Arbitrator orders ILWU longshoremen back to Port of Portland after walkout supporting Honduran dockworkers
Arbitrator orders ILWU longshoremen back to Port of Portland after walkout supporting Honduran dockworkers
Hondurans Carlos Alvarado, left, and Glen Galdames picket outside Terminal 6 Tuesday. Longshore workers walked off their jobs at the Port of Portland's container terminal Tuesday in solidarity with the Hondurans, who are members of the SGTM union involved in a dispute with a Central American subsidiary of Portland terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc.'s Filipino parent company. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian)
PrintBy Richard Read | email@example.com
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on March 04, 2014 at 2:29 PM, updated March 04, 2014 at 11:49 PM
An arbitrator ruled that a picket line that caused longshore workers to leave their jobs at thePort of Portland's container yard Tuesday violated contract terms, and ordered them back to work, according to ICTSI Oregon Inc., the terminal operator.
Jan Holmes, an arbitrator jointly hired by the longshore union and the West Coast employers association, said the picket line established by Honduran dockworkers was not "bona fide," therefore longshoremen were not entitled to honor it, said Michael Garone, a lawyer and spokesman for ICTSI Oregon.
A new longshore crew reported to work as Holmes made her ruling, so Terminal 6 was up and running again Tuesday evening, Garone said. Holmes could not be reached late Tuesday to confirm her decision. A spokeswoman for theInternational Longshore and Warehouse Union did not respond to a request to confirm and comment on the ruling. A Pacific Maritime Association spokesman had no information on the ruling Tuesday night.
Dockworkers from Honduras began picketing the embattled North Portland cargo terminal Tuesday morning, saying they'd been denied jobs back home by a subsidiary of ICTSI's parent company. All longshore workers at the terminal walked out at midday, according to ICTSI.
It was one of the few walkouts at the terminal in 21 months of turmoil that has included multiple lawsuits, alleged longshore slowdowns, bans by a federal judge on slowdowns, skipped port calls by international cargo vessels, snarled freight, threats by Hanjin Shipping Co. to abandon Portland, mile-long truck lines, interventions by Gov. John Kitzhaber and numerous grievances, arbitrations and accusations of unfair labor practices.
The work stoppage was another setback for attempts by the Port of Portland to persuade Hanjin to continue calling on Terminal 6. Hanjin executives in Seoul are watching Portland developments closely as they decide whether to keep the Port in their trans-Pacific loop. Thousands of businesses in Oregon and beyond depend on the terminal for containers of exports and imports, which would cost extra to truck to and from other ports if Hanjin pulled out.
Elvis Ganda, chief executive of ICTSI Oregon, said in a written statement that the actions by the ILWU "appear to demonstrate its continued intent to drive Hanjin out of Portland and to close Terminal 6."
Jennifer Sargent, an ILWU spokeswoman, disputed wording included in a bulletin issued by ICTSI Terminal 6 gate managers who said longshore workers "walked off the job" after lunch. "A union picket line was established at T-6 and the Portland longshoremen honored it as they would any other such picket line," she said in an email.
The picketing by Central American union members occurred only in Portland, and not at any other West Coast port, because it's the only place in the United States where ICTSI operates a terminal.
Ganda called the work stoppage "misguided and illegal." But in her ruling, Holmes said the union had not engaged in an illegal work stoppage as defined by the Pacific Coast Longshore Contract, Garone said.
Instead Holmes ruled Tuesday's picket was not bona fide, he said, meaning it was not a true picket as described by the contract. Therefore longshoremen could not honor it.
To be bona fide, a picket must be staged at the premises of an employer with which the union is engaged in a dispute over wages, hours or working conditions of employees, a majority of whom the organization represents. The picketing Hondurans had no labor dispute with ICTSI Oregon, which does not employ them.
Ganda said issues at other terminals that may be affiliated with ICTSI Oregon's parent company had no connection to ICTSI's Portland operations.
"However, when the ILWU seeks to shut down Terminal 6 over an alleged dispute taking place thousands of miles away, it causes severe disruptions which hurt carriers, local truckers, shippers and members of the local community, companies and individuals that have no involvement with the issue being raised," Ganda said.
An ILWU news release issued Tuesday said that ICTSI's parent company in the Philippines, International Container Terminal Services Inc., was awarded a 29-year concession agreement in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, on Feb. 1, 2013. The Manila company established a Central American subsidiary, Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana, known as OPC.
