Labor News

Teamsters Mobilize to Fight Climate Change

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 11:50

September 12, 2014: The labor movement is joining up with the biggest mobilization against climate change in history.

World leaders will converge on New York City later this month for a United Nations climate summit.  

Unions are converging on New York City too. The Teamsters are joining forces with unions, environmental groups, students, and over 100 social and economic justice organizations for the biggest climate change march in history on Sunday, Sept. 21

The purpose of the march is to demand that countries at the UN summit take action to reduce global warming pollution and create good union jobs as part of a more sustainable economy.

TDU members are mobilizing Teamsters to join the march too. Hear from them on why their marching:

“Come join us on Sunday, September 21! I’ll be there with Local 805 members. The same corporations destroying our jobs and unions are destroying our communities and our planet with air pollution, poisons in our water, greenhouse gases and much more. They are doing anything they want to make a profit and it’s going to take all of us to stop it! We must demand that our elected officials get their collective heads out of the sand and take some serious actions to stop this destruction.”

Sandy Pope, Local 805 President, New York City

“Climate change is real—it’s happening and it’s going to affect all of us, including workers and the union movement. As labor, we’ve got to make our voices heard on this and other social issues. We’re all in this together.”

Thanddnes Palmer, UPS, Local 804, New York City

 

 

 

“Hurricane Sandy showed what can happen if we don't do something about climate change. Local 814 members got involved in the relief effort. Now it's time for union members to take a stand against climate change and for labor to make sure that green jobs are decent-paying and safe.”

Walter Taylor, Local 814, New York City

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Why Is United Parcel Service Upping The Ante In China?

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 07:58
Seeking AlphaSeptember 12, 2014View the original piece

America's largest parcel delivery company United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) earns the lion's share of its total revenue from domestic operations. Now, the company's keen on widening its international reach, particularly in the emerging markets. With rising per capita income leading to higher discretionary spending among the middle-class population, emerging economies are offering huge growth potential to courier companies. Over the last decade, UPS has tried to make its presence felt in China, Poland, and Turkey.

UPS has been in China for more than two decades, gradually expanding its operations, but in 2009, after China put restrictions on foreign courier companies asking for license renewals, expansion came to a standstill. Good news is that the nation has issued licenses allowing foreign courier companies to expand operations regionally. As prospects in the Mainland are encouraging, can the Atlanta-based giant capitalize on the same, and contest home-grown companies that have become stronger during this period?

Click here to read more at Seeking Alpha.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Bombshell BART report slams hiring of union-busting negotiator Tom Hock

Current News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 22:43

Bombshell BART report slams hiring of union-busting negotiator Tom Hock
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2014/09/10/bombshell-bart-report-slams-hiri...
09.10.14 - 4:45 pm | Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez | ()

A new report analyzes the mistakes that led to two BART strikes and two fatalities last year.
Rebecca Bowe
Independent investigators analyzing BART's recent turmultuous, rollercoaster-ride labor negotiations issued their report yesterday, concluding that last year's pair of damaging strikes could and should been avoided. The opinions that the analysts collected from the unions, management, and BART's Board of Directors covered a wide spectrum, but there were a couple of common themes.

First, the strikes and the death of two BART workers who were killed on the tracks when BART management ran scab-run trains while the workers were on strike, were devastating to the district and its personnel.

"We just walked out of a war," one anonymous BART employee (or manager) told the report authors. Other anonymous quotes follow a similar theme: "It was like Vietnam... Labor massacare... The bloodiest strike ever... He was our hired gun... They threw bombs."

The second thing everyone agreed on, from management to the unions, was thathiring union-buster labor consultant Tom Hock as a negotiator was a bad idea.

"I think a lot of the stakeholders involved and unions have identified that Tom Hock was the problem," Tom Radulovich, a BART board director, told the Guardian. "This (report) validates my concerns. They talked to everybody."

Agreement Dynamics Inc., who conducted the investigation on behalf of the BART board, did in-depth interviews with a multitude of BART union representatives, employees, managers, and labor negotiators. Through the report, Agreement Dynamics found a culture of distrust between labor and management that they described as entrenched and multi-generational. On top of that already potent powder-keg, Hock was hired as a negotiator. Seven board directors cast "aye" votes to hire Hock, including Radulovich. Directors Fang and Murray were absent from the room at the time of the vote.

