Labor News

IBT Officials At San Leandro Waste Management Herding IBT 70 Workers Through ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines

Current News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:18

IBT Officials At San Leandro Waste Management Herding IBT 70 Workers Through ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines
http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2014/10/ilwu-waste-management-strike-t...
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
ILWU Waste Management strike. Teamster drivers still crossing lines.

These documents are being handed out to Teamster Drivers by ILWU members
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I only have a minute or two so this will be fairly short (for me). I just returned from the ILWU picket line at the Waste Management recycle center in San Leandro.

The same situation exists in that drivers, members of the Teamsters Local 70, are still crossing the local 6 picket lines. A Teamster official was on the sidelines to make sure the drivers didn't act on their conscience and support their workmates. There are also members of another ILWU local crossing the lines.

Security are there to assist the scabs crossing, so we have a situation where union officials and company thugs are waving scabs across picket lines. And we are told time and time against that it is the rank and file that need educating, the rank and file fail to understand what solidarity is all about.

The truck drivers don't like crossing it is easy to see that in their faces. They honk their horns in support but, as I wrote before, that doesn't pay the rent. Workers cannot stay out on strike forever.

As a truck slowed the strikers were handing them the leaflet I have included here. I approached one driver who had his window open and asked him how he felt about crossing the lines. He replied that "I don't like it but our leadership says we have to." He drove through and I turned and asked the striker for a copy of the leaflet. The Teamster official then came scurrying over and told me to"Stop harassing my drivers, if you want to harass anyone harass me."

I answered him as I answer the bosses when they falsely accuse workers of this, that I wasn't harassing the driver. But it's interesting how protective the labor hierarchy can be of their members when there is a danger they might not follow their lead.

The official had explained to me earlier why they had to cross the line, I wrote about this yesterday, and I explained that because there was some sort of written organizational obstacle preventing solidarity and united action between workers against the boss, doesn't mean we don't do it. No matter which section of the trade union leadership is to blame for this disastrous situation, the main point is the picket line should be honored. Beyond that, a powerful united strike could not only make huge gains for all workers at this corporation and beyond, it should also raise the issue of taking such an important social service out of the hands of speculators, investors and other wasters. As I pointed out yesterday:

“U.S. taxpayer dollars contribute to making Steiner ‘America's Highest Paid Sanitation Worker.’ According to PR Watch, “Steiner made an eye-popping $45,581,052 in compensation from 2006 to 2012. Waste Management's top executives combined made $119,201,381 from 2006 to 2012.

The union leadership hiding behind the bureaucratic red tape that restrains militant and united action from the rank and file, forces workers to scab on each other and causes untold hardship for workers, in this case, low paid and mostly immigrant workers. I can only imagine the animosity and division that will be in the air when everyone is back at work.

It is equally frustrating to see two company security waving in scabs with no attempt at all by the striking union to stop them. It is the most frustrating thing to walk picket lines like this that are really just 24 hour protests. Frustration at some point will turn to demoralization, anger and a disgust at the Union movement. The bosses, as they usually due will terrorize the workers by sending out notices that their health benefits will be eliminated in time, for us in our strike it was one month.

The Teamster rank and file must organize and push their officials to get out from behind bureaucratic organizational barriers and help their brothers and sisters on the lines. The rank and file is not bound by some holy edict to honor a leadership whose policies are detrimental to rank and file workers and the working class as a whole and should self organize to do what is right if their leaders refuse to do so.

Class conscious members of the communities of Oakland, San Leandro and the surrounding area should join these lines, these are some of the lowest paid and most exploited among us. and and all workers should take some time to swell the ranks. If you have a truck, put some waste in it, drive down there, honor the line and slowly turn round. At very least it will improve morale but in the last analysis if we want to win we must shut down production and we must raise our expectations, we must demand what we need now what is acceptable to labor officials, and their friends in the Democratic Party. I have written this fairy quickly so I apologize if it not the most detailed report.

Tags: IBT 70Scab Herdingunion bustingJoint Council 7
Categories: Labor News

IBT Officials At San Leandro Waste Management Herding IBT 70 Workers Through ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines

Current News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 09:18

IBT Officials At San Leandro Waste Management Herding IBT 70 Workers Through ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines
http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2014/10/ilwu-waste-management-strike-t...
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
ILWU Waste Management strike. Teamster drivers still crossing lines.

These documents are being handed out to Teamster Drivers by ILWU members
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I only have a minute or two so this will be fairly short (for me). I just returned from the ILWU picket line at the Waste Management recycle center in San Leandro.

The same situation exists in that drivers, members of the Teamsters Local 70, are still crossing the local 6 picket lines. A Teamster official was on the sidelines to make sure the drivers didn't act on their conscience and support their workmates. There are also members of another ILWU local crossing the lines.

Security are there to assist the scabs crossing, so we have a situation where union officials and company thugs are waving scabs across picket lines. And we are told time and time against that it is the rank and file that need educating, the rank and file fail to understand what solidarity is all about.

The truck drivers don't like crossing it is easy to see that in their faces. They honk their horns in support but, as I wrote before, that doesn't pay the rent. Workers cannot stay out on strike forever.

As a truck slowed the strikers were handing them the leaflet I have included here. I approached one driver who had his window open and asked him how he felt about crossing the lines. He replied that "I don't like it but our leadership says we have to." He drove through and I turned and asked the striker for a copy of the leaflet. The Teamster official then came scurrying over and told me to"Stop harassing my drivers, if you want to harass anyone harass me."

I answered him as I answer the bosses when they falsely accuse workers of this, that I wasn't harassing the driver. But it's interesting how protective the labor hierarchy can be of their members when there is a danger they might not follow their lead.

The official had explained to me earlier why they had to cross the line, I wrote about this yesterday, and I explained that because there was some sort of written organizational obstacle preventing solidarity and united action between workers against the boss, doesn't mean we don't do it. No matter which section of the trade union leadership is to blame for this disastrous situation, the main point is the picket line should be honored. Beyond that, a powerful united strike could not only make huge gains for all workers at this corporation and beyond, it should also raise the issue of taking such an important social service out of the hands of speculators, investors and other wasters. As I pointed out yesterday:

“U.S. taxpayer dollars contribute to making Steiner ‘America's Highest Paid Sanitation Worker.’ According to PR Watch, “Steiner made an eye-popping $45,581,052 in compensation from 2006 to 2012. Waste Management's top executives combined made $119,201,381 from 2006 to 2012.

