Labor News

IBT JT Council 7 Teamsters Dispute with Local Trucker Haunts Army Base Project

Current News - Sat, 11/22/2014 - 03:41

IBT JT Council 7 Teamsters Dispute with Local Trucker Haunts Army Base Project
By Post StaffPosted June 23, 2013 6:35 pm
Bill Aboudi By Ken A. Epstein A high profile lawsuit has reignited a long simmering dispute between Oakland Army Base small businessman Bill Aboudi and the Teamsters union.When you hear what the sides are saying, it sounds like you are talking about two different people. The union accuses Aboudi of criminally mistreating his workers and says he should be shut down.But many of his employees and West Oakland community leaders repeatedly turn out to defend the businessman as a “stand up guy” who goes out of his way to improve the health and wellbeing of the community and gives jobs to the formerly incarcerated. Aboudi is owner of AB Trucking, a company with 12 employees and six trucks that does business with the Port of Oakland. He also owns Oakland Maritime Support Services (OMSS), which has earned national recognition for providing a place where air-contaminating trucks can park on port land away from the West Oakland community, which had been suffering from off the charts asthma rates. OMSS is also the home of 18 small businesses: a mini-mart, doctor, sign painter, truck repair, tire replacement and scales where big rig truckers can find the services they need without driving into West Oakland. The Teamster’s opposition to Aboudi seemed to be vindicated on May 21 when an Alameda County Superior Court judge issued a court order in a wages and hours lawsuit, ordering him to pay 73 workers about $965,000 in back wages and interest, dating back to 2004. “We know that for the past several years that the word inside (City Hall) has been that the big bad Teamsters have been trying to take out the small local businessman who has done good for West Oakland,” said Doug Bloch, political director for Teamsters Joint Council 7, speaking at last week’s meeting of the City Council’s Community and Economic Development committee. The real issue, said Bloch, is that the” Alameda County Superior Court has just handed down a … verdict against AB Trucking. Good people were hired… and not paid at all for the work that they did.” Defending Aboudi at the CED meeting was Margaret Gordon, former port commissioner and co-director of West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, who has been a leader in the fight for breathable air in West Oakland. “I’ve known Bill since 1996,” she said. “When we started the maritime air quality improvement plan, the Teamsters weren’t there. Bill was there. “OMSS has been a life saver for West Oakland. (Bill) has always participated in every event that we have had. He’s been there when the union was not there.” According to Aboudi, the legal dispute is not settled. He said he is appealing the ruling, arguing that the judge based his decision in part on state regulations, not federal Department of Transportation rules for the trucking industry. He also emphasized that the lawsuit and judgment was against AB Trucking, which is a separate entity from the OMSS. He accuses the Teamsters of promoting the suit against AB Trucking as a reason why the city should cancel its rental agreement with OMSS. The issues for the Teamsters have their roots in the federal deregulation of the trucking industry in the 1980s, which resulted in the creation of many low-paid, non-union owner-operators with only one truck, as well as small operations like Aboudi’s. The Teamsters want to organize owner-operators into the union. In their Oakland campaign, the union has focused on Aboudi, portraying him as an enemy of labor. A Teamsters website describes him as “a greedy California hustler who doesn’t care about the port truckers.” Outspoken in his position, Aboudi says the choice should be up to the owner-operators. He argues they have the right to choose to become employees and join a union or continue to own their businesses. As for the owner-operators, many of whom are people of color, there is widespread concern that should the industry become unionized, they would not be the ones to be hired in those jobs, Somewhere along the line Aboudi also ran into conflicts with Master Developer and Army Base landlord Phil Tagami. Aboudi claims that the city’s agreement with Tagami allows him to benefit financially if OMSS loses its rental agreement with the city. Dexter Vizinau, a consultant who represents some of the businesses at the Army Base, also spoke in favor of Aboudi. “I am pro union,” he said. ”I have a client that has come under attack, and in the past I have tried to mediate. “I don’t agree to the way they (the Teamsters) go about trying to fill their ranks by attacking (him). The way you get people is to educate them, embrace them and show them what the benefits are,” he said. Erick Gaines, who identified himself as a former addict and an ex felon, told the audience at the CED meeting that Aboudi had saved his life when he hired him nine years ago and gave him the opportunity to give back to the community by training others to drive trucks. “When I crossed over, I got a second chance at a first class life – it all feels good now,” he said. “I don’t know what I’d do or where I’d go” if Aboudi’s trucking company closed, he said. “I don’t think there’s any more people like Mr. Aboudi,” who would give him a job and allow him to use the company’s equipment for free to train new drivers, said Gaines. “He’s been a pillar to the community, and it would be a travesty to lose him.” The Teamsters website is ftrouble-for-teamster-hating-union.html. Bill Aboud’s website is

Tags: IBTport of Oakland
Categories: Labor News

UAW IBT 856/986 Mechanics To Picket UAL At SFO On 11/25/14

Current News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 21:03

UAW IBT 856/986 Mechanics To Picket UAL At SFO On 11/25/14
Member Alert
Your Teamsters SFO Action Team is mobilizing an informational picket line at Terminal 3 against United Airlines on
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
8 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Spread the word and R.S.V.P. to your
Shop Steward/Chief Shop Steward.