According to the report, Hock came in with guns blazing. Mixing that attitude with what the report describes as BART General Manager Grace Crunican's lack of experience in labor negotiations, and there was a perfect recipe for conflict.

"When Tom Hock took over as chief negotiator, Grace had become hard line," one source told Agreement Dynamics. "There wasn't enough trust built... Tom Hock thought a strike was inevitable. I don't know how we thought we could win. We did not even have the whole board supporting this."

But despite the lack of groundswell support, Hock perpetuated a strategy to push the unions to strike, according to the source.

"Tom pushed it to strike because Grace would not budge financially," the source said. "So Tom said to Grace, 'You will have to strike with your position.' Management thought we could win the PR battle and the unions would cave. But the unions had politicians. The press can turn on a dime. They did and our strategy backfired."

Two managers told Agreement Dynamics that lack of planning exacerbated this problem.

"We did not have a Plan B to prevent a strike," one manager told the investigators. Another told them, "This strike was not productive. We never did a course correction and then there was another strike. Two people got killed. We spent millions to end up getting creamed, and engendering hate."

In interviews with the investigators, Hock told them he believed the strike would be very short and the unions would "have to come back and reach an agreement" before management would have to give in. He based this on the Bay Area's sentiment against the unions, the report wrote. He told investigators that media reports also heavily favored management's perspective. (The report also outlines how management believed their 'good strategy' helped sway big media, like the San Francisco Chronicle, to take their side. Good job, guys.)

The negotiators were told by Hock that a number of factors led to the strike, as he tried to deflect blame. But the report's analysis said "the conditions cited by Tom Hock (elected board, politically strong unions, ineperience in labor negotiations) have existed in prior negotiations when no strike resulted."

So Hock pushed the unions to strike, the same strike that led to two workers' deaths, the report seemingly implies. But that was not his only misstep, according to the report. He also didn't read the contract he signed off on.

After labor negotiations concluded, BART management brought celebrations to a screeching halt. For those that remember, a provision on family medical leave, section 4.8 of the labor contract, was disputed by BART management. They said they never signed that provision, which could cost BART upwards of $40 million in sick leave, if approved.

BART management said it signed the provision due to a "clerical error," which BART board director Zachary Mallet confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News. "The cause of this incident has been confirmed as a miscommunication-based clerical error during the write-up of a tentative agreement," Mallet told the Merc.

But Hock and district negotiators Paul Oversier and Rudy Medina all told Agreement Dynamics that they signed it without reading it. "If Tom Hock had read it before he signed it, 4.8 would not have happened," one BART staff member told the investigators.

But as much as Hock comes under fire in this report, the report also found that he came at a time of deep division between labor and management. The report shows a way out for that: leadership from the BART Board of Directors. Radulovich told the Guardian he agrees. The board must take the reins in righting the historic bad blood between all sides at BART.

"A lot of it is the culture of your organization," he said. "When I was a baby BART director, [employees and management] were complaining about things that happened back in 1979. You do feel like you’re walking in on a fight going on long before you got there, and going on long after you leave."

"That antagonism has been there from the beginning," he told us. "The question I ask myself is: how can I change that?"

Tomorrow morning at a press conference at 9am, some of the BART board will present the report and talk about its findings. Maybe we'll find those answers then.

Tags: BARTHOCK
Categories: Labor News

Bahamas: Union Says 'illegal' General Strike To Continue

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Tribune 242
Categories: Labor News

Global: VIDEO: STOP Precarious Work at Rio Tinto

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Global: The reason why the world needs a pay rise

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: This Working Life
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters' Efforts Advance At Con-way, FedEx LTL Units

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 11:40
Rip WatsonTransport TopicsSeptember 11, 2014

Teamsters union organizing efforts are advancing at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight, the two largest nonunion less-than-truckload carriers, according to National Labor Relations Board records.

At Con-Way, Local 657 led the effort for a representation election supervised by the National Labor Relartions Board that has been set for Sept. 12 in Laredo, Texas, according to NLRB officials.

