Labor News

Korean Railway Workers Union 2013 Struggle Against Privatization

Current News - Sun, 04/20/2014 - 08:50

Korean Railway Workers Union 2013 Struggle Against Privatization
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ym5ehR1O70Q&feature=
In 2013, a massive labor struggle took place in Korea against the actions
of the Park Geun-hye rightwing government to privatize KORAIL, the
national railway system in Korea.
The government suspended 6748 Korea railway workers and the KRWU
workers launched the longest national railway strike in the history
of the country.
On December 22nd, 2013, the Park government then assaulted the offices
of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) with 5,000
police, who used tear gas and pepper spray on protesters. 130 unionists
were arrested and the government sought to also break the strike
by personally suing KRWU members to bankrupt them personally to
destroy the workers and the union.
The government continues it's plan in privatizing the railways.
The union members and their families also received tremendous support
among the Korean people who are opposed to the selling off of the
public railroads to private capitalists as has been done in japan, the
UK and other countries.
This video produced by the KRWU is about the struggle of 2013 and
the fight today to defend the railway workers who face retaliation,
harassment and prison for defending their labor and human rights.
For more video go to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAEvgdFKkLc&feature=
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9sS5vYoRiw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Heh-UclFx_k&feature=youtu.be
For more information on this struggle go to:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-railway-workers-right-to-strike-i...
http://krwu.nodong.net/home2008/main.php
Labor Video Project
www.laborvideo.org

Tags: KRWUGeneral Strikesolidarityprivatizationunion busting
Categories: Labor News

Proposed Two-Person Train Crew Rule Rattles Passenger Rail Advocates

Current News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 20:31

Proposed Two-Person Train Crew Rule Rattles Passenger Rail Advocates
http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/proposed-two-person-train-crew-rule-ratt...
BY STEPHEN J. SMITH | NEXT CITY | APRIL 16, 2014

Credit: AP Photo/Michael Perez
Ever since the July 2013 oil train explosion in Lac-Mégantic, Québec — one of many as crude-by-rail has seen a resurgence — the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration has reconsidered its rules for transporting hazardous materials. So it came as no surprise last week when the FRA announced its intention to require freight railroads to have two crew members on board all trains.

What was surprising, though, was that the FRA said it may apply the same rules to passenger trains, both intercity (like Amtrak) and commuter (like Caltrain in Silicon Valley or the Long Island Rail Road in New York). “We believe that safety is enhanced with the use of a multiple person crew,”FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo said in a press release, even though a number of working groups established to examine the issue did not come to a consensus.

According to Albany’s Times Union newspaper:

FRA spokesman Mike England said the rule also would cover commuter agencies such as California’s Metrolink, where a lone engineer who was texting ran through a stop signal, striking a freight train head-on. Twenty-five people were killed in the 2008 accident. It would also cover Metro North Commuter Railroad, where a lone engineer suffering from sleep apnea sped through a curve last December, derailing his train and killing four passengers.

Ominously, the Times Union wrote that “it wasn’t clear whether the conductor, who typically is in a separate portion of the passenger train, would count toward the two-person requirement, or whether the intention is to have two people in the operating cab.” An FRA spokesperson would not clarify the point for Next City.

On the one hand, a second person not in the operator’s cab would seem to affect safety very little. On the other, requiring a second person upfront, a sort of modern take on the old “fireman” position, would be tremendously costly.

Assuming that conductors do count toward the two-man crew requirement, most commuter rail operations would remain unaffected, as the custom in the U.S. is to run all commuter main line trains — those that connect to the national network mostly used for freight traffic, like Metra in the Chicago region and SEPTA’s regional rail division in Philadelphia — with copious numbers of on-board conductors to punch tickets and help passengers with boarding and alighting.

This sort of operation is not, however, standard practice in other developed countries, where one employee (the driver) often runs suburban trains, with fare collection offloaded to turnstiles or a proof-of-payment honor system. In some countries, long suburban trains that carry upward of 1,000 passengers have just one driver with no roaming conductors. This avoids heavy labor costs and allows railroads to run more frequent service within limited budgets.

The possibility that the FRA could effectively ban this type of European-style service has some transit advocates worried — among them Jarrett Walker, a transit consultant who does work throughout the English-speaking world.

“One of the most promising developments in U.S. transit planning,” he wrote in an email, “is the new effort to convert one-way commuter rail lines into urban rapid transit services, but using track and stations that already exist. The core of this effort is to increase frequency and run all-day and evening, not just the traditional nine-to-five commute. That’s the kind of service that triggers transit-oriented development, and that grows urban economies without growing congestion.”

“An FRA action to mandate two-man crews would strangle this movement in the crib,” he continued. “It would also constitute a federal ban on innovation in the area of transit automation, already a field in which the US is far behind much of the world.”

The rule change may come as a shock to some, since U.S. commuter rail conductors are so ubiquitous that many assumed they were already required. But a few operations exist in the U.S. with only a single employee, the driver, on each train, known in the industry as “one-person train operation,” or OPTO. These services would be vulnerable in the case of a uniform two-person crew rule.

OPTO lines are particularly common for new services, which have proof-of-payment ticketing and level boarding so that conductors aren’t necessary to help people down the sometimes-treacherous train steps. They also lack the legacy of relatively large conductor crews that labor unions and management tend to push for. These newer services include Austin’s Red Line, the North County Transit District between Oceanside and Escondido in Southern California, and New Jersey Transit’s RiverLINE running between Camden and Trenton. All use light rail-like vehicles on old freight rights-of-way.