You can also e-mail us to R.S.V.P.:

Fair Contract Now.
Whatever It Takes.

453 San Mateo Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066
(650) 635-0111, 1 800 758 TEAM (8326), Fax: (650) 635-1632

Tags: IBT 856/IBT 986UAL MechanicsProtest
Categories: Labor News

Los Angeles port truckers vote to end strike in "truce" agreement

Current News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 18:18

Los Angeles port truckers vote to end strike in "truce" agreement
By - Associated Press - Friday, November 21, 2014
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Truckers from three companies have voted to end their strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The vote Thursday came after a truce brokered by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The mayor, the Teamsters union and the companies said in a joint statement that the two sides would “continue discussions to resolve outstanding issues.”

Truckers had accused the firms - WinWin Logistics Inc., QTS Inc. and LACA Express - of improperly classifying them as contractors, not full-time employees, to minimize wages and benefits.

The companies said in the statement that they have agreed to “respect drivers’ right to choice with regard to unionization.”

The truckers’ action comes as the powerful dockworkers union and multinational shipping lines are negotiating a new contract for about 20,000 West Coast workers.

Read more:
Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

Tags: LA Truckers
Categories: Labor News

Too few bathroom breaks drove bus drivers to adult diapers

Current News - Fri, 11/21/2014 - 14:48

Too few bathroom breaks drove bus drivers to adult diapers
NOVEMBER 19, 2014
Too few bathroom breaks drove bus drivers to adult diapers
An upcoming report from the Department of Labor and Industries is expected to call Metro out for not giving drivers enough access to bathrooms.

By Laura Kaufman
The state Department of Labor and Industries has determined King County Metro failed to provide unrestricted bathroom access for its drivers, according to an Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 587 representative. Neal Safrin, vice president and assistant business representative of Amalgamated Transit Union, also told Crosscut that L&I also found the transit agency did not provide water, soap and paper towels at all of its rest stops — a less serious violation.

The lack of bathroom facilities has gotten so severe, according to Safrin, vehicle maintenance crews have told him they annually replace 60 urine-soaked driver seats. Metro employs about 2,600 drivers.

L&I spokesman Tim Church declined to confirm the results of the agency's inspection. "We had a final meeting with Metro to spell out the results of what we found and we are finalizing those results," Church said. If Safrin's claims are correct, that could involve issuing a citation to Metro, which typically includes a fine. The agency would then have 15 business days to appeal. According to Church, even if an agency does appeal, it is not excused from fixing any problems.

Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer did not respond to repeated requests for comment. (Editor's Note: After this story was published, Switzer sent Crosscut the following statement.) In September, Switzer told Crosscut, “We actively monitor and manage our comfort station program to ensure that bus operators have access to clean and convenient facilities. We’re cooperating with L&I on this issue and will make improvements where needed.”

Safrin said he was "pleasantly surprised" by the state’s findings. "All the drivers know it is a significant problem," Safrin said, "but whether L&I would acknowledge it, I really didn’t know."

The six-month open inspection into Metro driver access to bathrooms began in May, in response to a complaint received by L&I. Crosscut's earlier report is here. Metro initially reduced route layovers between trips following a 2009 audit. That meant turnaround times — used for bathroom breaks in some cases — shrunk to five minutes or less.

Drivers found ways to cope. “We’ve had drivers wear Depends diapers,” said Metro operator Hal Poor, a former ATU shop steward. “We’ve had operators carry a jar for urination." According to Poor, drivers sometimes stand by the back door to use it in order to escape the lens of the video cameras aboard many buses. (Get caught doing so, however, and you could be slapped with a major infraction.)

“We’ve got pregnant women who are still driving. You know what kind of pressure that puts on your bladder. We have gentlemen 60 or older. They can’t hold it anymore,” said Poor.

Metro operators have suffered from urinary tract infections and some have voluntarily restricted their fluid intake, due to a paucity of drinking water facilities and bathrooms along their routes, Safrin said. Also, inadequate access to restrooms has forced some drivers to hold their water, resulting in lost elasticity to their bladders, causing urine leakage.

The L&I investigation found lack of available restrooms to be even more acute late at night. “Not all, but many Starbucks are official Metro rest stops,” Safrin noted. Most though close at 8 or 9 o’clock. As for using restrooms in bars? “It’s not acceptable,” Safrin said. “It looks bad,” — as if the driver stopped in for a drink. A 25-year veteran of the road, Safrin was once was falsely accused of that.

