Labor News

S.F., L.A. threaten Uber, Lyft, Sidecar with legal action

Current News - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 15:40

S.F., L.A. threaten Uber, Lyft, Sidecar with legal action
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/S-F-L-A-threaten-Uber-Lyft-Si...
By Heather Knight and Benny Evangelista

September 25, 2014 | Updated: September 26, 2014 8:17am

Yalonda M. James/Associated Press
July 14, 2014 - Lyft driver Geoffrey Frisch, 36, enters his vehicle before heading to the Memphis International Airport Monday afternoon, July 14, 2014. Memphis has issued a cease-and-desist order against the ride-share service, which has been in service in the city since April, until they meet the same regulatory requirements as taxis and other vehicles for hire. (AP Photo/The Commercial Appeal, Yolanda M. James)
The San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys have sent letters to ride-share companies Uber, Lyft and Sidecar claiming they are operating illegally and warning them that legal action could follow if they don’t make major changes.

The two district attorney offices conducted a joint investigation into the ride-share companies and found a number of practices that violate California law. The prosecutors say the practices represent “a continuing threat to consumers and the public.”

Sidecar shared its letter with the media and issued a statement saying it strongly disagrees with the thrust of the letter and has no plans to change its operations. Uber and Lyft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We value innovation and new modes of providing service to the public,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement. “However, we need to make sure the safety and well-being of consumers are adequately protected in the process.”

The district attorneys told all three companies that they misled customers by claiming their background checks of drivers screen out anyone who has committed driving violations, including DUIs, as well as sexual assault and other criminal offenses. The district attorneys say that’s patently untrue.

Gascón in June charged Uber driver Daveea Whitmire, 28, of striking a passenger. He had passed the company’s background check, but court records showed he had previously been convicted of felony drug dealing and misdemeanor battery.

Gascón wants the companies to remove all statements from their mobile apps, websites and other publications that imply their background checks reveal drivers’ complete criminal history.

The district attorneys also told all three companies that their new shared ride service fares — in which individuals going the same way can hop in a car and pay their fares separately — are calculated in a way that violates state law. Gascón wants the shared-ride payment features removed from the companies’ offerings.

Sidecar CEO Sunil Paul called the letter “shocking and baffling” and said he has already asked to meet both office to discuss the issues.

“We’re going to continue to operate Shared Ride,” Paul said Thursday. “We think their claims are incorrect and their assertions that we are operating illegally are simply incorrect.”

Earlier this month, the California Public Utilities Commission sent warning letters to all three that the carpool options are illegal under current state law.

However, a PUC official said the letters were also a signal to the state Legislature to update laws that were written to prevent limousine drivers from poaching passengers from existing shared-ride services like Super Shuttle.

The district attorneys accused Uber and Lyft of engaging in two additional unlawful practices. One is failure to be regulated by the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture’s weights and measures division, which regulates everything from groceries to gas stations to taxis to ensure that customers are getting the amount of food or gas or number of taxi miles they’re paying for. Uber and Lyft are also accused of failing to get the proper licenses to pick up and drop off passengers at airports.

The companies have been asked to respond to the letters by Monday and meet with representatives of the district attorney’s office by Oct. 8. If not, the prosecutors are prepared to file legal actions seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties. It’s unclear what those could entail.

The district attorneys’ move is the latest volley in the ongoing battle between local government, which regulates many things to ensure safety, and the new sharing economy sector of the tech industry, which has largely resisted being regulated and argues it doesn't fit into government's outdated rules.

The ride-sharing companies, which allow people to use their smartphones to order privately driven cars instead of taxis, have argued since their inception they shouldn’t be regulated the same way as taxis. The state PUC doesn’t see it that way.

San Francisco City Hall is grappling with how to regulate Airbnb and other companies that allow people to rent their private homes and apartments to travelers. Currently, San Francisco bans all short-term residential rentals unless people hold bed-and-breakfast licenses, but it doesn’t enforce the rules. And City Attorney Dennis Herrera in June issued a cease-and-desist letter to Monkey Parking, an app that allows people in public parking spots to auction off those spaces to the highest bidder.

Proponents of the sharing economy argue the new services help reduce waste and allow regular people to make extra money, while critics argue the term “sharing” is ludicrous because it allows people to make extra money off their cars or homes and that they’re not actually sharing anything.

Heather Knight and Benny Evangelista are San Francisco Chronicle staff writers. E-mail:hknight@sfchronicle.com, bevangelista@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @hknightsf, @ChronicleBenny