Whether the possible proposal — right now it’s essentially just a warning that the FRAintends to propose something — would affect those services remains to be seen. The agency’s press release included a line that the “notice of proposed rulemaking,” as the process is called, is “expected to include appropriate exceptions.” An FRA spokesperson would not clarify beyond saying that exceptions “would only include railroad operations that are deemed low-risk by FRA.”

The new rule is also puzzling because federal legislation requiring positive train control (PTC), which would prevent so-called “overspeed” incidents like last winter’s Metro-North derailment in the Bronx, has already been adopted with a 2015 deadline. It’s possible that an FRA rule mandating two-person crews would only be in effect until PTC is fully implemented, although the FRA’s press release didn’t mention it.

“It’s the inevitable reaction that we need to have a regulatory response,” said one transit consultant who has experience with more modern, one-man train operations, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as to not antagonize the FRA. “This adds to the expense of providing public transportation services, but in many cases it’s not going to make them safer.”

“Data drought haunts FRA crew-size mandate,” reads the title of Frank Wilner’s Railway Age column on the issue, referring to the lack of research showing that two-man crews are any safer for freight rail than one-person operations. He also pointed out labor unions’ interest in maintaining bloated crew sizes, and that “prior to Szabo’s becoming Administrator, he was a legislative officer of the United Transportation Union, which represents, primarily, conductors, who would benefit most by the two-person crew requirement.”

The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

Tags: Rail safety
Categories: Labor News

Corrupt Criminal SamTrans Transit Board And Executives Fired Accountant Whistleblower

Current News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 19:10

Corrupt Criminal SamTrans Transit Board And Executive Fired Accountant Whistleblower
Suit says SamTrans retaliated against ex-employee for questioning accounting practices-Accountant Bullied And Fired For Whistleblowing
http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_25599825/suit-says-samtrans-...
Suit says SamTrans retaliated against ex-employee for questioning accounting practices

By Bonnie Eslinger Daily News Staff Writer

Friday, April 18, 2014 - 9:20 p.m.

A former SamTrans accountant is suing the public transportation agency in federal court for allegedly retaliating against her after she began raising concerns about what she considered improper accounting practices.

She is the second former SamTrans employee to question the agency's accounting procedures.

Ling La, who sued Wednesday in U.S. District Court, worked for SamTrans between May 2011 and July 2013 as a senior accountant. She names as defendants the San Mateo County Transit District, SamTrans CEO Michael Scanlon and her former supervisor Sheila Tioyao.

"If you stand up and do the right thing, you're supposed to be rewarded in our culture," said La's attorney, Dow Patten. "She's suffered a lot from it."

According to the suit, La was transferred in February 2012 to SamTrans' general ledger/accounts payable division. In August of that year she began to "notice a pattern of irregularly high freight charges" on invoices coming from the agency's parts and inventory department and "began to suspect collusion between the buyer and the parts vendor."

La asked questions about the accounting process and started requiring vendors to provide freight invoices to support the charges. Around Nov. 20, Tioyao sent La a memo reprimanding her for using an "inappropriate tone" toward other SamTrans employees. La was similarly admonished each time she "identified a non-compliant accounting practice," the suit states.

Around Dec. 10, La filed complaints with Human Resources Director Monica Colondres against Tioyao and one of the agency's buyers, stating that she was being retaliated against as a whistleblower, the suit states.

On Feb. 4, 2013, Tioyao asked La to submit a "fraudulent journal entry" by categorizing an expense that occurred in fiscal year 2013 as having taken place in fiscal year 2011, the suit states. La complied but told her boss that was "wrong and went against Generally Accepted Accounting Principles." About five weeks later, on March 25, Tioyao gave La a negative performance review and put her on a six-month probation.

La met with Colondres on April 9 and said that Tioyao, Director of Finance Rima Lobo and Deputy Finance and Administration CEO Gigi Harrington were involved in the invoicing and accounting irregularities, the suit states.

In May, Colondres gave La a copy of an investigation into her Dec. 10 complaint that found no wrongdoing by either the buyer or Tioyao.

In June, La reached out to Scanlon, but he sent her an email telling her to speak with Colondres about her concerns. On July 2, she contacted San Mateo County's whistle-blowing hotline and was transferred to the office of county Supervisor Carole Groom. The next day, Groom told La that she had spoken with SamTrans management and her complaint needed to go through human resources, the suit states. At the time, Groom chaired SamTrans' board of directors.

"Frustrated," La approached an NBC investigative reporter. She also sent an email to the county controller's office, civil grand jury and members of the Board of Supervisors to complain about her experience as a whistleblower, the suit states.

On July 31, SamTrans sent La a notice saying she was being terminated.

While the transactions that La flagged as irregular were not large, the way her concerns were dismissed was troubling, Patten said.

"If they're treating even the small stuff in this fashion, how are they treating the bigger stuff?" he said.

SamTrans Communications Manager Jayme Ackemann said she couldn't comment on La's allegations, citing the pending litigation. But she did provide a copy of the investigative findings into La's complaint, completed in May.

According to Allison West of Employment Practices Specialists, the Pacifica firm hired to investigate the complaint, while some freight prices were high -- a $2.10 purchase of six screws came with a $65.88 truck delivery charge -- the tab was justified if it helped get a bus back into service.

West also concluded that La's interactions with vendors created "tension" and that she was disciplined for her "harsh and inappropriate" tone, not her whistle-blowing activities.

"I do not find the request ... to attend training was in any way retaliatory for coming forward with her I about the shipping charges," West wrote.