According to the ILWU, OPC imposed "a sham labor agreement" that was approved by the Honduran government and ICTSI, but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. The companies began hiring workers under the agreement in December 2013, according to the ILWU, and proceeded to fire large numbers of union supporters, sparking a protest Feb. 26.
"The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with 'terrorism' and 'damaging the national economy,'” the ILWU release said. "One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others."
Ganda, of ICTSI, said in his statement that the ILWU's news release contained "multiple inaccurate statements about this alleged foreign dispute." He didn't detail the alleged inaccuracies.
Union president opts out
Meanwhile Robert "Big Bob" McEllrath, ILWU International president in San Francisco, wrote a letter this week to Kitzhaber, saying the union will not take part in an independent review that the governor asked the Port to conduct of Terminal 6 operations.
McEllrath's letter dated Monday said Kitzhaber departed from his "neutrality and judiciousness" regarding the labor disputes when he said longshore productivity levels had been low except for on Super Bowl Sunday, when container movement abruptly sped up ahead of the kickoff. McEllrath said ICTSI managers arranged the yard efficiently that day to guarantee high productivity, then fed the story of longshoremen's sudden fast work to The Oregonian.
McEllrath told Kitzhaber that the Port, as a partisan entity in legal proceedings, could not be trusted to spearhead an independent review. "With all due respect, Governor," McEllrath wrote, "you have unwittingly initiated a sham review process that both the Port and ICTSI will use to strengthen their legal claims against the ILWU."
-- Richard ReadTags: ilwusolidarity
“Railroad Workers United (RWU) has embarked upon a campaign to limit the length and tonnage of freight trains across North America. The goal is to reverse the long running trend whereby the rail carriers assemble ever longer and heavier trains which are dangerous to railroad workers, pedestrians and motorists, trackside communities, the environment, and society in general.” This is what a recent news release says, issued by Railroad Workers United.
RWU goes on to say, in spite of the number of long and heavy train wrecks last year, rail carriers continue to operate long and heavy trains and in fact even expand upon this trend, in attempts to improve the bottom line. The organization points out it takes longer to stop such trains, and the longer and heavier the train, the greater the potential for a train break-in-two, emergency brake applications and derailments. Longer and heavier trains result in more severe train wrecks if and when such trains derail, long trains are more likely to have air brake problems, and it’s more difficult for train crews to safely run, inspect, work and test such trains. Road and pedestrian crossings are more likely to be blocked by longer and heavier trains, causing inconvenience and increased emergency services response times. Such trains also tend to increase the number of hours train crews must spend getting the trains in and out of the terminal and over the road, all of which increase crew fatigue, reduce situational awareness, and lower quality of work and home life for engineers and trainmen.
The news release concludes, “Therefore, RWU opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains. Furthermore, we support a reduction in the length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and/or operating in very cold temperatures. We expect that these goals can be achieved through both legislative efforts and at the bargaining table.”
RWU is an organization that works to unite railroad workers from all the rail crafts in North America. To quote from their website, “…we have formed this inter-union, cross-craft, solidarity “caucus” of railroad workers from all crafts, all carriers, and all unions across North America.” The RWU works to strengthen the bargaining position of railroad workers and to enhance working conditions, including the safety of railroad workers and the public. More information is available on the RWU website.
Railroaded believes no one is more aware of rail safety hazards, nor is more qualified to suggest improvements, than those who work on the railroads. Hopefully, rail companies at the corporate level will heed the suggestions of experienced railroad workers, as represented by Railroad Workers United.
Filed under: blocked railway crossings, Derailment, emergency response times, Safety, too long trains
A backlog of grain rail car orders in Canada tops 60,000, 8 times more than a year ago, causing an estimated $3.5 billion in lost sales to date (Edmonton Journal). Many farmers are blaming Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway for favouring the more lucrative transport of crude oil and other dangerous goods over hauling grain (see this link).
The backlog has resulted in reduced grain prices and increased transport costs. The Executive Director of the Western Grain Elevator Association said, “This is the highest backlog ever.” Many farmers aren’t even able to move their crops to nearby grain elevators because they’re full. One Manitoba farmer hasn’t been able to sell any of his bumper wheat, canola, barley or oat crops, and the delay means $200,000 in lost revenue, as grain prices plummeted.
