMA earlier this week ratcheted up their side of the bargaining by banning loading and unloading on nights, weekends and holidays.
The deal was reached with assistance from US Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director, Scot Beckenbaugh.
“This is great news for workers at all 29 West Coast Ports, who can now get on with the job and their lives without a protracted negotiation hanging over their heads,” ITF president and dockers’ section chair, Paddy Crumlin, said.
“I’d like to congratulate ILWU President Bob McEllrath and his negotiating team.
“The ITF and its affiliates have been offering their support and solidarity with the ILWU workers on the West Coast from right around the globe.
“This is a win for dockers the world over.”
A joint statement from ILWU President Bob McEllrath and PMA President James McKenna said that parties will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time and that it is still subject to ratification by both parties.
“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” the joint statement said.
“We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
Big ships with capacities of 8,000 to as much as 14,000 20-foot containers call regularly now at West Coast ports.
Some industry experts predict that by 2020 vessels with capacities of 18,000 TEUs will be serving the West Coast.
Vessels of that size are already calling in the Asia-Europe trades, and ports in those regions are struggling to cope with the cargo surges that are created by big ships.
February 23, 2015: Starting wages for Walmart workers will soon match starting pay for part-timers at UPS. What’s wrong with this picture?
Walmart announced it is raising its minimum wage to $9 an hour and that starting pay will be hiked to $10 an hour in February 2016.
That means wages at Walmart, the nation’s biggest exploiter of low-wage labor, will match starting pay at UPS under our union’s biggest contract. That’s just embarrassing.
Even worse, the contract inked this year by Hoffa and Hall freezes starting pay for part-timers at the $10 level through 2018. Minimum wages are already higher than that in several cities—and many states and even the federal government are considering minimum wage hikes that would top $10 an hour.
Of course, it’s true that UPS part-timers get benefits, union protection and guaranteed annual raises that Walmart workers do not. But UPS part-timers also do back-breaking work and are guaranteed just three-and-a-half hours of work a shift.
Anyway you slice it, part-time starting pay at UPS is a scandal.
Walmart executives aren’t raising wages out of the goodness of their hearts. They are doing it to combat turnover and because the company has been the target of a nationwide grassroots campaign by workers, labor unions and community groups.
The Teamsters Union backs this campaign—and we should. But we should also be taking care of business in our own backyard, starting with UPS. A company that hauls in $4 billion a year in profits shouldn’t be paying anyone $10 an hour.
It’s time to End Part-Time Poverty from Walmart to UPS.
SAN FRANCISCO (Feb. 20, 2015) – The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union today announced a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports. The deal was reached with assistance from U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. The parties will not be releasing details of the agreement at this time. The agreement is subject to ratification by both parties.
“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in a joint statement. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
Railway labor troubles are continuing in Canada.
Unifor, a labor union that represents about 4,800 workers at Canadian National Railway, said it will begin strike votes next week after five months of talks failed to produce an agreement.
Click here to read more at Transport Topics.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez directed the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to reach a tentative contract deal today or face the prospect of talks next week in Washington’s politically charged environment, news services reported.
Perez was dispatched to San Francisco earlier this week by President Obama to resolve the long-running talks, which now are in their 10th month. Negotiations involve 20,000 workers who handle about half of U.S. containerized freight at 29 West Coast ports.
Click here to read more.
Laval -- On the morning of Monday, February 16, 2015, the IWW Montreal, the Student Workers Union of the University of Quebec at Montreal, as well as several other citizens, took part in the disruption of a Canada Post distribution center in Laval, Quebec.
This action in solidarity with postal workers is set in a current context of struggles against austerity, and in the scope of the campaign for a social strike on May 1st 2015.
Today, many workers are directly confronted with the effects of budget cuts to health services, to municipal employees, to firemen and firewomen, to postal workers, to students, to workers in the private sector...
Yet, resistance is organizing itself everywhere. We will not let different governments (whether conservative or liberal) and the bosses impose their anti-social measures on us. The time of a minority enriching itself on the back of an impoverished majority is finished.