Patten said that although La's specific accusations are different, her concerns about the agency's accounting practices were similar to those of David Ramires, a former SamTrans accountant who told NBC Bay Area last year that the agency created fake and inflated expenses so money could be secretly set aside. The agency has said its own independent auditors have found nothing illegal with the bookkeeping.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said his office is investigating Ramires' accusations as well as those subsequently made by the NBC affiliate. SamTrans officials told Wagstaffe they'll cooperate with the investigation, which he said will be "lengthy."

"A complete forensic audit is necessary," the district attorney wrote in an email Friday.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.

Tags: Samtranscorruptionwhistleblowerworkplace bullying
Categories: Labor News

Rail workers' health issues are a growing safety concern

Current News - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 18:46

Rail workers' health issues are a growing safety concern
As the population of railway workers ages, critics concerned about public safety call for more stringent rules on health and medications.
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-me-adv-railroad-medical-standards-20140...

Smoke rises from cargo trains that collided near Goodwell, Okla., in 2012, killing an engineer and two crewmen. The engineer had sped through a series of yellow and red lights, and an NTSB investigation faulted his deteriorating eyesight and inadequate medical screening that failed to identify his vision problems (Trudy Hart / The Guymon Daily Herald /June 24, 2012)


Engineer in NYC train crash had 'severe' sleep apnea, report says
By Dan Weikel
April 19, 2014, 5:25 p.m.
Visibility was 10 miles and the morning sun had pushed the temperature close to 90 as Danny Joe Hall guided his mile-long Union Pacific freight train east through the grasslands of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Near the farming town of Goodwell, federal investigators said, the 56-year-old engineer sped through a series of yellow and red signals warning him to slow down and stop for a Los Angeles-bound train moving slowly onto a side track.

The 83-mph collision killed Hall and two crewmen. Dozens of freight cars derailed, and the resulting inferno sent towers of black smoke over the plains, prompting the evacuation of a nearby trailer park.

As it turned out, Hall was colorblind.

The National Transportation Safety Board's subsequent probe of the June 2012 wreck faulted the engineer's deteriorating eyesight and inadequate medical screening that failed to fully evaluate his vision problems.

But the Goodwell crash underscored a far larger concern: Railroads are the only mode of U.S. commercial transportation without national requirements for thorough, regular health screenings to identify worker ailments and medications that could compromise public safety.

Crash investigations have linked train accidents to railway workers' health problems. The Goodwell crash and a rear-end collision in Iowa in 2011 that killed an engineer and conductor are among those that authorities believe could have been prevented with more rigorous medical testing of train crews.

Federal investigators are examining whether an engineer's severe case of undiagnosed sleep apnea — a condition that can cause fatigue — contributed to last year's derailment of a New York commuter train that killed four passengers and injured 59. Union and legal representatives of the engineer have said he either nodded off or went into a daze before heading into a 30-mph curve at 82 mph.

The NTSB found that the engineer's doctors never evaluated him for the condition, and medical guidelines provided to employees by the Metro-North Railroad did not mention sleep disorders.

"The problems are not getting fixed, and more significant risks could occur as the population of railroad workers ages," said Mark Rosekind, an NTSB board member.

In contrast, airline pilots, truckers, bus drivers and maritime professionals must undergo medical examinations with stricter requirements annually or every few years. In those industries, more frequent evaluations are required for workers over 40 or who have chronic medical conditions that can worsen.

Severe allergies, heart disease, poor vision, sleep disorders and diabetes — as well as use of medicines with serious side effects — are among the health issues that can disqualify workers if the conditions can't be adequately controlled.

Since 1988, the NTSB has pushed unsuccessfully for similar standards for more than 100,000 locomotive engineers, conductors and other railway workers. But the Federal Railroad Administration, which oversees the industry, has balked at imposing mandatory, comprehensive medical requirements.

Working with unions and carriers, the FRA has opted for non-mandatory education programs for rail workers, formal advisory notices and other strategies to reduce risks associated with health problems.

"The FRA is committed to ensuring that train operators are fit for duty," said agency spokesman Kevin F. Thompson. The administration "continues to work with labor and industry to comprehensively address standardized medical practices."

Currently, engineers and conductors are required to pass vision and hearing tests every three years. In a statement, Union Pacific, which employed the engineer faulted by the NTSB in the Goodwell crash, said it complies fully with current federal standards. Train crews also undergo random testing for alcohol and illegal drug use.

Railroads typically require physical exams when someone is offered a job, as well as after an extended medical leave or when an employee's health is questioned at work. In addition, railroad medical departments offer wellness programs.

Some rail carriers, either on their own or after NTSB crash investigations, have voluntarily adopted measures that exceed federal standards, including obtaining medical histories of employees and educating workers about sleep disorders and medications. Amtrak, for example, requires annual medical examinations for engineers.

The FRA's Thompson said current regulations and voluntary industry screening programs have contributed to a steady decline in railroad accidents. The last two years have been among the safest for the industry, and Thompson noted that no fatal train wrecks linked to the health problems of train operators occurred between 2002 and 2010.

However, NTSB officials, safety experts and former FRA officials say there is ample evidence that current practices, which put much of the onus to disclose serious medical problems on workers, need to be strengthened.

Dozens of crashes ranging from deadly collisions to less serious mishaps have been linked to sleep disorders, mental illness, poor vision and medications that can cause drowsiness, FRA and NTSB records show. Accidents have likewise been tied to a host of other maladies such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

In 2001, a Canadian National Railway train ran a stop signal outside Clarkston, Mich., and rammed into an Illinois Central Railway train, killing its crew. NTSB investigators concluded that the Canadian railway engineer and conductor were fatigued because of sleep apnea. Doctors had told both men they had the condition, but neither obtained adequate treatment, the investigators concluded.