Click here to read more.

Issues: Labor MovementFreight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Rail Workers say “No” to Single-person Crews

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:57

September 11, 2014: Rail workers have shouted a loud “No” to single-person train crews. The contract rejection was delivered by conductors who work for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), who are members of SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union).

“Rail workers told the BNSF railway, their union leaders and fellow rail workers that they will not support single-person crews,” said Ron Kaminkow, an engineer for Amtrak and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) affiliated with the Teamsters.

Kaminkow is an activist in Railroad Workers United (RWU), a network of rail workers in various unions, including the Teamsters. RWU seeks to build solidarity and break down petty rivalries fostered by certain union officials.

RWU noted that the SMART top officials negotiated the deal in secret, then tried to sell it with smoke and mirrors and a “signing bonus.”

“The surprise attack, coming from the union, on the 2 person train crew, lit a fire under the rank and file like I have never seen in my 13 years of railroading” said JP Wright of BLET IBT 740 and Co-Chair of RWU.

RWU’s press release notes that the contract rejection is “a decisive victory, not just for the trainmen and engineers on the BNSF, but for every railroad worker in North America.”  

It is especially important for the 33,000 rail engineers of the BLET-IBT. These Teamsters would be under the gun to accept single-person operating crews, if the second-largest rail line in North America had won that concession.

RWU was instrumental in coordinating the opposition to the contract among trainmen and engineers, with conference calls on strategy, leaflets, stickers, rallies and media coverage.

Kaminkow said the priority now is to build on the solidarity that powered this win. The RWU statement calls this “the opening shot in a protracted war” to preserve union jobs and public safety on North America’s rail lines.

Click here to read the Railroad Workers United press statement for more information.

Issues: Rail
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Make Workers’ Rights into Civil Rights

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:16

September 11, 2014: It’s time to make a worker’s right to speak out for unions, without employer retaliation, a civil right. Two members of Congress have introduced the Employee Empowerment Act, to give the right to organize protections found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

You can learn more and sign a petition of support.

The bill has little chance of passing at present, but is an important part of building a movement to defend workers’ rights and revitalize the labor movement.

Now is the time. Recently we have seen workers at Walmart and other anti-union giants start to stand up, but face firing with little protection. Present NLRB protections are slow and inadequate, so many employers routinely violate them.

Corporate spokespersons claim that unions are in decline because workers don’t need them anymore. But in other countries, such as Canada or Germany, the picture is very different, because workers have more legal protections.

The labor and civil rights movements have always had a lot in common. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it should be remembered, was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, where he was supporting striking black sanitation workers who marched carrying posters with the message “I Am a Man.”

As Dr. King stated to the 1961 AFL-CIO convention referring to the labor and civil rights movements, “Together, we can be the architects of democracy.” Workers deserve legal protections to allow that to happen.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 08:20
George ZornickThe NationSeptember 11, 2014View the original piece

For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point—but this isn’t just another messaging bill.

Click here to read more at The Nation.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

ILWU NW Grain Officials Defend Concession Contract That Gives Up Hiring Hall “But this is a rank-and-file union, and we had a rank-and-file campaign. We were on the docks 24 hours a day, we had water pickets on the Snake River, and we put real economic p

Current News - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 09:37

ILWU NW Grain Officials Defend Concession Contract That Gives Up Hiring Hall “But this is a rank-and-file union, and we had a rank-and-file campaign. We were on the docks 24 hours a day, we had water pickets on the Snake River, and we put real economic pressure on the employers.”
http://www.labornotes.org/2014/09/grain-agreement-ends-lockouts-northwes...

Grain Agreement Ends Lockouts in Northwest Ports

September 10, 2014 / Paul Bigman

Longshore union members in Portland and Vancouver, Washington were locked out for over a year by grain shippers after the workers refused unacceptable contracts. A new agreement means they're back to work. Photo: Doug Geisler (CC BY-NC 2.0).

A hard-won contract settlement has ended the 15- and 18-month lockouts of two Longshore locals by grain companies in Portland and Vancouver, Washington. Columbia River and Puget Sound ports move over a quarter of all U.S. grain exports, including almost half of all wheat.