The union leadership hiding behind the bureaucratic red tape that restrains militant and united action from the rank and file, forces workers to scab on each other and causes untold hardship for workers, in this case, low paid and mostly immigrant workers. I can only imagine the animosity and division that will be in the air when everyone is back at work.

It is equally frustrating to see two company security waving in scabs with no attempt at all by the striking union to stop them. It is the most frustrating thing to walk picket lines like this that are really just 24 hour protests. Frustration at some point will turn to demoralization, anger and a disgust at the Union movement. The bosses, as they usually due will terrorize the workers by sending out notices that their health benefits will be eliminated in time, for us in our strike it was one month.

The Teamster rank and file must organize and push their officials to get out from behind bureaucratic organizational barriers and help their brothers and sisters on the lines. The rank and file is not bound by some holy edict to honor a leadership whose policies are detrimental to rank and file workers and the working class as a whole and should self organize to do what is right if their leaders refuse to do so.

Class conscious members of the communities of Oakland, San Leandro and the surrounding area should join these lines, these are some of the lowest paid and most exploited among us. and and all workers should take some time to swell the ranks. If you have a truck, put some waste in it, drive down there, honor the line and slowly turn round. At very least it will improve morale but in the last analysis if we want to win we must shut down production and we must raise our expectations, we must demand what we need now what is acceptable to labor officials, and their friends in the Democratic Party. I have written this fairy quickly so I apologize if it not the most detailed report.

Tags: IBT 70Scab Herdingunion bustingJoint Council 7
Categories: Labor News

Recycling workers continue strike at Waste Management Bay Area sites "Teamsters Joint Council President Rome Aloise characterized the ILWU's struggle against Waste Management as unrealistic and called the workers "pawns" of the union leadership."

Current News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:57

Recycling workers continue strike at Waste Management Bay Area sites "Teamsters Joint Council President Rome Aloise characterized the ILWU's struggle against Waste Management as unrealistic and called the workers "pawns" of the union leadership."
"The slogan and campaign that has been developed is based on a promise that cannot be met and is designed to create false hope for the workers,"
http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_26814114/recycling-workers-contin...
Bay City News Service

POSTED: 10/28/2014 08:28:12 AM PDT0 COMMENTS
OAKLAND - Workers in Waste Management's recycling division are continuing a strike that began Friday, union representatives said.
"Escucha, escucha, estamos en la lucha," or "Listen, listen, we are in the fight," was the chant outside of the company's recycling facility at 2615 Davis Street in San Leandro today.
Recycling workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6 are also picketing outside the Houston-based company's Alameda County headquarters at 172 98th Ave. in Oakland.
Recycling pickup is continuing, but workers are refusing to sort it, leaving the rubbish to pile up onsite, Waste Management of Alameda County spokesman Joe Camero said.
"We are managing that pile there," Camero said, adding the recycling is being shipped to California Waste Solutions and Waste Management's Lodi facility for processing.
Workers are asking management to treat the union, which represents roughly 130 recycling sorters, the same way it treats other unions employed by the company that have already signed labor agreements.
The recycling workers are predominantly Spanish-speaking immigrants, said ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees, and feel the company doles out different treatment to different workers.
"These people just want to be treated with respect," Merrilees said. "They've felt that way for a long time ... They keep asking why the company seems to be picking on them."

According to Camero, both the Machinists Local 1546 and the Local 6 Clerical unions ratified contracts earlier this year, but the ILWU Local 6 hasn't ratified a contract since 2006. The contract expired in February 2011.

Merrilees said the two sides disagree about how much the company should cover health insurance rate increases. Waste Management is asking employees to chip in $35 each month, up from $25 in their old contract, and will cover rate increases up to 6 percent.

Merrilees said that's too much risk for employees to take on.

"Workers take all the risk and go gambling for what health care will cost in the future," Merrilees said. "Other employees don't have that."

The employees are also calling for a contract guaranteeing wage increases approved by the Oakland City Council last month, Merrilees said. Waste Management won a lucrative extension to their contract with the city, allowing the firm to continue operating in Oakland for another 20 years.

Many of the recycling division employees are sorters who currently receive about $12 per hour, Merrilees said. Under the rate structure proposed by Waste Management, starting salaries would rise to $13.99 per hour and increase to $20.94 an hour by July 1, 2019.

Camero said there was no disagreement about the wage structure and called the strike "unsanctioned" because it was not approved by the Teamsters Joint Council No. 7, a broad coalition of local unions established to support labor movements among its members.

Teamsters Joint Council President Rome Aloise characterized the ILWU's struggle against Waste Management as unrealistic and called the workers "pawns" of the union leadership.

"The slogan and campaign that has been developed is based on a promise that cannot be met and is designed to create false hope for the workers," Aloise said in a letter to the Alameda Central Labor Council dated Aug. 22. "Unfortunately, this is a particularly vulnerable group of workers who are caught in the middle of a situation fostered up on them by the leadership of Local 6."

Workers voted down a proposed contract on July 26, Camero said.

In a memo dated April 4, 2013, leadership in the Machinists Local 1546 and the Teamsters Local 70, two other unions employed by Waste Management, described Local 6's demands as "crazy."

"While the company's offer is not perfect, we don't think the differences warrant a strike and we hope the Local 6 membership think carefully before rejecting the offer," Don Crosatto of the Machinists Local 1546 and Felix Martinez of the Teamsters Local 70 said in a joint statement.

"Even in the heyday of the labor movement, no one got a 65 percent raise in three years. It's crazy to ask you to jeopardize your job for these kinds of proposals and we're not going to do it," the pair said.

As of Monday, Merrilees said they were getting support from other employees at Waste Management, including drivers who called in sick so they would not have to cross the picket line.

The picket will continue "as long as necessary," Merrilees said.

"Folks are very spirited. They have a lot of energy," he said. "The company has to be aware they're on the losing side of the battle to deny these low-wage workers the same benefits."

Merrilees said they met last week with Waste Management but they do not have another meeting scheduled.

Tags: ILWU Local 6Scabbing
Categories: Labor News

Never Equal Under Israeli Apartheid, Palestinians Cannot Ride Israeli Buses

Current News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:20

Never Equal
Under Israeli Apartheid, Palestinians Cannot Ride Israeli Buses
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/10/28/under-israeli-apartheid-palestini...
OCTOBER 28, 2014
Never Equal
Under Israeli Apartheid, Palestinians Cannot Ride Israeli Buses
by BEN NORTON
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has officially banned Palestinians from traveling on Israeli-run public transportation in the West Bank, according to a new report by Haaretz, Israel’s most prominent newspaper.