Three years ago, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe coal train whose two crew members had fallen asleep rear-ended a BNSF track maintenance train outside Red Oak, Iowa. The coal train's crewmen were killed. Both were found to have serious medical problems, including obesity, high blood pressure, depression and diabetes, for which they were taking medications that officials say may cause drowsiness.

The full extent to which medical problems contribute to accidents is difficult to determine. Federal crash reports don't always state an underlying cause; and NTSB investigators, who examine the medical conditions and histories of train crews after accidents, typically probe only the most serious incidents.

Because of data-gathering shortcomings "medical impairments are probably responsible for more accidents than the reports reflect," said Bruce Fine, a former FRA associate administrator for safety.

NTSB investigations alone have linked medical problems to 13 serious train accidents since 1984. FRA data show that over the last three decades, some physical condition of a worker was a factor in at least 86 accidents that killed nine people and injured 61.

Almost three-quarters of those accidents involved employee fatigue, although the records do not indicate if sleep disorders or potentially sedating medications contributed to the fatigue.

One FRA analysis found that of 36 on-duty deaths of railway workers in 2003, 20 were a result of medical problems, primarily heart attacks. All of the workers involved were older than 47, raising fears among regulators about the potential safety risks of aging train crews. Most of the rail labor force is now over 45.

Despite such concerns, reform has been slow. After the 2001 Canadian railway crash was linked to sleep disorders, the FRA ramped up education programs, issued safety advisories and launched a study concluding that industrywide medical standards were needed and probably could have prevented past accidents.

The 2005 FRA report noted that at one of the nation's largest railroads only 1% of workers had enrolled in a voluntary training course on sleep disorders.

Progress on new regulations, however, ran head-on into union and management concerns about the potential effects on rail operations and on the privacy of workers' health records.

"Does a railroad really need to know if I take Lipitor or other prescriptions?" said James A. Stem Jr., the national legislative director for the United Transportation Union.

William C. Keppen, a Maryland-based transportation safety consultant, said one solution could be the use of independent medical examiners to determine if rail employees are fit to work but who withhold specific findings from employers, a system used for pilots.

By 2012, the attempt to draft comprehensive requirements collapsed. Medical professionals, union officials and industry representatives couldn't agree on how to proceed, according to FRA officials and NTSB records. FRA officials also said the proposals would be too expensive for carriers, although a cost-benefit analysis was not performed.

"It was not a trivial amount of money for the railroads," said Grady C. Cothen Jr., who headed the FRA's regulatory program before retiring in 2010. But industrywide regulations "could have worked with FRA oversight."

Shortly after the effort stalled, the Goodwell crash occurred and the NTSB renewed its recommendations for comprehensive medical requirements.

FRA officials promised to reconsider vision and hearing standards, revisit the issue of sleep disorders and explore other voluntary measures. In February, the NTSB called that approach "unacceptable."

dan.weikel@latimes.com

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-me-adv-railroad-medical-standards-20140...

Tags: Rail safetyoshaNTSB
Categories: Labor News

More Unreported Derailments in Canada – How Safe are Our Railroads?

Railroaded's Blog - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 18:42

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has recently discovered more than 100 rail incidents that were not reported by Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian National Railway and Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (CBC News).

The TSB recently received a large number of records from CN Rail, dating back a number of years, including accidents or incidents that should have been reported to the TSB when they occurred. This is in addition to the over 1,800 derailments and other accidents that CN did not report over a 6-year period, as revealed by a CBC investigation several months ago.

The TSB also became concerned about CP Rail in early 2013 after discovering the company changed how it was reporting accidents. Based on a request by the TSB for more information, CP came back with another 150 occurrences that should have been reported when they took place. Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, the company responsible for the July 2013 Lac-Megantic oil train disaster that killed 47 people, also failed to report accidents including a number of uncontrolled runaway trains.

A few weeks ago, University of Calgary economist Jennifer Winter called on the federal government to provide better public access to rail safety data in the wake of a string of fiery derailments and explosions in Canada and the U.S. involving crude oil and other dangerous goods. Winter said, “This rash of disasters has led the public and policy-makers to question how safe are Canadian railroads?…Accuracy of data is important because mis-measured data can give a false sense of the true state of rail safety in Canada.” A rail company has never been fined in Canada for failing to report derailments and other accidents.

The public is quickly losing confidence in Canadian railways because of their cavalier approach to reporting derailments and other accidents. See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for hundreds of additional examples. Transporting crude oil and other dangerous goods by rail will become even more hazardous as the volume of tank car traffic increases significantly over the coming months and years.


Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Derailment, Safety, shipping oil by rail, Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: Trial of ‘the 23’ garment workers delayed to next week

Labourstart.org News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Phnom Penh Post
Categories: Labor News

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 12:25
Jacob GoldsteinNPRApril 18, 2014View the original piece

The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.

On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.

But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.

The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.

Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.

In Earle's case, those measurements go into a little black box in the back of his truck. At the end of the day, the data get sent to Paramus, N.J., where computers crunch through the data from UPS trucks across the country.

"The data are about as important as the package for us," says Jack Levis, who's in charge of the UPS data. It's his job to think about small amounts of time and large amounts of money.

"Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million," Levis says.

His team figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.

The team figured out how to use sensors in the truck to predict when a part is about to break.

And UPS solved a problem that Bill Earle and other drivers used to have: At the end of the day, there would be a package in the back of the truck that should have been delivered hours before.

"You want to cry 'cause you have to go back," Earle says.

A computer now figures out the best way to load the truck in the morning, and the best way to deliver packages all day.