Metro’s contract guarantees a five-minute break between runs, but also states Metro shall “schedule” at least a 15-minute layover on assignments exceeding five hours. According to Safrin, that language reads more like "a hope and a prayer.” (A proposed Metro contract rejected by drivers in September would have enshrined that 15 minute break.)

“How guaranteed is the 15 minute break if you want to stay on schedule and you’re 12 minutes late?” asked Poor. “It’s on paper, but if you get caught in traffic, it doesn’t mean you’re getting it.” Bus routes become clogged on Mariner or Seahawks game days, or when food banks are open along certain routes and riders haul their loaded carts onto the coaches.

Tags: health and safetybus drivers
Categories: Labor News

Poland: 200 miners occupy company headquarters News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Let’s talk about unions in Iran News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 16:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

A Historical Argument Against Uber: Taxi Regulations Are There for a Reason

Current News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 15:08

A Historical Argument Against Uber: Taxi Regulations Are There for a Reason
Sam Frizell @Sam_Frizell Nov. 19, 2014
Taxi Rank
Yellow cabs waiting in line at LaGuardia Airport, New York City, in March of 1974
Michael Brennan—Getty Images
The author of a cultural history of the NYC taxi — a former cabbie himself — explains why he believes oversight is necessary

Uber, the ride-sharing app, has grown explosively in the five years since its inception, challenging established taxi services, expanding its annual revenue to a projected $10 billion by the end of next year and attracting drivers away from its competitors. Uber drivers get 80% of a fare, and the company only takes a 20% cut. Uber’s cars are mostly slick, clean and easy to hail via the company’s app.

But a big reason Uber has grown so quickly is that it’s not regulated the same way that traditional taxi services are. Uber proponents say it’s about time for monopolistic, overregulated city cab services to be broken up. Riders deserve options, they say, and better pricing, and more nimble technology. Still, the company is no stranger to controversy, most recently over reports of executives abusing the company’s ability to track riders.

And, says one taxi expert, history shows that the larger reason to be concerned about Uber is that those regulations were established for a good reason.

Graham Hodges is the author of Taxi! A Cultural History of the New York City Cabdriver and a professor at Colgate University — and a former cabbie himself, who patrolled New York’s dangerous streets in the early 1970s for a fare. Hodges is suspicious of upstarts like Uber and says that the cab industry needs to be regulated.

Hodges’ argument? Taxis are pretty much a public utility. Like subway and bus systems, the electric grid or the sewage system, taxis provide an invaluable service to cities like New York, and the government should play an important role in regulating them. They shouldn’t be, Hodges argues, fair game for a private corporation like Uber to take over and control, any more than an inner-city bus service should be privatized.

Without getting too much into the nitty-gritty of taxi rules, what do passengers get out of cab regulation? Regular taxi maintenance, says Hodges, which taxi commissions like New York’s require. “You want to know you’re getting in a safe cab that’s been checked recently,” he explains. “They’re taking a pounding every day.” Knowing your fare is fixed to a predictable formula is important, too, says Hodges. (Uber does that, though the company’s surge pricing at peak hours can really up the cost.) And you want to know that your driver has had a background check, which established taxi services usually require, so that you can be less afraid of being attacked with a hammer, abducted or led on a high-speed chase, as has allegedly happened on some Uber trips.

Regulations have been around for a long time, Hodges says: “Taxi regulations developed out of livery and hansom-cab regulations from the 19th century. They’re a necessary part of urban transportation. They’ve been that way since the metropolitization of cities in the 1850s. And those in turn are based on a long-term precedent in Europe and other parts of the world. From hard-earned experience, those regulations ensure fairness and safety.”

In the 1970s, when Hodges drove, those regulations ensured that a driver made a decent living, and could comfortably choose his or her own hours. (“I made $75 the first night I was out,” he says. “I felt fantastic.”) The golden days of cab driving, Hodges continues, were even earlier, in the ’50s and ’60s. Think sometime before seedy New York full of troubled men like Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver (1976), and more like the omnipresent, wise-seeming driver of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961).

“Back then, drivers stayed on for a long time,” says Hodges. “They were beloved. They were culturally familiar. That’s where you get the classic cabbie and someone who was an encyclopedia of the city. Those are guys who dedicated their lives to the job and owned their taxis. They had a vested interest in a clean, well-managed auto that lasted a long time.”

Today, Uber drivers do enjoy some of those benefits. Though they’re hardly known for an encyclopedic knowledge of the cities they drive, or as cultural touchstones, they own their own cabs and have a lot at stake in driving. What’s more, they get a large cut of each fare and have a lot of freedom. And regulation doesn’t always work the way it’s supposed to: even after the Taxi and Limousine Commission started more closely regulating taxi drivers in the 1970s, riders were often in for a surprise. Taxis were rusty tin-bins and drivers were erratic.