The master grain contract was approved 88.4 percent by members of the five ILWU locals affected, after 80 contentious bargaining sessions spread out over two years.

Although the employers attempted to bring lower standards to the Pacific Northwest agreement, the ILWU blocked the majority of objectionable terms.

POLICE ESCORTS YANKED

Grain employers were beside themselves in July when Washington’s governor stopped providing police escorts for state grain inspectors to cross ILWU picket lines in Vancouver, the site of the 18-month lockout. The companies then asked the local sheriff to provide security, but he refused, saying “We have never, and as long as I’m the sheriff never will, act as an escort to a private company involved in a labor dispute.”

So inspectors didn’t cross the lines, holding up shipments. The pileup threatened to worsen when fall corn and soybean crops arrived.

For cargo bound for the locked-out ports, “water pickets” meant that grain ships had problems getting escorts from tugboat workers who are members of the ILWU’s marine division, the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific. The International Transport Workers Federation mobilized dockworkers globally to be on the lookout for grain shipments from Vancouver and Portland. “We wouldn’t have been back at the table without that solidarity from our brothers and sisters,” said Troy Mosteller, secretary of locked-out Local 8 in Portland.

What Happened at Longview?

ILWU has a separate contract with EGT, a grain company in Longview, Washington that refused in 2011 to use labor from Local 21 at its new grain terminal, leading to militant picket lines and international solidarity. The town was the site of notable civil disobedience by the local: they occupied the grain terminal and dumped tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of grain on the railroad tracks. In the end, their contract contained painful concessions, but secured the work.

Brad Clark, a former Local 4 president arrested for “criminal trespass” during the course of the Vancouver lockout, says that while the new grain contract was somewhat of a retreat, it was “far better” than the EGT agreement. But, he argued, the EGT contract was a real victory, since it brought new jurisdiction to the union. The EGT agreement brought 47 new jobs to the Longview local, according to Max Vekich, an ILWU executive board member.

KEPT JOBS

The bottom line for the ILWU was that the contract maintains unionized grain terminals in the U.S., said Roger Boespflug, a former Local 23 President who represented his local in the grain negotiations. He acknowledged that the contract does include some setbacks.

The west coast fight was never about money, the employers never even proposed cuts. In fact, the 46-month agreement includes first year wage increases of $1.53 to $2.22 per hour, depending on classification, with modest bumps in subsequent years. First year wages range from $35.25 to $37.25 for registered longshoremen, with a $27.50 rate for non-registered casual workers.

A key demand from the employers–which the ILWU never seriously considered–was that in the event of three illegal work stoppages, the employer could subcontract the work. Failing to gain traction on that proposal, the employers then put forward a demand that should a work stoppage be found to be illegal, the union would pay $1 million plus damages. This was also beaten back by the union.

In the end, the ILWU did accept a significant concession permitting management personnel to do bargaining unit work during a work stoppage. But if the stoppage is found to have been legal, the union workers will be paid for the lost work. Nonetheless, management might be able to get the work done, which reduces union workers’ leverage in a walkout.

This might be harder for management than it sounds. Boespflug said that all of the work at the grain terminals is ILWU jurisdiction: taking the grain off the vessel, storing it in the elevator or moving it to the rails. A dispute involving any of the ILWU grain workers would result in all work stopping. If management attempted to do any of the work, they would need the personnel and the skill to do it all.

Another concession gives console operator work over to non-union grain company employees. Console operators start the equipment, and separate, weigh, and control the flow of the grain from the vessel to the terminal.

“It’s always hard to give up jurisdiction,” said Boespflug, but he said he expects that work to be automated within a few years. However, these are strategic jobs whose power outweighs their numbers, literally controlling the flow of goods into the ship.

In addition, the new agreement eliminates ILWU jurisdiction for supercargos, those workers who supervise the loading and unloading of the vessel.
According to Max Vekich, a member of the union’s executive board and a member of the Puget Sound marine clerks’ Local 52, the supercargo work had been ILWU, but done under the coastwise longshore contract, rather than the grain contract. (That contract expired July 1 and is still being negotiated.) Now the supercargo work will be done non-union by the grain shippers directly, although Vekich believes the company doesn’t have the in-house capacity to do the work, so it may return to ILWU members.