Earle says a typical day for him used to be around 90 deliveries — now it's about 120.

When you hear people talk about technology increasing workers' productivity, this is what they're talking about: same guy, same truck — lots more deliveries.

In the long run, as workers have gotten more productive, their pay has gone up. UPS drivers today make about twice what they made in the mid '90s when you add up their wages, health care and pensions, according to the head of their union.

But Earle says there is another side of driving around a truck full of sensors: "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Take, for example, backing up. For safety reasons, UPS doesn't like it when their drivers back up too much.

"They know exactly how many times you're backing up," Earle says, "where you're backing up, and they also know the distance and the speed that you're backing at."

Every day, Earle says, the company lets drivers know if they are backing up too much.

"You can't let it feel like it's an attack on your own personal, the way you've been doing the job," Earle says. "You can't look at it that way 'cause you'll get so frustrated that you won't even want to do it anymore."

Jack Levis, the UPS data guy, says the data are just a new way to figure out how to do things better, and faster. And, he says, the drivers benefit from that along with the company.

"They're the highest paid in the business, which is why my job is to keep them productive so they remain the highest paid in the industry."

Still, issues over the data the company collects have become part of the bargaining process between the drivers' union and the company. Under the drivers' contract, the company cannot discipline drivers based solely on data, and can't collect data without telling them.

This kind of back and forth — about what kind of data companies can collect, and what they can do with it — isn't limited to UPS. It's going to start popping up for more and more workers and more and more companies.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Bankruptcy Judge Says AMR Can't Cut Retiree Benefits Judge Says Former American Airlines Parent's Benefit Programs Lack Language Allowing It To Modify Them

Current News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:55

Bankruptcy Judge Says AMR Can't Cut Retiree Benefits
Judge Says Former American Airlines Parent's Benefit Programs Lack Language Allowing It To Modify Them
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230462630457950981336...

By JACQUELINE PALANK CONNECT
April 18, 2014 2:38 p.m. ET
A bankruptcy judge ruled that former American Airlines parent AMR Corp. doesn't have the unilateral right to terminate benefits to about 46,930 retirees.

Judge Sean H. Lane of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan on Thursday denied AMR's request, brought during its 2011 Chapter 11 case, that it could unilaterally modify the health and welfare benefits it offered its retirees because its benefit programs "lack language categorically reserving" its right to do so. AMR had sought to shift the cost of the benefits to its retirees, who include union and nonunion members.

"We thank Judge Lane for his thoughtful consideration of the issues. American will review his ruling and consider next steps related to the retiree health and life insurance benefits. We always remain open to productive discussions to finally resolve this matter," American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton said Friday in an emailed statement.

Attorneys who represented AMR and its retirees in the bankruptcy case couldn't immediately be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

AMR sought Chapter 11 protection in November 2011 in a bid to address its high labor costs. The company exited bankruptcy last November through its merger with US Airways Group Inc. The merged company now operates as American Airlines Group Inc.AAL -0.31%

Write to Jacqueline Palank at jacqueline.palank@wsj.com

Tags: AAPensionsairline workers
Categories: Labor News

4/28 SF Workers Memorial Day-Fighting For Health And Safety & Healthcare For Injured Workers

Current News - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 11:50

4/28 SF Workers Memorial Day-Fighting For Health And Safety & Healthcare For Injured Workers
Remember The Dead, Fight For The Living!
Monday April 28, 2014 7:00 PM PST
ILWU Local 34
5 Berry St./Next To AT&T Ball Park San Francisco, CA
Wheelchair Accessible
Free

Streamed Live on
www.kpfa.org
www.ilmnetwork.org

Join injured workers, health and safety advocates, healthcare advocates and others on Workers Memorial Day in San Francisco on April 28, 2014. In California workers face a more and more dangerous situation on the job with injuries and deaths from workplace toxins and hazards. New technologies such as biotech and nanotech are unregulated and workers union and unorganized who speak out about health and safety are illegally retaliated against in many workplaces.
At the same time, California has only 166 OSHA inspectors for 18 million workers and the state refuses to even hire more inspectors with money that has already been appropriated. Ca-OSHA whistleblowers are now speaking out about the need to defend Ca-OSHA to protect California workers on the job. There is a growing scandal at Cal-OSHA and DIR because they have not spent the money they have for a proper number of OSHA inspectors.
Workplace bullying on the job is also creating more health problems including depression which is now a larger part of workplace injuries yet has been threatened by California SB 863 which limits compensation for these injuries.
Injured workers also face a growing crisis after they have to go through one obstacle course after another to get their healthcare. Doctors who are not even licensed in California operate through an outsourced company called Maximus which has anonymous doctors giving determination about whether workers are able to get their healthcare needs met. On this day we will commemorate those workers killed on the job and those workers and their families who are fighting for healthcare and justice on the job.

Initial Speakers:
Brenda Barros, SEIU 1021 SF Cope Chair and SF General Hospital Worker
Dr. Larry Rose, Past Medical Director Cal-OSHA
Adam Wood, San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation
Sean Gillis, IFPTE 21 Oakland Unit M
Brian Carrasso, Injured worker at Clark Pest Control
George Figuerero ATU 1555 BART 2014 Strike Coordinator
Dina Padilla, Injured Worker Advocate, Injured Kaiser SEIU Hospital Worker
Dr. Jayshree Chander, 30th Anniversary Commemorative event, WALIB ("We All Live in Bhopal")

Sponsored by
Injured Workers National Network www.iwnn.org
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Watchdog Group: Cal/OSHA's Staff Level Has Fallen Below Minimum Standard for Federal Funding
http://ehstoday.com/osha/watchdog-group-calosha-s-staff-level-has-fallen...
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-worker-safety-20140211,0,37926.sto...
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Tags: Workers Memorial Dayhealth and safetyworkplace bullying
Categories: Labor News

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 21:47

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move "You know, it does feel like big brother."
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/04/17/303770907/to-increase-producti...

by JACOB GOLDSTEIN
April 17, 2014 7:34 AM ET
Listen to the Story
Morning Edition4 min 25 sec

Elise Amendola/AP
The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.