In 1976, TIME offered a sardonic view of the New York cab ride:

A taxi ride is the chief means by which New York City tests the mettle of its people. A driver, for example, is chosen for his ability to abuse the passenger in extremely colorful language, the absence of any impulse to help little crippled old ladies into the cab, ignorance of any landmark destination, an uncanny facility for shooting headlong into the most heavily trafficked streets in the city, a foot whose weight on the accelerator is exceeded only by its spine-snapping authority in applying the brakes. Extra marks are awarded the driver who traverses the most potholes in any trip; these are charted for him by the New York City Department of Craters, whose job it is to perforate perfectly good roadways into moonscapes.
The taxi machines are selected with equally rigorous care. Most are not acceptable until they have been driven for 200,000 miles in Morocco. After that, dealer preparation calls for denting the body, littering the passenger compartment with refuse, removing the shock absorbers, sliding the front seat back as far as it will go, and installing a claustrophobic bulletproof shield between driver and passenger—whose single aperture is cunningly contrived to pass only money forward and cigar smoke back. All this is designed to induce in the customer a paralytic yoga position: fists clenched into the white-knuckles mode, knees to the chin, eyes glazed or glued shut, bones a-rattle, teeth a-grit. To a lesser extent, the same conditions prevail in other taxi-ridden U.S. communities.
In the end, Hodges says, cabbies and passengers have always wanted the same things — “We don’t want to have hyper competition, we don’t want reckless driving, we don’t want drivers about whom we don’t know very much,” he says — and, whether or not it always works perfectly, he believes that history has shown that regulation is the best way to get there.

Tags: cabsUberTaxi driversregulation
Categories: Labor News

Benicia port death leads to Port of Oakland work ILWU Stop Work Action

Current News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 14:30

Benicia port death leads to Port of Oakland work stoppage
By Henry K. Lee Updated 9:11 am, Thursday, November 20, 2014

Workers at the Port of Oakland were staging a daylong stoppage Thursday in reaction to a worker at the Port of Benicia killed on the job. Photo: TIM HUSSIN / Special To The Chronicle / ONLINE_YES

Workers at the Port of Oakland were staging a daylong stoppage Thursday in reaction to a worker at the Port of Benicia killed on the job.
Image 1 of 1 Workers at the Port of Oakland were staging a daylong stoppage Thursday in reaction to a worker at the Port of Benicia killed on the job.
Dockworkers at the Port of Oakland were staging a daylong stoppage Thursday in reaction to an incident in Benicia that killed a worker, a union official said.
Thomas Hoover, 57, was stricken while on the job Wednesday at the Port of Benicia, officials said. He died at Kaiser Permamente Medical Center in Vallejo.
Hoover was found unresponsive and may have suffered an asthma attack that led to a “cardiac event,” according to the Solano County coroner’s office. His death was considered one from natural causes, and after considering his medical history, no autopsy was conducted, authorities said.
Oakland port humming, but labor disputes loom
“The worker appeared to be in distress, was taken to the hospital and expired sometime afterwards,” said Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Tags: ilwudeath on the job
Categories: Labor News

Long-time Hoffa Rep and his Enforcer Convicted of Racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 13:03

November 20, 2014: A jury in Boston yesterday convicted a former member of the Hoffa administration of racketeering and extortion. His “enforcer” was convicted also, and both will be sentenced to a federal prison term in February.

John Perry, who was Hoffa’s Trade Show National Director until the IRB removed him from the union, was convicted of multiple counts, along with Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, Perry’s enforcer.

Perry’s power was maintained by intimidation of members and job-rigging for his political pals. Those crimes stole money from hard working Teamsters and weakened our union.

Perry rigged hiring to get his friends and family work and punish any outspoken members

TDU members and other concerned trade show Teamsters took a stand against Perry, who headed Boston Local 82, and fought for democratic reforms and against sweetheart contracts in their union ratified by phony votes. Perry and Burhoe responded with intimidation and violence, sending one member to the hospital. Members appealed to Hoffa for help, but he replied that he would do nothing about his appointee’s corruption and violence. That struggle is reported here.   

In the recent trial, International vice president John Murphy testified that his office was in the same building as Perry’s office, and he kept Hoffa informed on a regular basis of the activity in Perry’s Local 82.

Yet Hoffa kept Perry in power.

In May 2011, TDU members’actions led the Independent Review Board (IRB) to throw Perry and Burhoe out of the Teamsters, after Hoffa tried to cover it up.

Burhoe then went to work for management. And Hoffa merged Local 82 into Local 25. 

Perry and Burhoe were convicted yesterday after a seven-week trial.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

2 ex-Teamsters convicted of racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 11:44
Milton J. ValenciaThe Boston GlobeNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Two former Teamsters union members were convicted Wednesday in US District Court in Boston of racketeering — for using violence and threats of violence to win jobs and elections for union office.

Joseph Burhoe, 46, a former Teamsters member with a criminal history, and John Perry, 62, the former head of a local chapter, were convicted of multiple charges, including racketeering, conspiracy, conspiracy to extort businesses, and extortion. Both will be sentenced in late February.