The contract also allows a reduction in the number of workers on a vessel for a two-spout operation, from 5 workers to 4. The sub-par Longview-area contracts with grain shippers EGT and Peavey have only three workers, and the employers had pushed for three longshore workers plus a working foreman.

IMPACT OF CUTS

While the impact of these cuts will not be great in the Washington ports, Mosteller said that grain is a much larger portion of the work in Portland, where most of the no votes came from. Mosteller believes this reflects a concern in Portland that the local may lose a more jobs there than in the Washington ports.

Some within the ILWU believe that a stronger mobilization might have achieved different results. Mark Downs, a veteran activist on the Seattle docks who retired after 40 years as a longshoreman, points to the ILWU’s militant history, as well as more recent labor solidarity among longshoremen, Teamsters, mariners, and rail workers that aided port truckers. He recalled a series of actions by Pacific Northwest transportation unions to aid port truckers in 1999, contrasting that unified action with what he felt was inadequate mobilization in the grain fight, as well as what he saw as a lack of support from the ILWU for port truckers in the past few months.

But, Downs said, given the situation by end of negotiations, the “yes” vote was the right move.

Despite the ILWU’s recent disaffiliation from the AFL-CIO, the workers got strong support from both the Washington State Labor Council and the Oregon AFL-CIO.

None of the local leaders with whom I spoke thought that more public mobilization would have won a better contract. There was a general consensus that the contract was, as with all ILWU struggles, a reflection of their internal solidarity and militancy.

“Not everything we did [to win the contract] may have been apparent to those outside the union,” said Brad Clark, a former Local 4 president in Vancouver. “But this is a rank-and-file union, and we had a rank-and-file campaign. We were on the docks 24 hours a day, we had water pickets on the Snake River, and we put real economic pressure on the employers.”

The ILWU leadership has accepted a deal that will further cripple their union.
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/the-latest-defeat/

The Latest Defeat
by Robert Brenner
The ILWU leadership has accepted a deal that will further cripple their union.

The tentative agreement reached between the ILWUand the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association (PNGHA) contains no surprises. It would impose a major reduction in working conditions and shop floor power, the latest in a cascade of defeats that started with the signing of the union’s historic contract with Export Grain Terminal (EGT) atLongview, Washington in February 2012.
Nor does it bode well for the 20,000 members of the union’s Longshore division, whose contract with the Pacific Maritime Association expired on June 30 and whose fate is being decided in ongoing bargaining.

The negotiated agreement closely mirrors the disastrous contract that EGT imposed on the ILWU. The giant corporations of the PNGHA had, from the outset, demanded from the ILWU the same deal as it gave EGT, in order to keep labor costs low and remain competitive with its technologically advanced rival. They are now about to achieve it.

The ILWU’s accord with the PNGHA would give back to the employers virtually all of the impressive gains in work rules and shop floor powers that the union had wrung from them during many decades of struggle in northwest grain, as well as in longshore.

The union would lose control over the hiring hall, the foundation of its power. The companies would get to hire from a list of workers that they had pre-approved.

Gone would be the eight-hour, even the ten-hour day. The employers would now be free to impose twelve-hour shifts with no overtime. They would take over the control room, from which managers would oversee and regulate the entire process of production. They also would assume the strategic job of the supercargo, charged with overseeing the loading of the ship, which had hitherto always been held by the union. Management would, in addition, get the authority to set the skill requirements for the job of millwright, whose task it is to build and repair machines, and by this means gain the potential to exclude union workers.

The employers would gain the right to prevent work stoppages. The ILWU would maintain its traditional rights to honor legitimate picket lines, to attend stop work meetings, and refuse to labor under unsafe conditions. But this would be rendered meaningless by the employers’ right to use its own managers in place of ILWU members whenever ILWU members exercised those rights.

The ILWU leadership has thus accepted, after a year and half in which its members were locked out and replaced by scabs, roughly the same deal that the PNGHA originally proposed as early as September 2012, then imposed at United Grain, Columbia Grain, and Louis Dreyfuss the following December.