On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.

But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.

The computer doesn't just give advice. It gathers data all day long. Earle's truck is also full of sensors that record to the second when he opens or closes the door behind him, buckles his seat belt and when he starts the truck.

Technology means that no matter what kind of job you have — even if you're alone in a truck on an empty road — your company can now measure everything you do.

In Earle's case, those measurements go into a little black box in the back of his truck. At the end of the day, the data get sent to Paramus, N.J., where computers crunch through the data from UPS trucks across the country.

"The data are about as important as the package for us," says Jack Levis, who's in charge of the UPS data. It's his job to think about small amounts of time and large amounts of money.

"Just one minute per driver per day over the course of a year adds up to $14.5 million," Levis says.

His team figured out that opening a door with a key was slowing their drivers down. So drivers were given a push-button key fob that attaches to a belt loop.

The team figured out how to use sensors in the truck to predict when a part is about to break.

And UPS solved a problem that Bill Earle and other drivers used to have: At the end of the day, there would be a package in the back of the truck that should have been delivered hours before.

"You want to cry 'cause you have to go back," Earle says.

A computer now figures out the best way to load the truck in the morning, and the best way to deliver packages all day.

Earle says a typical day for him used to be around 90 deliveries — now it's about 120.

When you hear people talk about technology increasing workers' productivity, this is what they're talking about: same guy, same truck — lots more deliveries.

In the long run, as workers have gotten more productive, their pay has gone up. UPS drivers today make about twice what they made in the mid '90s when you add up their wages, health care and pensions, according to the head of their union.

But Earle says there is another side of driving around a truck full of sensors: "You know, it does feel like big brother."

Take, for example, backing up. For safety reasons, UPS doesn't like it when their drivers back up too much.

"They know exactly how many times you're backing up," Earle says, "where you're backing up, and they also know the distance and the speed that you're backing at."

Every day, Earle says, the company lets drivers know if they are backing up too much.

"You can't let it feel like it's an attack on your own personal, the way you've been doing the job," Earle says. "You can't look at it that way 'cause you'll get so frustrated that you won't even want to do it anymore."

Jack Levis, the UPS data guy, says the data are just a new way to figure out how to do things better, and faster. And, he says, the drivers benefit from that along with the company.

"They're the highest paid in the business, which is why my job is to keep them productive so they remain the highest paid in the industry."

Still, issues over the data the company collects have become part of the bargaining process between the drivers' union and the company. Under the drivers' contract, the company cannot discipline drivers based solely on data, and can't collect data without telling them.

This kind of back and forth — about what kind of data companies can collect, and what they can do with it — isn't limited to UPS. It's going to start popping up for more and more workers and more and more companies.

Tags: upslabor
Categories: Labor News

Turkey: Brax 'Feels Good' over labour rights violations at Lafem in Turkey

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Ukraine: НПГУ будет охранять шахты

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: КВПУ
Categories: Labor News

No raises merited for BART execs but BART board votes unanimously for higher salaries

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 13:09

No raises merited for BART execs but BART board votes unanimously for higher salaries
No raises merited for BART execs
http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/editorials/article/No-raises-merited-...
April 15, 2014

BART Director James Fang said it himself: "Obviously in this last negotiation, BART was not at its finest."

Despite that admission, and in the wake of two strikes in the course of eight months of contentious labor negotiations, the death of two track workers struck by a train and weeks of snarled traffic as 400,000 riders scrambled to find alternate ways to get to work, the BART board voted unanimously last week to give the agency's top five executives a 3.7 percent raise and increase in benefits.

The pay increase matches that granted the transit agency's union workers, a typical practice - but one the board should reconsider if it is to preserve whatever is left of its credibility with taxpayers.

The voters expect BART directors to act in the public's interest to operate and upgrade a vital and heavily used regional transportation service, not to reward staff for a job horribly done. How can BART officials negotiate for the best agreement for the public when they effectively are bargaining to increase their own salaries?

Equally egregious is that directors also awarded a $225,000 contract to Agreement Dynamics Inc. of Seattle to look at how BART negotiates labor agreements and "ensure that future inconveniences to our riders and the public are avoided," Fang explained.

The events of the past year amply illustrate that the agency needs help with contract negotiations. Voters should ask BART directors why they aren't looking for executives who can do the work rather than paying consultants to do the demanding and exacting job for them.

Tags: BARTGrace CrunicansalariesUnion Busters
Categories: Labor News

Ca-Osha Fines In BART Deaths But No Criminal Prosecution-Taxpayers Pay Again For Murders

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:55

Ca-Osha Fines In BART Deaths But No Criminal Prosecution-Taxpayers Pay Again For Murders
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/BART-fined-for-worker-deaths-...
BART fined for worker deaths during strike
Kurtis Alexander

April 17, 2014

(04-17) 12:35 PDT OAKLAND -- State regulators on Thursday fined BART $210,000 in connection with the deaths of two track workers who were hit by a train last October during a union strike, accusing the transit agency of three "willful" violations of safety rules.

The investigation by Cal/OSHA, which regulates workplace safety, said BART should not have allowed the workers, under a long-controversial policy called "simple approval," to do the Oct. 19 inspection while trains were moving in excess of 65 mph on the same track.