Click here to read more at The Boston Globe.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

FedEx Freight Workers Vote for Teamsters at N.C. Terminal; Union Calls Off N.J. Election

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 10:09
Michael G. MalloyTransport TopicsNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Workers at a FedEx Freight terminal in Charlotte, North Carolina, voted to be represented by the Teamsters union, while Teamsters withdrew a petition for an election at FedEx Freight’s terminal in South Newark, New Jersey.

“The union would only take this step if it anticipated losing the election,” FedEx Freight said of the New Jersey vote withdrawal.

FedEx Freight said it may appeal the Nov. 19 Charlotte vote. The Teamsters said that vote affects 222 drivers at the terminal. Neither the company nor the union disclosed the vote tally.

“No other drivers at our more than 360 service centers are impacted by this vote,” FedEx Freight said in a statement. “It remains business as usual at FedEx Freight. and our nationwide network won’t miss a beat.”

Earlier this month, FedEx Freight workers at a Newark, New Jersey, terminal rejected joining the Teamsters, as did workers at a Con-way Freight facility in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Over the past two months of stepped-up Teamsters organizing activity, Con-way and FedEx have won some contests, and the union has prevailed in other representation votes.

FedEx Freight is part of FedEx Corp., which ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Long-time Hoffa Rep and his Enforcer Convicted of Racketeering

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:36

November 20, 2014: A jury in Boston yesterday convicted a former member of the Hoffa administration of racketeering and extortion. His “enforcer” was convicted also, and both will be sentenced to a federal prison term in February.

John Perry, who was Hoffa’s Trade Show National Director until the IRB and the feds removed Perry from the union, was convicted of multiple counts, along with Joseph “Jo Jo” Burhoe, Perry’s enforcer.

TDU members and other concerned trade show Teamsters, took a stand against Perry, who headed Boston Local 82, and fought for democratic reforms and against sweetheart contracts in their union ratified by phony votes. Perry and Burhoe responded with intimidation and violence, sending one member to the hospital. Members appealed to Hoffa for help, but he replied that he would do nothing about his appointee’s corruption and violence. That struggle is reported here.   

In May 2011, TDU members’actions led the Independent Review Board (IRB) to throw Perry and Burhoe out of the Teamsters, after Hoffa tried to cover it up.

Burhoe then went to work for management. Hoffa then merged Local 82 into Local 25. 

Perry and Burhoe were convicted yesterday after a seven-week trial.

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Charlotte FedEx Freight Votes Teamster

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 08:19

November 20, 2014: The 222 city and road drivers at the big Charlotte terminal voted Yes for the Teamsters Union in an NLRB election. It’s the largest union win at FedEx Freight to date, and brings the number of Teamster-represented FedEx Freight workers to about 400.

Congratulations to the FedEx Freight brothers and sisters, and to Local 71.

The IBT press release on the vote is here.



Issues: Labor MovementFreight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

The truth about multiemployer plans

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 07:47
Nick ThorntonBenefits ProNovember 20, 2014View the original piece

Could it be that the vast majority of the country’s multiemployer pension plans are in fine shape? 

The headlines around multiemployer plans this year have not been pretty, so it’s easy to assume they’re all in trouble.

Click here to read more at Benefits Pro.

Issues: Pension and Benefits
Categories: Labor News, Unions

LA Strike by Teamster port truck drivers expands to comprise six companies

Current News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 04:58

LA Strike by Teamster port truck drivers expands to comprise six companies
Teamsters Reyes Magana, right, and Fausto Castillo, behind him, join a picket at the entrance to Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) in the Port of Long Beach on Monday. Los Angeles and Long Beach truck drivers are conducting a 48-hour strike for fair and lawful treatment against the Ports of LA/Long Beach terminals.

Teamsters Reyes Magana, right, and Fausto Castillo, behind him, join a picket at the entrance to Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT) in the Port of Long Beach on Monday. Los Angeles and Long Beach truck drivers are conducting a 48-hour strike for fair and lawful treatment against the Ports of LA/Long Beach terminals.


Published: Nov. 18, 2014 Updated: 7:22 p.m.
Port truck drivers on Tuesday expanded their strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to include two new companies. That brings to six the companies that are targets of the strike.
The strike is exacerbating congestion at the ports, which is already high due to a lack of truck chassis and rising trade volume from the improving economy.
Dockworkers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been working without a contract since July and have faced recent accusations from the Pacific Maritime Association that the union is intentionally orchestrating the slowdown.
Drivers from QTS Inc., LACA Express and WinWin Logistics Inc. went on strike Monday, and drivers from Pacer and Harbor Rail Transport struck on Tuesday.
Port truck drivers want to be classified as employees and not independent contractors. As employees, they would be able to form a union and receive workplace protections.
“Port truck drivers are on strike to protest their misclassification as independent contractors, to end wage theft and to have access to common workplace protections that every American worker has the right to,” said Barb Maynard, a spokeswoman for the Teamsters Union, which is backing the drivers.
“We are sick of this misclassification scam,” said Ricardo Ceja, a trucker at LACA Express, in a statement. “We are coming out of the shadows to demand our rights as company employees to provide a better future for our families.”
Officials of trucking companies didn’t return requests for comment.
The strike began last week when drivers for Pac 9 and TTSI protested at company yards. Many marine terminals turned drivers away, though, in an effort to avoid the pickets.
On Friday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti got company representatives to begin talks with drivers and Teamsters.
Maynard said the talks were the first of their kind. “Because of the progress of these drivers who have been on strike, we are seeing drivers from five different companies come forward and say they want to go on strike as well because they realize there is hope.”
Contact the writer: or Twitter: @HannahMadans