The ILWU had secured, on a temporary basis, a highly concessionary but somewhat more worker-friendly agreement with TEMCO, the joint venture headed up by the Cargill Corporation (which had defected for the time being from the PNGHA). But, as per its contract with the ILWU, TEMCO will now revert to the more employer-friendly accord secured by the other PNGHA members. Kalama Export, the last of the major grain export corporations of the region, had long ago secured the profoundly substandard contract that had served as the template for EGT. This means that pretty much the same degraded terms will now apply more or less uniformly across the Pacific Northwest grain handling industry.

That the union leadership has meekly accepted almost the same offer it rejected at the start of negotiations two years ago was in fact quite predictable. After all, the ILWU had refused to mobilize its power to stand up to the grain-exporting giants.

The International relied essentially on a strategy of going to the NLRB and the courts, while uttering pathetic nationalistic slurs against the foreign-owned corporations. At no time did it try to stop scabs from working, and it ran roughshod over every initiative by the rank-and-file to organize direct action to that end.

How could there have been any other outcome, especially against wealthy multinational corporations bent on obtaining the lowest possible costs to make the highest possible profits in the spectacularly expanding grain export trade with China and other East Asian countries?

In all likelihood the International’s terrible contract will be ratified, as the ILWU leadership has worn down and demoralized the membership for the better part of a year and a half, forcing them to stand by helplessly as scabs did their work. The International did not even consider building the sort of broad cross-union and extra-union solidarity for mass direct action that had enabled the small, isolated Longview local to put real fear into the heart of the EGT Leviathan — before the ILWU leadership itself brutally undercut it.

Instead, the International has proved its worth to the PMA, pulling the rug out from under a contingent of impoverished port truckers at the very moment ILWU members had begun to honor their picket line and close down several terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. The International justifies this betrayal of its own supposed principles by claiming the Teamsters Union needed to be taught a lesson for encroaching on its jurisdiction at a warehouse in northern California. But with such a weak and self-centered leadership, it would be surprising if the membership saw any alternative to acceding to the concession-ridden contract.

As with EGT in the recent past and no doubt PMA in the near future, the ILWU leadership is demonstrating yet again how a union hierarchy, structurally insulated from the outcome of class struggle — they don’t work on the shop floor but are materially supported by rank-and-file dues — can blithely oversee disastrous defeat for its membership while escaping scot-free.

Also read Robert Brenner and Suzi Weissman’s longform examination of the ILWU’s historic crossroads.

Tags: ILWU InternationalConcession Bargaininggive-backs
Categories: Labor News

Canadian National Railway Train Derails and Spills Load Near Edmonton, Alberta

Railroaded's Blog - Wed, 09/10/2014 - 07:37

An eastbound Canadian National Railway train derailed just after noon September 9 near Cherhill, about 100km northwest of Edmonton, Alberta (QMI Agency). Eight cars filled with gravel fell off the tracks and 4 tipped over, spilling their loads on and around the tracks. It is not known how long the main line was shut down to clean up the mess.

CN has had a string of derailments in Alberta during the past few months; see CN Railway Derailments, Other Accidents and Incidents for a partial list of these. CN intentionally does not report many of its derailments in Canada and the United States.


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

BART advised to start talks earlier, avoid abrasive negotiators

Current News - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 21:40

BART advised to start talks earlier, avoid abrasive negotiators
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/BART-advised-to-start-talks-earlie...
Michael Cabanatuan
Updated 6:44 pm, Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BART and its unions need to make scores of changes to avoid strikes, including agreeing to arbitration, starting talks earlier and easing out abrasive negotiators, according to a report commissioned by the transit agency.

The 224-page report, ordered by BART's Board of Directors after labor negotiations last year led to two strikes, calls on the agency and its workers to "break the cycle of adversarialism" dating to the 1970s.

The consulting outfit Agreement Dynamics made 63 recommendations in the report it will deliver to directors at their meeting Thursday. Among them:

-- Agree with unions on a form of interest arbitration, either binding or nonbinding, to avoid a strike if negotiators can't reach a deal.