Tags: Uberregulationfraud
Categories: Labor News

Killings at UPS Alabama facility the latest workplace shooting in US

Current News - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 13:21

Killings at UPS Alabama facility the latest workplace shooting in US
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/09/26/upsa-s26.html
By Jerry White
26 September 2014
The deadly shooting at a United Parcel Service facility in Birmingham, Alabama Tuesday was the latest in a long string of workplace and school killings in the US, which have been occurring at an increased rate over the last seven years, according to a new FBI report.
In this case, the shooter was identified as Kerry Joe Tesney, a 45-year-old UPS driver who was informed that he had been fired after 21 years of service. According to the Birmingham News, the married father of two had appealed a decision by the company to fire him last month and was informed by mail on Monday that he had lost the appeal.
One day later Tesney, wearing his UPS uniform, walked into the warehouse near the Birmingham airport and just before 9:30 a.m. opened fire on two supervisors in their office. He then turned the gun on himself.
Doug Hutcheson, 33, a driver supervisor and father of two small children, and Brian Callans, 46, a business manager who worked for UPS for 26 years, were both killed. Hutcheson had reportedly been involved in investigating an alleged infraction by Tesney and had recommended his dismissal.
According to the pastor at the North Park Baptist Church where Tesney lived in suburban Trussville, Alabama, the UPS driver had been “troubled” over his work and financial situation.
The Alabama incident was one of many in the last few months alone. So prevalent have these mass killings become in recent years that the FBI issued a report this week on “Active Shooter Incidents,” which examined 160 such events between 2000 and 2013 that did not involve gang- or drug-related violence or individuals.
The shootings examined included many that attracted national and international attention, such as the killings at Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook Elementary School, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Fort Hood, the Aurora (Colorado) Cinemark Century 16 movie theater, the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and the Washington Navy Yard.
These tragedies resulted in a staggering toll of 1,043 casualties, with 486 killed and 557 wounded, excluding the shooters. The study showed that such incidents have become more frequent—with an average of 6.4 annually in the first seven years of the study and 16.4 annually over the last seven years.
The bloodiest year was 2012, with 90 people killed and 118 wounded in 21 incidents, including 12 fatalities at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, and another 27 people, mostly children, killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Other findings of the study include:
* All but six of the 160 shootings involved male shooters (and only two involved more than one shooter).
* More than half—90 shootings—ended on the shooter’s initiative (i.e., suicide, fleeing), while 21 incidents ended after unarmed citizens successfully restrained the shooter.
* In 21 of the 45 confrontations, where law enforcement had to engage the shooter to end the threat, nine officers were killed and 28 were wounded.
* The largest percentage of incidents—45.6 percent—took place in a commercial environment (73), followed by 24.3 percent that took place in an educational environment (39). The remaining shootings occurred at the other locations, as specified in the study—open spaces, military and other government properties, residential properties, houses of worship, and health care facilities.
The primary purpose of the study, the FBI said, was to “provide our law enforcement partners—normally the first responders on the scene of these dangerous and fast-moving events—with data that will help them to better prepare for and respond to these incidents, saving more lives and keeping themselves safer in the process.”
Special Agent Katherine Schweit—who heads the FBI’s Active Shooter Initiative—said she hopes the study “demonstrates the need not only for enhanced preparation on the part of law enforcement and other first responders, but also for civilians to be engaged in discussions and training on decisions they’d have to make in an active shooter situation.”
As in the response to virtually every other social problem in America, the focus of the authorities is to beef up police, increase the surveillance of the population and encourage the arming of teachers. Few if any resources are dedicated to examine, let alone offer a solution to, the underlying social causes of such violent eruptions.
This is combined with general perplexity over the levels of alienation and social anger in the population.
“Many active shooters have a real or perceived deeply held personal grievance, and the only remedy that they can perceive for that grievance is an act of catastrophic violence against a person or an institution,” said FBI behavioral analysis expert Andre Simons, who added that the shootings can bring a “moment of omnipotent control and domination.”
According to the FBI website, “Using the results of this study, the Bureau’s behavioral analysis experts will now delve deeper into why these shooters did what they did in an effort to help strengthen prevention efforts around the country.”
The increasing prevalence of a sense of social powerlessness is not only a psychological condition, but is rooted in the social and political structure of America itself.
Nowhere do masses of ordinary people have so little control over their lives. Decisions over whether they work or not, and whether their families will have enough to eat, are made by powerful and faceless economic and political forces oblivious to the needs of the majority. Millions have been tossed into the abyss and official society hardly takes notice, while the financial kingpins are reveling in record amounts of wealth.
The organizations that once mediated class relations in the United States—the trade unions and the civil rights groups—are run by corrupt and well-heeled functionaries who are part of the establishment and oppose any collective resistance to the daily humiliations on the job, layoffs or devastating wage and pension cuts. The result is that millions of workers are left to fend for themselves.
Notwithstanding the periodic laments issued by political figures after a particularly horrific shooting, these eruptions cannot be separated from the militarism and glorification of mass murder that is given official approval by the Obama administration and both big business parties, as well as the media and entertainment conglomerates.
Under these conditions, the most psychologically fragile snap and erupt in violence. In the end, the underlying cause of this is the brutal character of class relations in America.

Tags: UPS Workplace Murder
Categories: Labor News

Burlington Neighbourhood Frustrated with CN Rail Yard Activities

Railroaded's Blog - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:51

Some residents in the Aldershot community of Burlington, Ontario have been fighting Canadian National Railway for 15 years, without success. Residents can’t sleep at night, their houses shake and rattle, and their property values have dropped with the increasing rail yard activity in their community.

The sometimes deafening noise at the CN Aldershot Rail Yard comes from shunting and coupling of rail cars, idling and slow-moving locomotives, load cell testing of locomotives, wheel and brake retarder squeal, compressed air releases, and many other disturbing noises associated with rail yard activities. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Railway Association of Canada list noises at rail yards as one of the top five railway proximity issues of concern to nearby residents. Noise in rail yards is far more frequent and of much longer duration than normal railway noise.

Residents are also concerned about their health, considering the well-documented carcinogenic effects of diesel exhaust from idling and slow-moving locomotives.

In 2006, the Aldershot community presented a petition to Canadian National Railway, their Mayor and Councillors, and their Member of Parliament, pleading for resolution to their nightmare. Petitioners suggested building a sound barrier and restricting noisy rail yard activities at night and during early mornings. CN essentially ignored the petition. Unfortunately, and as is the case across the country, local governments have no jurisdictional authority when it comes to railway activity including noise and vibration, so the local Mayor and Council have not been able to help. The federal government has the sole legislative responsibility for railway operations, safety and railway impacts on neighbouring communities.

Aldershot residents have seen their property values decrease as the rail yard activities have increased. Some residents near the rail yard have estimated their homes are worth about $200,000 less than comparable homes less than a 5-minute walk further away from the rail yard.

Recent derailments reported in the Aldershot community have also increased the stress of residents. Three CN cars loaded with ballast rock derailed in the Aldershot Rail Yard on April 22, 2014, when a train passed over a “frog”, a railway term that refers to the crossing point of two rails (Toronto Star). On February 26, 2012, three Via Rail engineers were killed and 46 other people were injured when a Via locomotive and five cars derailed near the Aldershot Station on track owned, operated and maintained by CN. The train was switching from one track to another when it flew off the tracks and collided with a building, destroying the locomotive that the three deceased crew members were in. A former CN project engineer said the deadly derailment might have been prevented if CN had heeded warnings and removed or upgraded an obsolete crossover between tracks designed mainly for freight trains travelling at a maximum speed of 24km/h (CBC News).

Aldershot community members are at their wit’s end. The unreasonable rail yard noise, health effects, property devaluation and derailments have placed tremendous stress on families and their overall quality of life. If there ever was a case where the federal government should exercise its legal responsibilities for appropriate railway operations, it is in the Aldershot community. Railroaded sincerely hopes the local Member of Parliament and the federal Transport Minister will help this community. We also encourage the Aldershot community to make a strong submission to the recently-created Canada Transportation Act Review Secretariat by December 30, 2014. For details on the review of this federal legislation, see Rail and Reason’s recent article.


Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Derailment, Rail yard
Categories: Labor News

St. Louis Bus Company Fails at Racial Divide and Conquer Against ATU Local 788

Current News - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 12:29

St. Louis Bus Company Fails at Racial Divide and Conquer Against ATU Local 788
http://labornotes.org/blogs/2014/09/bus-company-fails-racial-divide-and-...
September 25, 2014 / Jenny Brown

St. Louis bus union ATU Local 788 fought back against race-baiting by the transit authorities by leafleting riders, picketing, and placing ads like this one. Today they're voting on a tentative agreement; tomorrow they're rallying in front of the employer's headquarters. Source: ATU Local 788.