Tags: LA Port Truckers Strike
Categories: Labor News

American Airline flight attendants and the global airline industry

Current News - Thu, 11/20/2014 - 03:46

American Airline flight attendants and the global airline industry
By Shannon Jones
20 November 2014
The rejection by American Airlines and US Airways flight attendants of the recent tentative agreement submitted by their union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), takes place amidst cutthroat competition in the global airline industry.
Through their vote American Airlines flight attendants demonstrated their determination to resist further attacks on working conditions and living standards. In considering how to carry forward their struggle, flight attendants need to look at the broader issues confronting airline workers in the US and internationally.
All the major global airlines are seeking to slash costs in order to maximize profits under conditions of continued global slump. Opposition to the mounting attacks on wages, pensions and working conditions has erupted recently in strikes by pilots at Air France and Lufthansa. For their part the unions have sought to stifle these struggles in the name of maintaining the global competitiveness of their respective air carriers.
In the United States a series of bankruptcies and mergers over the last 12-13 years have led to the consolidation of what were formerly 10 major airlines down to just four, which dominate the national market. Major bankruptcies during this period include: United (2002), Northwest (2005), Delta (2005), US Airways (2002 and 2004) and, most recently, American (2011).
The consolidation in the US airline industry parallels a similar process internationally. A few of the largest global mergers include multiple acquisitions by Lufthansa between 2005 and 2009 when it purchased Swiss Air, Australia Airlines and BMI. In 2004 Air France merged with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and in 2006 Cathay Pacific Purchased Dragon Air. In 2010 Caribbean Airlines acquired Air Jamaica.
The global economic meltdown of 2008 accelerated the crisis in the airline industry, as air traffic fell internationally. Between 2008 and 2013 a total of 375 airlines went out of business worldwide. Airline workers have borne the brunt of this with the destruction of jobs and demands for higher productivity and wage cuts for those remaining on the job. In 2012 American alone eliminated 13,000 jobs, 16 percent of its workforce. The cuts included 2,300 flight attendants and 400 pilots. Its bankruptcy plan called for a $2 billion cost reduction, $1.25 billion of which would come from employees.
In Spain, unions at Iberia Airlines this summer agreed to an additional 1,427 job cuts, bringing the total slashed at the airline to 4,600 since 2012.
Earlier this year Australian-based Qantas Airlines announced the layoff of an additional 5,000 workers and the imposition of a wage freeze. The airline is looking for $800 million in cost savings and to reduce its debt by $1 billion.
As a result of continuous cost cutting, along with the fall in oil prices, US airlines are now realizing enormous profits. In the third quarter of 2013 American recorded net income of $942 million, an 87 percent improvement of the combined profits of American and US Airways before their merger last year. Southwest saw its profits jump to $329 million, a 27 percent rise. United saw its profits increase to $924 million, a 144 percent rise since last year, while Delta had $579 million in adjusted net earnings.
This situation is a stark expression of the failure and bankruptcy of the capitalist profit system. Since the deregulation of the airline industry in 1978 all the claims that free market competition is the best guarantor of quality, efficiency, safety and low prices have been exposed as lies. The turn to deregulation was, in fact, part of a policy of class war launched by the ruling elite aimed at destroying all the gains workers had won through past struggles.
The unions collaborated in this process. They worked with management to impose round after round of concessions and to block any attempt at organized resistance on the part of workers, beginning with the isolation and betrayal of the strike by PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981. The defeat of the air traffic controllers was followed by a wave of wage cutting and strikebreaking throughout the US. Airline workers were a particular target. Strikes were broken at a series of companies in the 1980s including United, Continental, Northwest and Eastern.