While one of the workers was supposed to act as a lookout under the policy, neither one did, Cal/OSHA said. As a result, the employees "had no warning" of the train that struck them near Walnut Creek. They reportedly had their backs turned.

A second violation charged that a BART manager who was controlling the train that collided with the track workers had not been adequately trained for the job. Such managers, the state said, "were allowed to operate trains with inadequate supervision during an abbreviated training course."

BART had been training the managers as drivers to prepare for the possibility of an extended strike.

The third violation alleged that one of the workers who died had been in danger of being electrocuted before he was struck, because he was not qualified to carry a track gauge that could have exposed him to the system's 1,000-volt third rail.

"Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions," said Christine Baker, who heads Cal/OSHA, in a prepared statement.

BART has since fixed all three of the problems, according to state and BART officials. Simple approval is no longer used during track inspections and repairs.

"Passenger and employee safety is our top priority at BART," the transit agency's general manager, Grace Crunican, said after the fines were leveled. "BART has fundamentally upgraded its safety procedures with the implementation of an enhanced wayside safety program and a proposed budget investment of over $5 million in additional resources to bolster BART's safety performance."

The collision killed BART track engineer Christopher Sheppard, 58, of Hayward and contract employee Laurence Daniels, 66, of Fair Oaks (Sacramento County).

Kurtis Alexander is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:kalexander@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @kurtisalexander

Tags: BARTMurderdeath on the rails
Categories: Labor News

Ca-Osha Fines Against BART Bosses But No Criminal Prosecution For Criminal Negligence And Deaths

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:41

Ca-Osha Fines Against BART Bosses But No Criminal Prosecution For Criminal Negligence And Deaths
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/citation.html
Date Issued Establishment Inspection Site Cal/OSHA Office Violations Description and
Proposed Penalty Documents by
Inspection # Appeal
Documentation
by Docket #
4/17/2014 Bay Area Rapid Transit District Walnut Creek Concord District Office
Willful/Serious – 3
Total
Violations - 3
http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/citations/SF-BART.Citation-documents.31681905...
Proposed penalties: $210,000
Citations were issued to the Bay Area Rapid Transit District for three Willful-Serious citations related to a fatality involving two track workers. The employer failed to ensure that only qualified electrical workers were allowed to perform work or take any conducting object within an area where there is a hazard of contact with energized conductors. The employer's program was not effectively implemented with respect to the training provisions, in that the employer allowed employees, who had been given a new job assignment, to perform that job while having not completed the training. The employer did not develop and institute controls to safeguard personnel during railcar movement, and allowed workers to conduct work on the railway tracks where trains were travelling in excess of 65 miles-per-hour. Furthermore, the employer's control method, namely the "Simple Approval" procedure, does not safeguard personnel working on tracks during railcar movement.
Newsline No.: 2014-33 Date: April 17, 2014
Cal/OSHA Fines BART $210,000 in 2013 Accident that Killed 2 Transit Workers

Concord—Cal/OSHA cited Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) today for willful serious safety violations that resulted in two workers being killed by a fast-moving train in Walnut Creek last October. The citations carry proposed penalties totaling $210,000.

Cal/OSHA issued the citations for three willful serious violations after its investigation found the following:

• The two workers who were killed, Christopher D. Sheppard and Laurence E. Daniels, did not meet the qualifications to perform work near hazardous energized third-rails. Sheppard was a BART special projects manager, Daniels was a contractor and consulting engineer.
• A trainee was at the controls when the accident occurred—his trainer, a high-ranking transportation manager, was seated in the passenger car with other BART managers and another trainee. He could not view the track from his vantage point in the passenger car.
• BART’s “simple approval” procedures for employees working on the tracks were both inadequate and not followed.
“Employers in California must comply with safety standards to protect their employees, and diligence is vital in hazardous working conditions,” said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Cal/OSHA is a division of DIR.

When the accident occurred on October 19, trains were being operated on a non-passenger basis. BART train 963, a four-car train operating in automatic mode traveling at more than 65 miles per hour with an inexperienced operator-in-training at the controls, was proceeding to its destination of Pleasant Hill station around 1:45 p.m. The high-ranking manager designated as the trainer was seated in the passenger area with three BART managers and another trainee instead of maintaining a position next to the trainee in the control cab. Although he could see the trainee at the controls from behind the open control cab door, the trainer was not located in a position to closely view the trainee’s actions and observe the track. The trainee saw the workers and was attempting to sound the horn and stop the train when the workers were struck.

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure worker safety,” said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Safety standards are designed to save lives and they were not followed.”

BART had its “simple approval” authorization process in place at the time of the accident, which made employees working on train tracks responsible for their own safety. On two previous occasions, in 2001 and 2008, employees were fatally injured while operating under “simple approval” authorization. Cal/OSHA issued citations after investigations of both incidents. The day after the 2013 fatality accident, BART suspended the “simple approval” process for track maintenance.

Cal/OSHA issues citations for serious workplace safety violations when there is a realistic possibility that death or serious physical harm could result from the actual hazard created by the violation. The violation is classified as willful when an employer is aware that a hazardous condition exists and no reasonable effort is made to eliminate the hazard.

Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers who want to learn more about California workplace health and safety standards or labor law violations can access information on DIR’s website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Cal/OSHA’s Consultation Program provides free and voluntary assistance to employers and employee organizations to improve their health and safety programs. Employers should call (800) 963-9424 for assistance from the Cal/OSHA Consultation Program.