Update: Members approved the contract in a Thursday vote.

Bus workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 are celebrating a tentative agreement after they called management on outrageous racism.

The workers, who serve St. Louis, including Ferguson, have been trying for over three years to get a new contract with Metro, the bi-state agency that runs the buses. The union said the new contract preserves workers’ defined benefit pension plan, increases wages, and improves health care coverage.

Members are voting today.

Part of the reason the contract took so long, said ATU President Larry Hanley before the agreement, was that “the company is populated by racial arsonists.

“They have economic goals for the agency, and the linchpin of economic goals these days is to strip the workers of pensions and wages,” Hanley explained in early September. “The method that the agency has chosen to use is to separate workers by race and category.”

OREO RECIPE

Most of the drivers are Black, and most of the mechanics are white. So “officials of the agency have been privately negotiating with the mechanics to get them to leave the ATU, telling them they can get them more,” said Hanley. “In other words, ‘If you aren’t part of that Black bus drivers union, we’re going to take care of you.’”

The real motive, of course, was to separate workers into smaller groups so they wouldn’t have the power to stand up to management’s cuts. But management’s strategy was failing, so they stepped it up.

In July management came into bargaining, “and they say, ‘We have a gift for the bargaining committee,’ and they hand each one of them the recipe for Oreo cookies,” recalled Hanley.

The union responded with demonstrations, radio spots, and newspaper ads. When workers leafleted riders at transit centers, Metro tried to ban their leafleting on employer property. Members turned up the heat by demonstrating at the residence of Metro’s CEO, John Nations.

UNIFINISHED BUSINESS

“Securing the agreement is a victory, but it doesn’t resolve the pain and outrage that the Oreo incident caused. This issue must be addressed,” said Local President Mike Breihan. The union has asked Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Nations as head of the bi-state agency.

“After all our community has been through in the last month, we will not accept behavior like this,” Breihan said. “We will be calling on the Metro Board and elected officials to address this immediately.” The local is holding a "Rally for Respect" outside Metro headquarters on Friday.

The agency is covered under federal transit law, not the NLRA, so there’s nowhere to file an unfair labor practice. “If there were, we would have had a pile of charges, based on their behavior,” said Hanley.

Jenny Brown is co-editor of Labor Notes.
jenny@labornotes.org

Tags: ATU 788racism
Categories: Labor News

Golden Gate Bridge MEBA Ferry Boat Pilots Strike Against Concession Demands

Current News - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:51

Golden Gate Bridge MEBA Ferry Boat Pilots Strike Against Concession Demands
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4YTe6MH-rQ&feature=
Golden Gate Bridge MEBA Ferry Boat Pilots went out on
strike in an unfair labor practice shutdown on
September 26, 2014. The management and board of the
Golden Gate Transportation District is seeking major
givebacks on their healthcare and benefits in a cost
shifting scheme.
Production of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

Tags: MEBA StrikeIBU-ILWU Bay AreaGolden Gate Bridge District
Categories: Labor News

Canadian National Railway Train Derails Near Vermilion, Alberta

Railroaded's Blog - Fri, 09/26/2014 - 10:09

Seventeen Canadian National Railway freight cars loaded with peas derailed east of Vermilion, Alberta on September 25 (CTV News). The derailment forced the closure of the rail line for at least 24 hours while the cars and peas were cleared off the tracks.

This is the 20th reported CN derailment in Alberta in less than a year. See CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for many more examples of CN accidents in Canada and the U.S.


Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Derailment
Categories: Labor News

Golden Gate MEBA Ferry captains to strike Friday

Current News - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 22:22

Golden Gate MEBA Ferry captains to strike Friday
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Golden-Gate-Bridge-ferries-won-t-r...
By Michael Cabanatuan
Updated 6:10 pm, Thursday, September 25, 2014


A Golden Gate Ferry boat arrives in Larkspur, Calif. on Friday, July 1, 2011. Photo: Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Thousands of commuters who enjoy a relaxing ferry commute will have to find another way to travel to work or the ballpark Friday when the Golden Gate ferry captains stage a one-day strike.

The 16 ferry captains represented by theMarine Engineers’ Beneficial Association will strike from 4:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., shutting down all ferry service between Marin and San Francisco, including service to the Giants game at AT&T Park. About 9,000 commuter trips are taken on the ferry daily, and another 1,400 trips are taken by baseball fans headed to or from AT&T Park.

“The boats cannot run without those captains, “ said Priya Clemens, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. “The best thing for people to do is to check alternate routes.”

The Alameda/Oakland, Harbor Bay, Vallejo and South San Francisco ferries operated by San Francisco Bay Ferry will operate as usual.

The ferry captains union is part of a coalition of unions at the district that have been negotiating for a new labor agreement for months. They have been working without contracts since July. According to union officials, increased health insurance costs are the main issue.

The captains union filed an unfair labor practice charge with the state Public Employment Relations Board on Wednesday, accusing the district of failing to negotiate fairly.

“The MEBA and other employees do not trust the district’s current proposals at the bargaining table,” said Dave Nolan, a union representative. “Round after round of negotiations have not resulted in a fair contract for these workers.”

Denis Mulligan, Golden Gate’s general manager, said the district had been negotiating with the captains since April and had resolved most issues. He said the district is trying to balance its budget without putting all the burden on people who pay bridge tolls and transit fares.

“We’re trying to strike a balance between our ratepayers who pay bridge tolls and ferry fares and our employees,” he said.

The strike will shut down the Golden Gate Ferry terminals at Sausalito, Larkspur terminals and the Ferry Building and AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Golden Gate Transit bus service and traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge are not expected to be directly affected by the strike but will undoubtedly be crowded with extra commuters.

“Thankfully, it’s a Friday, which is a little lighter,” Clemens said. “Nonetheless, prepare for a tough day.”

Robert Barley, a ferry captain, said the union is frustrated with the pace of negotiations and thought a strike was necessary to get the district’s attention.

“Going on strike tomorrow is the last thing we want to do, but the district has given us little choice,“ Barley said Thursday.

Last Friday, machinists represented by another union in the coalition staged a one-day strike and picketed at the bridge toll plaza administration building, but that did not affect commutes. The Golden Gate Labor Coalition contends that the district’s offer of 3 percent raises for each of the three years in the contract combined with increases in health insurance premiums will leave workers taking a pay cut.

District officials have said that their workers are well paid compared with others with similar jobs in the Bay Area, and that they’re asking them to pay only a slightly larger share of their health insurance costs.

“They’re the highest-paid ferry captains on San Francisco Bay,” Mulligan said. “And they have generous health plans. We are asking for a modest increase, but it’s more than offset by the generous wage.”