American Airlines strikers in 1993
The last major strikes by airline workers came in 1993, when American Airlines flight attendants struck against concession demands. However, instead of supporting the strike, the pilots’ union ordered its members to cross the picket lines and continue to fly planes. APFA called off the strike after only five days, agreeing to a deal for binding arbitration brokered by the administration of President Bill Clinton. It required flight attendants to return to work under terms of the same draconian work rule concessions that were the immediate catalyst for the walkout.
There has not been another significant airline strike in the US for the past two decades. In one case where workers did walk out, the strike by Northwest Airlines mechanics in 2005, the Air Line Pilots Association, the International Association of Machinists and other AFL-CIO unions ordered their members to cross picket lines. This open strikebreaking led to the isolation and defeat of the mechanics, whose union, the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Organization, was broken and workers victimized.
In the American Airlines bankruptcy, the unions agreed to a package of concessions and then, to add insult to injury, imposed an anti-democratic gag order prohibiting workers from criticizing executive compensation packages. One executive alone, former American CEO Thomas Horton, received a payout of close to $17 million.
The deplorable role played by the unions is not simply the result of mistaken policies or bad leaders. As organizations based on the defense of the capitalist profit system and tied to the nation state, the unions responded to the rise of globalized production by seeking to defend the competiveness of “their” employers by lowering wages and attacking working conditions. At the same time they have created a whole web of relations with management aimed at preserving the institutional interests of the union bureaucracy.
To advance their interests airline workers need a new program and strategy. What is required are genuinely democratic organizations of struggle based on the fight for the socialist reorganization of society. US airline workers must join hands with their brothers and sisters internationally in a common fight against the multinational airline conglomerates. This includes fighting for the program of nationalization of the airline industry under the democratic ownership and control of the working class.
This is necessarily a political struggle. The alliance of the unions with the Democratic Party signifies the political disenfranchisement of the working class. The working class must build its own party, independent of the two parties of Wall Street, the Democrats and Republicans. Only in this way can workers begin to mobilize their full strength in the fight to establish a workers government.

Tags: American AirlinesFlight Attendants
Categories: Labor News

Facebook Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters 853

Current News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 19:42

Facebook shuttle drivers vote to unionize with IBT 853
By Patrick
POSTED: 11/19/2014 06:36:58 PM PST1 COMMENT| UPDATED: 67 MIN. AGO
Facebook shuttle drivers voted on Wednesday to unionize, triggering what some believe could be an organizing trend among service workers who perform many of the utilitarian duties that help keep Silicon Valley's tech boom on track.

The 43-28 vote by drivers with Facebook's shuttle-bus contractor, Loop Transportation, to join the Teamsters Local 853 was viewed as a possible flip-switch on union organizing among drivers for other tech companies like Google and Apple. Some of the 84 part- and full-time Facebook drivers have complained for months about how their $18-an-hour wage and split shifts make surviving in one of the nation's most expensive regions a daily struggle. Many drivers say they have to sleep in their cars or at Loop's shuttle yard in the hours between bringing Facebook employees to work each morning and then picking them up in the afternoon.

The fact that the average Facebook software engineer makes almost $120,000 year, according to Glassdoor, made their own modest wages seem even more offensive, the drivers said.

"This is the change we've been waiting for, but we'll see what happens when we start negotiating a contract," said elated driver Cliff Doi. "That's when the real battle begins. We just hope the rest of the shuttle drivers around the Bay Area will join us in our fight."

Loop's vice president, Blake Rhodes, said after the vote that "Loop Transportation respects the election results and the decision of our drivers who service Facebook. Even though we don't feel that our drivers' interests are best served by union representation, our drivers have spoken and we will now begin the negotiation process."

Representatives with the National Labor Relations Board could not be reached immediately after the vote for comment.

Teamsters representative Rome Aloise said the company's efforts to discourage drivers from voting in the union had failed.

"I believe this fight will now move to other companies in the Valley," said Aloise, secretary-treasurer for Local 853. "And we'll set a pattern where so that all these dot-com companies can make sure the people who support them as they make billions of dollars in profits will be provided in a decent fashion to be able to support their families."

With Wednesday's vote, the next step is a seven-day timeout when either or both parties may challenge the results, said Tim Peck, assistant to the regional director for the National Labor Relations Board's San Francisco office. His office oversaw the vote.

Peck said that such challenges are rare, occurring only in about 15-20 percent of all union votes. He said sometimes one side or the other will object when "someone feels the vote was unfair. That triggers an investigation into the process."