The new apartheid law dictates that Palestinians cannot take buses that go from central Israel to the West Bank. They must go out of their way, to the Eyal Crossing, near the city Qalqilyah, “far from populated settler areas.”

It is already difficult for Palestinians to enter Israel. Palestinian workers traveling into central Israel for their jobs have to go through high-security, militarized check points. Those who are allowed to cross are not allowed to sleep in Israel. Unemployment and poverty are high in the West Bank, because of 47-year Israeli military occupation. Palestinians seek employment opportunities in Israel, often in low-paid, dangerous work such as construction. Because of the checkpoints and Israeli militarized security apparatus, it takes Palestinians a long time to travel into Israel (if they are even able to do so at all). This new decision will increase their already inordinately large commute times even more.

A security official involved told Haaretz that “no Palestinian will be prevented from reaching his destination”; this may be true, but the question is how much longer will it take that Palestinian to travel between work and home?

Haaretz notes that the decision to segregate buses did not come out of the blue; Ya’alon decided on it after facing “intense pressure from settlers.” The paper explains the Samaria Settlers’ Committee and local Jewish authorities “conducted an aggressive campaign” to ban Palestinians. It adds that “settlers have tried on multiple occasions to prevent the Palestinians from commuting on those buses, and have released a video calling for them to be banned.” Ya’alon “met with settler leaders” and assured them he would implement the apartheid, Jewish-only policies they desired.

It is clear that this decision is explicitly motivated out of a racism, not out of “security” concerns. Haaretz indicates that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has officially stated it “does not view the presence of Palestinians on West Bank buses as a security threat.” The paper interviewed IDF GOC Central Command Major General Nitzan Alon, who insisted that West Bank Palestinian do not pose a “security threat,” as they already “must obtain pre-approval from the Shin Bet security service and Israel Police in order to receive permits. They then undergo body checks at the border crossings.”

Member of Knesset Moti Yogev, of the far-right, religious, pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi party, explained his reasoning: “Riding these buses is unreasonable. They are full of Arabs.”

This call for bus segregation is not new. AFP reports that “Israeli settlers in the West Bank have called for years for Palestinians to be banned from public transport.” In many ways, Israeli buses have been moving toward segregation for some time. In March 2013, Israel created Palestinian-only buses. Although not technically mandatory, racist Israeli settlers used the existence of these buses to pressure Palestinians into de facto segregation.

A variety of human and civil rights organizations publicly criticized thisde facto racism. Among these was Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the wake of this most recent decision, the Israeli government officially implementing de jure segregation, AFP interviewed B’Tselem, which insisted “It is time to stop hiding behind technical arrangements… and admit this military procedure is thinly veiled pandering to the demand for racial segregation on buses.”

Motivated by a Racist Society

It is most telling that this decision was pressured from below, not imposed from top-down. Racism in Israeli society is not just systemic; most Israelis themselves are obscenely racist toward indigenous Palestinians and African refugees.

In Israel, it is not uncommon for fascist mobs to roam the streets“Death to Arabs!” and “Gas the Arabs!” (as well as “Death to leftists!”and “Gas the leftists!”).

The vast majority of Israelis support their ethnocracy‘s ethnoreligious supremacist policies. 95% of Israelis supported their country’s most recent military attack on Gaza, “Operation Protective Edge”—a 50-day assault that killed close to 2,200 people—including roughly 1600 civilians, 500 of whom were children—wounded over 11,000, and made over 100,000 homeless.

As I have noted in a previous article, in 2012, also in Haaretz, renowned journalist Gideon Levy published the results of a poll that found “Most Israeli Jews Would Support Apartheid Regime in Israel.” This study, “expos[ing] anti-Arab, ultra-nationalist views espoused by a majority of Israeli Jews,” was not based on an internet survey. It was conducted by Dialog and directed by professor Camil Fuchs, Haaretz’s polling expert and head of the Department of Statistics at Tel Aviv University’s School of Mathematical Science, and commissioned by the Yisraela Goldblum Fund.

The study revealed the following unsavory facts about Israeli society:

– 59% want preference for Jews over Arabs in admission to jobs in government ministries.

– 49% want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones.

– 42% don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs.

– 42% don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

– c. 33% want a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset.

– 69% object to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

– 74% majority are in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians.

– 24% believe separate roads are “a good situation.”

– 50% believe separate roads are “a necessary situation.”

– 47% want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

– 36% support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

– 38% want Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them.

– 31% don’t admit that Israel practices apartheid against Arabs.

– 58% do admit that Israel practices apartheid against Arabs.

In August 2014, Haaretz released a report titled “Israeli teenagers: Racist and proud of it,” revealing that “Ethnic hatred has become a basic element in the everyday life of Israeli youth.” The piece opens with a quote from a 10th-grade Israeli girl from a high school in the central part of the country.

For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand. I am tremendously racist. I come from a racist home. If I get the chance in the army to shoot one of them, I won’t think twice. I’m ready to kill someone with my hands, and it’s an Arab. In my education I learned that … their education is to be terrorists, and there is no belief in them. I live in an area of Arabs, and every day I see these Ishmaelites, who pass by the [bus] station and whistle. I wish them death.

The article is a review of upcoming book from which this interview is excerpted. Scenes from School Life is based on three years of field work by Israeli sociologist Idan Yaron at a six-year, secular Israeli high school. The school was “the most average school we could find,” says professor of education Yoram Harpaz, who wrote the book with Yaron. The quote above was taken from a student at this “most average school.” Yaron’s book is filled with myriad instances of Israelis calling for the murder, and even genocidal extermination, of Palestinians.

Yet Israeli racism is not just directed at indigenous Palestinians. Journalists Max Blumenthal and David Sheen released a brief documentary titled “Israel’s New Racism: The Persecution of African Migrants in the Holy Land,” detailing the horrific extent to which anti-black racism pervades Israeli civil and political society. In it, they show video footage:

– of prominent politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Member of Knesset Michael Ben-Ari, among others, calling African refugees “infiltrators” and/or “cancer,” and even openly using the n-word;

– of Israeli citizens harassing fellow Israelis for engaging in interracial relationships; and

– of some politicians even going so far as to propose the creation of concentration camps in which to hold African refugees.

De jure bus segregation such as this reminds us that Israel is simply an apartheid state; there is no candy-coating this fact. In 2007, David A. Kirshbaum, of the Israel Law Resource Center, published a piece titled “Israeli Apartheid — A Basic Legal Perspective,” meticulously detailing the many ways in which Israel is an apartheid state, under its very own laws.