Ferry riders waiting for boats at the Larkspur terminal Thursday afternoon said the strike will be inconvenient if it lasts more than a day. Susie Kelly of Terra Linda said her husband commutes by ferry daily but has Friday off. If he were working, she said, “He’d just drive — it's only a day.”

Asked if ferry captains should be allowed to strike, she said: “Absolutely. If you ask and you ask and you ask, and the district doesn’t listen, what other option do you have?”

Debbie Gettys of Healdsburg who was headed for the Giants game, was sympathetic but not sure she supported the captains.

“They’re not alone,“ she said. “Everyone is in the same boat right now with health care, not just them.”

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail:mcabanatuan@sfchronicle.com

Twitter @ctuan

Tags: MEBAGolden Gate Ferry Boats
Categories: Labor News

Women on the Waterfront

Current News - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 11:13

Women on the Waterfront
BC Maritime Employers Association
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j9qRVFNKYg&app=desktop

Tags: ilwu
Categories: Labor News

Canadian National Railway Grain Hauling Fine a Joke

Railroaded's Blog - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 09:43

The federal government announced last week that Canadian National Railway would be fined under the Fair Rail for Grain Farmers Act for failing to move a minimum amount of grain each week.

Under the legislation which came into effect on April 1, railways would face maximum penalties of $100,000 a day for failing to handle 500,000 tonnes of grain each week for the next 90 days (Globe and Mail). But when the legislation was extended in August, the fine was reduced to up to $100,000 per violation which Transport Canada says means per week. The significant change was buried in a lengthy government backgrounder and went unnoticed by the grain industry, media and Official Opposition.

Wade Sobkowich, Executive Director of the Western Grain Elevator Association said, “Lovely. The old switcheroo.” He described the change as “disingenuous” and a “very small amount” for railways like CN that generate billions of dollars in revenue a year. “We did not receive notice of the change, and if true, we are surprised and question the reason for the reduction”.

Opposition Agriculture Critic Malcolm Allen said the federal government softened the law under fierce pressure from railway executives, who “screamed almighty murder” over a per-day fine. “Every time push comes to shove, it’s the railroaders that win with the Department of Transport”, he said.

This is just one of many, many examples of the sad state of railway legislation and enforcement in Canada. Federal legislation, even that passed very recently, consistently favours the railroad industry, and then to add insult to injury, enforcement of the weak legislation is either limited or non-existent. Transport Canada has often been referred to as a “toothless tiger” when it comes to regulating the rail industry in Canada, dominated by the two rail giants, Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway – it is a term that has been well earned.

The federal government refuses to bring the rail industry into the 21st century when it comes to fairness to shippers, rail safety, railway noise and vibration impacts, or environmental impacts of the rail industry. Canadians, including farmers, other shippers, municipalities, rail safety advocates, environmental organizations and individual Canadians have an opportunity to make their concerns known about these and other rail matters, by contacting the Canada Transportation Act Review Secretariat by December 30, 2014. See this Rail and Reason article for details on how to make a submission to the Secretariat.

 


Filed under: Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Rail and Reason, Transport Canada
Categories: Labor News

National Labor Relations Board asks judge to find Portland ILWU longshore union in contempt for slowdowns

Current News - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 09:39

National Labor Relations Board asks judge to find Portland ILWU longshore union in contempt for slowdowns
http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2014/09/national_labor_rela...

A crane at Terminal 6 with Hanjin containers stacked nearby. (Benjamin Brink / The Oregonian)
PrintBy Mike Francis | mfrancis@oregonian.com
Follow on Twitter
on September 24, 2014 at 4:52 PM, updated September 24, 2014 at 7:10 PM

The National Labor Relations Board has asked a federal judge to penalize the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and two local chapters for continuing a work slowdown at the Port of Portland's Terminal 6.

In a motion filed last week, NLRB regional director Ronald Hooks said the union has continued to "disobey and fail and refuse to comply" with a July 2012 court order to end the slowdowns at Terminal 6. He asked the judge to declare each union organization in contempt and to fine them up to $25,000 each, plus an additional fine for each day the slowdown continues. He also named individual union officials and asked for lesser fines for each of them.

(Read: NLRB memorandum in support of contempt motion.pdf )

The longshore union has been locked in a bitter dispute with ICTSI Oregon, the company the Port of Portland hired in 2010 to operate Terminal 6 in the Port's Rivergate District, where the Willamette River flows into the Columbia. ICTSI Oregon, which operates the terminal under a 25-year lease, is a unit of International Container Terminal Services Inc., a conglomerate based in Manila, Philippines.

The longshore union said the filing was related to a dispute over work involving the plugging and unplugging of refrigerated containers, or reefers, that union workers had been doing at Terminal 6 since January. But, said spokesperson Jennifer Sargent, "What's really at issue on the ground at Terminal 6 is ICTSI's abysmal labor relations and an operation that is plagued by understaffing and equipment shortages. ICTSI would better serve the region and local community by improving its labor/management approach and providing a sufficient number of workers with enough equipment for them to perform their work."

While a 2010 Port newsletter quoted a longshore official as saying the union "will welcome (ICTSI) to Portland with open arms," the relationship soon turned sour. The union, which has said ICTSI Oregon is "incompetent" and manages Terminal 6 by intimidation, has sued and been sued by ICTSI and the Port, and has been the subject of two rulings by administrative law judges who said longshore workers had conducted work slowdowns. The union has filed exceptions to the rulings, so they are not considered final.

A central issue in the dispute at Terminal 6 has been which workers will be assigned the job of plugging and unplugging the power cords on reefers. Following intervention by Gov. John Kitzhaber last December, the Port agreed to assign the jobs – traditionally done by members of the electrical union – to workers represented by the longshore union. The Port has said it gave the jobs to longshore workers in hopes worker productivity at Terminal 6 would improve.

But last month, Port executive director Bill Wyatt told the longshore union he was revoking the assignment of the reefer jobs because union workers had become less, rather than more productive. Calling the workers' productivity at Terminal 6 "unacceptable," he said the longshore slowdown "negatively impacts all of the people whose livelihood is connected with working at or providing services to T6."

In an affidavit filed by the NLRB, Brian Yockey, ICTSI's manager at Terminal 6, said productivity has declined since January as longshore workers have engaged in slowdown tactics such as operating cranes more slowly than a trainee, showing up late for shifts and walking off their jobs.

The NLRB also filed an affidavit by Dan Pippenger, the Port's general manager for marine operations. Pippenger said the shift of the two reefer jobs to longshore workers has roughly tripled the Port's costs of performing the work. He estimated paying longshore workers dedicated to the two reefer jobs would cost the Port about $900,000 for a full year, up from about $300,000 when the work was performed by workers represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Pippenger also said the Port's subsidies to carriers Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd and Westwood would reach about $4 million by the end of the year. Hanjin said in March it would continue calling at Terminal 6 despite its concerns about higher operating costs, but would review its decision quarterly.