-- Start talks six months before the old contract expires instead of the current three months.

-- Use neutral "facilitators" and possibly state or federal mediators from the start, rather than bringing them in when talks go bad.

-- Don't negotiate through the media.

-- Avoid using negotiators with "historically combative and/or adversarial styles." The report also suggests "test-driving" chief negotiators during attempts to reform labor relations before hiring one.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said the agency is analyzing the recommendations and has already taken steps to improve relations with its unions.

"Last year's labor negotiation process was well below the standard the public and our riders expect and deserve," she said. "This report makes it clear that mistakes were made on all sides during the 2013 labor negotiations process. BART management certainly made our share."

Pete Castelli, executive director of Service Employees International Union Local 1021, which represents clerical, maintenance and administrative workers, said he supported many of the recommendations. But, he said, BART doesn't have to wait for the next round of contract talks to improve labor relations.

"Anything that gets us having these kinds of conversations and gets management thinking about what happened is a good thing," he said. "Taking a different approach that would mean good faith bargaining, we'd welcome that. But they can do that now. They could do that yesterday."

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

Tags: ATU 1555SEIU 1021 BART
Categories: Labor News

Cambodia: After Mass Firing of Strikers, Union Considers New Protests

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: The Daily
Categories: Labor News

Peru: UNI reports Prosegur to Spanish government following violent attack in Peru

Labourstart.org News - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: UNI
Categories: Labor News

Happy 40th, ERISA!

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Tue, 09/09/2014 - 07:51
Joellen LeavellePension Rights CenterSeptember 9, 2014View the original piece

Forty years ago this week, bell-bottom jeans were still in style, the Vietnam War was coming to a close, and Watergate was still riveting the nation.  

Against this backdrop of social unrest, there was also a focus on broken pension promises. Back then, tens of thousands of people were losing their pensions because few laws existed to regulate pension plans. A worker could lose his pension after working at the same company for 25 years because he left the company before turning 65. Employers could fritter away pension money on bad investments or bogus transactions often without facing any consequences. Bankrupt plans could leave workers and retirees with only a fraction of the benefits they earned and no recourse against their employer. In response, Congress passed the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, or ERISA, to put an end to such abusive practices.

Click here to read more at the Pension Rights Center.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Don't be surprised if a Teamster comes knocking on your door this fall to chat about soda in San Francisco

Current News - Mon, 09/08/2014 - 06:46

Don't be surprised if a Teamster comes knocking on your door this fall to chat about soda in San Francisco
http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Mayor-s-short-term-elevator-r...

The union, which represents 110,000 workers in Northern California, vehemently opposes Proposition E on the city's Nov. 4 ballot. It would levy a 2-cents-per-ounce tax on sodas and other sugary drinks, and the money raised would go to children's nutrition and physical education programs.

But the Teamsters say the tax would cost them hundreds of jobs in bottling plants and driving delivery trucks. And it seems that when the Teamsters speak, lots of other unions listen. The campaign to defeat the soda tax has also won support from the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 5, Plumbers Local 38 and the San Francisco Building Trades Council.

Larry Mazzola Sr., president of the Building Trades Council, said his group was persuaded by the Teamsters.

"I haven't read the initiative, but they claim it's poorly written," he said. "They're, of course, in favor of health for people and that kind of stuff. But they claim it's over 700 jobs for them."

Rome Aloise, president of the local Teamsters union, said now's not the time to jeopardize well-paying union jobs that come with health benefits and pensions. He also called the tax paternalistic and regressive, and said it won't change people's soda habits anyway.

So if people will keep drinking soda, won't his workers keep their jobs bottling and delivering the soda?

"Well, yeah, but why take the risk?" he said.

The Yes on E side has its share of unions supporting it too - including teachers, nurses and a different chapter of United Food and Commercial Workers. (Guess they're not so united, huh?)

The strong feelings on both sides made for an interesting debate at the San Francisco Labor Council, which wound up taking a neutral position on the soda tax. According to Labor Council Director Tim Paulson, "Democracy worked pretty well at the Labor Council on this one."

Tags: teamsterssoda taxSan Francisco Labor Council
Categories: Labor News

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