Once again, Israel’s most-read newspaper has published pieces confirming this fact, admitting that “Israeli Arabs have never been equal before the law.”

Ben Norton is an artist and activist. His website can be found at http://bennorton.com/.

Tags: apartheidbusessegregation
Categories: Labor News

Unions around the globe will stand with Costa Rica’s dockworkers, says ITF

Current News - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 08:14

Unions around the globe will stand with Costa Rica’s dockworkers, says ITF
http://insidecostarica.com/2014/10/28/unions-around-globe-will-stand-cos...

October 28th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), an international federation of some 700 unions representing more than 4.5 million transport workers from 150 countries, said it and its member unions will fight for the rights of Limon’s striking dockworkers in a communiqué sent to Inside Costa Ricaon Tuesday.

ITF said it strongly condemns “the actions of the Costa Rican government after hundreds of police officers stormed Puerto Limon’s Moin and Limon terminals last Thursday, October 23rd, violently attacking workers and arresting 68 men and women who were peacefully striking.”

“The workers were detained, then the port re-opened Friday with strikebreakers, some of them from nearby countries, replacing the union members,” the statement continues.

ITF described what it called “aggressive police beatings” as a “shocking development in a country well known for its peacefulness and democracy.”

“This is another example of profit coming first, with governments putting effort – and violent effort – into attacking the public sector,” said ITF’s president and chair of its Dockers’ Section, Paddy Crumlin. “Dockers’ unions worldwide will fight this.”

Sintrajap, the union that represents the workers of the state-owned port operator, Japdeva, declared the strike after negotiations to alter the concession granted to Dutch firm, APM Terminals to build and operate the new Moin Container Terminal, broke down.

Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal this month in which the union had claimed that a particular clause in the concession would create an “illegal monopoly” giving APM Terminals the exclusive right to load and unload containers arriving in Limon. The appeal was the last legal alternative available to Sintrajap in its attempts to stop the project.

ITF, supporting Sintrajap’s view, says that the concession creates a “huge competitive advantage” for APM, which “casts a shadow over the future of the state-owned port company Japdeva in the Moin and Limon terminals.”

In the communiqué, ITF said that Japdeva has an “explicit role” as a “regional economic development engine, helping to fund education and health services,” adding that both unions and the local population are extremely concerned about the potential loss of Japdeva’s “much-needed public sector income” and what they describe as potential environmental impacts of the new terminal.

“The new facility could compromise the nesting grounds of leatherback turtles and endanger manatees, dolphins, and coral reefs,” ITF said.

ITF said it is stepping up its pressure, writing to port unions globally asking them for their support.

“All the union members want is proper observance of the law, security for existing jobs, and protection of their community. Instead, the government authorized disproportionate force and hired strikebreakers. Of course the international union community is shocked,” said ITF Regional Secretary Antonio Rodriguez Fritz. “We will fight this and we will win.”

APM Terminals obtained the concession to build and operate the port in 2011 and was due to begin construction last year, but the project has faced several legal challenges.

The initial concession is for 33 years, with an initial investment of at least $1 billion and the creation of some 400 jobs.

The new facilities would be able to accommodate modern “Panamax” class container vessels of up to 13,500 containers, some five times larger than those that can be serviced in the country presently.

If you appreciate this report, please consider supporting ICR.

Tags: ITFCosta Rica dockworkers
Categories: Labor News

USA: TIME magazine must apologize to teachers - sign here

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFT
Categories: Labor News

Iran: Fearing privatization, mine workers strike

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Al-Monitor
Categories: Labor News

Australia: Unions push for the right to domestic violence leave

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: ACTU
Categories: Labor News

Indonesia: 10,000 Freeport Papua mineworkers to strike for one month over fatalities

Labourstart.org News - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: AFP
Categories: Labor News

Fast Food in Denmark Serves Something Atypical: Living Wages

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 10:12
Liz Alderman & Steven GreenhouseThe New York TimesOctober 27, 2014View the original piece

On a recent afternoon, Hampus Elofsson ended his 40-hour workweek at a Burger King and prepared for a movie and beer with friends. He had paid his rent and all his bills, stashed away some savings, yet still had money for nights out.

That is because he earns the equivalent of $20 an hour — the base wage for fast-food workers throughout Denmark and two and a half times what many fast-food workers earn in the United States.

Click here to read more at The New York Times.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

UK Manchester Asian cabbies end strike after taxi boss says he will no longer offer white drivers on request

Current News - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 21:15

UK Manchester Asian cabbies end strike after taxi boss says he will no longer offer white drivers on request
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/asia...
• Oct 26, 2014 09:52
• By Dan Thompson

More than 50 furious cabbies walked out in protest after owner Stephen Campbell revealed his Car 2000 firm in Heywood allowed callers to specify the race of their driver.
Asian taxi drivers protest in Heywood
A group of Asian cabbies have called off their strike after their boss said he would no longer offer white drivers to customers on request.

More than 50 furious cabbies from Car 2000, in Heywood, walked out in protest after owner Stephen Campbell revealed his firm allowed callers to specify the race of their driver.

They gathered in the town on Friday night to take a stand against the policy – blasting it as ‘racist’ and ‘discriminatory’.

But, after Mr Campbell told the M.E.N. his firm would no longer offer the service, the drivers have decided to go back to work for Car 2000.

Stephen Campbell, owner of Car 2000, says the move will help in the hiring of new drivers

A statement, issued on behalf of the business and the drivers today, said: “Car 2000 does not operate any policy of allocating drivers according to their ethnic background/race.

“Car 2000 has reviewed its practices to ensure that any bad practice that may have crept in has been eliminated. It seeks to operate at all times within the law.

“Furthermore, Car 2000’s drivers operate according to the highest professional standards in safeguarding. This is under constant monitoring.

“The drivers have returned to work with immediate effect.”

“Representatives of all the drivers will continue to meet regularly with management to strive to make Car 2000 an example of best practice.

“Car 2000 is grateful to so many members of the local community for their ongoing support.”

Steve Allen
Car 2000 Asian taxi drivers protest in Heywood

Mr Campbell met the drivers to thrash out the issue yesterday after five days of controversy for Car 2000.

In 2011, his family took over the business, which was formerly called Eagle Taxis, which employed two of the nine men jailed a year later for grooming girls.

Last week, Mr Campbell told the M.E.N. his staff would provide customers with white drivers on request.

He said the firm did this in part to protect his employees. He described one occasion when one of his Asian drivers had been to pick up a customer who refused to get in his car – and this had left the cabbie upset.