Port spokesman Josh Thomas said the Port has "nothing new to report" about Hanjin's review. He said the Port remains focused on retaining the carriers' business and "keeping the cargo moving" at Terminal 6.

A hearing on the contempt motion will be scheduled soon, an NLRB lawyer said.

A spokesperson for ICTSI Oregon said the company hopes the NLRB's action "helps improve productivity at Terminal 6."

-- Mike Francis

Tags: ilwu
Categories: Labor News

$150,000 Club Report

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:38

September 25, 2014: Hoffa, Hall and top Teamster officials delivered concessions to members—but provided raises and multiple salaries for themselves.

James Hoffa and Ken Hall spent their time this year telling Teamsters to take concessions-wage cuts, longer wage progressions, healthcare, and pension cuts.

You've heard them, “Times are tough. We all have to tighten our belts.” But the belt-tightening stops at Hoffa and Hall's door. And so do the big bucks. Hoffa hiked his pay by more than $6 an hour last year—an increase of $13,539 in just one year. His total annual compensation is now a whopping $381,403. Hoffa’s salary is limited by language in the Teamster constitution, but he gets around that by taking a “housing allowance” of $60,000. Hoffa paid an extra salary to 99 of his appointees—each of whom had other full-time salary and job. The cost of those multiple salaries:$3 million. In all, 44 Teamster officials made over $200,000 last year, an 8 percent increase. The Teamster Hypocrisy Award goes to … The fattest hogs in the Teamsters were among the biggest promoters of concessions. Pat Flynn and Mike Sweeney of Chicago Local 710 took home nearly $1 million last year from one local union. Flynn’s compensation was $503,435 and Sweeney's was $387,349. They each took a raise of well over $100,000.  During the same year, they tried to convince most of their members to take concessions, at YRC, ABF, Holland, UPS Freight, and UPS. In every case, the Local 710 members voted No.  Flynn and Sweeney have been charged by the Independent Review Board (IRB) on embezzlement charges which will likely end their Teamster careers. They won’t be missed. But many other Teamster officials sold contract concessions to working Teamsters while taking pay increases themselves. Take a look at the $150,000 Club and you'll see them. Teamster Perks or Teamster Power? Many Teamster officials work long hours and they deserve to be fairly compensated. Union leadership is not easy. Teamster members work hard too. Our dues money should be used to build Teamster Power—not perks for select officers. When Hoffa first ran for office, he promised to “cut n cap” overly high salaries. But since he’s been in office, Hoffa has jacked his pay up again and again. He promised to cut multiple salaries. But when he took office, the International paid only a halfdozen salaries to appointees who had other full time jobs. That number has ballooned to 99. The Teamster officials who get multiple salaries read like a who's who of Hoffa campaign donor list. That’s no coincidence. TDU believes our dues money should be used to organize, fight concessions and win good contracts. Hoffa and Hall use our dues to promote concessions and buy support from local officials. It’s up to Teamster members to take back our union—and put our dues to work for us.

They Don’t Have a Clue

“When I look over this list, I see Ken Hall and so many other officers that negotiated the UPS contract and supplements. It’s true they got part timers a raise but with their salaries and benefits, most of these officers don’t have a clue as to what it’s like to work for $11/hour. They’re out of touch with the membership and it shows in how little they fought for us.” Kurt Marchetta, UPS Part-timeLocal 542, San Diego

Put Dues to Work for the Members

“When we elected new officers in my local, they cut their salaries by $300,000 and put that money into contract campaigns and new organizing. The Teamsters should be putting our dues to work for the members.” Armando Brasil, Rhode Island HospitalLocal 251, Providence

 

Issues: Hoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

UPS Full-Time Jobs Update

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:24

September 25, 2014: Despite growing volume, UPS has shrunk the Teamster workforce.

When the recession hit in 2008, UPS went lean and mean. They reduced hiring, implemented new technology, increased harassment, and eliminated full-time jobs.

Management’s goal was to boost profits by squeezing more work from fewer workers. They’ve succeeded. Last year, UPS Teamsters delivered 1.4 million more packages every day compared to 2009. And we did it, with one thousand fewer UPS Teamsters on the payroll, according to the company’s own annual reports. A review of Teamster pension fund data shows the biggest shrinkage came in full-time jobs. Package drivers weren’t replaced when they retired; full-time 22.3 jobs were eliminated altogether. UPS Teamsters filed hundreds of grievances on 22.3 job elimination, but the Hoffa administration refused to enforce the contract. “Frankly, it’s not the right time,” to enforce Article 22.3 Package Division Director Ken Hall said. “Even though we think we’re right, we don’t want to roll the dice with an arbitrator.” UPS management got the message. From 2009 to 2011, UPS shed 9,000 Teamsters from the payroll. Ground volume grew by 3 percent during the same period. The wheels finally came off the truck at peak last year. Understaffed and underprepared management suffered a very public meltdown. That debacle and growing pressure from Amazon and other e-commerce customers is finally making UPS do what Hoffa and Hall would not: create more full-time jobs. After years of little to no hiring, members are moving into the package and feeder ranks. Hall tried to take credit for the hiring in a press release, saying that UPS made the move “in the face of strong Teamster enforcement of the new National Master UPS Agreement.” Yeah, right. If Hall is really in the mood for “strong, contract enforcement,” maybe he will finally require UPS to turn over a report of all 20,000 fulltime 22.3 jobs the company owes under the contract—and share that information with every local union. UPS is required to maintain over 20,000 full-time 22.3 jobs nationally. Without that report, members have no way of knowing how many of the 22.3 jobs have been created and no way of enforcing the contract. To gear up for peak, UPS is hiring a record 95,000 seasonal employees. In an unusual move, Teamster retirees have been given the green light by the IBT-UPS Pension Fund, the New England Pension Fund, the Local 688 Pension Fund and others to come back to work as seasonal feeder drivers while collecting pension benefits at the same time. UPS will be ready for peak. They can’t afford another rerun of last year. But what comes next? Under Hoffa and Hall, UPS is delivering more packages with less Teamsters—and fewer full-time jobs. It’s time for a u-turn.Issues: UPSTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Full-Time Jobs Giveaway Hurts Our Pensions

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 08:05

Teamster pension funds are paying the price for full-time job elimination.

September 25, 2014: More ground deliveries should mean more full-time jobs—and more participants in Teamster pension funds. But a review of pension data shows what’s happening is just the opposite. As ground volume has grown in recent years, the number of full-time jobs has fallen.