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at

Facebook Drivers Vote To Join Teamsters
NOVEMBER 19, 2014
Drivers With Facebook Contractor Loop Trans. Win Teamsters Local 853 Representation, Look Forward To Improvements
Rome Aloise
Phone: (510) 895-8853
(WASHINGTON) – Drivers who shuttle Facebook employees to and from the company headquarters in Menlo Park., Calif., have voted in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 853 in San Leandro, Calif.
The 87 drivers, employees of Loop Transportation, organized to improve their working conditions, including low pay and an abusive split shift schedule.
“The only way that Loop will listen to us is with a union and a collective voice. I’m very relieved that we have that now,” said Demaurae Hooston, a driver.
Loop Transportation is one of a number of operators that Silicon Valley companies contract with to provide transportation for their employees.
“These companies need to step up and stop demanding the lowest bid contract. They need to all agree to pay their contractors an amount that allows the union to negotiate for decent wages and benefits. Of all the industries in the world, the tech industry can afford to compensate those that help make them successful,” said Rome Aloise, International Vice President and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 853. “We’re ready to get to work at Loop to help these drivers better their lives and the conditions they face at work - to get them some justice.”
The effort of Facebook drivers to organize a union has drawn attention from all over the world. Drivers are forced to work split shifts, often waiting six hours in between picking up and dropping off Facebook employees—all unpaid. The drivers often start work at 6 a.m. and end the day at 9:45 p.m.
“We can’t continue 16-hour days, having drivers sleeping in the cold in their cars while we wait five hours to be able to start our next shift. It’s inhumane,” said Cliff Doi, a driver. “With our union, we can find solutions to these problems.”
Yesterday, a rally was held outside Facebook’s campus in Menlo Park, Calif., where community, political and religious leaders and Teamsters demanded that Facebook respect the rights of its bus drivers to organize a union without interference.
“These drivers are part of the invisible work force that makes Silicon Valley run,” said Derecka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a community group that participated in the rally. “They are members of our communities that work hard every day, but live in poverty, and the business model of tech companies like Facebook counts on that. Tech companies write the checks to subcontractors who hire these drivers and the thousands of other service workers who make these tech giants able to function. They need to set the standards, too, and say ‘no’ to poverty jobs.”
The delegation delivered a petition containing thousands of signatures, calling on Facebook to stop condoning anti-worker, anti-union behavior by Loop Transportation. Facebook refused to accept the petition when it was delivered.
To view the petition, go to:
In a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg dated October 2, Aloise wrote, “This is reminiscent of a time when noblemen were driven around in their coaches by their servants. Frankly, little has changed; except the noblemen are your employees, and the servants are the bus drivers who carry them back and forth each day.”
The letter to Zuckerberg and a letter to the company as well as the stories of drivers can be seen at
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at

Tags: IBT 853Facebookteamsters
Categories: Labor News

No Federal Arbitrator In ILWU-PMA Negotiations For Now

Current News - Wed, 11/19/2014 - 19:15

No Federal Arbitrator In ILWU-PMA Negotiations For Now 80%99t-wade-ilwu-pma-contract-
Obama won’t wade into ILWU-PMA contract talks
Mark Szakonyi, Associate Managing Editor | Nov 19, 2014 9:34AM EST
WASHINGTON — Despite the pleas of major shippers, President Obama won’t send a federal mediator to help U.S. West Coast longshoremen and waterfront employers reach a labor contract.
The president’s decision to let the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association go it alone further reflects the rut the labor and congestion situation at West Coast ports has ground into. Cargo is moving, albeit at a much slower pace than usual, and ILWU work slowdowns aren’t severe enough to spur federal action.
“Just last year, there was a long negotiation at the East and Gulf Coast ports,” White House spokesman Frank Benenati told Bloomberg in an e-mail. “And just as the two sides in that case were able to resolve their differences through the time-tested process of collective bargaining, we’re confident that management and labor at the West Coast ports can do the same.”
But in the case of the East and Gulf Coast port contract, Obama did send a federal mediator to aid negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance in 2012. Obama’s decision then to send George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, came after the ILA threatened to strike if a bargaining standoff didn’t end.
The ILWU and the PMA, which represents U.S. West Coast waterfront employers, would both have to request a federal mediator to get the process going. Obama, however, could encourage the duo to use a mediator, as he did during East and Gulf Coast labor negotiations two years ago.
Unlike today’s situation in which the ILWU has rejected PMA calls for contract extensions, the ILA and USMX had agreed to several extensions during their negotiations. Without an extension of a contract, there is no grievance procedure in place to quickly arbitrate health and safety claims and work slowdowns.
The ILWU, which denies its members are causing slowdowns, has shown no signs of wanting to strike. The PMA says the union’s work slowdown tactics continue unchanged, but the employers do not indicate that they are ready to lockout the ILWU as they did during a contract impasse in 2002. President George W. Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to end the 10-day lockout.
ILWU and PMA negotiators are meeting daily in the hopes of ending seven months of talks. The latest report of progress between both sides came at the end of summer, when the two parties jointly announced a tentative agreement on the important issue of health care benefits.
Still, the lack of a contract since July 1, which has exacerbated congestion at West Coast ports, particularly at Los Angeles and Long Beach, is testing the nerves of shippers. That’s spurred a full-court lobbying press on Congress, the Obama administration and the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission to do something to help resolve the problems the ports and shippers face.
“After months of hard negotiations, we strongly believe that the parties will benefit from using a federal mediator to help them reach a deal, just as the East Coast did,” Jon Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, told He added that the ILA and USMX were only able to reach a deal after a federal mediator got involved.
Contact Mark Szakonyi at and follow him on Twitter: @szakonyi_joc.

Tags: ILWU Coast Wide ContractPMAObamaFederal Mediator
Categories: Labor News


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