Mr Campbell, 34, said: “I don’t operate a company that makes people feel bad. I was trying to protect them. But I suppose in protecting them I was contributing to people’s racist beliefs.”

He added that all his drivers were aware of the policy but he stopped it immediately when they raised issues with it.

VIDEO LOADING

Tags: discriminationtaxi cab workers
Categories: Labor News

Philly Transport Workers Union Local 234 SEPTA Trolley, Bus, Subway Operators Give Union Leadership Authorization To Strike

Current News - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 18:55

Philly Transport Workers Union Local 234 SEPTA Trolley, Bus, Subway Operators Give Union Leadership Authorization To Strike
http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/10/26/septa-trolley-bus-subway-ope...
October 26, 2014 4:42 PM

File Photo (credit: Matt Rivers)
Related Tags: Jim Melwert, KYW Newsradio, KYW Newsradio 1060, Mark Hilton, Philadelphia, Septa, Transport Workers Union Local 234

By Jim Melwert
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Members of SEPTA’s largest labor union – which represents subway, bus, and trolley operators – voted to give its leadership the authorization to call a strike, but they say the buses and train trolleys will keep rolling, at least for now.
Members filing out of Sunday’s meeting say they’ve been told they will be on the job this week, but they say the vote was unanimous:
“I didn’t hear anyone say nay,” says Transport Workers Union Local 234 member Mark Hilton.
Hilton says no one wants to strike, but he says the strike authorization is their only leverage against SEPTA negotiators:
“If they call a strike, school kids, people can’t get to work, it’s going to affect everybody, traffic jams everywhere, this is not good for anybody not good to the city.”
Both union leadership and SEPTA management say they will continue to negotiate. Both sides say they hope a deal can be reached before subway bus and trolley service is affected.

Tags: Philly Transport Workers Union Local 234
Categories: Labor News

The Teamsters Of The 21st Century: How Uber, Lyft, and Facebook Drivers Are Organizing

Current News - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 08:04

The Teamsters Of The 21st Century: How Uber, Lyft, and Facebook Drivers Are Organizing
http://www.fastcompany.com/3037371/the-teamsters-of-the-21st-century-how...
THEN AND NOW
THE TEAMSTERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY: HOW UBER, LYFT, AND FACEBOOK DRIVERS ARE ORGANIZING
THE FAMOUS LABOR UNION IS STEAMING INTO THE GIG ECONOMY IN A BIG WAY. TODAY THEY'RE HELPING ORGANIZE A WALKOUT BY UBER DRIVERS.
BY NEAL UNGERLEIDER
When you think of the Teamsters, you might still think Jimmy Hoffa. But you should also now think Uber, Lyft, and even Facebook.

That's because the Teamsters are taking a bold step into the new sharing economy byorganizing Uber and Lyft drivers in Los Angeles and San Diego and attempting to represent drivers for Facebook and Cisco employee shuttles. Drivers for ridesharing services are classified as independent contractors whose incomes vary wildly depending on the hours they work; however, many drivers allege they are working more hours for less money as ridesharing services become more popular and that services like Uber intentionally keep drivers off the road at peak periods in order to ensure surge pricing. Drivers for Bay Area employee shuttles, meanwhile, are largely full-time employees with benefits at private transportation companies which have contracts with Silicon Valley's tech companies.

There are, of course, some complications. And this might be the biggest one of them: At the same time that they’re organizing the independent contractors who drive for Uber, Lyft, and others in southern California, the Teamsters are working with taxi unions in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to restrict Uber’s presence in the nation’s capital. It’s a very 21st-century story of old-guard organizations adjusting to a changing economy, and how the subcontractors and full-time independent contractors that make up an increasing part of the workforce scramble for leverage.

We're seeing the gig economy becoming an important part of the workforce, and labor unions are responding. The drivers who shuttle Facebook and Googleemployees up and down Route 101 in Internet-enabled buses aren't Google employees; they instead work for transportation companies that bid on lucrative tech company contracts. Uber and Lyft drivers are hailed through a proprietary app that takes a cut of their profits, but are legally considered independent contractors, even if their customers think of them as "Uber drivers."

Welcome to unionization in the digital economy.

A FLYER DISTRIBUTED TO UBER DRIVERS SAYS DRIVERS ARE “MORE THAN JUST THE ‘DUDE IN THE FRONT SEAT,’” WHICH THEY ALLEGE WAS HOW CEOTRAVIS KALANICKPREVIOUSLY DESCRIBED THEM.
Drivers, Start Your Organizing

This past August, a Teamsters chapter in the Los Angeles suburbs launched the California App-Based Drivers Association (CADA), which represents drivers for Uber, Sidecar, Lyft, and a host of lesser known services. The organization is affiliated with hundreds of drivers in southern California, maintains close ties to Teamsters Local 986, and promotes their efforts on internal-facing message boards for Uber drivers such as Uberpeople.

In a telephone interview, CADA declined to give membership numbers but noted that they are affiliated with Teamsters Local 986 and also receiving logistical assistance from Seattle's Teamsters Local 117, which has worked with Uber drivers in the past.

Today, October 22, CADA and the Teamsters are calling for a “Global Day of Protest” (PDF) which appears to be a quasi-strike aimed directly at Uber, with a protest planned for the company’s Los Angeles headquarters. A flyer distributed to Uber drivers says the protest aims to show drivers are “more than just the ‘dude in the front seat,’” which they allege was how CEO Travis Kalanick previously described them. Similar protests are reportedly planned outside Uber offices in other major cities.

Employees appear to have mixed feelings about the protest. Drivers in Los Angeles have been penalized for speaking out about working conditions before (Uber recentlyfired a driver for retweeting an article that mentioned how Uber drivers were recently robbed at gunpoint in LA and then reversed the firing following negative publicity), so this writer did not ask drivers he used while taking Uber for work about their feelings directly. Gauging from the responses on Uberpeople, a popular social network for Uber and Lyft drivers, there are ambivalent feelings about CADA and the idea of protesting outside of Uber's offices.

UBERX, UBERBLACK, UBERPLUS, AND UBERSUV SERVICES ALLEGEDLY DON'T INCLUDE ANY TIP FOR THE DRIVERS.
In an open letter to Uber management sent also to Fast Company, Joseph DeWolf Sandoval, an UberX driver and CADA's cofounder, included a list of complaints his fellow drivers and himself have about Uber specifically, and what are characterized as unfair practices by ride-sharing services in general.