The IBT-UPS Pension Fund covers 45,000 UPS Teamsters in the Central Region and South. It’s the largest Pension Fund in the country that covers only UPS full-timers—making it a good barometer of full-time job growth. From 2009 to 2012, the number of Teamsters in the IBT-UPS Fund fell by 2,887—a six percent drop. Over the exact same period, ground volume grew by six percent. More packages—but fewer full-time jobs. The story is even worse in the New Jersey Local 177 Pension Fund—the next largest fund that exclusively covers UPS full-timers. From 2007 to 2012, the number of Teamsters in the Local 177 Fund fell by almost 11 percent—a loss of 421 full-time jobs in one local. UPS saved money on payroll and on pension contributions—and the Local 177 pension plan paid the price. Contribution hours dropped from 7.8 million a year to just 6.9 million, costing the Pension Fund millions of dollars in lost contributions. The pension fund's actuaries issued repeated warnings, that “There have been very few new hires” and warned of the negative impact on the fund’s health. The problem wasn’t the stock market. For the last decade, the Local 177 Pension Fund has earned an average rate of return on investments of 5.22%. Pretty good, considering that like every pension plan, Local 177 took a big hit when the housing bubble burst in 2008. But even solid stock market returns can’t make up for a shrinking jobs base. The real problem is UPS not replacing Teamsters who retired. In 2001, for every 59 retirees collecting a pension in Local 177, UPS was paying pension contributions for 100 Teamsters who were working full-time. By 2012, there were 100 retirees for every 100 working Teamsters. Pension Changes As part of the new contract, Local 177 members voted to divert 30¢ of their wage increase into the pension fund. As a result of the wage diversion, the Pension Fund was able to increase pension benefits by $400 a month. But these increases are being paid for by Local 177 members, not UPS. The Local 177 Pension Fund has also changed the rules so that members have to work 2080 hours to get a full pension credit. Local 177 officials said this change was needed because growing numbers of members were skipping work and shorting the fund needed pension contributions. But that explanation doesn’t jibe with the Pensions Fund’s own records which show that the average worker is actually getting more pension hours contributed on their behalf every year—not less. In 2001, members averaged just 1,791 hours of contributions; today that number is 1,981. The result of the new 2,080 rule is that the average Local 177 member will have to work longer to retire. At the current rate, the average Local 177 UPSer will have to work 26 years to be able to retire with 25 years of pension credit: a whole extra year at Big Brown. UPS workers have paid a steep price for the declining number of full-time jobs—and so have our pension funds.Issues: UPSPension and BenefitsTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Rebuilding Labor from Below

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 07:56

A review of Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress, by Steve Early

September 25, 2014: It’s no secret that the U.S. labor movement is in distress. To those who care about how to turn that situation around, Steve Early has a message worth reading in his Save Our Unions: Dispatches from a Movement in Distress. The book describes the problems facing workers—and some possible solutions such as organizing more union members, waging successful strikes, or developing new union leadership at the local or national level The chapters are essays (many have appeared previously in various magazine and labor publications), most of which tell stories of real people and struggles. Early doesn’t pull punches. The good guys and gals don’t always win. But sometimes they do, and those lessons are valuable for all of us. Early worked for decades as an International Rep in the Communication Workers of America, but also has a long history with the Teamsters Union. In 1978 he was instrumental in facilitating a merger of two new Teamster reform movements: Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) and PROD, which had been launched with help from Ralph Nader. A decade later, he helped the Ron Carey campaign win the 1991 election, and took a temporary position in the Ron Carey administration as a consultant in 1992. He’s been a supporter of TDU ever since. In one section of the book, “Rebels with a Cause,” Early reports and compares struggles for democracy in the Teamsters, mine workers, steelworkers, transport workers, auto workers, and more. Early isn’t afraid to examine weaknesses in high places in labor, as in the book section “Is there a Leader in the House?” But he doesn’t dwell on top officials—the book focuses on the tactics, strategies and real people working to alleviate labor’s distress. Teamster Local 391 steward Nichele Fulmore summed it up in a blurb on the book cover: “It’s hard to fight the war on workers when unions behave like business and act like it’s all about the money. This book shows why we need a labor movement that represents all working people, not just a few.” There are lots of books on labor. Few are rooted so clearly in the struggles, victories and defeats of workers and their unions as Save Our Unions. This is Early’s third book in the past several years, since he left full-time union work. Let’s hope it is not the last.Steve Early will be at the TDU Convention Nov 7-9 in Cleveland. If you are there, you can get a signed copy of Save Our Unions at a discount and hear more of his analysis on why labor is in distress and some ways forward.Issues: Labor MovementTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Teamsters & The Right to Vote