Employees with work-related questions or complaints may call the toll-free California Workers’ Information Line at (866) 924-9757 for recorded information, in English and Spanish, on a variety of work-related topics. Complaints can also be filed confidentially with Cal/OSHA District Offices.

For media inquiries, contact Erika Monterroza at (510) 286-1164 or Peter Melton at (510) 286-7046.

###

P.O. Box 420603 · San Francisco, CA · 94142-0603 · www.dir.ca.gov

Tags: CA-OshaBARTscabsDeathsRail safety
Categories: Labor News

South Korea's response to ferry sinking assailed; captain apologizes "cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs."

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 11:44

South Korea's response to ferry sinking assailed; captain apologizes "cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs."
http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-ferry-sinking-20140417,0,...

By Steven Borowiec
April 17, 2014, 4:21 a.m.
SEOUL – Angry relatives of passengers aboard a sunken South Korean ferry criticized the government’s response Thursday as the ship’s captain made an emotional apology for fleeing the vessel before hundreds of others had a chance to get out.

As of Thursday afternoon, 287 people remained missing, most of them high school students on a trip. Nine people were confirmed dead and 179 had been rescued. The official death toll was expected to rise significantly in the coming days, as most of the missing are believed to be trapped underwater inside the ship, named the Sewol.

President Park Geun-hye traveled to the site of the sinking, off the nation’s southern coast, touring the area by boat and later meeting with families of the passengers. But tempers flared as parents argued for a larger-scale diving operation to find the missing. Prime Minister Chung Hong-won was nearly attacked by grieving families as he arrived on the scene. Photos showed him being shielded from a water bottle that was thrown at him.



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PHOTOS: South Korea ferry sinks

The Sewol was en route from Incheon, on the country’s northwest coast, to the resort island of Jeju, when it went down around 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Officials said 500 divers, 169 boats and 29 planes had been mobilized to continue search operations. But poor underwater visibility and strong currents were making it difficult for the divers. "Strong currents and the murky water pose severe obstacles. We will do our best," Minister of Security and Public Administration Kang Byung-kyu said at a Thursday press briefing.

On Thursday afternoon, Park Im-dae decided to take a bus from the Seoul area with her daughter to the nearby port of Jindo, where grief-stricken families had gathered at a gymnasium awaiting news of the missing. She was hoping for information about her nephew, one of the missing high school students.

“We don’t know who is dead and who is alive,” said Park. “It’s too difficult to just wait here and do nothing.”

Lee Joon-seok, captain of the Sewol, has been criticized for fleeing the ship before all passengers could evacuate. In a broadcast by South Korea’s YTN network, Lee made an emotional apology. "I am really sorry. I don't know what to say," he said while seated in a chair, surrounded by reporters with a hood pulled over his face. He then repeated, “I’m so sorry.”

The South Korean coast guard reported that Lee was filling in for the regular captain, who was on vacation.

The ship sent out distress calls in a position east of the normal route from Incheon to Jeju, raising the possibility that the captain had taken a shortcut. The Sewol’s departure Tuesday was delayed almost three hours by fog.

“It is possible that the ship changed its course to a different route because it was delayed leaving Incheon,” Lee Gyeong-Og, vice minister of Security and Public Administration, said in a press briefing. The company operating the ship, Cheonghaejin Marine Co., has denied changing course.

Rim Gung-su, a professor at Mokpo National Maritime University with more than 30 years of experience as a ship captain, suspects that an abrupt turn may have caused the ferry to turn on its side and sink.

“The ship was moving at full speed, it was very foggy and there were probably a lot of fishing boats around. My theory is that the captain turned suddenly to the right to avoid a boat, which could have caused the cargo to fall over, throwing the Sewol off balance,” Rim said.

He also said that cargo on ships is often not securely tied down as many operators seek to cut labor costs. The Sewol, about 480 feet long, can carry up to 921 people, 180 vehicles and 152 shipping containers.

The Sewol was built in 1994 in Japan and was purchased by Cheonghaejin Marine in 2012. After being purchased, the ship was refurbished to increase its capacity. Rim said this would have raised the Sewol’s center of gravity and could have made it more vulnerable to tipping over in the event of a shift of weight. The Sewol was fully licensed and operating legally.

Passengers reported hearing a loud noise before the sinking. “At first the ship tilted about 15 degrees and I assumed it was just because of a big wave,” passenger Kim Hong-kyung, 58, told the Kyunghyang newspaper. “But then it was only two or three minutes until it shifted to 45 and then 90 degrees.”

Survivors told local media that there had been a public address announcement instructing them to stay in their seats as the boat was sinking. Photos showed several lifeboats going unused as the ship went down.

Tags: deregulationmaritime safety
Categories: Labor News

Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Fights Privatization & Union Busting

Current News - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:43

Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU Fights Privatization & Union Busting
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAEvgdFKkLc&feature=
On April 4, 2014 So-Joon Song, Korean Railway Workers Union International
Affairs Director gave a report on the Korean Railway Workers Union
2013 general strike against privatization, their history and struggle against
privatization, health and safety and for public control of transportation system.
So-Joon Song had been fired for eleven years for union activity and won
his job back after a long fight.
The report was made at the Railway Workers United RWU national
conference in Chicago in conjunction with the Labor Notes Convention.
For more information on the Korean Railway Workers Union KRWU go to
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-railway-workers-right-to-strike-i...
http://krwu.nodong.net/home2008/main.php
For more information on Railway Workers United RWU
http://railroadworkersunited.org/
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: Korean Railway Workers UnionKRWU
Categories: Labor News

China: Thousands of Chinese workers on strike

Labourstart.org News - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: BBC
Categories: Labor News

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