DeWolf alleges Uber is against negotiating with drivers as a group, that Uber and Lyft's price war has decreased fares dramatically (which, while beneficial for customers, reduces the amount drivers bring home), that Uber has increased their commissions on drivers at the same time fares were being reduced, that Uber's rating systems for drivers functions as a "Sword of Damocles" which leaves them unable to respond to sexual harassment, insults, and dangerous or illegal behavior, and--most damningly--that UberX, UberBlack, UberPlus, and UberSUV services don't include any tip for the drivers.

"On numerous occasions riders have vociferously insisted that the tip must be included, and that it is in their invoice, only to check their invoice and see that the fare is a calculation of the time, plus the mileage, plus the base fare, plus any tolls or surge charges," DeWolf wrote.

"The more drunk the customer, the more animated the discussion gets about tips, and they harder the crash is when the customer realizes that Uber has been misleading them from the get go."

The open letter also alleges that drivers are subject to an unfair and arbitrary deactivation and firing process that does not allow drivers to appeal or find out why they have been "permanently deactivated." It is important to note that many Uber drivers personally purchase or lease vehicles up to Uber's specifications solely for the purpose of driving, and are on the hook for payments even if they have lost their job.

Threads on Uberpeople indicate that Uber drivers in Santa Monica, California, are planning a three-hour walkout on Wednesday (believed to be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET) in solidarity with the protest. During the walkout, participating Uber drivers will turn their app off for three hours. The Uber Drivers Network in New York and the Ubers Drivers Network in San Francisco are reportedly participating as well.

Multiple attempts to reach Uber by press time were unsuccessful, but Uber drivers report the company is planning countermeasures such as offering incentives for drivers on October 22.

But while the Teamsters are organizing Uber drivers in California, they’re lobbying against them in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Connection

In the nation’s capital, the Teamsters operate the Washington, D.C. Taxi Operators Association (WTOA), a trade group dedicated to fighting “unfair regulations and lack of respect.” And Uber is at the very top of the list of issues WTOA is tackling, along with representation, and slow re-compensation from credit card reader vendors.

According to the WTOA, Uber “service is unregulated or, if there are regulations, they are minimal compared with taxi drivers. They play by different rules and it is hurting the taxi drivers' livelihoods.” Last Friday, October 17, Teamsters-affiliated cabbies held a protest outside Union Station against a D.C. City Council bill which would lighten regulation for Uber and Sidecar.

INSTEAD OF FIGHTING FOR THE INTERESTS OF RIDE SHARING-SERVICE DRIVERS, THEY’RE REPRESENTING DRIVERS OF MEDALLION CABS.
“The bill would create a two-tiered system and continue to give the private-sedan services (such as UberX and Sidecar) a huge competitive edge,” Teamsters promotional materials said. “Drivers are urging changes to the bill so that it would create a level playing field between the private-sedan services and taxis. The illegally operating private-sedan services are stealing the taxi drivers' work and many drivers are struggling to make ends meet.”

The Teamster-affiliated trade group in Washington is almost a mirror image of their Uber- and Lyft-driving affiliate in Los Angeles. Only instead of fighting for the interests of ride sharing-service drivers, they’re representing drivers of medallion cabs. Both group’s tactics--protests and collection of dues from drivers--remain largely the same.

Meanwhile, back in California, another group of drivers are organizing. Only instead of working for ridesharing services, they’re driving the private buses that have become a shorthand for the massive tech-ification of the Bay Area’s economy.

The Facebook Drivers

In early October, Mark Zuckerberg received a letter that was different from the emails and meeting memos that usually circulate around Menlo Park. Rome Aloise, the head of Teamsters Local 853, sent an official letter to Facebook that the drivers who shuttle the company’s employees to and from work were organizing. Forty employees ofLoop Transportation, the charter operator which has rights to the lucrative Facebook contract, went public with their request to seek representation from the Teamsters.

“While your employees earn extraordinary wages and are able to live and enjoy life in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the Bay Area, these drivers can’t afford to support a family, send their children to school, or, least of all, afford to even dream of buying a house anywhere near where they work,” Aloise wrote.

DOT COM COMPANIES HAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND DON'T WANT TO SHARE IT.
He added that “It 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.”

In a telephone conversation with Fast Company, Aloise said, "Dot com companies have billions of dollars and don't want to share it."

Facebook isn't the only big tech company where drivers are organizing and seeking representation from the Teamsters. After drivers at Loop organized, Cisco drivers reportedly contacted the Teamsters as well. An undisclosed number of drivers forBauer's Intelligent Transportation, Cisco's contractor, are seeking representation as of press time. The Teamsters also claim that one of the drivers who was trying to get representation for Bauer employees was fired after signing a letter.

Speaking off the record, a source close to the organizing effort claimed that drivers at Loop first tried to organize in early 2014, and were given a $0.75 per hour raise a few days later. By the summer, the source said, drivers saw they were scheduled for fewer hours or that routes were cancelled, and they decided to organize again.

The drivers are seeking new contracts--and an end to “split-shifts." The typical Loop Transportation driver starts work early in the morning and wraps up at approximately 11 a.m., with another shift shuttling Facebook employees back to San Francisco or the East Bay beginning a few hours later. Thanks to the high cost of living in the Bay Area, the drivers largely cannot afford to live within commute range of Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park. Instead of having the option to work a second job or spend time with their loved ones in-between shifts, drivers instead are limited to hanging out in Facebook’s cafeteria or finding a place to grab a nap.

According to the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse, Loop Transportation says most of their drivers earn between $18 to $20 an hour, along with health and dental benefits. Loop keeps one set of drivers for Facebook, who work split-shifts of both morning and evening commutes.

Drivers for Loop Transportation and similar contractors are likely candidates for unionization in the near future. The rapid growth of the Bay Area’s high-tech sector, the tendency of many companies to settle in suburban office parks, and the propensity by many tech employees to live in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley have led to the growth of a shadow public transit system with Wi-Fi enabled buses and express shots down 101 from the Mission District to distant suburbs.

And the Teamsters know it. Unlike most public transit employees, drivers for contractors like Loop aren’t unionized. Aloise added in a New York Times interview that they hope to organize drivers for Apple, Google, and other companies in the future. The plan, it seems, is for drivers at tech companies to unionize in a domino effect--after one company’s drivers unionize, another will follow.

Aloise says that the union did not receive a response from Loop or Facebook. The Teamsters have filed a petition for election with the National Labor Relations Board. This is the next step in the process that eventually leads to labor unions such as the Teamsters formally representing employees.