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 07:40
September 25, 2014: Jimmy Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and the Teamster leadership, already heavily penetrated by the mob, became more and more a tool of employers. In response, members started to demand the Right to Vote on International officers. Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) took up the challenge, and in 1989 Teamster members beat the mob and won the Right to Vote in International Union elections. How did a grassroots movement of working Teamster beat the odds and make history? First, we had a plan. In 1985, TDU members launched a national Right to Vote petition to put pressure on the Teamster leadership to hold elections for national officers. Volunteers collected signatures at worksites across the country. The petition, with tens of thousands of signatures, was presented to the 1986 Teamster convention. “The Funeral of TDU” At the convention, TDU delegates supported an amendment to the IBT constitution for direct election of IBT officials. Old guard officials voted it down overwhelmingly. Jackie Presser was elected at that convention over challenger Sam Theodus by a vote of 1792 to 24, or nearly 99%. Presser announced from the podium that it was “the funeral of TDU.” TDU was planning ahead. The fact that the most hated president in Teamster history could get 99% support from local union officials only showed how rotten the system was. Five years later, Sam Theodus was elected as part of the Carey slate. TDU worked with the President’s Commission on Organized Crime. We documented how mobsters and corrupt officials were ripping off Teamster members. And we put forward a detailed plan for Teamster elections. In 1988 the U.S. Justice Department sued the Teamster leadership under the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. The government’s suit called for the Teamsters to come under federal trusteeship to “reorganize” the union. TDU fought the trusteeship, and proposed the Right to Vote as a positive alternative. A public campaign by TDU won the support of major newspapers, as well as members of the President's Commission. TDU National Organizer Ken Paff wrote the U.S. Attorney General saying “there is only one ‘reorganization’ under RICO that the government can effectively take: namely, to direct the IBT to hold rank-and-file elections.” Our amicus briefs in court, and our public campaign were getting traction. The Right to Vote is Won On March 13, 1989, one day before the trial was to begin, the Teamster officials threw in the towel to head off the trial. The consent order established a court supervised Independent Review Board to clean out corruption. Most important, it provided for the direct election of Teamster officers. The Wall Street Journal reported the next day that “the terms of the settlement were greatly influenced by the concerns and platform of Teamsters for a Democratic Union.” TDU’s position against government trusteeship and for the right to vote had prevailed. Winning Fair Rules Once we won the Right to Vote, TDU focused on winning fair rules that leveled the playing field. The Right to Vote isn’t worth much if the incumbents control the rules and the election. TDU filed briefs in federal court to strengthen the independent Election Supervisor—and we won. In an important change, the Election Supervisor took charge of delegate elections. Members who run for Convention Delegate won the right to run in a fair election that was not controlled by their local officers. We fought for numerous changes in the Election Rules. For example, we proposed an Accredited Candidate Petition Procedure so candidates with proven membership support could get their message out to the members by having access to the Teamster membership list. We proposed that candidates be given worksite lists for all locals so Teamsters could campaign member-to-member. We won that too and a whole lot more. The Teamster leadership fought every single improvement in the rules. In fact, they opposed the whole idea of having Election Rules. What’s at Stake in the Current Fight? Today, elections are a part of the Teamsters Union. Hoffa would not dare come flat-out for abolishing the Right to Vote. Instead, he is trying to gut members’ voting rights through the back door—by getting rid of the independent election supervisor and eliminating fair election rules. The Hoffa administration already successfully passed an amendment to the Teamster Constitution that would give Hoffa’s GEB the power to handpick the election supervisor and write their own election rules. (See Article III, Section 5(a)(2)) The consent order agreement with the Justice Department is the only thing standing in the way of an election with sham rules and a phony election supervisor controlled by Hoffa. The biggest rule change the Hoffa administration wants governs nominations. Right now, candidates get on the ballot if they have the support of 5% of the delegates to the Teamster Convention. The Hoffa administration wants to change this rule to make it harder or impossible for opposition candidates to get on the ballot. Then Hoffa’s real goal will be achieved: the elimination of International Union elections altogether. That’s what’s at stake. We cannot and will not let that happen.Issues: TDU HistoryTDUHoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Pat Flynn Cuts a Deal: Kicked out for Eight Years

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/25/2014 - 07:18

September 25, 2014: Pat Flynn, the former head of Chicago Local 710 who was charged with embezzling union funds via gift credit cards for members, has cut a deal with the IRB: pay the union back $58,000 and an eight-year ban from holding any Teamster position or salary.

The Independent Review Board (IRB) charged Flynn on June 19. In August, he signed a deal and repaid the union $24,780.99. This sum was much less than $58,000 because Flynn was owed his “commissions” for July! Flynn’s total salary (including “commissions”) last year from the local was $482,958. 

The settlement agreement will in all likelihood end Flynn’s career. But the future of Local 710 is in the hands of the members

Issues: Local Union Reform
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Delta Faces Labor Push As Machinists Eye Flight Attendants

Current News - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 14:30

Delta Faces Labor Push As Machinists Eye Flight Attendants
http://www.forbes.com/sites/tedreed/2014/09/24/delta-faces-labor-push-as...
LOGISTICS & TRANSPORTATION 9/24/2014 @ 1:41PM 3,878 views
Delta Faces Labor Push As Machinists Eye Flight Attendants

An energized labor movement is ready to take another run at organizing Delta, despite its historic lack of success at the Atlanta-based carrier and in the South.

The International Association of Machinists (IAM) said it began working nearly two years ago to organize Delta’s 20,000 flight attendants, staging meetings at domestic bases and in Europe.

“Delta made a lot of promises during the merger with Northwest,” said IAM spokesman Joe Tiberi. “Now, several years later, people have seen that those promises were not kept.” For example, Tiberi said, Delta boosted flight attendant salaries, but also raised the cost of employee health care.

“It was a good sound bite to say wages went up, but in the end take-home pay went down,” Tiberi said. He declined to specify a date when IAM will file for an election.

Delta has historically been non-union except for pilots and dispatchers. Following the 2010 merger with Northwest, which historically had strong representation, unions sought to retain their spots. But Delta staged an aggressive anti-union campaign.

In three elections late in 2010, about 51% of flight attendants turned down the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), about 52% of fleet service workers rejected IAM representation, and about 69% of customer service workers also rejected the IAM.

Earlier, AFA failed to organize Delta flight attendants in 2002 and 2008, although the union got closer in each of three elections.

“Unions have failed to organize Delta flight attendants because the direct relationship Delta has developed with our flight attendants works and is valued as an important part of the truly unique Delta culture,” said Delta spokeswoman Kate Modolo.

“We get that organizing attempts may continue because, let’s face it, dues from 20,000 people would be attractive to any union,” Modolo said. “But the IAM has a poor record in our industry and has been rejected by every work group it sought to represent following the Delta-Northwest merger.”

The United Auto Workers’ (UAW) initial failure to organize Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., in February led some to conclude that the last nail had been driven into the labor movement’s coffin in the South, but the diagnosis now seems premature.

UAW said this week that it has support from about half the plant’s 1,500 workers. It asked VW to let it negotiate for those workers.

Two weeks ago, 14,500 American agents — many based in the South — voted to join a Communication Workers of America/Teamsters coalition, which got 86% of the vote. Three-quarters of voters work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona.

The new bargaining unit includes 9,000 agents from American, previously unrepresented, and 5,500 US Airways agents, already represented by the coalition. Teamsters represents former America West agents.

“It should not be lost on the pundits that most of the nearly 14,500 new union members work in southern states,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in a prepared statement. “The right to a voice at work doesn’t have a geographic predisposition, and this victory will energize ongoing organizing efforts in the South.”

Tags: DeltaIAMOrganizing
Categories: Labor News

Alarming Trends in Package Delivery

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 12:45
Alexandra BradburyLabor NotesSeptember 24, 2014View the original piece

Their employer is the U.S. Postal Service, but a few unlucky Bay Area letter carriers were hired only to find out their job is actually delivering groceries for online retailer Amazon at 4 a.m.

It’s an experimental program being staffed with City Carrier Assistants—the lowest tier of union letter carriers, permatemps who make $15-17 an hour. To find their way in the dark they’re issued miner-style headlamps

Click here to read more at Labor Notes.

- See more at: http://labornotes.org/2014/09/high-flying-drones-and-basement-wages-alar...