Prairie farmers had record harvests in 2013 of wheat, canola and corn, and increases from multiple crops, but the rail backlog has quickly turned the good news into bad news. Provincial and federal politicians are angry and have demanded the problem get fixed, including penalizing CN and CP for breaking their grain hauling commitments.
Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, shipping oil by rail
RWU Resolution in Support of Limits to Long & Heavy Trains
Adopted by the RWU Steering Committee February 4th, 2014
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
Whereas, the North American rail carriers continue to run longer and heavier trains each year, and have expressed their desire to run even longer trains in the future; and
Whereas, the last year has witnessed a number of long and heavy train wrecks, resulting in a loss of life and property, wholesale evacuations, injured train crews and environmental devastation; and
Whereas, the rail carriers have a professed interest in operating such long and heavy trains as a way to perceived savings on fuel costs, motive power and labor costs; and
Whereas, rather than face the reality of the situation, the rail carriers and law makers choose to focus on irrelevant issues like inward facing cameras; and
Whereas, such overly long and heavy trains create a dangerous and unsafe situation for a number of reasons:
1 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is and the more time it takes to slow or to stop such a train;
2 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more slack action is in the train, increasing run-ins and run-outs, increasing the potential for break-in-twos, emergency brake applications and derailments;
3 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more severe the train wreck if and when such a train does derail;
4 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is for the train crew to safely run, inspect, work, test, and otherwise get such a train over the road.
5 -- such trains tend to make for longer tours-of-duty for train crews, resulting in fatigue, more time at the away-from-home terminal, and a lower quality of work and home life;
6 – such trains are more likely to have air brake problems, especially in cold weather;
7 -- the longer and heavier the train, the greater likelihood of blocked road and pedestrian crossings, creating a best an inconvenience to the public and at worst an inability to provide emergency services when needed;
8 -- these blocked crossing in effect “train” motorists and the public to “run the gates” to avoid being blocked for long periods, resulting in grade crossing accidents and fatalities.
Therefore, Be it Resolved that Railroad Workers United opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains; and
Be it Further Resolved that RWU supports a reduction in length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and /or cold temperatures; and
Be it Finally Resolved that RWU urge the unions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to further these ends legislatively and/or contractually.
Railroad Workers United
health and safety
Original Page: http://ecology.iww.org/node/360Tags: Railroad workershealth and safety
As pressure mounts from municipalities, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), state politicians, rail safety experts and rail workers to improve rail safety, an agreement has recently been reached between the U.S. Transportation Department and the Association of American Railroads on a number of voluntary safety measures (Edmonton Journal).
The new agreement will see railroads slow down oil trains from 80kph to 64kph through major cities, inspect tracks more often, and improve emergency response planning along routes carrying trains that haul up to 11.4 million litres of crude oil each. Railroads in the U.S. would also have to weigh the risks along particular routes and consider alternatives, although it’s inevitable trains would continue going through large population centres in many cases. As well, railroads agreed to provide $5 million US to develop a training curriculum for emergency responders focused on crude accidents.
The new agreement does not address concerns over shipping ethanol, which has also been involved in a spate of rail accidents, nor does it address the tens of thousands of flawed DOT-111 tank cars that continue to haul crude oil and ethanol. The DOT-111 model tank car has been known for decades to puncture easily during derailments and other accidents.
The advantage of the new agreement on voluntary safety measures is that railroads can now act more quickly, rather than wait for the U.S. federal government to draft and pass new safety legislation. A former NTSB director said it’s a positive step, but regulators will have little leverage to enforce the railroads’ commitments, and there’s really nothing to say that the railroads would have to continue following the new guidelines.
See this link for additional information on the risks of shipping oil and other dangerous goods by rail.
Filed under: Derailment, National Transportation Safety Board (U.S.), Safety, shipping oil by rail
March 4, 2014: A March 3 SEC filing revealed that James Welch, CEO of YRCW, sold 38,000 shares of company stock and made $956,840. The filing also noted that Welch owns 329,157 shares at a current value of over $8 million.
Meanwhile, Harry Wilson, YRCW Board member appointed by James Hoffa for the IBT, has resigned from the Board after he got $5.5 million for his role in the Teamster concession vote and the re-financing deal. Hoffa will now be able to nominate a replacement to the YRCW board.
Wilson made millions more in fees of $250,000 per month and for earlier services.
Prior to the concession vote, Welch and other upper management reps were challenged by Teamsters to prove their equal sacrifice. Their answer was they were working for much less than their market value.Issues: Freight