Tags: UberteamstersFacebookLyftunion organizing
Categories: Labor News

Scab Herding! IBT 70 Drivers Told to Cross ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines By IBT Officials and Alameda AFL-CIO Josie Camacho

Current News - Sun, 10/26/2014 - 07:55

Scab Herding! IBT 70 Drivers Told to Cross ILWU Local 6 Picket Lines By IBT Officials and Alameda AFL-CIO Josie Camacho
Bay Area ILWU Local 6, strikes Waste Management. AFL-CIO leaders tell their members to scab.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37FFobSZBLg#t=55
http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2014/10/ilwu-local-6-strikes-waste-man...
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

(I apologize for the quality of the video. Camera malfunction but it's all I have)

The ILWU Local 6 represents sorters and other workers at the Waste Management recycling center (we used to call them dumps) at the end of Davis Street in San Leandro CA. The workers have not had a raise in four years.

Most of the workers are Latino's, many of them immigrants and they complained to me about disrespect and discriminatory treatment on the job. Workers told Facts For Working People that management is refusing to budge on wage increases and workers don't trust the management to comply with the Oakland City Council's meager wage increase provisions which would raise wages from round $12 an hour now to around $21 an hour by 2019. This is the only possible increase on the table so far. It is a sorry state of affairs when the only chance of making any headway albeit an inadequate one, is relying on a municipal body run by politicians in one of the two Wall Street Parties.

As I walked the picket line, drivers for Waste Management, members of Teamsters Local 70, drove through the picket lines as the strike does not have sanction from the Alameda Labor Council. I called the Labor Council to find out why and was told that the ILWU local 6 is no longer affiliated to the AFL-CIO. The source said that she hoped the strike is successful. Unfortunately hope doesn't pay the rent and it doesn't win strikes.

We have a situation I would say where disputes between sections of the trade union bureaucracy are harming workers yet again. I explained to the Labor Council spokesperson that one way to build solidarity and perhaps get the ILWU back in to the AFL-CIO would be to pull the Teamsters off the job which would be a first step in winning the dispute. Teamster Local 70, the union that represents the drivers should pull their members off the job regardless of AFL-CIO sanction. Picket lines mean don't cross, bureaucratic obstacles should be breached.

Seven years ago Waste Management locked the Teamster drivers out. The sorters, despite being overwhelmingly lower paid immigrant workers walked out in solidarity with them. They lost almost two months pay. I watched as drivers scabbed on these workers and I could see by the looks on their faces that they knew in their gut it is the wrong thing to do; we all know that.

Drivers honked their horns in support but this doesn't win strikes. There was anger and feelings of frustration among some of the striking workers at these very same people who they supported before crossing their lines. For the worker, these bureaucratic disputes mean little; it's a bread and butter issue. Teamster officials were down on the picket line in the morning waving their members through the picket line, they are acting as scab directors, it's disgusting really and not how the Labor movement was built.

As I write I am becoming more angry each moment. Here are workers on very low pay doing a socially important job and who stuck by their co-workers before and because of disputes between the labor hierarchy their lives are about to made more miserable and difficult.

The Teamster rank and file should organize to violate the non sanction crap and join their brothers and sisters on the picket lines. It is not easy to confront the leadership but it has to be done and the way it can be done with success is through building militant rank and file opposition caucuses that can openly challenge the concessionary policies and bureaucratic methods that are the tools of the entire AFL-CIO hierarchy. If we want to change the direction of our unions, if we want to mage gains, we cannot avoid a confrontation with the present leadership whose policies stem from their worldview, their worship of the market, profits, and an zealous respect for the bosses' rights.

If you are local, especially in San Leandro, head down to the end of Davis Street and join the picket lines. There's also a little more information here: http://patch.com/california/sanleandro/recycling-workers-strike-against-...

Tags: ILWU Local 6IBT 70Union BustingsScab Herding
Categories: Labor News

Hong Kong: Union leader abused by pro-Beijing crowd protesting democracy movement

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Union Book
Categories: Labor News

Kazakhstan: Chevron and oil workers' rights in Kazakhstan

Labourstart.org News - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Diplomat
Categories: Labor News

LA Judge reinstates port truckers fired in labor dispute

Current News - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 16:57

LA Judge reinstates port truckers fired in labor dispute
http://touch.latimes.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81678337/

BRIAN VANDER BRUG / LOS ANGELES TIMES

Trucks hauling cargo containers drive through the Port of Long Beach near Pier T.

October 14, 2014, 4:47 p.m.
A federal judge on Tuesday reinstated two Los Angeles Harbor-area truck drivers, who said they were illegally fired during a labor dispute with their employer, Green Fleet Systems in Carson.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez ordered the company to reinstate Amilcar Cardona and Mateos Mares pending the outcome of a National Labor Relations Board case that has accused Green Fleet of more than 50 labor law violations.

In the NLRB matter, Cardona and Mares allege that the firm retaliated against them for union activity, filing claims for lost wages and asserting that they were regular employees, not independent contractors as the company has claimed. Independent contractors are not covered by federal labor laws.

"This decision lets us return to work and continue to fight for justice and a union contract," Mares said.

Gutierrez reinstated the drivers, saying that it was likely they would prevail at the NLRB hearing and there would be irreparable harm to both men if they were not returned to work.

“This sends a message throughout the Port of Los Angeles and the shipping industry that misclassified drivers are in fact employees,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, the attorney for the truckers and the Teamsters Union port division.

The judge also issued a cease and desist order to prevent Green Fleet from threatening to fire union supporters, making threatening remarks, creating an impression of surveillance, limiting employees' access to company property and interrogating employees about their union activity.

Those allegations form the basis of the pending NLRB action, which contends that Green Fleet set out to destroy the lawful union-organizing efforts of its drivers.

Thomas A. Lenz, the company's attorney, said he is reviewing Gutierrez's decision and cannot comment at this time.

In earlier statements, the company denied the NLRB's allegations, contending that it has complied with all federal labor laws and that most of the firm's drivers do not support the Teamsters "heavy-handed" organizing techniques.

Follow @LADeadline16 for transportation news.

Tags: Los Angeles Port Truckersteamstersretaliation
Categories: Labor News

San Diego Latino officials to get free tour of Israel Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency

Current News - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 08:27

San Diego Latino officials to get free tour of Israel Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/oct/24/ticker-latino-officials-g...
Latino officials to get free tour of Israel
Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency
By Matt Potter, Oct. 24, 2014

Yet another San Diego politco is set to head off for a free fact-finding trip to Israel, thanks to the American Israel Education Foundation, an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also known as AIPAC, which styles itself as "America's pro-Israel lobby."