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Organizing Under Hoffa

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:56
September 24, 2014: Teamster membership loss is outpacing organizing efforts since Hoffa took office. A new report looks at Teamster organizing and what can be done to turn it around. Teamster organizing dropped precipitously the first year that Hoffa took office—and with a few notable exceptions, it has slumped since. Those are the findings of a new report by the Teamster Rank & File Education and Legal Defense Foundation (TRF). To prepare the study, TRF reviewed all available organizing data from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from 1999 when Hoffa took office through 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. TRF also analyzed organizing results among public employees and airline workers who are not covered by the NLRB, as well as card-check agreements like UPS Freight. Teamster membership dropped from 1.41 million in 1999 to 1.25 million in 2013—a loss of 160,000 members. But even these numbers hide the full story because some 110,000 members were added by affiliations with four other unions: the BLET and the BMWE (two formerly independent rail unions), the Graphic Communications International Union and the Coalition of University Employees. Without these mergers and affiliations, Teamster membership would be just 1.1 million today. In other words, the Teamsters has lost some 270,000 members since Hoffa took office. Organizing Nose Dive Teamster organizing numbers nosedived the year Hoffa took the wheel of our union. Over 20,000 workers voted to join the Teamsters in NLRB elections in 1998. Hoffa took office the next year and new member organizing dropped by 30 percent. Under Hoffa, new members organized in NLRB votes has never topped 14,000 in any year, let alone 20,000. The high water mark for organizing in the Hoffa years was 2007-10, a four-year period in which 48,680 workers joined the Teamsters in NLRB votes—an average of 12,170 a year. The organizing numbers have dropped every year since. Since 2011, the average number of workers voting to join the Teamsters in NLRB elections has dropped to just 5,827.  School Bus Drivers Successes  What drove up the Teamsters organizing numbers from 2007-2010? The Driving Up Standards campaign—a coordinated national organizing effort aimed at organizing school bus drivers. In 2007, school bus industry giant First Student, based in Britain, negotiated a “neutrality agreement” with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) requiring management to stay neutral in union organizing drives. Absent the usual anti-union management campaign, our union’s win rates in First Student organizing drives soared. Twenty-five thousand school bus drivers joined the Teamsters from 2007-2010. School bus drivers account for nearly two out of every three workers who joined the Teamsters in NLRB elections during the four-year span when Teamster organizing was on the rise. Without the SEIU’s help, the Teamsters was unable to secure a neutrality agreement with another school bus giant Durham School Services. When First Student organizing targets started to dry up, so did membership growth. Last year, the number of workers that voted to join the Teamsters in NLRB elections sunk to 4,733—an all-time low in the Hoffa years. Organizing Outside the NLRB The NLRB accounts for a lot, but not all, Teamster organizing. The Union scored three significant organizing victories in the airline industry—America West customer service representatives in 2004 and United and Continental mechanics and ramp workers in 2008 and 2010. Some were nonunion; the United Mechanics were in the AMFA, an independent union, which the Teamsters displaced. Just this month, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the IBT joined forces to successfully win representation of the customer agents at American Airlines, following the merger with US Air. The IBT gained about 1,500 members. In all, some 24,000 airline and rail workers have joined the Teamsters in union elections conducted by the National Mediation Board. Public sector workers also don’t vote in NLRB elections—but their organizing numbers have been even more modest than airline. The big exception is 2010 when the IBT says it organized over 16,000 public sector workers. But that claim is misleading. It includes 12,000 employees at the University of California who became Teamsters when their union, CUE, affiliated with the IBT as the newlyformed Local 2010. Organizing and Union Bargaining Power Organizing new members is supposed to build our union’s bargaining power and help us win better contracts for all workers. The Hoffa administration’s signature organizing drive of the past decade was supposed to do just this, at UPS Freight. In 2006, Hoffa and Ken Hall cut a deal with UPS to bring UPS Freight workers into the Teamsters under a card check agreement that allowed workers to join the union without having to go through the NLRB. Wherever the majority of workers signed union cards, UPS Freight recognized the union. It went easily. But there was a catch. In exchange for card check at UPS Freight, Hoffa and Hall agreed to concessions in the 2007 UPS agreement. Then they inked a substandard contract with UPS Freight—with no Teamster pension, a first for a national trucking company. Instead of organizing UPS Freight to strengthen Teamster contracts at UPS and in freight, Hoffa and Hall did something very different. They cut a deal that traded concessions in a coreindustry contract for the right to sign up 12,000 more dues-paying members. Organizing for Change Organizing isn’t easy—especially in a tough economy. Employers who won’t give workers a nickel routinely open their pocket books to hire highpriced union-busting consultants. Throw in anti-union labor laws and a weak NLRB and any union has its work cut out for it when it comes to organizing. But our union can and must do better. Here’s a few places to start: Cut Dues Waste & Put Money into Organizing: The Hoffa administration wastes $3 million every year on multiple salaries for union officials who already have another full-time union job and salary. That money and other dues waste should be put into organizing. Strategic Campaigns: To organize nonunion competitors and build Teamster bargaining power, our union needs to make a long-term commitment to strategic organizing efforts in our core industries. Fight for Strong Contracts: Concessionary contracts undermine Teamster organizing. Fighting for good contracts—and good first contracts—is a must if we want to grow our union. In industries targeted for organizing, we need to work toward coordinated national bargaining and contract language that builds our bargaining leverage by allowing workers to respect picket lines. Support Local Union Organizing Efforts: When local unions are organizing nonunion competitors, the IBT needs to be there with organizers, resources and strategic support. Build an Organizing Army: There are many skilled, highly dedicated organizers in the Teamsters—at the International and in the locals. The IBT needs a strategic plan to grow an even bigger army of staff and volunteer organizers. To win against the union busters, we need organizers who are trained in proven tactics and best practices. If we want to protect and improve our contracts and benefits—and bring more workers into the middle class—we need to organize the nonunion competition, grow the union and build our bargaining power. An analysis of the Hoffa record on organizing shows we are coming up short. It’s time for a new direction. What are your ideas for boosting Teamster organizing. Send your idea  to organizing [at] tdu [dot] org

 

Issues: Hoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Organizing in Waste

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Wed, 09/24/2014 - 11:52
September 24, 2014: Private sanitation is a growth industry—and as demand for a green economy expands, recycling is a growth industry too. The Teamsters represent 30,000 members in the waste industry. But most private sanitation workers are nonunion. The two top companies in the industry, Waste Management and Republic, are among the largest Teamster employers and control the majority of the waste and recycle industry. Organizing drives in waste—and strategic campaigns to win strong sanitation contracts—can grow our union’s membership and strengthen our bargaining power in this core industry. The IBT Organizing Department has scored some wins in waste. We need to build on this organizing and coordinate bargaining against these corporate giants. The goal can’t just be more members, but winning strong contracts that raise standards across the industry.Issues: Hoffa WatchTeamster Voice: Teamster Voice 291 October/November 2014
Categories: Labor News, Unions

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