As previously reported, free trips sponsored by the nonprofit this year have included a $17,908 August tour of Israel for Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis and her husband Steve. Highlights included a session on "Ethics of the Israel Defense Forces" and a sit-down with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last year, Democratic congressman Juan Vargas and staffer Aaron Allen set out on separate trips paid for by the committee. Vargas and his wife received a $16,230 tour in August, and Allen ran up a $5868 free tab in December, according to House reports.

The National Journal has reported that Israel is by the far the top destination for congressional free junkets of both parties, with a total of $1,940,000 spent on 142 trips in 2013.

But the largesse isn't limited to federal officials.

In October of last year, according to a disclosure report filed by San Diego County sheriff Bill Gore,assistant sheriff Patricia Duke went on a $10,337 law-enforcement training trip to Israel courtesy of AIPAC.

And earlier this year, San Diego port commissioner Garry Bonelli, an ex-admiral from Coronado, obtained the blessing of lawyers for the state's Fair Political Practices Commission to head out on a two-week tour for retired U.S. generals and admirals “to meet the top echelon of the Israeli military and political leadership.”

The sponsor was the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, whose website describes the group as a "non-profit, non-partisan organization to advocate on behalf of a strong U.S. military, a robust national security policy, and a strong U.S. security relationship with Israel and other like-minded allies."

Now it’s another port official's turn for a vetting.

According to an October 6 letter of advice from Fair Political Practices Commission counsel Zackery Morazzini to port lawyer William D. McMinn, commission member Rafael Castellanos is set to embark on a "Educational Seminar in Israel for Southern Pacific Latino Leaders," sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation.

"Mr. Castellanos will depart on December 6, 2014, and return on December 14, 2014," writes Morazzini. "Participants will include elected officials, civic leaders and political activists who seek to gain an in-depth understanding of modern Israel and the United States–Israel relationship….

"The program will include discussions with current and former Israeli government officials, Palestinians and leading academics and journalists," the letter continues. "Through on-site visits or seminars, Commissioner Castellanos will have the opportunity to learn about innovative Israeli approaches to international and domestic issues.

"In addition, he will tour religious sites in Jerusalem and near the Sea of Galilee, and will participate in strategic surveys of Jerusalem and the Israeli borders with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. The Commissioner will come away with a much deeper understanding of Israeli politics, society and culture."

It's okay for Castellanos to take the freebie, exceeding the port's usual $440 gift limit, because the Israeli group is a nonprofit and "the trip to Israel is directly related to a legislative or governmental purpose and/or concerns international public policy."

"Accordingly, payments provided by [American Israel Education Foundation] for Commissioner Castellanos’ lodging, transportation and food related to his trip to Israel are reportable gifts that are not subject to gift limits."

But the port official isn't entirely off the hook, says the advice letter. "If Commissioner Castellanos accepts gifts from the source identified above valued at $440 or more, he may be prohibited from participating in governmental decisions affecting that source. If this occurs, he should seek further assistance."

Tags: AIPACSan Diego Port
Categories: Labor News

San Diego Latino officials to get free tour of Israel Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency

Current News - Sat, 10/25/2014 - 08:27

San Diego Latino officials to get free tour of Israel Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/oct/24/ticker-latino-officials-g...
Latino officials to get free tour of Israel
Okay for port commissioner to exceed $440 gift limit, says watchdog agency
By Matt Potter, Oct. 24, 2014

Yet another San Diego politco is set to head off for a free fact-finding trip to Israel, thanks to the American Israel Education Foundation, an offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also known as AIPAC, which styles itself as "America's pro-Israel lobby."

As previously reported, free trips sponsored by the nonprofit this year have included a $17,908 August tour of Israel for Democratic congresswoman Susan Davis and her husband Steve. Highlights included a session on "Ethics of the Israel Defense Forces" and a sit-down with prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last year, Democratic congressman Juan Vargas and staffer Aaron Allen set out on separate trips paid for by the committee. Vargas and his wife received a $16,230 tour in August, and Allen ran up a $5868 free tab in December, according to House reports.

The National Journal has reported that Israel is by the far the top destination for congressional free junkets of both parties, with a total of $1,940,000 spent on 142 trips in 2013.

But the largesse isn't limited to federal officials.

In October of last year, according to a disclosure report filed by San Diego County sheriff Bill Gore,assistant sheriff Patricia Duke went on a $10,337 law-enforcement training trip to Israel courtesy of AIPAC.

And earlier this year, San Diego port commissioner Garry Bonelli, an ex-admiral from Coronado, obtained the blessing of lawyers for the state's Fair Political Practices Commission to head out on a two-week tour for retired U.S. generals and admirals “to meet the top echelon of the Israeli military and political leadership.”

The sponsor was the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, whose website describes the group as a "non-profit, non-partisan organization to advocate on behalf of a strong U.S. military, a robust national security policy, and a strong U.S. security relationship with Israel and other like-minded allies."

Now it’s another port official's turn for a vetting.

According to an October 6 letter of advice from Fair Political Practices Commission counsel Zackery Morazzini to port lawyer William D. McMinn, commission member Rafael Castellanos is set to embark on a "Educational Seminar in Israel for Southern Pacific Latino Leaders," sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation.

"Mr. Castellanos will depart on December 6, 2014, and return on December 14, 2014," writes Morazzini. "Participants will include elected officials, civic leaders and political activists who seek to gain an in-depth understanding of modern Israel and the United States–Israel relationship….

"The program will include discussions with current and former Israeli government officials, Palestinians and leading academics and journalists," the letter continues. "Through on-site visits or seminars, Commissioner Castellanos will have the opportunity to learn about innovative Israeli approaches to international and domestic issues.

"In addition, he will tour religious sites in Jerusalem and near the Sea of Galilee, and will participate in strategic surveys of Jerusalem and the Israeli borders with Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. The Commissioner will come away with a much deeper understanding of Israeli politics, society and culture."

It's okay for Castellanos to take the freebie, exceeding the port's usual $440 gift limit, because the Israeli group is a nonprofit and "the trip to Israel is directly related to a legislative or governmental purpose and/or concerns international public policy."

"Accordingly, payments provided by [American Israel Education Foundation] for Commissioner Castellanos’ lodging, transportation and food related to his trip to Israel are reportable gifts that are not subject to gift limits."

But the port official isn't entirely off the hook, says the advice letter. "If Commissioner Castellanos accepts gifts from the source identified above valued at $440 or more, he may be prohibited from participating in governmental decisions affecting that source. If this occurs, he should seek further assistance."

Tags: AIPACSan Diego Port
Categories: Labor News

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